On Wednesday, as Boris Johnson became prime minister, a Lincolnshire Conservative councillor, Roger Patterson, tweeted that Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was a “traitor” and supporter of terrorism who should be “swinging from the gallows like Saddam Hussein.”
Patterson has been suspended. But the campaign led by Labour’s right wing and various Zionist groups accusing Corbyn and the “left” of anti-Semitism has played a central role in creating the political climate for incitement to violence. Just two weeks earlier, Patterson tweeted, “The only minorities to be cleansed are Corbyn’s terrorist sympathising anti semitic cult. They are a dirty stain on this country.”
Corbyn has faced warnings of an armed forces mutiny if he becomes prime minister, and was physically assaulted in March while visiting Finsbury Park mosque. The next month footage emerged of soldiers in the elite Parachute Regiment firing rounds into a poster of Corbyn.
The implications of the rotten campaign of slanders designed to delegitimise the left becomes ever clearer. But so too does the danger posed by Corbyn’s appeasement of the Blairite conspirators.
Within the space of two weeks, Corbyn has overseen the rewriting of the Labour Party’s rulebook, at the insistence of the right, opening the floodgates for the potential automatic expulsion of many of his supporters.
On Monday, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet met to approve new disciplinary measures. As outlined by Corbyn, Labour will introduce “fast-track” expulsions for the most “serious of cases” where members are accused of anti-Semitism. The Shadow Cabinet agreed to the formation of a new “special panel” including Labour’s pro-Corbyn general secretary, Jennie Formby, and other National Executive Committee (NEC) officials with the powers to automatically expel members.
Corbyn said, “It is wrong to deny there is anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. And those who deny that it does exist are part of the problem. We have to stand for a serious, anti-racist, inclusive socialism.”
Such was the Corbynites’ capitulation that after giving her report outlining the new disciplinary measures to the Parliamentary Labour Party that evening, Formby received a standing ovation. The following day Labour’s NEC backed the plans for “legally robust rules” to be presented for adoption at Labour’s annual conference in September.
Corbyn and his backers have agreed to the disciplinary measures, even though everyone knows the claims of the Blairites and Zionists are a pack of lies. The text of the NEC ruling stated, “Anti-Semitism complaints relate to a small minority of members,” and even this massively distorts the real picture.
Those accused of anti-Semitism represent a statistically insignificant number in a mass membership of around 500,000. Formby’s own report stated there have been complaints against 625 members this year, legitimate or bogus, equating to less than 0.1 percent of the party membership. Formby reported that there were complaints against a further 658 people who are not even members!
The latest push by the right to brand the left as “Jew haters” for opposing Israeli repression of the Palestinians was the July 10 BBC Panorama hatchet job titled, “Is Labour anti-Semitic?” One day before the broadcast, the Guardian removed an open letter from over 100 Jewish individuals defending Labour MP Chris Williamson. The letter was deleted after a complaint was lodged by the right-wing Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Williamson was suspended from the Labour Party for the first time on February 27, based on false accusations of anti-Semitism. On June 26, he was reinstated by a three-member panel of the NEC. Within hours, a hysterical campaign was launched calling for his suspension to be reimposed. A letter signed by around 120 Labour MPs and peers denounced the NEC’s decision as “inappropriate, offensive and reputationally damaging.” Williamson was dutifully re-suspended by the Corbynites.
Panorama provided a platform for politically hostile former Labour Party staff members to air their allegations, as well as several Zionists who were depicted as “whistle-blowers.” Two of those appearing on the programme, who were not named, are members of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) which has close ties to the Israeli government. Thirty Labour staff, including the eight who resigned and were shown on Panorama, will submit evidence to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) alleging anti-Semitism in the party. The EHRC investigation, which could result in criminal proceedings, was brought at the behest of the JLM and the pro-Zionist Campaign Against Antisemitism.
While Corbyn made pro-forma criticisms that the programme contained “many, many inaccuracies,” his office released advice to “socialist media activists” stating, “DO NOT ADVANCE ANY GENERAL CRITICISMS of Panorama or the show. They are correct to raise Antisemitism … DO NOT CRITICISE THE LABOUR RIGHT or [Blairite Deputy Labour Leader Tom] WATSON over this next few days in relation to Antisemitism, as this will play into their hands.”
Following the broadcast, 64 Labour peers took out a full-page advert in the Guardian declaring, “The Labour party welcomes everyone* irrespective of race, creed, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation. (*except, it seems, Jews).”
Thousands of Labour members and many more workers know very well that Labour is not an anti-Semitic party and opposition to the state of Israel is not anti-Semitic; and that the Jewish Labour Movement is not an historic institution but a more recent creation dedicated to waging political warfare to discredit and destabilise the Corbyn leadership and drive out the “left.” But anyone who states this has been forced to make an apology and retraction by the Corbyn leadership.
Rank-and-file party members are sick of this right-wing campaign and want nothing more than to see the Blairites kicked out. Last week, the party’s largest constituency party, Hornsey and Wood Green Labour Party in London, called on Watson to resign. A motion was passed to expel Blair’s former chief whip, Hilary Armstrong, from the party, not by Corbyn, but by members of the North West Durham constituency party. In response, North West Durham MP and leading Corbyn supporter Laura Pidcock voted against the CLP motion, saying, “I fundamentally don’t believe that expulsions are an appropriate way to resolve political differences.”
The last four years prove that Labour remains a right-wing capitalist party of the state that has not been changed in the slightest by the election of Corbyn. When Labour’s right-wing feel threatened, they act ruthlessly. In 1964, the Harold Wilson leadership purged the youth movement of the party, which was led by the Trotskyist movement of that time, the Socialist Labour League. In the 1980s, Labour leader Neil Kinnock wasted no time in expelling the pseudo-left Militant Tendency (now the Socialist Party). Indeed, the Compliance Unit, Labour’s version of Orwell’s Thought Police, used by the right to kick many Corbyn supporters out of the party, has its origins in this earlier purge.
In contrast, Corbyn has protected his opponents and sacrificed his supporters and ensured the victory of the right on every major issue of party policy. The Labour left has always played this role historically. Following the betrayal of the 1926 General Strike by Labour and the Trades Union Congress, Leon Trotsky wrote, “The left muddleheads are incapable of power; but if through the turn of events it fell into their hands they would hasten to pass it over to their elder brothers on the right. They would do the same with the state as they are now doing in the party.”
He continued, “The extreme rights continue to control the party. This can be explained by the fact that a party cannot confine itself to isolated left campaigns but is compelled to have an overall system of policy. The lefts have no such system nor by their very essence can they. But the rights do: with them stands tradition, experience and routine and, most important, with them stands bourgeois society as a whole which slips them ready-made solutions.” [Trotsky, “Notes on the situation in Britain 1925-1926,” Where is Britain Going ?]
The author recommends:
Resolutions of the Third National Congress of the Socialist Equality Party (UK): Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party: The Strategic Lessons/For a new socialist movement against militarism, austerity and war