By Heiner Flassbeck. This article was first published on Flassbeck Economics.
I cannot refrain myself from posting an update to my article on Corbyn, the Left in general and anti-Semitism from two days ago (see here).
I explained in this article that there is no anti-Semitism to any significant degree in the Labour Party. The whole problem about the ‘Jewish Question’ in Labour is nothing else than a smearing campaign, among several others, to discredit Corbyn and his fraction. Those who take the contrary position have no argument. As I explained, no one ever took a Labour Party member to court for inciting racial hatred – why not if the problem is so rampant? Until now there have been fifty suspensions in Labour because of alleged anti-Semitic views – alleged because, as I explained, some of these suspensions are unjustified. All in all, this amount to the absolutely fantastic number of some 0.000071 % of the Labour membership (assuming a membership of 700.000 people, which will not be far off). To see this as a serious problem is beyond ridiculous.
In the meantime there is news. Since the attacks never stop, Shami Chakrabarti was asked to produce a report on anti-Semitism in Labour. Shami Chakrabarti, the former director of Liberty and a lawyer with a well-deserved reputation for integrity, produced a thoughtful and important report on anti-Semitism and racism in the Labour party at the request of Jeremy Corbyn. Her inquiry did not find evidence to support allegations of rampant antisemitism in Labour. And what is the problem now? Now both Corbyn and Chakrabarti are under attack. The report is not to the taste of Corbyn’s detractors. So let’s discredit Chakrabarti.
Today the Guardian published a letter which is signed my many Jewish and non-Jewish people (I assume), academics and non-academics alike. The letter states that:
‘Such attacks say more about her detractors than they do about Chakrabarti. Their real objections concern her recommendation that the party’s disciplinary processes conform to the principles of natural justice, so that allegations of antisemitism and other forms of racism will be properly investigated, members cannot be suspended without knowing the charges against them, and people are protected against scurrilous and ill-founded allegations. As Jews whose views are not represented by the chief rabbi, the Board of Deputies of British Jews or the pro-Israel lobbyists of the Campaign Against Antisemitism, we dissociate ourselves from the attacks on Chakrabarti and urge Corbyn to hold firm in implementing the positive recommendations in her report.’
You can read the letter in the Guardian here.
Again, I am not making the point that everything is okay. It certainly is very far from okay. There is anti-Semitism and Islamophobia on UK campuses, just as there is racism against Polish people, Europeans from the continent in general and especially Eastern Europeans. There certainly is racism against coloured people. All of this is completely despicable. It is, however, complete dishonest nonsense to first accuse someone of acting insufficiently rigorously against anti-Semitism in the party, to let a lawyer with a lot of credibility write up a report and then attack both when this report shows that there is no or hardly any problem. If the detractors would have any decency left, they would be pleased to read Chakrabarti’s findings because this is good news. But for them it is of course bad news. No worries, they will find something else to criticise Corbyn for tomorrow.
How are things going in Labour for the moment? You really need to take a step back from all the details and take a deep breath in order to deal with the misery. Corbyn is being challenged for the leadership by Owen Smith, a Blairite who not long ago said that austerity is right and that he believes in it and that further cuts in welfare spending are inevitable anyway. In the meantime, Smith has changed his tune since he is getting nowhere, but few believe what he is saying. Since the Brexit, the Labour party gained approximately another 200.000 members. Because the right wing parliamentary fraction is – rightfully – afraid that a large majority of these people will support Corbyn in the elections for the leadership in September, they tried to prevent them from voting. When this did not work, they demanded that new members should pay £25 in order to have the right to vote. When the Corbyn fraction took the organisational committee to court, the judge ruled against it. All members have the right to vote. The Blairites are appealing this verdict.
This is how far we have come.
In the meantime, on a daily basis, articles are being published absolutely everywhere (including the so-called liberal and progressive Guardian), calling Corbyn a regressive force, an old Leftist who does not understand the modern world, a disaster and an illness for the party which has to be eradicated as soon as possible so that New Labour can regain dominance (see for some Blairite rhetoric here in the Guardian).
The Huffington Post UK.
The state of British ‘journalism.’ From Left to Right: The Independent, Private Eye, the Daily Express, the Daily Mail.
This, I am certain, will not happen. The Labour Party cannot win a general election while this civil war is going on. It will never stop. Blair himself declared that he prefers a Tory government to a Labour government led by Corbyn. The machinations will continue unabated. Even in the unlikely case that Corbyn would win a general election, it is by no means certain that he will become Prime Minister. The parliamentary fraction can, at any point, make a coalition with the Tories or/and anyone else and get a majority in parliament without the Left wing. This would of course amount to a complete coup in the party, which is exactly what the right wing has been trying to accomplish for the last ten months already.
However, the Labour Party will never be the same again. Perhaps it will break apart. Whatever happens, millions of people are never going to conform to New Labour again. The days of New Labour are over. Millions of voters support the policies that Corbyn stands for and, with or without Corbyn, these people are not going to disappear nor will they be silenced.
Jeremy Corbyn in Liverpool last week: the unelectable one (Source: Labour Party).
Source: Labour Party.