Amid a tidal wave of coordinated media hysteria slandering Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters as anti-Semites, details are emerging of the plot to remove him as Labour Party leader or to split the party to prevent him ever leading a government.
On August 7, the Daily Express reported that senior Labour MPs “have been holding secret away days at a luxury 12-acre holiday estate in Sussex to make plans to oust Jeremy Corbyn.”
The meetings have been held for months as “moderate Labour MPs” plan Corbyn’s downfall, led by a core group of 12 and a wider group numbering “more than 20.”
The Express lists former leadership candidate Liz Kendall, former shadow cabinet members Chuka Umunna and Chris Leslie, Stephen Kinnock and Gavin Shuker as present, along with John Woodcock, who has quit Labour to become an independent MP.
A source cited by the newspaper said, “At some point the Corbyn leadership is going to fail and collapse, we only need to see what is happening with the anti-Semitism problem, and we need to be ready to step in, win the leadership, rebuild the party as a credible force and repair the damage that has been done.”
Repairing “damage” means reasserting the nakedly neo-liberal and militarist agenda pursued by Labour under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, even if this means keeping the Conservatives in office.
The Express reports, “Among the subjects discussed have been plans to regain the leadership and form a new party … one proposal put forward was to wait for a Corbyn election victory and then to use the large group of moderate Labour MPs to prevent him from becoming prime minister.”
One of those involved states that if the Conservatives lose the next election, then “we will break away and either form a separate Labour Party within parliament or a new party.”
Another added, “There are [Remainer] Conservative and Lib Dem MPs who are interested in joining us if we do form a new party because of Brexit.”
Listed as potential leadership challengers to Corbyn are former leadership challenger Yvette Cooper, Umunna, Leslie and Kinnock. But the Express also anticipates a “left challenge” to Corbyn by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, alongside “compromise candidates” Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry and Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer.
The Electronic Intifada website ran a piece on the same day by Asa Winstanley of the group Lobby Watch. He noted that an app “operated as part of an Israeli government propaganda campaign issued a ‘mission’ for social media users” to make comments accusing Corbyn of anti-Semitism.
The Act.IL app “asks users to comment on Facebook in response to a Huffington Post UK story about Corbyn’s alleged ‘anti-Israel remarks,’” directing them to click “like” on a comment by Facebook user “Nancy Saada” before adding comments echoing her criticisms.
Winstanley adds that the Act.IL app is a product of Israel’s strategic affairs ministry, which “directs Israel’s covert efforts to sabotage the Palestine solidarity movement around the world. Its top civil servant is a former army intelligence officer and the ministry is staffed by veterans of various spy agencies whose names are classified.”
Positioning himself in the destabilisation campaign is Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson, who wrote in the Observer newspaper Sunday that the party faced disappearing into a “vortex of eternal shame” unless it tackled anti-Semitism in its ranks. Even Rupert Murdoch’s Times newspaper was forced to acknowledge that “his comments are not designed to help the Corbyn Labour Party, they are meant to destabilise it.”
Opposition to the right-wing offensive is widespread, with Twitter hashtags #WeAreCorbyn and #ResignWatson trending at No. 1 in Britain and internationally, and widespread calls for the coup plotters to be expelled. Instead, the familiar pattern emerges of Corbyn seeking to appease his opponents who then redouble their offensive.
The millionaire MP Margaret Hodge, who called Corbyn, to his face, a “fucking racist and anti-Semite,” had disciplinary action against her dropped amid claims that she had “expressed regret.” A letter from her tier-one lawyers Mishcon de Reya, posted on Twitter by Hodge, accused Labour General Secretary Jennie Formby of an “entirely disingenuous” attempt to save face, adding that “our client will not apologise for her conduct or words, as she did nothing wrong.”
Hodge, together with the equally foul-mouthed right-winger Ian Austin, are complaining of a campaign to drive out opponents of Labour’s anti-Semitism. “The new style of politics is bullying and intolerance, not gentle and inclusive,” she told the Express without blushing.
Corbyn has issued a statement to the Guardian and an accompanying video, ceding much ground to those slandering the left as anti-Semitic.
There was “a continuing problem” of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, which he would “root out”—including by speeding up the processing of disciplinary cases and launching “an education and training programme throughout the party.”
He then calls “actual differences” over Labour’s refusal to accept all 11 examples attached to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism “very small.”
Corbyn’s “small” difference is over Labour’s opposition to an IHRA example stating that it is anti-Semitic to describe the foundation of the State of Israel as a “racist endeavour.” Adopting this would provide a blanket excuse to witch-hunt left-wing critics of Israel’s repressive actions against the Palestinians that were on display yet again in this week’s bombing of Gaza.
Corbyn appealed to his opponents to recognise that “This has been a difficult year in the Middle East, with the killing of many unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, and Israel’s new nation-state law relegating Palestinian citizens of Israel to second-class status.” Opposing this “should not be a source of dispute,” he pleaded.
However, this is precisely the source of the present dispute.
Manchester Jewish Action for Palestine wrote correctly that the anti-Semitism definition guidelines “are designed by Israeli propagandists to aid their many mass lobby attempts to stop international solidarity with the Palestinians and to deny Palestinians the right to express the nature of Israel’s 70 years of violence and racism towards them.”
Corbyn trails behind many of his erstwhile supporters in efforts to appease the right wing, to supposedly preserve party unity and get Labour elected.
McDonnell was among those who called for the disciplinary action against Hodge to be dropped and is reportedly supportive of the full adoption of the IHRA definition and examples. He is joined by Jon Lansman, who exercises almost total control of the pro-Corbyn Momentum group, Tim Roache, general secretary of the GMB union, and Dave Prentis of Unison.
All such claims that Labour’s divisions can be mended by the simple expedient of adopting the IHRA definition in full is so much snake oil. A regime-change operation is again underway in the Labour Party. And if this fails, then a split will be organised. The appeasement of the right wing by Corbyn et al only demobilises the working class in the face of the political conspiracies being organised against it.
In the process, Corbyn’s insistence that Labour could be transformed into a party opposing austerity and war is being tested to destruction, confirming the warning made by the Socialist Equality Party in its first statement following Corbyn’s election as party leader in September 2015:
“No one can seriously propose that this party—which, in its politics and organisation and the social composition of its apparatus, is Tory in all but name—can be transformed into an instrument of working class struggle. The British Labour Party did not begin with Blair. It is a bourgeois party of more than a century’s standing and a tried and tested instrument of British imperialism and its state machine. Whether led by Clement Attlee, James Callaghan or Jeremy Corbyn, its essence remains unaltered.”