Labour have a clear lead in the polls, the Tories are crumbling over Brexit. So of course, now is the time for another contrived anti-Semitism furore.

July 21, 2018

by Martin Odoni

Serious question for you, everybody.

How stupid are you?

Let me offer you a way of measuring; if you are presently joining in with the renewed hysteria about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, the answer is, you are very stupid. The reason why you are very stupid – including you once again, James O’Brien (whom I am starting to see as the Conservative Party’s most useful idiot) – is that you seem unable to spot history rhyming.

Back in April, an opinion poll had Labour moving into a seven-point lead just as the Local Election campaigns were starting. Almost immediately, Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger, perhaps the most well-disguised cynic in politics, created the most ridiculous controversy, by publicly attacking leader, Jeremy Corbyn, over comments he made about a mural that has not even existed for six years. The clamour about it carried on for weeks, and inevitably Labour’s position in the polls began to falter.

Over the last week or so, polls have suggested that Labour are pulling into the lead again, helped by the Tories haemorrhaging support as Brexit chaos worsens.

YouGov opinion poll 16th-17th July 2018

Labour leads by five points – so naturally the right wing start more theatrical attacks on the party leader.

So what happens this week? Well of course, Red Tory John Woodcock immediately announces his resignation from the Labour Party, citing Corbyn’s supposed ‘support of anti-Semites’ as one of the reasons. (We all know that he had nothing to lose by leaving, as he was almost certain to be thrown out of the party anyway for being a sex-pest. But he probably decided to leave weeks ago, so his timing is telling.)

John Woodcock anti-semitism dirty txts

Couldn’t resist it, sorry-not-sorry.

This was co-ordinated with a scurrilous, foul-mouthed and uncivilised attack on Corbyn from Margaret Hodge. Her behaviour was utterly vile, and if Marc Wadsworth can be accused of ‘bringing the party into disrepute’ over what he said about Ruth Smeeth a couple of years ago, it is absolutely correct that Hodge faces comparable proceedings.

The Jewish Chronicle, a ‘newspaper’ that makes me ashamed to be ethnically Jewish myself, published a hatchet job on Corbyn so vicious that The Daily Mail might have hesitated to print it.

Hatchet JC cover

Disgraceful hatchet job by the Jewish Chronicle on Jeremy Corbyn.

In short, every time Labour appear to be breaking ahead of the Tories, this wildly-exaggerated controversy is artificially re-ignited again, and always by the usual suspects who are in Labour Friends Of Israel. Note that that says ‘Israel’, not ‘Jews’. LFI’s only concerns are the interests of Israel, not those of Jewish Britons. (If they did care so much about Jewish Britons, why do they never take soundings from Labour members in the Jewish community more widely? They have certainly never contacted me.)

LFI treachery

Rebellions against Jeremy Corbyn are usually started by Labour Friends of Israel.

The current resurgence of this furore was made all-the-more urgent from a pro-Israeli perspective, given the disturbing developments in the Knesset this week. Binyamin Netanyahu’s ethnocratic Government has passed new legislation declaring Israel to be an Apartheid State in all-but-name, while weakening Palestinian access to legal mechanisms. Israel sympathisers want a pro-Palestinian leader of the Opposition silenced and discredited at times like these.

As for the aforementioned O’Brien, he really is being an idiot when it comes to this subject. Sorry, there is no other word for it. Not just because he always misses the above pattern whenever he discusses this on LBC Radio, but also because he misses the meaning of his own lectures on other subjects. For instance, he rightly and repeatedly despairs at the way Brexiteers completely overlook the importance of analysing evidence when assessing whether leaving the European Union is doing good or harm. He rails against Brexiteers allowing their judgement to be guided exclusively by their emotions. However, on the subject of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, O’Brien just repeatedly ignores evidence, no matter how much of it is pointed out to him, that demonstrates clearly that the problem is being blown way out-of-proportion, with many cases cynical smears. Instead, he just assumes all or most accusations are genuine, and bases his sympathies with the complainants on emotional appeals from Jewish paranoia about the supposed imminence of a ‘Second Shoah’.

This is imbecilic. Paranoia, by definition, is not factual, it is imagination. O’Brien expresses understanding for it, which is fine, but makes no attempt to rein in the wild conclusions to which it leads. So while he condemns Brexiteers for believing in unicorns, he agrees with Jews (no, actually Zionists) when they imagine monsters in the bedroom closet.

O’Brien has also criticised Labour this week for (slightly) rejecting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. He asks why Labour is rejecting parts of the definition when so many other organisations around the world have accepted it.

Oo, tricky one, James! Here though, this might help: How about because it is not an adequate definition? It encourages the usual, insidious conflation of Jews with Israel – especially the clause that reads, Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis – while under-defining other phenomena. Jennie Formby, General Secretary of the party, has already explained in full. Why not check whether your questions have already been answered before asking them, especially in such an insinuating way?

And just because an awful lot of people and groups around the world are scared to dispute the definition, for fear of being tarred with the anti-Semitism brush, that does not mean everyone else is morally obliged to be a sheep. (Again, how often does O’Brien criticise Brexiteers for just unquestioningly going along with everything Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg say, but he now expresses contempt when the Labour leadership refuse to follow the crowd blindly? Just like he also expresses contempt for Corbyn for daring to question the official narrative on the Skripal poisonings? He called that “pathetic” the other week, when by any standard, I would have thought ‘pathetic’ was the perfect epithet for anyone just swallowing anything they are told.)

O’Brien’s attitude to the current Labour Party is one of the wonders of the world, it really is. He openly proclaimed this week that he always wants to assume the best motives in people. In recent times, this has actually led him to express a tiny modicum of respect for Theresa May, perhaps the most cowardly and bare-facedly dishonest Prime Minister of the modern era. And yet, anything connected with the Labour left or Jeremy Corbyn, O’Brien always analyses with the most searing suspicion and cynicism, assuming the worst motives at every angle.

Now for certain, there are plenty of problems with the current Labour Party, and there are serious doubts as to whether they can form a workable Government until their inner divisions are resolved. But O’Brien keeps implying that all of these problems are the fault of Jeremy Corbyn and the left wing. Any objective analysis shows that the great bulk of the problems are being created by the right; in particular their cynically-timed, theatrical public rebellions. O’Brien never attempts any serious assessment of the right of the party. He just ignores their dark motives and assumes anything they do against the leadership is, ipso facto, the fault of the leadership. He never entertains the possibility that the likes of Chuka Umunna, Jess Phillips and Wes Streeting may have reasons quite other than the ones they declare. He also never explores the point, again frequently made to him, that there are politically-corrupt reasons for conflating Jews with Israel. It is disturbing to reflect on these oversights, in light of how O’Brien condemns the Daily Mail on almost every edition of his show, and with good reason. The fact that he is proliferating accusations that are getting publication every other day in the Daily Mail, while ignoring facts that the Mail likes to ignore as well, should make him question himself far more deeply than he has done so far.

O’Brien rightly condemns the chaos and cruelty of the current Government, and the malign deceitfulness and psychopathy of a great many Tory MPs. But he needs to ask himself whether his own conduct may be helping to keep the Tories in power to continue the misery. He is, after all, one of the more prominent liberal voices on British radio these days, whether he likes it or not, and if he is cheerfully propagating these absurd exaggerations about anti-Semitism as undiluted fact, then he is personally damaging any hope of bringing down the Tories. When the left needs prominent media voices to speak up for them, and O’Brien would be one of the most obvious candidates for it, he instead keeps helping the Tories to provide a distraction from their own malignancy and incompetence – a distraction that has minimal basis in reality. Even if the Labour anti-Semitism problem really were anything like as big as it is being painted – and it is not – it would still be nowhere near as urgent a crisis as the horrendous unnecessary damage inflicted on the people of Britain by Austerity and Brexit. And I say that as someone who has been on the sharp end of anti-Semitism at various points in my own life.

9 Responses to “Labour have a clear lead in the polls, the Tories are crumbling over Brexit. So of course, now is the time for another contrived anti-Semitism furore.”

  1. David Horton Says:

    O’Brien’s antipathy towards Corbyn is well known and I have pulled him for it a few times. It’s funny…I used to be in his words *one of my favourite commentators but now I am persona non grata with all the presenters [one time Shelagh Fogarty’s team phoned me to go on her show] but I can’t get airtime with any of them now…my crime….I disagreed with O’Brien a couple of times.He’s a fake.

  2. I thought you’d been a bit quiet. What you are saying is that a (small?) group of Labour MPs are actively conspiring together to undermine their own party and its leadership and to prevent any chance of it winning an election, and all in the apparent aid of a foreign power. This used to be called treason. I think we should be told.

    • Martin Odoni Says:

      It certainly bears open discussion on a popular radio programme…..

      As for being a bit quiet, I’ve been in need of a breather. I was out of the country a couple of weeks ago, visiting Poland. While I was there, I visited Auschwitz/Birkenau, and it was a very draining experience, knowing how my own family could have been sent there if fate had played out differently, and the drain left me a bit short of the will to write for a while.

  3. James Ritchie Says:

    Thank you for your article. It echoed so much of my own thinking. The Labour right are fighting a guerrilla warfare against the left and would much prefer May in office to a new election which they might actually win. Meanwhile they can continue to call Jeremy Corbyn a failure and undermine the left in the hope that they can seize control of the Labour Party before any election. Of course if they lost that who would they blame? Jeremy Corbyn and the damage he has done to the Labour Party.
    I wish the lot of them would bugger off and set up their centrist Blairite party so they could disappear into the dustbin of history.

  4. James Ritchie Says:

    This interesting article shows how the Tories are dealing with antisemitism and Racism in their party bunch of crooks!

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