Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Lack of Momentum

Easter's over, so it's back to politics, I'm afraid.  I can't let this whole Labour anti-Semitism thing go unremarked any longer.  Both the allegations and the reaction to them from some parts of the Labour party are symptomatic of everything that is currently wrong with the party.  The main 'defence' against the claims are that they are being used by the right to try and undermine Labour.  Well, obviously.  Of course the right are going to jump on anything they think will discredit Labour and Corbyn.  But that doesn't mean that the allegations don't have foundation.  The other main 'defence' is that Jeremy Corbyn himself isn't an anti-Semite and has always fought all kinds of discrimination and race hatred.  Well, again, obviously.  Nobody is disputing this.  As far as I know, there are no photos of him wearing a Nazi armband or a coal scuttle helmet.  But just being against something isn't enough in these situations.  The question is - what is he doing about it right now?  Not a lot, or so it appears.  His failure to act more decisively against the likes of Ken Livingstone (after his insane outburst about Hitler being a Zionist before 'he went mad'), has left Corbyn wide open to allegations of being soft on anti-Semites in the party.  In politics it isn't what you do that matters, so much as what you are seen to do - Corbyn needed to act decisively in Livingstone situation, so as to demonstrate his commitment to fight against discrimination and racism.

Of course, Corbyn's weak leadership on the issue hasn't been helped by some of his supporters.  I'm afraid that their adherence to the notion of 'Saint Corbyn', who is infallible and without sin really doesn't help anyone.  It's what prevents them from grasping the nature of  the problem currently  confronting Labour and blinds them to the course of action which needs to be taken.  Doing nothing because Jeremy Corbyn is so virtuous that he couldn't possibly preside over a party which might include anti-Semites isn't an option.  Moreover, treating every criticism of Corbyn and his allies as a conspiracy really is counter-productive.  Christine Shawcroft, for instance, was forced to resign from the NEC as a result of her own incompetence, not a 'Blairite' conspiracy. She backed a Labour councillor suspended for holocaust denial without bothering to actually examine the facts in the case.  The fact that she was also chair of Labour's disputes panel (which hears appeals against suspensions), just makes her lack of competence worse.

Shawcroft is also a senior member of Momentum, the Corbyn-enabling group which has being doing its damnedest to take control of Labour.  Unfortunately, it lies at the root of much that is wrong with modern Labour.  Despite a requirement that Momentum members must now alsobe Labour party members, the organisation is still home to all manner of entryists from other political organisations proscribed by Labour.  These include all manner of extreme left nut jobs and conspiracy theorists.  The type of people, in fact, who make the kind of anti-Semitic Facebook posts recently highlighted by the press.  These people, who profess to be Corbyn supporters, sre the problem.  Until Momentum puts its house in order or, preferably, stops trying to be a 'praty within a party', the anti-Semitism allegations will persist.  I've never liked Momentum.  And that isn't because I'm some kind of right-wing Blairite.  On the contrary, I'm probably to the left of many Momentum members.  What I don't like are groups like this that effectively infiltrate established political parties in order to pursue their own agendas.  If you want to influence Labour policy, join as an ordinary member, like everyone else, rather than piling in en masse and trying to subvert the party's internal democratic processes for your own ends.  Either that or form your own bloody party.

But to return to the point, it is the very organisation and, in particular, its lunatic fringes, which has enabled Corbyn's leadership which is now threatening to undermine his, and the party's, credibility.  Sure, the right is happily exploiting the situation to make mischief for Labour.  It is undoubtedly also doing its best to inflate the problem - just look at the ridiculous fuss they are making over Corbyn's meeting with the Jewdas group, for instance (they're not Jewish Nazis, for God's sake, although the right wing press would like to have you believe this) - but that doesn't mean that there isn't a problem.  And yes, I'm sure that you can find worse examples of anti-Semitism in the Tory party.  But right now, that isn't the issue, so it is pointless bleating on about it.  Besides, there's nothing that Corbyn and the rest of the Labour leadership can do about what goes on in the Tory party, but they can start addressing the problem in the Labour party and Momentum's contribution to it.

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