LABOUR deputy leader Tom Watson feigns shock at a new social media campaign demanding his resignation for, he claims, “standing up for people who are facing prejudice and hate.”
Nonsense. He is targeted because his comments on anti-semitism, party discipline and fitness to lead the nation represent a calculated stab in the back against a leader who has spent his entire political life in solidarity with people facing prejudice and hate.
Watson’s intervention, backed up predictably by Yvette Cooper, David Miliband, Wes Streeting, Luciana Berger and the usual dreary list, is the latest instalment in the “ditch Jeremy Corbyn” campaign that last year’s better than expected general election result appeared to have derailed.
The party leader’s major fault in this drawn-out campaign is to convey the impression of an oh so British stereotype who, when people accidentally collide in the street, apologises for things he hasn’t done.
Corbyn and his advisers reason that, if he accepts exaggerated accounts of the scale of anti-semitism in the Labour Party and pledges to do better in future to counter it, his critics will welcome his humility and give him a chance.
They fail to appreciate the ruthlessness of his opponents or the unrelenting nature of their goals.
While Corbyn tries to meet his critics halfway, Board of Deputies of British Jews president Marie van der Zyl tells him “to stop hiding and make an abject apology to UK Jews in his own voice. He must adopt the IHRA anti-semitism definition and all examples.”
Wall-to-wall media attacks on Corbyn referred to in yesterday’s Morning Star editorial continue unabated.
Columnist Ian Birrell constructs a tale in the i, recalling a Jewish friend telling him two years ago that, “like many others he knew, he was making preparations to emigrate and shift assets abroad” if Corbyn was elected.
Birrell’s best efforts to portray Corbyn as “an avowed anti-racist” fell on deaf ears as the businessman insisted Jews feared his “flirting with grotesque anti-semites.”
This culminated in Birrell racking up a catalogue of Corbyn’s political crimes, concluding that “such a man is not fit to lead Labour, let alone enter Downing Street.”
Not surprising perhaps for someone who worked as an adviser and speech-writer for David Cameron for the 2010 election.
And Birrell ought to know that this Labour equals anti-semitism smear predates Corbyn, being directed against Ed Miliband in 2014.
More surprising at first glance is the mass media, together with anti-Labour sections of Britain’s Jewish communities, finding common currency with much of the Parliamentary Labour Party, spearheaded by the deputy leader.
Cooper, who backed Watson’s allegation that Labour faces a “vortex of eternal shame,” suggested that the issue won’t go away “until the party adopts the international definition of anti-semitism.”
She ought to have said “even if” rather than “until” because she knows the convergent determination of the above forces to get rid of Corbyn as Labour leader, both for supporting Palestinian national rights and having socialist-inclined policies.
Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) supporters are correct to call out the BBC on its negative attitude to Corbyn, but the media will be reluctant to correct its behaviour.
JVL and other groups, however, are having an effect. There are already voices within the Jewish population reacting against the unjust and shabby allegations directed at the Labour leader.
Corbyn and company should move off the back foot, be self-confident in their words and actions against anti-semitism and challenge the conservative sympathies of their critics.
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