by Martin Odoni

I have been meaning to write this article for weeks, and I was only reminded to do it when listening to callers on a radio phone-in today. I suppose I should thank them therefore, but I do not think they deserve it. They want the current UK lockdown against the Covid-19 Coronavirus lifted with immediate effect, and one of the grounds for this argument is that, “The flu kills thousands every year and no one bats an eyelid, so why panic about this?” or words to that effect.

Firstly, this is clearly nonsense even when studied at face-value. Every winter, the country puts together flu vaccines in vast amounts to fight the regular outbreak, so the “no one bats an eyelid” idea dies before it can start; if no one was paying attention, how did we arrive at a vaccine to begin with? But secondly – and this is the bit that keeps needling me – people keep badly overstating how destructive seasonal flu tends to be.

I am not making light of seasonal flu, it is often dangerous, and can be lethal. But truly, the numbers involved most years are quite modest compared with what we have seen in the CoVid-19 tragedy. It is possible the impression that CoVid-19 and the flu have similar death-tolls has been given a lot of recent impetus due to a mistake by the Office for National Statistics. The mistake was exacerbated by some misleading reporting on the BBC and in the Daily Mail (oh quick, someone, catch me as I faint dead away in shock…) a couple of years back, on the 2017-18 Excess Deaths figures for England & Wales.

The BBC reported,

“There were around 50,100 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2017-18 – the highest since the winter of 1975-76, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

“The increase is thought to be down to the flu, the ineffectiveness of the flu vaccine in older people and spells of very cold weather last winter.”

Now, this is accurate, but the wording inadvertently suggests, by omitting all mention of the fluctuation-margins, that the extra winter deaths for the year were tens of thousands above what was expected.

The Mail then ground in the wrong impression by stating,

“More than 50,000 excess deaths were recorded across England and Wales last winter, official figures show…

“The shocking figures have been partially blamed on the deadly strains of flu that swept the nations over the colder months of December to March. “

The element of misdirection is that, again, the wording appears to imply tens of thousands of excess deaths caused by flu. But this is not the case. The 50,000 figure was the approximate total number of excess deaths. The increase from the previous couple of years, which is the focus of the story, was only about 6,000, and the flu accounted for only about half of them. According to John Stone of the British Medical Journal, the root of the problem was a blunder by the ONS.

“The number of deaths in England and Wales in an admittedly exceptionally bad year would have been only in the region of 335-340 deaths, and the ONS seem to have exaggerated the risk to the public by in the region of 150 times.”

According to Public Health England, the real toll taken by flu for that winter, while distressing, was not on quite so dramatic a scale as the BBC and others had made it sound.

“Through the USISS mandatory scheme, a total of 3,454 ICU/HDU admissions of
confirmed influenza were reported across the UK from week 40 2017 to week 15 2018,
including 372 deaths.”

In half an unusually-active year for the disease, the UK had 372 hospital deaths from flu. Projected total for all influenza-related deaths around the country for the same period, including those not admitted to hospital, was 15,969. That is certainly a heartbreaking total.

But for comparison, consider; we have been living with CoVid-19 for a little under three months in the UK. During that time, the daily hospital death-toll from the pandemic has regularly been well over double the grand hospital total for the flu in 2017-18. Indeed, even now, when the UK appears to have passed the peak (at least for the first wave) of the pandemic, and the nation sighs with relief at ‘only’ confirming the loss of about 450 lives per day for the last couple of days, the daily toll is still significantly higher than the full hospital losses to the seasonal flu in 2017-18. (And the latest daily update, released even as I am typing, has seen another acceleration, back to above 700.)

This is all before we take into account Covid-19 deaths outside hospital, which, if the Financial Times’ extrapolations are reliable, would suggest a real death-toll far in excess of 41,000.

In under three months.

There really is very little comparison. Flu is deadly. But CoVid-19 is deathly. It is time for everybody to stop calling this Coronavirus “just another flu.” It really, really is not.

by Martin Odoni

I recognise that the new weekly ‘lockdown-tradition’ of standing on our doorsteps every Thursday evening, and giving a hearty round-of-applause to our front-line emergency services comes from the best of impulses. It in no way does any harm, it causes no irritation, and I have little objection to it, in and of itself.

However, it is becoming very difficult to ignore the empty futility of it. While emergency workers are doubtless aware at least that it is happening, they are very, very unlikely to hear about 99% of the population making the gesture.

Clap for NHS?

Do people really think this is achieving very much?

Even if they could, would it really help those on the front line all that much? In the current pandemic crisis, what, say, NHS staff are looking for in considerable quantities is not critical acclaim. What they want is Personal Protective Equipment of sufficient quality to give them a fighting chance of treating CoVid-19 patients without becoming infected themselves. What they need more broadly is for hospitals to be adequately resourced to fight the pandemic.

Knowing they are being applauded is probably good for front-line workers’ morale, but it will not provide even one pair of rubber gloves or one face-mask. The applause is very much a gesture dreamt up with the heart, and not with the head.

More darkly, a fair number of the people making a big show of their Thursday night applause performance are the very same people who offered nothing but cynicism during, just for instance, the Junior Doctors Strike. This is just one of many reasons why the sudden concerns expressed by Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary who tortured the NHS to the brink of death’s door for years, are absolutely nauseating.

This is a genuine argument against clapping; it offers a very cheap, easy path to a self-laundered moral public illusion to people who previously ignored the devastation of the Health Service.

So last Thursday, at 8pm, I decided that instead of stepping onto my tiny balcony and applauding into the void, I would do something a bit more practical. I nipped onto the NHS Charities Together‘s donations website for their CoVid-19 appeal. I made a donation of £30, and made sure to tick the Gift Aid box.

And you know what? I will do the same again this evening. Maybe any readers who have a little cash to spare could do similar? I realise that not everyone will have any money available, in which case, the page has an option available for donating items. Or maybe you want to donate to a different front-line service, like care homes – try here. Or use a search engine.

I just think that this approach would do more practical good. Yes, I realise it is distasteful that Virgin is providing the NHS Charities platform, given Richard Branson’s utterly slimy recent behaviour, but I would argue that it is worth an unclean moment if it helps save even one life.

And hey, if you enjoy doing the round-of-applause thing and still want to do it, no problem, there is nothing to stop you from doing both.

by Martin Odoni

The mechanical rejoinder currently fashionable online among Tory supporters is, “Now is not the time for political point-scoring!” or “Stop manipulating a crisis for political gain!” whenever they see anybody giving the Government a well-earned kicking.

As I have already made clear before, ‘point-scoring’ is not what critics of the Government are doing when they point out the British mishandling of the CoVid-19 Coronavirus. The cross-analysis of Government conduct is desperately needed at a time of crisis, as every mis-step the Government can take in this climate will cost lives. The eleven-day mis-step of not imposing a lockdown is responsible, by some calculations, for around two-thirds of the Coronavirus deaths the UK has suffered to date. And it was only because of growing public anger at Government stupidity and complacency that Boris Johnson relented and changed policy.

So cross-analysis is important, not least because it generally works.

But for the sake of argument, let us assume for the moment that the real incentive for criticism really is point-scoring. One question I must ask in these circumstances: So what if it is?

Who, after all, are the Conservatives, of all parties, to cry ‘foul!’ over politicising a disaster? When the Credit Crunch bit and started the Global Financial Crisis twelve-to-thirteen years ago, did David Cameron, the then-Tory-leader, just sit back and make soft, supportive noises as Gordon Brown desperately bailed water from the UK economy?

Far from it. Not only were the Tories unsympathetic during that crisis, they took the most deceitful and malicious advantage of it imaginable. They told the absolutely flagrant lie that the disaster was caused by ‘reckless Government spending’, when in truth the public sector had not crashed at all, while the crisis had begun in the US Derivatives Market, not anywhere under British jurisdiction at all.

Tory emotional blackmail rebuttal

If “now is not the time to criticise the Government,” when will be? And how would it be any different to the way they behaved when in Opposition?

This utterly malicious smear of the last Labour Government – a Government I have little sympathy for in most respects and I seldom feel much wish to defend – continues to the present day, with the right wing media often leaping on the bandwagon. It was used as the entire rationalisation for years of completely harmful and unhelpful Austerity, imposed entirely for ideological reasons.

More even than that, however, who has been playing politics with the pandemic more than the Tories? Certainly not Keir Starmer, who by and large has been much too gentle with the Government since taking over as Labour leader. Whether point-scoring or not, Opposition parties are in any event not lying about what is happening.

No, the Tories are the ones who have consistently spun and lied, who have released death statistics heavily-distorted by exclusion of all who died outside of hospital. The Tories are the ones who keep boasting about how much PPE they are providing, rather than openly comparing what they have with the amount NHS frontline staff actually need, and while ignoring native sources of PPE in favour of preferred ‘Big Business’ firms from overseas who are taking far longer to deliver – all an attempt to cast a needless shortfall as a mighty logistical triumph. The Tories keep claiming they have delivered resources that have not really arrived and have only just been placed on order. The Tories continue mobilising armies of bots on social media to give the false impression that their policies are more popular than they really are, and even misuse Department of Health resources in order to deploy them. The Tories keep making insinuating noises that shift blame onto others for how weak the pandemic response has been, and for the shortness of supplies.

The Tories, in short, are not interested in doing the job of handling the pandemic efficiently, or in saving lives. They are only interested in controlling the public narrative of the crisis, and evading accountability for mishandling it.

That is pretty much the definition of politicising a tragedy.

by Martin Odoni

Following up on that offensive image of Ed Miliband in a cartoon in the Evening Standard the other week, I thought people might be interested to know that I submitted a formal complaint to the ‘newspaper’. I am going to share both the complaint and the response I have received, as I think it demonstrates a point I have been making for some time. I wish to make clear that I am not necessarily saying that the reply is not fair enough. But I am saying there is some characteristic right-wing hypocrisy on display.

Here is my original complaint; –

M Odoni

Apr 14, 13:41 BST

A cartoon by Christian Adams that appeared in the Evening Standard on 7th April, portraying Ed Miliband, was clearly anti-Semitic. It portrayed Miliband as having a hooked nose, bushy eyebrows and prominent teeth, in line with traditional stereotype Jewish imagery. I have attached images of the cartoon in question. I also note with disgust the enthusiasm with which the Chief Editor of the ‘newspaper’ has promoted the cartoon online.

Please take action against both the artist and the Chief Editor that you feel appropriate for such racial aggravation; please note that your response to this request will be very revealing as to the Evening Standard‘s attitude to racist imagery.

I also attached images of the cartoon. Here it is if you need to refresh your memory; –

Miliband hooked nose cartoon promoted by Gidiot

If you really believe that the Brick Lane Mural was anti-Semitic, how can this be anything else?

Here is the reply I received from the Evening Standard; –

Madeline (Evening Standard)

Apr 15, 16:16 BST

To whom it may concern, [WRITER’S NOTE: Nice personal touch there, when I put my name in the original e-mail….]

Thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback on our daily cartoon.
 
While I am sorry that you have felt cause to complain, the Evening Standard denies that the cartoon bears the meaning you have alleged. 

Kind regards,

Madeline Palacz
Editorial Compliance Manager

Now, in most climates, I would in fact be totally okay with this. But the problem is that in the climate of anti-Semitism hysteria over the last five years, what I see is the right wing giving itself room-for-nuance that it will not give to anyone else.

As I have pointed out more than once, an image will never ‘be’ anti-Semitism. Nor an object. Nor even an action. Anti-Semitism is the attitude that might be behind said image, object or action. And the Evening Standard are making precisely that point here. As I say, I am okay with that in itself. If Christian Adams insists that he genuinely did not mean to play-to-racial-stereotype with this image, I am prepared to give him the benefit-of-the-doubt, at least until he does it again. The reason why is because it is possible for people to behave in a way that resembles the behaviour of anti-Semites without having any particular hostile intent towards Jews behind it.

(This is the reason why I think Keir Starmer’s whole notion of “anti-Semitism training” seminars is completely nonsensical. They might police the actions, but they will never police what the people attending the seminars are thinking, and many of them will not need policing in the first place.)

But that is the point – intent. Attitude. And that is precisely what has been missing in the endless hysteria about supposed ‘anti-Semitism-in-the-Labour-Party’. Anything that can be presented as bearing a resemblance to the behaviour of anti-Semites is just assumed must be, ipso facto, the deeds of anti-Semites. And there are inevitable points of resemblance between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, or even between anti-Semitism and simple disagreement with Israeli policy.

So many people on the left – including not only my own Jewish self but also Mike Sivier of Vox Political and Tony Greenstein (among others) – have been tarred with the anti-Semitism brush for reasons of resemblance in what we have written, far more than for reasons of intent behind it.

My question therefore is this. If the left are not allowed to have the real intentions behind what they say and do taken into consideration when the ‘Jew-hater klaxon’ is sounded – not even Jewish members of the left – why should a right wing newspaper like the Evening Standard, which has shown no shortage of self-righteousness on the topic itself, get to protest, “No no no, we didn’t mean it that way!!! We were just being mean about Ed Miliband’s general appearance”?

And on further reflection, would that really make it a whole lot better?

Any last lingering hopes anyone on the Labour left might have been clinging to that Keir Starmer would be a progressive leader are now ashes, it would seem. Unity News claim to have discovered the identities of Starmer’s private donors of greater than £5,000. If Unity are correct about them, they are, depressingly predictably, the kinds of people you cannot possibly walk through City Of London’s financial district without them colliding with you and pushing you off the pavement.

Robert Latham – £100,000
Retired barrister

Clive Hollick – £25,000
Ex-merchant banker

Martin Clarke – £25,000
Ex-Daily Mail publisher (major alarm bell over this one!)

Sonny Leong CBE – £5,000
Former executive of the Labour Party’s ‘1000 Club’ – essentially a legalised cash-for-access-to-politicians scheme

Lady Katharine Gavron – £5,000
Widow of British printing millionaire Baron Gavron, who funded Tony Blair

Spot the difference between Starmer and Blair

Starmer’s the one of the left. Er, I think.

Read more here.

by Martin Odoni

FOREWORD:

Please read last night’s ‘opening instalment‘ before continuing here.


So. Continuing analysis of the dossier released yesterday continues to unveil quite vomitous behaviour by the right wing of the Labour Party as they sought to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

I shall not dwell too much on that side of it, as I wanted to address the ‘anti-Semitism investigation’ itself, which the dossier was supposed to be part of. But here are a few more examples of grotesquely-lopsided and unfair misconduct.

Uneven enforcement of abuse rules

Rules against abusive behaviour were routinely enforced against left wing members of the party, but deliberately ignored when abuse came from right wing members.

F-ck Momentum

Not a wise way of hiding your true motives when all digital communications within Labour HQ are kept on record.

P133 - pretexts for exclusion

Labour HQ were looking for dubious pretexts for excluding new left-wing members.

Nasty little Ferret

More unevenly applied abuse rules, as a nasty little Ferret from the right wing gets away with a constant stream of personal insults.

There can only be one reason McTernan got away with this

The always-aggressive John McTernan could only have got away with this relentless vitriol and bullying behaviour because of the pro-right wing bias of the disciplinary process.

P145 - pretexts for expulsion

Meanwhile, left-wingers were being expelled for, at times, really quite petty, one-off moments, like sharing Facebook posts from the Green Party. Apparently, agreeing with Caroline Lucas from time-to-time was considered worse behaviour than accusing the Labour Party leader of being a “Putin-hugger”.

JLM member condemns the moderates

The disciplinary process in the Labour Party was so unashamedly biased that even a then-member of the Jewish Labour Movement, which generally leans towards the right of the party, felt that the behaviour of the so-called ‘moderates’ towards new members deserved some condemnation.

Now, one question I left open last night was whether we have solid evidence from this dossier against the Labour right wing in Westminster, rather than just in Labour HQ? Yes, with subsequent investigation, I have found some evidence, against Tom Watson himself. Most certainly, we have a clear indicator that Watson was colluding with Iain McNicol; –

TW told prepare for leadership

Iain McNicol surreptitiously tells Tom Watson to prepare to lead the party, clearly indicating that Watson was intriguing with the troublemakers at Labour HQ.

There is precisely no way that that would have come to Watson out of absolutely nowhere.

There are a couple more scraps that are interesting and hint at Watson’s grubby conduct, although they are not as conclusive. First this; –

6-4-2017 would TW leak docs

Labour HQ staff report speculation from the Corbyn office that Tom Watson engineered new controversy over the long-running Ken Livingstone case.

While there does seem to be a certain knowing tone of ‘Nudge-nudge-wink-wink‘ irony in the exchanges, it is not really adequate to count as proving Watson did what is suggested. In the end, all Emilie Oldknow is doing is reporting someone else’s conspiracy theory. Still, that the theory is so plausible does not say good things about Watson, or indeed about Oldknow.

Also, there is this on pages 65-66, during the 2017 General Election campaign; –

P65-66

Emilie Oldknow again discussing possible ‘leakage’ of confidential documents by Tom Watson.

Oldknow concludes that Watson would not leak in this instance, due to the document including criticisms inconvenient to himself. But the very fact that the SMT Group are even having this conversation tells us the Watson leaking to advance his own interests is a completely normal occurrence in his career. Julie Lawrence commenting that, “He can leak it after elections if useful” is also telling, as it shows that party security is an entirely incidental matter to the Party HQ staff.

So while this is not very specific, it is still very damning of Watson, and hints strongly that leaks from his office to damage Corbyn were nothing new by this time.

While the dossier does not focus on the Parliamentary Labour Party, and therefore we cannot hope to get anywhere near a comprehensive rundown of what moves were made against Corbyn in Westminster, it does still implicate Tom Watson, and by extension the right wing of the PLP, in the Labour HQ sabotage.

I will do further analysis of this part of the dossier, more for my own interest than anything else. But I am unlikely to bother writing any further about that side of it, as we already have ample evidence of a right wing campaign of obstruction, smears, and corrupt intrigue against Jeremy Corbyn. Both Iain McNicol and Tom Watson are firmly implicated by what we have already seen, and both must now face expulsion from the Labour Party, for disloyalty and, in effect, campaigning against the party in Elections. That is an automatic expulsion, remember?

So, moving on, I will now offer some analysis of the role the compilation of this dossier was intended to have in investigating anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. What we have seen so far about obstruction and sabotage played a huge role in causing the notorious ‘backlog’ of complaints submitted to the party, as McNicol let them pile up, in order to magnify the volume and so give the impression of the problem being far worse than it really is.

Chapter 6 of the dossier, from page 619 to page 832, details how the amended processes introduced by Jennie Formby and Jeremy Corbyn have functioned and massively sped up the way cases have been brought to conclusion. I have to say with despair that, as I had long warned, the processes, while more effective than the feeble system McNicol had in place, remain deeply fallacious, an inevitable upshot of two failings.

The first of these is that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition and examples are explicitly used to judge whether a reported incident involves anti-Semitism or not. This definition is, by its own author’s admission, not suited to legal purposes, while the examples are meant to be seen as clues for where academics should look for possible anti-Semitism, not definite anti-Semitism.

The second of these is a wider misunderstanding of what ‘anti-Semitism’, or indeed any form of racism, actually is. It is not an object, or a statement, or a behaviour, as such. It is an attitude, one that frequently leads to ugly manifestations in the real world, or hateful statements, or aggressive behaviour.

It is quite clear from the guidelines discussed in the dossier that the mentality Labour Party investigations took is to see anti-Semitism as any physical or verbal manifestation that resemble ‘traditional’ themes. In other words, they interpret the behaviour itself as anti-Semitic, rather than the attitude behind it. A lot of the time, this works fine, because a lot of aggressive and insulting behaviour towards Jews is self-evidently driven by anti-Semitism. For instance, someone who posts on social media that “the Holocaust never happened”, demands higher standards of evidence for the Shoah than he does for any other historical event, keeps moaning that “Jews own the world”, has Swastika tattoos, idolises Adolf Hitler, and smashes the windows of shops selling Judaica, well, the common theme every time is the same one, and by the simple scientific application of consistency we can conclude the guy is an anti-Semite. No problem with that conclusion.

But the thing is, most anti-Semites are nowhere near so blatant. And many people accused of it may only show one behaviour that raises the suspicion.

For instance, I myself was suspended by the party several years ago for alleged ‘anti-Semitism’ – despite being ethnically-Jewish myself – for putting this image up on social media; –

star of david swastika

Now I can understand why some people, at first glance at least, might interpret it as anti-Semitic, but it is not, because it is comparing two countries, not races. Yes, I can certainly imagine an anti-Semite might eagerly share the image too. But that alone would not be enough to establish anti-Semitism as the motive in everyone who would share it. My motive, as I have made clear relentlessly over the last three years on this blog, was to criticise Israel’s violent suppression and political dislocation of the Palestinians. The IHRA definition may imply that no one should be allowed to point them out, but the reality is that there are parallels between the way Israel treats the Palestinians and the way Nazi Germany treated the Jews. And as Israel likes to claim it does what it does in the name of Jews globally, I feel personally implicated in crimes I have no say in and that I do not wish to see committed, therefore I feel compelled to speak and write against it.

The above explanation clearly does not come anywhere within a hundred miles of being anti-Semitic, because it is not based on the object/image, it is based on the motivation behind the image. As I shall now demonstrate, the Labour Party only looks at the object/image, and assumes that is anti-Semitism, which is materially nonsense, and shows not only that Jennie Formby’s reforms are not up-to-scratch, but that the party itself is disobeying the very rule it is trying to enforce.

The focus is sub-Chapter 6.5, which deals in guidelines for assessing whether anti-Semitism is at play. Let us look at pages 771-to-773; –

Guidelines on Zionist references

These guidelines given to Labour Party disciplinary staff show clearly that the lazy assumption that ‘Zionist’ is simply a codeword for ‘Jew’ is being encouraged in the Labour Party.

I draw attention in particular to the guidelines for dealing with references to ‘Zionists’.

For the search term “Zionist”, the guidance explains:
Antisemitic conspiracies about Jews often now use the term “Zionist”.
A fundamental belief to watch for signs of is that “Zionists”/the “Zionist lobby”/Israel
control the US and UK or the world. Watch for: Zionists/Israel/AIPAC are behind all
American wars; Zionists control Trump, Clinton, etc; Zionists control the financial
system or banking; references to Zionist wealth or power; references to Blair,
Clinton, Cameron, Johnson etc being Zionist puppets; etc.
Also watch for derogatory use of the term “Zionist”; demonisation of all “Zionists” as
racists, pro-Netanyahu, killers of Palestinians; denial of all rights to Jewish people to
self-determination; etc.

I take particular issue with ‘Antisemitic conspiracies about Jews often now use the term “Zionist”.’ Some do, but an awful lot of criticism of Zionism and its adherents will also use the term “Zionist”, because, well, what exactly is the alternative? ‘Israel-sycophant’? This guideline as written is extremely careless, and dangerous, because, intentionally or not, it implies that all condemnatory references to Zionists are just code-words for Jews.

That is nonsense, and I need only point to myself as evidence. I am a Jew, but I am also an anti-Zionist. The ‘codeword’ idea suggests I am both a Zionist and an anti-Zionist at once. For my own sake, as well as for the sake of ordinary human decency, I wish the Jewish people to survive and prosper. But at the same time I do not accept that a ‘Jewish State’ that prioritises one race over all others is needed to accomplish that, and I do not accept that such a need could even begin to justify the persecution of the Palestinians, who were native to the lands that are now Israel before it was founded, over the last seventy years and more.

Does that mean I hate the Jews? Does that mean I wish to destroy my own heritage and people from within? If so, the Labour Party is accusing me of being a ‘Kapo‘, a ‘JiNO‘, a ‘self-hating Jew‘ for not having dual loyalties to both Britain and Israel. That means that these rules the Labour Party are using to govern anti-Semitism within its ranks are, themselves, anti-Semitic, for the IHRA examples expressly mention insinuations of dual loyalty as being offensive.

Unless… unless we take into account the intent behind these guidelines. If we put the guidelines in context, and read everything around them, we see that they are intended to combat anti-Semitism. Is that right?

tenor

Gotchaaaaaaaaaa….

Aha! So the attitude that produces the behaviour is what ultimately determines whether there is racism at play? So I was right with what I said above about the motive behind the behaviour, rather than the behaviour itself, being decisive. Some people can commit acts that bear resemblance to acts committed by anti-Semites, but that does not prove that they are being anti-Semitic. And as anti-Semitism is an attitude, one can hardly behave anti-Semitically ‘by accident’. Unfortunately, the Labour Party is not extending that same degree of nuance to its deliberations as it has to receive in order for its processes to be credible.

As another example, there is a woman listed on page 782, among Labour members currently suspended (or at least currently at the time of writing, which appears to be last Autumn), called Helen Collins. I happen to know Ms Collins personally. She and I are emphatically not friends, let me be clear, and truth be told, I usually go well out of my way to avoid her. I have absolutely no personal stake in defending her. Nonetheless, when I saw her name on the list of members suspended for anti-Semitism, I genuinely hooted in ridicule at such an astonishing decision. I am perfectly prepared to vouch for her on this, if on nothing else; whatever else she is, Helen Collins is absolutely not, never has been, and never will be an anti-Semite, or indeed any other type of racist. I am not exaggerating when I say that calling her an anti-Semite is like accusing Nelson Mandela of being a White Supremacist. The suggestion comes from just completely the wrong side of the Moon.

What were the reasons for Ms Collins’ suspension? Sharing an insulting picture of Tom Watson on her social media – Watson is of course not even Jewish – and, as follows; –

  • multiple Rothschild conspiracy posts
  • a website repeating Recep Erdoğan likening Israel to Nazi Germany
  • and a post stating that Boris Johnson was “In their pay” when he made a speech
    praising Zionism.

Yes, an anti-Semite might do any of these things. But once again, we need to consider the impulse behind what Ms Collins has shared. From my own knowledge of her, I would say the impulse for the first of them is her naivety, and the others, a genuinely-felt opposition to Israeli aggression against the Palestinians.

For the first one, Rothschild conspiracies are very stupid, given that they are assuming hundreds of descendants of a small nineteenth-century family will somehow still have enough wealth to go around to have the same influence as their forebears. And there is no doubt that the conspiracy theories surrounding the Rothschilds are anti-Semitic in their origin. But the act of merely sharing them around is not enough in itself to prove anti-Semitism. For one thing, a lot of people I have seen sharing them online do not appear aware that the Rothschilds are Jewish, and never seem to share any other material with anti-Semitic intent behind them. From my, admittedly limited, observations, I for one have never seen Ms Collins share anything actually hostile to Jews for being Jews on social media.

As for the other two points, they are once again just lazy conflations of ‘Jews’ with ‘Zionists’. While it is always distasteful agreeing with a megalomaniac like Recep Erdoğan, there is, as I pointed out above, a resemblance between Israel now and Germany then.

And whether Johnson is in the pay of Zionists or not is surely a matter for investigation rather than dismissal, I would have thought, given the content of The Lobby proves beyond doubt that Israeli money does exert an undue influence on British politics. Merely stating what the evidence objectively shows hardly constitutes anti-Semitism either, especially as there is no particular insinuation that the corruption is happening ‘because the bribers are Jewish’. If – and only if – there were an indication that that was the belief, then the Labour Party can start disciplinary proceedings.

Here, let us make it clear; –

Do Jews run the world? No. Never have done, never will.

Does Israel run the world? No. Never has done, probably never will.

Does Israel exert an inappropriate influence on a number of other countries? Yes. It does not do so because it is a Jewish State, but it does exert an influence that undermines the democratic processes of the countries involved. And yes, heaven knows, the UK and the USA have similar corrupt influences on other countries around the world too, and the left of the Labour Party routinely castigate that reality as well. There is no need to assume that some implication is being made about Jews just because it happens to be Israel under discussion in this instance.

No, Helen Collins should be cleared and have her membership reinstated. End of.

Before I close, I just wish to have my inevitable “I-told-you-so!” moment. The following table shows how many members were suspended or expelled by the Labour Party NEC for anti-Semitism over the last few years; –

NEC expulsions by year

This table shows how NEC disciplinary processes were sped up by the new system introduced by Jennie Formby

While this one looks at suspensions and expulsions as a whole, including ones carried out by the NCC; –

AS Expulsions by year

Total anti-Semitism-related expulsions from the party by NEC and NCC combined, quarter-by-quarter

Other sections mention the considerable number of ‘false alarm’ complaints received, and these probably account for the impression in some quarters of there being a ‘high volume’ of cases.

One individual tenders half the complaints in one year

Sounds familiar… But so many are not party members, and some are duplicated complaints. This exaggerates the scale of the AS issue in Labour

Despite Owen Jones making very detail-free and imprecise attempts on social media over the last couple of days, to talk up the ‘scale’ of the anti-Semitism problem in the Labour Party, the truth is, these tables sum up just about the entirety of it. The numbers involved, as we can see, are pretty much all trifling, and the bottom line i.e. the cases where the evidence was strong enough to be considered “case-proven” and result in an expulsion, is fifty-six. (And glancing at some of them, I am unsure even they were correct, but I shall leave that on one side.)

Fifty-six. In about four years. In a party of half-a-million.

The point I keep making just keeps being made. This whole furore is a storm-in-a-teacup. Sorry if that sounds ‘offensive’ to you when it is a matter of racism, but it is objectively true. There just are not enough people involved in this to make it worth the excruciating fuss that has been made.

What the report really shows is that modifications needed to be made to how the party handles complaints back when McNicol was General Secretary, but also that the modifications made, while better than what was there before, are not quite right.

So, next step; expel Watson, McNicol et al.

Then, I think Jennie Formby needs to offer rather a large apology on behalf of the Labour Party to a lot of insulted members.

by Martin Odoni

As mentioned overnight, a dossier detailing conduct within the mechanisms of the Labour Party over the last five years has been uncovered. It was compiled for sending to an independent inquiry into supposedly “rife” anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, but some administrator in the party structure barred the dossier from being forwarded (a move that sounds strangely reminiscent of…. oooooh, something that happened in about, what was it? 1989? In South Yorkshire, was it?). Excerpts were leaked to Sky News yesterday, and there has been a growing clamour for it to be published in full.

Well guess what? The dossier was leaked to Novara Media. I doubt we shall ever know who did it, but what I can say is that, yes, from what I have seen so far, it really is damning. It demonstrates that, while they were whining to the complaints unit about being ‘bullied’ by ‘Trotsrabbledogs‘, the right wing of the Labour Party were being just as abusive, often contemplating outright violence, but behind the backs of the left. They were also very evidently trying to obstruct and sabotage any chance Labour had of winning elections so long as Jeremy Corbyn remained leader.

A lot of the abuse and occasional dirty tricks can be found in Section 2, starting on page 27 through to page 117. Here are some samples; –

Bullying Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott receiving some behind-the-back insults, some bordering on sexist, some bordering on racist, none bordering on acceptable. And trying to set her up at a bad moment by sending a Channel 4 reporter after her was just vile.

Page 45

It seems the party staff had no higher an opinion of Owen Smith (who?) than the left of the party had. Oh, and Catherine Bramwell hates ‘Trots’ it seems. Derogatory terms like that do rather make it obvious why the Labour left retaliate with terms like “Red Tories”.

 

Page 51

Jo Greening approves of using Hitler-comparisons against the party leader, while Dan Hogan advocates the execution by firing squad of a staff member showing support for Corbyn.

 

Moussavi idly discusses murder

Staff at Labour HQ seemed to think plotting to assassinate the party leader is fine so long as you are HALF-joking.

P49 - 50 - open declaration of conspiracy

Simon Jackson, during “the Chicken Coup”, insists Corbyn has to go, even if forced.

P77-78

Showing respect to a fellow party member is a sackable offence in an Iain McNicol office, it seems

 

P 87

During the GE2017 campaign, Corbyn was deliberately removed from early campaign literature, while extra party finance was reassigned to Tom Watson’s safe seat in the West Midlands, to make sure he was in position to usurp Corbyn in the event of the (wrongly) predicted heavy defeat. They also indulged in deliberate ‘go-slow’ work-rates to hamper Corbyn’s chances even further.

 

24-4-2017

Through the GE2017 campaign, Corbyn was blocked from seeing the party’s digital spending budget.

 

2-5-2017

It really was a miracle Labour forced a Hung Parliament in 2017, when the HQ did things like this; here they block Corbyn from getting contact details for the party’s Election candidates, making it very difficult for him to co-ordinate rallies and other events with them.

 

5-5-2017

There was a sewage problem in the Labour HQ building. Naturally, the rooms worst-affected and that smelt the most abominable were assigned to Corbyn’s staff, and not McNicol’s

 

Right wing hogs resources - LOTO kept in the dark

Perhaps the biggest corruption. Campaign resources during GE2017 were allocated to prioritise right-wing party candidates, with Corbyn being deliberately kept in the dark at all times. This meant leftist candidates were always under-funded and in far more danger of being wiped out at the polls.

All-in-all, it stinks to high heaven of a petty, spiteful, territorial and corrupt faction taking their ball home when they cannot get their own way, like a schoolkid who provides the football in the playground, but refuses to let anyone else play with it unless he is allowed to be one of the captains. It is always the same with the right wing of the Labour Party, and has been since at least the 1950’s. The right wing must always be in charge, the left wing must always do as the right tells them. Any other arrangement, and rebellion breaks out.

And remember, this is only a summary of an overview of what was happening at Labour HQ. So much else was going on in Westminster with the Labour backbenchers trying to remove Corbyn by bullying and by dirty tricks. That he forced a Hung Parliament in his first General Election is a truly miraculous achievement, given he had the mechanisms of his own party set against him every bit as much as the Tory and Liberal Democrat machines were.

Far more analysis is to be done, but what we can say is that this dossier already leaves Iain McNicol and his staff bang-to-rights, and the subtle implications of intrigues with Tom Watson, while not enough to say his guilt has been proven, are clearly too strong to be overlooked.

More to come soon.

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FOLLOW-UP IS HERE.