What to say? It was so unnecessary, wasn’t it – to suspend Jeremy Corbyn from the Party for nothing worse than claiming that the ‘Labour antisemitism’ issue – genuine or not: and Corbyn never claimed that there wasn’t an issue – had been exaggerated and exploited for extraneous motives? Starmer has nothing to gain from this, surely; certainly not insofar as the membership is concerned. Thousands are resigning from the party right now. (I’m one of them – just sent off the letter. This is after more than 50 years membership and of what they call ‘activism’.) It looks merely spiteful: surely by merely replacing Corbyn as leader Starmer had done enough to calm down his right wing. So far as the wider public is concerned: how many of them would be put off Labour simply because Corbyn was still in the party? Or will be more attracted to a leader who shows he can wield the whip?
I’m waiting to read the EHRC Report into Labour antisemitism in detail. (Is it on the internet?) What I’ll be looking for there are concrete examples of anti-Jewish prejudice or actions within the Labour Party over the past few years; examples which so far as I know – and I’ve been following this pretty closely: see my earlier posts – none of the Party’s critics has so far put into the public domain. (It goes without saying that criticism of the Netanyahu government and support for Palestinians won’t be included here.) If there are many such examples of genuine antisemitism – more than you would expect, for example, in a random sample of people – I may change my opinion. But I’m unlikely to alter my view of Jeremy Corbyn, whom as I understand it even the Report doesn’t claim is personally anti-Semitic – but rather the reverse. In fact I’m encouraged and warmed by the plethora of letters on Facebook from Jews corroborating this, and who are as appalled by his suspension as I am.
The Labour Left is divided on the issue of whether they should leave the Party or remain to try to influence it from the inside. I’ve made my decision, because I simply feel uncomfortable in an organisation that could act so irrationally and autocratically; and because I no longer live in Britain (much) anyway. In fact at the same time as finalising my resignation from Labour, I’ve just applied the join the Swedish Vänsterpartiet; which – despite its Communist origins – is the closest here in my land of refuge to the sort of social democracy I’ve always espoused.
Lastly: my lifelong love and respect for Jews and their culture is being sorely tested by this. If it weren’t for Jeremy’s Jewish champions, and my own Jewish friends, I might be tempted into anti-Semitic generalisations myself. I hope I’m above this; but British Jews shouldn’t be surprised if other Leftists aren’t turned into anti-Semites byhe very campaign that some of their leaders claimed was directed against it. If their real motive was shielding an oppressive right-wing regime in Israel, as has been suggested, they should ask themselves: was it really worth this?
PS (the next day). I recall that three months ago I almost sent in my resignation, only to be persuaded by my local Constituency Secretary to hold my fire to see if things got better. My reasons for wanting to resign then are spelled out in this blog: https://bernardjporter.com/2020/08/17/8636/. Clearly the situation has not improved in the meantime; and that original grievance – the stifling of free discussion in the Party – should be added to this latest one.