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July 19, 2019

Comments

Davy

Well, kinda.

If Labour is "failing to ruthlessly expel anyone even whiffing of the possibility of antisemitism" it is doubtlessly doing the same for those "even whiffing of the possibility" of sexism, racism, islamophobia, homophobia, etc.

Should the same standards be applied to all these? If so, the Compliance Department will need as many employees as the NHS in a party of more than half a million. Or are accusations of AS to receive special status? In which case, surely such double standards are a violation of natural justice - let alone that expelling anyone on the basis of "even whiffing of the possibility" of any offense is? Innocent until proven guilty? Not here, mate.

Or do norms of justice evaporate when you've got Tom Watson and the Labour benches in the Lords baying for your blood?

Also, your evidencing of being soft on AS by linking to Corbyn's foreword to Hobson's Imperialism. Anyone who has any engagement with early c20 radical economics has come across it. I've got a copy at home, and have referenced and quoted it on occasion. Until all this kicked off, though, I wasn't aware it had anti-semitic content. Nor, indeed, I'm sure were all the political economy students and lefties who have quoted it over the past century. Seriously, has *anyone* read this thing from cover to cover over the past half-century? Anyone at all? Are we then all guilty?

Blissex

«And this is what Labour has failed to do. In failing to ruthlessly expel anyone even whiffing of the possibility of antisemitism,»

But that's exactly the purpose of turning the antisemitism story into a party-political story: the first to be ruthlessly expelled would be then J Corbyn himself, who has been called a "fucking racist and antisemite" by a mandelsonian jewish Labour MP in the House of Commons.
This is also the logic of Tom Watson's proposal to deem as automatically expelled from Labour any antisemite: the first person to be deemed by the usual party political side to be expelled would be J Corbyn, as they claim that no only he is a "fucking racist and antisemite" but also that he has been orchestrating an antisemitic campaign and raised antisemitism in the UK to threatening level that never existed before.

Paul O

So, you (someone) creates a 'wiff' around the object of their ire and - hey presto - they are gone?

What does 'anyone even wiffing of the possibility' include?

TwistedByKnaves

I'm afraid being whiter than white has three problems:
1. You put yourself at a massive disadvantage on the field of play
2. It doesn't work. Any improvement is simply treated as an admission of failure and is never enough. This is essentially what we have been trying to do for the last two years.
3. It is fundamentally unjust. "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?".

We must stand by our principles of basic fairness, not panic, and ride out the storm. And in the end, we will be respected for it.

Blissex

«So, you (someone) creates a 'wiff' around the object of their ire and - hey presto - they are gone?»

My suspicion is that when our blogger writes “the need for Labour to win an election trumps anybody’s right to be a member of it” and “a radical Labour party without Corbyn and his public school Stalinist entourage“ he suggests that only once Corbyn is expelled as a "fucking racist and antisemite" can Labour have a chance of winning elections, which is pure mandelsonianism of the "Paris is well worth a mass" type.

Blissex

«suggests that only once Corbyn is expelled as a "fucking racist and antisemite" can Labour have a chance of winning elections,»

This article on "The Guardian" by P Toynbee makes the full case for that:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/18/jeremy-corbyn-weak-leadership-labour-poverty-john-mcdonnell
«Jeremy Corbyn’s weak leadership betrays those Labour would lift from poverty
John McDonnell’s bold policies will genuinely improve people’s lives. But they’re of little use if Labour cannot win an election»

Of course if J Corbyn is expelled then J McDonnell (and the whole Labour wing of the Labour party) vanishes too, but the article is cleverly worded to delude the gullible that “a radical Labour party without Corbyn” could happen.

From Arse To Elbow

Your first caveat is that Corbyn could do more to allay the fears of Jews. That's objectively true, but the same charge could be levelled at previous Labour party leaders in respect of both Jews (remember the grief that Ed Miliband got) and other minorities. Blair could have done more to allay the fears of Muslims, Callaghan of Asians and Wilson of West Indians.

If Corbyn were peculiarly negligent, then your caveat would have some force. But given that he is clearly no worse than his predecessors, and arguably much better if you judge him on his record, then it is weak.

Your second caveat is built on a questionable premise and a dodgy parallel. The referee in a football match is constrained in his bias by both the laws of the game and the tolerance of the crowd. He can only award a penalty for a dive in (or very close to) the box. If he acts in an obviously and egregiously biased fashion there is a good chance the crowd will riot. The contraints on the press (IPSO) and Corbyn-sceptic Labour MPs (the phantom of deselection) are much less.

The premise behind the "cleaner than clean" gameplan is that it is still possible for a talented team to win even when it is playing against 12 men. What the Labour antisemitism saga has revealed is that every attempt by the leadership to compromise (e.g. adopting the EHRA definition) has resulted in the goalposts being shifted.

This is a match that Corbyn cannot win, no matter how ruthless he is. But that in turn indicates the fear of his opponents that he may well win the match that matters: the next general election.

Blissex

«being soft on AS by linking to Corbyn's foreword to Hobson's Imperialism [...] Are we then all guilty?»

You are forgetting that the trot-antisemitic campaign orchestrated by J Corbyn is so evil that their real genocidal plans are obviously kept secret, so seemingly innocent stories like that of the foreword are merely indirect evidence as to how deep that evil runs. There is no smoke without fire!
:-) :-) :-)

Blissex

«This is a match that Corbyn cannot win, no matter how ruthless he is.»

And he would be the first to be expelled. But that's the point that I think our blogger is making implicitly and P Toynbee makes explicitly: that only by expelling Corbyn can Labour win the elections and implement a left programme.

e

You're just wrong. More a domestic 'game' of politics devoid of any refereeing, Maybe one of our mass media broadcasters has, in recent years, explored the possible differing approaches to International Relations. If so I missed it. Such a program would surely draw attention to rarely asked questions of the UK's particular approach.
There is no doubting the moral failure here. But by God its shared.... Corbyn ? Clearly guilty of trying to bring a new ball onto a very dodgy pitch.

Scratch

It won't work. The bourgeois press will keep this up until he's been replaced by a neoBlairite as they have with every menace to neoliberal hegemony either the left or the right have put forward.. The practically saintly Bernie Sanders got smeared as a racist (and sexist) too.

Not that Corbyn is squeaky clean (or uniquely culpable, bourgeois and/or minority antisemitism will likely have been part of the milieux he has inhabited since childhood.)

AllanW

Our Host;
"Instead, what the team must do is to be cleaner than clean."

I can't say I'm surprised but I am disappointed that you suggest this way forward. It disqualifies you from being taken seriously on issues of politics. As a number of people are pointing out in your comments section and to La Polly in others.

I'll happily read the economics stuff though.

Scratch

Also, that photo unaccountably does not feature Clive Thomas.

Jim

Its quite simple, no one on the Islington Left (the BBC, the Guardian, etc) cared a jot about Labour AS for the last few years, there was lots of evidence for it and it gained little traction beyond places like Guido.

What has changed is that the Powers That Be have decided that Corbyn Must Go because he's standing in the way of preventing Brexit. So we now have documentaries about how terribly antisemitic JC is, and how he's corrupted Labour, swathes of Blair appointed Lords decrying him as virtually the next Hitler, and the BBC mounting a sustained campaign on the subject in a way they usually do to people in the Tory party.

Thats what all this is about - Brexit. The Islington Left are terrified that he's going to use his position to allow the UK to Leave, because (as we all know) he's a Brexiteer, deep down, and they have to have a Remainer in charge to stop Brexit at all costs. Ergo beat him with whatever stick is to hand, and antisemitism is the closest and most effective.

D

"If even one Jew is made to feel sincerely uncomfortable by the possibility that a Labour government even might be antisemitic, that is abominable. And it is an indictment of Corbyn."

A bit much, no?

If any party that is anti the state of Israel's behaviour towards Palestinians gets in, or might get in, some Jews will be sincerely uncomfortable.

If the media/corbyn's political opponents exaggerate what anti semitism there is, some Jews will be sincerely uncomfortable.

Agree with your second caveat though. They've needed to be whiter than white and they haven't been.

Blissex

«anti the state of Israel's behaviour towards Palestinians»

The state of Israel is a community recognized internationally and supported unreservedly by Corbyn (a committed zionist) and Labour; what drives the behaviour towards the palestinians is Likud and extreme far-right parties like Likud. Many people in Israel and many jews outside Israel as well as many non-jews are strongly opposed to Likud and the other far-right parties that drive those policies. It is a fight against extremist party-political positions, not against the state of of Israel or any of the people in them.

Daniel

You don't mention left wing foreign policy. For example, even if you were really really careful and made sure the labour position on palestine was free of any anti-Semitism, and any anti-zionist positions were on strictly anti ethno-nationalist and not anti jewish grounds. There would still be jews (and none jews) who would see that as an anti-Semitic position.

To do what you ask would require throwing away a lot of justified left wing principles. There is a cost/benefit to this that it being ignored.

Bill Posters

"public school Stalinist entourage"

If by this you mean Seumas Milne why not just say Seumas Milne? Or are there other public school Stalinists about? I'm out working and I'm struggling to keep up with the subtleties here. Please be clear.

Also only two posts ago it was don't abolish private schools. Here "public school" seems to be used as a pejorative. One thing private schools have done is produce some decent left wingers, J Corbyn, Tony Benn and perhaps the Wykehamist himself.

Half the Tory party think if Labour get in
Seumas Milne will round them up and personally march them out into the fields to pick carrots. Crazy of course, but someone who can generate that level of fear and anxiety in the opposition is useful to have on the team.

Maybe the Wykehamist could be regarded as a Chopper Harris or Liverpool's Tommy Smith. No player of the beautiful game, but someone the opposition fears coming out of the dressing room.

Blissex

«Half the Tory party think if Labour get in
Seumas Milne will round them up and personally march them out into the fields to pick carrots»

Please don't think they are idiots: the cardinal sin of the corbynites is the fear that they might stop house price inflation. Nobody really expects Corbyn as PM to exterminate the jews or send all kulaks to the camps, but they are deathly afraid of his being on the side of renters and buyers. Several hundred billions of upward redistribution a year are at stake there. The typical middle class tory voter in the south has got £30,000-40,000 of tax-free work-free wealth redistributed from poorer people every year for decades and they will say and do anything to keep that coming. This is the central fact of politics in the UK and has been for 40 years, and Corbyn may be a threat to that:

“I inherited two properties in 1995 [ ... ] and the value has gone from £95,000 to £1,100,000” (£43,000 a year on average, for 23 years)

Lidl_Janus

@Blissex (comment #6)

"but the article is cleverly worded to delude the gullible that “a radical Labour party without Corbyn” could happen."

If a radical Labour party without Corbyn isn't possible, then Labour are one careless driver (or, if you want to be cynical and paranoid, one MI5 operative) away from reverting to Blairism.

We are also nearly four years into Corbyn's leadership and, whilst the man is not exactly ancient, he is nonetheless old. The leadership should at least have the faint sketches of a long-term plan here.

Blissex

«Labour are one careless driver [...] away from reverting to Blairism.»

That's exactly the situation, and why the attacks on Corbyn specifically are relentless, with him gone from the leadership the chances of a Labour wing leader implementing Labour policies are currently zero.

«The leadership should at least have the faint sketches of a long-term plan here.»

Indeed the they do: beyond the shadow-fighting across the media, the one critical detail about Labour is the 15% minimum of Labour MPs needed to nominate a candidate for leadership, and that while (well) over 60% of Labour members and voters are in the Labour wing of Labour, (way) less than 15% of Labour MPs are in it.

Indeed in the second leadership election, the one triggered by O Smith's challenge, the first move by the New Labour MPs was to claim that the leader, that is Corbyn, should be re-nominated, knowing full well that would exclude him.

So the plan must be either for the minimum to be brought done to 5%, or for enough New Labour MPs to be deselected to have at least 15% of Labour MPs willing to nominate someone that the members and voters like.

In 2015 Corbyn was "accidentally" nominated because of two colossal political mistakes by totally out-of-touch New Labour MPs:

* They had long plotted to bring about OMOV, to get rid of the influence of the unions, believing that most members would then be affluent entryst thatcherites-for-gay-marriage like themselves.

* Given that, they believed that nominating a "racist, antisemitic, misogynist trot" like Corbyn would result in a massive defeat for him, thus ridiculing the opponents to the entrysts of the Mandelson Tendency. They seem to have thought it was a funny prank against "a stupid old trot".

Bill Posters

"Please don't think they are idiots"

Blissex many thanks for policing this Blog for nonsense, some of it mine. I don't think they are idiots, sometimes I like to joke.

You make good points about property wealth, but there are many other things. Consider tax relief on pension contributions. If you have a job and are rich tax relief on pension contributions mounts up. It's a massive state hand out to the to people who don't need it. They then have to contact our blogger here in his professional capacity so he can advise them what to invest it in. Meanwhile nurses have to cough up to park in hospital car parks. I agree that many Tory voters are just voting to preserve their privileged financial position.

I'm just hoping Corbyn and or McDonnell will survive long enough to see another election. I'm not expecting nirvana if they win just a sign the tide may finally be turning. I don't think Corbyn, McDonnell or even the Wykehamist will do much directly about property prices. There may be an effect due to a big council house building program, tight controls on private rented accommodation or mortgage availability. A decent left wing government restoring public spending to people who badly need it would make a big difference to many. I fear that if J Corbyn falls whoever replaced him won't be able to do this even if they win an election.

AB

Chris Dillow,

You use a disgusting, vile term for a women twice in this essay and you dare to write about prejudice. How dare you demean women so?

Delete the disgusting insult to women.

AB

AB

Chris Dillow,

Delete the crazily hateful term you used twice for a women and apologize.

AB

AB

Correcting - "women" should be woman.

Now, Chris Dillow, apologize and delete the hateful insult to women.

JSM

To continue the football metaphor, I make it Comments 23 Chris Dillow 0 (I'm not counting the last two). Otherwise known as a sound, and, in my view, well deserved thrashing!

J

I'd extend the metaphor and suggest the match doesn't have just one ref any more. Rather than play this ref's game, we need to amplify the new guy to the point where his voice is loudest.

We've got good work like yours being produced at Mainly Macro, Zelo Street, Tax Research, AAV, Media Lens, OpenDemocracy, Novarra et al, pushing back against the bias of the ref, in both emotive and analytical manner, all enabled by the internet and the multitude of blogging platforms. It's imperative for those of us on the left to publicise this kind of work wherever we can, and then maybe we get to make the rules of the game.

In the US the Republicans are trying the antisemitism attack line, and thanks to a robust defence of legitimate criticisms, it is having a lesser effect. It can be done.

qwertboi

Chris Dillow: "We cannot dismiss Labour’s problem with antisemitism".

And certainly should not. But, for the first time in its history, Labour has a leader who, like much of its membership, has a strong commitment to pro-Palestinian rights. This is perceived by some as a threat to Israel. It's certainly condemnatory of particular actions by Israel, but not a threat to Israel itself.

Some people feel challengeed by this, but to conflate pro-Palestinian values with anti-Semitism is wrong and sometimes dishonest.

Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset, Haneen Zoabi, said that, “We struggle against colonialism and injustice not only for our own liberation, but also to liberate the Israeli Jews from their own colonialism, in order to create a state of all its citizens, as we will accept them as equal citizens, without privileges.” The pro-Palestinian movement is exactly that; a struggle against injustice and colonialism. As the famous civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Blissex

«Labour has a leader who, like much of its membership, has a strong commitment to pro-Palestinian rights.»

That leader has made it absolutely clear as published by the "TheJC" that he is quite pro-Israeli, a committed zionist, wishing for Israel to be a safe haven for its jewish and other citizens, for it to exist in peace free from terrorists attacks and threats from neighbours, but he also wishes the same for the Palestinian state and palestinians.

Apparently the likudniks (who are against Labour's, the UK's, the UN's policy of distinct but equal states of Israel and Palestine) regard campaigning for the same basic rights for Israel and Palestine as being antisemitic.

Scratch

"To continue the football metaphor, I make it Comments 23 Chris Dillow 0 (I'm not counting the last two). Otherwise known as a sound, and, in my view, well deserved thrashing!"

Heh. One of the nifty techniques our betters have learned lately is how to set our common decency against our class interests. If we both oppose antisemitism and want a return to rudimentary democratic socialism we are manoeuvred into a position where we must choose one, if we choose the former we get to bask in our righteousness even as the conditions that make life not shit are winnowed away if we choose the latter we are encouraged to know that in our supremacist hearts we are totally worse than Hitler. The same trick applies to immigrants/globalisation and so forth.

It, to put it mildly, doesn't help that the antisemitism claim is kind of accurate (we'd be giving [insert reactionary here] dog's abuse if he'd pulled the same stuff) however the bourgeois have no compunction about making this shit up even if it doesn't exist then using their class power to make it salient - narratives around Brexit (I'm a remainer) being a prime example where they simply stated it was about Spitfires, racism and empire - and to a large proportion of the easily led it simply kind of stuck.

AB

Waiting for Chris Dillow to apologize for using the crazily demeaning slurs against women, and to delete the slurs.

The slurs against women here are intolerable.

JSM

Were Chris a member of the Labour Party, it would be inevitable that the whiff of misogyny hanging over his post (cf comments by AB) would lead, by his own argument, to his automatic expulsion. To return yet again to the football metaphor, this might be considered an own goal.

Ralph Musgrave

"Tory Islamophobia understated"? So what's wrong with criticising a religion or religion in general? Seems a significant proportion of lefties want to return to the 13th century when priests were all powerful.

georgesdelatour

Stop. Think about this for a moment.

Wouldn’t you expect the left - the left of Karl Marx, Rosa Luxembourg, Leon Trotsky, Karl Kautsky, Gyorgy Lukacs, Walter Benjamin - to like Jews? A lot.

And wouldn’t you expect the left - the left of “religion is the opium of the people” - to dislike Islam? A lot.

Personally, the best advocate for Communism I’ve ever read - a million times more thoughtful and enlightened than Marx - is Mansoor Hekmat, the late leader of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran (Maryam Namazie is a disciple of Hekmat, BTW). Needless to say, Hekmat was a vocal critic and opponent of Ayatollah Khomeini, and he loathed Islam.

Islam is easily the most right-wing, anti-enlightenment major religion on the planet today. In theory, Hinduism, with its problematic relationship to caste, ought to be more right wing. But if you look at Pew Global surveys, the link between Islam and reactionary attitudes is overwhelming, and impossible to miss. It’s only among Muslims living in Muslim milieux that you find large majorities supporting the execution of apostates or gays, for instance. The most important theologian in Sunni Islam is the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, currently Ahmed el-Tayeb, and he supports both positions. He rarely gets called out over this. Imagine the response if Pope Francis called for the murder of lapsed Catholics and gays. Is that the Islamophobia of low expectations, perhaps?

Phil

AB - 'cunt' in British English is almost never used against women. (English English, to be precise - the Scottish usage is different again.) You can argue that the contempt with which the insult's charged rests on repressed contempt for women's bodies, but it's not in itself a slur against women.

Phil

On the post itself, two points.

Trying to be cleaner than clean - trying to take complaints seriously and address the problem in good faith - sounds good, but it demonstrably doesn't work. Seumas Milne attempted to intervene to make sure that the process didn't target the wrong people; Jenny Formby attempted to intervene to *speed up* the process in the case of Jackie Walker. Both constructive, good-faith interventions - and we know how they've been portrayed.

As for "ruthlessly expel[ling] anyone even whiffing of the possibility of antisemitism", you're completely missing the broader context, which is the longstanding campaign to delegitimise the Palestinian cause and the BDS campaign by redefining antisemitism to include anti-Zionism. This is the only way I can make any sense of the outrageous proposal to expel Moshe Machover - the specific case in which Milne intervened. The sense in which calling an MP out for working "hand in hand" with Tory journalists (having seen said MP chatting on friendly terms with a Tory journalist) is ipso facto antisemitic also escapes me. The whiff of antisemitism is being detected in places where it doesn't exist, for purely partisan reasons; it's a cynical, political operation, and the Labour leadership would be entirely justified in taking a firm stand against it.

AB

Phil,

I so appreciate your explanation and I will assume that Chris Dillow did not understand how hurtful the term would be to so many women beyond those with whom he was raised. Dillow however still should apologize, and never ever use the term in an open setting again.

AB

Scratch

"...how hurtful the term would be to so many women"

Its fine with plenty of others. Which leaves us with the question of who gets to assert dominance and why.

AB

The term used by Chris Dillow is crazily hateful. Vicious as can be, and if there are a few people raised in Britain who do not know, then it is time they knew.

The term used by Dillow is wildly offensive to hundreds of millions of women. A shamefully vicious term meant to harm women.

Understand the viciousness of the term, beyond a local ignorance, and stop the defense.

AB

"It's fine with plenty of others."

This is horrid lying, lying meant to degrade women.

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