The suspension of Jeremy Corbyn is a vicious and antidemocratic action by the right-wing cabal in control of the Labour Party.
The political pretext on which the suspension was carried out, claiming the existence of widespread “left anti-Semitism” in the Labour Party under his leadership, is a slander not only against Corbyn, but of countless party members. It is a political witch-hunt designed to justify the enforcement of the policies of British and US imperialism in the Middle East, built around the dishonest and illegitimate identification of anti-Semitism with principled opposition to the policies of the Israeli state.
The level of cynicism involved beggars belief. Anti-Semitism, racial hatred directed towards the Jews, is historically identified with the far right, especially with Nazi Germany, though it had many adherents within the British ruling class, including among the Royal family. Now the left is being targeted as the source of anti-Semitism even as the fascist Alternative for Germany has been elevated to the position of official opposition in the Bundestag and similar formations, including Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France, are being cultivated by the ruling elite throughout Europe.
The opposition expressed by Corbyn to the suppression of the Palestinians is no more than can still be found among substantial sections of the left and peace movement in Israel. Nevertheless, bogus allegations of anti-Semitism are now being employed against the left based upon a filthy campaign waged by the Blairite right, the Conservative Party, the Netanyahu government, and the security services of the US, Israel and the UK, ever since Corbyn became Labour leader in 2015.
Any criticism of Israel and its persecution of the Palestinians has occasioned demands for the accused to be removed from the Labour Party. This was codified in Labour’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in 2018, outlawing political criticism of the Israeli state. The sole purpose of such baseless lies is to complete the thoroughgoing transformation of the Labour Party into a reliable instrument of the most reactionary elements within the British state apparatus. It has been orchestrated by the war criminal Tony Blair—possibly the most sinister figure in British politics today—and his inner coterie.
Left unchallenged, it will have a chilling effect on democratic rights, including the right to free speech and the right of political parties to advance policies that are deemed illegitimate by an unaccountable cabal of state operatives and political scoundrels.
None of this excuses the fact that Corbyn is the architect of his own fate and is responsible for allowing the right wing to carry out its schemes against the working class.
Corbyn won leadership of the party in 2015 and then again in 2016 at the head of a popular rebellion involving hundreds of thousands of workers and young people demanding a political reckoning with the criminal pro-business and warmongering legacy of the Blair and Brown Labour governments. Corbyn was mandated not only to oppose the Blairites, but to kick them out of the party.
He refused to do so, making one pathetic capitulation after another and using his political authority to preserve the control of the right wing by opposing all popular moves to expel them and insisting on “party unity.” This enabled the Blairites to pursue their plans to remove the Corbynites, centred on the anti-Semitism witch-hunting of his leading allies, including former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, black Jewish activist Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Chris Williamson MP and countless rank-and-file members. They then retook control of the party following the electoral disaster of December 2019.
Corbyn's adversaries of course have no compunction against expulsions and are now proceeding with a political bloodletting, beginning with Corbyn.
Corbyn was suspended just hours after the release of an Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report claiming that there were “serious failings in the Labour Party leadership in addressing antisemitism and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints.” The EHRC, which is responsible for enforcing non-discrimination laws, identified what it said were “three breaches of the Equality Act (2010) relating to: Political interference in antisemitism complaints; failure to provide adequate training to those handling antisemitism complaints” and “unlawful acts of discrimination and harassment.”
The EHRC did not formally identify anyone guilty of the alleged criminal acts, but Corbyn was named on a dozen occasions. The Socialist Equality Party warned in March 2019 that the EHRC investigation, instigated based on complaints by the pro-Zionist Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) and Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), would end in mass expulsions.
Yesterday morning, Corbyn issued a defence of his record in opposing anti-Semitism, stating that “the scale of the problem” within the Labour Party was “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”
Within two hours, amid demands by the Blairites and the media for his expulsion from the party, Corbyn was suspended by party leader Sir Keir Starmer. More will follow. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism said it had filed complaints to Labour about 16 MPs, including Corbyn, his former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, his preferred replacement Rebecca Long-Bailey, and even Angela Rayner, presently Starmer’s deputy leader.
But it will not stop there. The ultimate target of this McCarthyite orgy is the working class, which will face censorship, political victimisation and even criminal prosecutions for opposing imperialism’s crimes internationally and at home. Demands have already been made by the Johnson government for the IHRA definition to be enforced on Britain’s campuses.
The Corbynites have once again responded by waving the flag of surrender. Former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell tweeted, “In interests of party unity let’s find a way of undoing & resolving this.” Corbyn told Sky News, “What I will be doing is appealing to the party... to kindly think again.” He later appealed to Labour members, “Don’t go away, don’t leave the party. Stay in the party and argue the case for economic and social justice in our society.”
Fundamental lessons must now be learned from this degrading spectacle by workers in Britain and internationally.
Events have provided a devastating refutation of the claims made by the pseudo-left groups that Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party represented a “rebirth of social democracy” or the formation of a “new workers’ party,” according to the Socialist Party. Corbyn’s statements confirm that his only real concern for the past five years has been to suppress opposition to the Blairites so as to preserve the domination over the working class of Labour and its allies in the trade union bureaucracy.
Corbyn was only the latest in a line of supposedly left-wing figures and movements promising that new life could be breathed into old and discredited parties and trade unions, or that they would weld together various fragments of these old parties into a new political vehicle for the working class. Every one of these political adventures has ended in disaster.
Corbyn’s capitulation to the Blairites immediately followed that of Syriza in Greece, which was given a massive referendum mandate to oppose European Union/International Monetary Fund-dictated austerity in June 2015 and instead implemented more draconian measures than its right-wing predecessors. In Spain, Podemos was hailed as the political new wave and now governs in a pro-austerity coalition with the Socialist Party (PSOE). In the US, Barack Obama promised “hope” and “change” and delivered eight years of uninterrupted wars and targeted assassinations. Bernie Sanders took his millions of young supporters on a wild goose chase promising socialism through the Democratic Party and is now providing a left gloss for Joe Biden’s right-wing campaign, seeking to demobilise popular opposition to Trump’s threats to impose a presidential dictatorship.
The Socialist Equality Party rejected all efforts to sow illusions in a renewal of social reformism under Corbyn, warning that Labour was historically a party of British imperialism and its major political prop in opposing a socialist turn by the working class. Moreover, its lurch to the right was not the product of bad leaders such as Tony Blair, but had profound objective roots in fundamental shifts within world capitalism associated with globalisation—which had dramatically undermined the viability of the old labour organisations and programmes embedded in the nation-state system. This appraisal has been confirmed. The heirs of Blair, the most hated politician in the UK, are back in charge of a party that has shed its last pretensions of a connection with the working class and socialism.
Labour will not survive what it is about to do in launching the witch-hunt against its members. But neither will Corbyn and “Corbynism.” There are desperate calls being made for Corbyn to finally leave Labour and set up a new party. But what would be the character of such a party, led by those who foresaw nothing and failed their supporters miserably at every turn?
The protracted death of the Labour Party must instead be the occasion for a political turn by the working class to the building of the SEP and its sister parties in the International Committee of the Fourth International, which not only predicted the failure of Corbynism but advanced the genuine alternative of socialist internationalism.