Bri­tain’s Labour Party is rot­ting un­der Cor­byn

The Delhi News-Record - - OPINION - TERRY GLAVIN

If it’s hard to get your head around just how far the rot has spread in the three years since Jeremy Cor­byn won the lead­er­ship of Bri­tain’s Labour Party, this should give you an idea. Last week, Cor­byn was com­pli­mented by David Duke, a for­mer grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, ap­plauded by Nick Grif­fin, the for­mer leader of the neo-fas­cist Bri­tish Na­tional Party, and con­demned as a “racist anti- Semite” by Labour MP Mike Gapes, for­mer chair of the Com­mons for­eign af­fairs com­mit­tee. An­other use­ful il­lus­tra­tion is the way Labour sup­port­ers have re­sponded to rev­e­la­tions that Cor­byn had par­tic­i­pated in a cer­e­mony in Tunis in 2014 com­mem­o­rat­ing Pales­tinian “mar­tyrs,” in­clud­ing ter­ror­ists. Fol­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of pho­to­graphs of the cer­e­mony, a YouGov poll found only 13 per cent of Labour vot­ers said the rev­e­la­tion caused them to think any less of Cor­byn. Nearly half said their high re­gard for Cor­byn was un­changed. An­other 35 per cent said they didn’t know what to make of it or al­ready had a rather dim view of him, but six per cent said the rev­e­la­tions caused them to think even bet­ter of Cor­byn. After hav­ing the sup­port of a ma­jor­ity of Jewish vot­ers for decades, by 2015 Labour could count among its sup­port­ers only a fifth of them. Labour’s “le­git­i­mate crit­i­cisms of Is­rael” can’t ac­count for the de­cline — Bri­tain’s Jews are over­whelm­ingly crit­i­cal of Is­raeli pol­icy. Then in the lead-up to last year’s elec­tion, sup­port for Cor­byn’s Labour Party among Bri­tish Jews was down to 13 per cent. The Cor­bynite van­guard in the party — call­ing it­self Mo­men­tum — has re­cruited tens of thou­sands of new mem­bers, and clearly quite a few Jew baiters are among them. In March, the Board of Deputies of Bri­tain’s Jews and the Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil wrote a with­er­ing open let­ter that said: “Rightly or wrongly, Jeremy Cor­byn is now the fig­ure­head for an anti- Semitic po­lit­i­cal cul­ture, based on ob­ses­sive ha­tred of Is­rael, con­spir­acy the­o­ries and fake news that is do­ing dread­ful harm to Bri­tish Jews and to the Bri­tish Labour Party ... Jeremy Cor­byn did not in­vent this form of pol­i­tics, but he has had a life­time within it, and now per­son­i­fies its prob­lems and dan­gers.” Cor­byn’s cal­lous inat­ten­tion to the anti- Semitism was ev­i­dent early on, es­pe­cially when he dragged his feet on taking ef­fec­tive ac­tion against his long­time friend and sup­porter Ken Liv­ing­stone, the for­mer mayor London. Liv­ing­stone re­peat­edly said Adolph Hitler should be re­mem­bered for “sup­port­ing Zion­ism” in the years be­fore the Holo­caust. Liv­ing­stone was sus­pended and even­tu­ally re­signed, but Cor­byn’s han­dling of his re­vi­sion­ism shone a spot­light on anti- Semitism seep­ing into the party. A Labour dis­ci­plinary com­mit­tee is now bogged down with 300 com­plaints of anti- Semitic con­duct and 70 ac­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tions. In a failed ef­fort at dam­age con­trol, Cor­byn’s in­ner cir­cle de­vised a code of con­duct for party mem­bers mod­elled on the stan­dard In­ter­na­tional Holo­caust Re­mem­brance Al­liance def­i­ni­tion of anti- Semitism — but with telling amend­ments. Labour’s code would not ex­plic­itly pro­hibit Labour mem­bers from ac­cus­ing Jews of be­ing more loyal to Is­rael than to Bri­tain, or com­par­ing Is­rael to Nazi Ger­many, or dis­miss­ing Is­rael’s ex­is­tence as racist. Cor­byn’s past in­dis­cre­tions are com­ing to wider pub­lic at­ten­tion. In 2013, he in­sin­u­ated Zion­ists (among whom, opinion sur­veys sug­gest, 90 per cent of Bri­tish Jews would have to be in­cluded) aren’t quite Bri­tish yet: “They don’t want to study history, and sec­ondly, hav­ing lived in this coun­try for a very long time, prob­a­bly all their lives, they don’t un­der­stand English irony, ei­ther.” That’s an irony for you. The leader of the once de­fi­antly anti-racist Labour Party re­gur­gi­tat­ing an an­tiSemitic trope that de­spite four cen­turies at the heart of Bri­tish cul­ture and po­lit­i­cal life, Jews don’t quite be­long. This is a calumny that Labour would never ex­pect any other mi­nor­ity group to put up with. Only the Jews are made to feel un­wel­come. And that should tell you all you need to know about how far the rot has spread.

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