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.

______________

FOLLOW-UP IS HERE.

by Martin Odoni

EDIT 13th APRIL: It now has been published.

—————————–

I am just going to leave these details here, and let readers figure it out for themselves.

NOTE: This dossier does not necessarily disprove the long-running ‘anti-Semitism’ allegations against the Labour Party. Indeed, given the report was doubtlessly written using the hopelessly-flawed IHRA definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ as a guideline – one that conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism – even applying it retro-actively to the time before it was accepted on any (relatively) wide scale, it will probably conclude that thousands of examples submitted as evidence are valid cases when they are not.

Nonetheless, it appears that it will prove that the right wing of the Labour Party conspired and operated behind the scenes to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, and sabotaged the party’s chances of winning the General Elections of 2017 and 2019. In so doing, they not only smeared many of their fellow party members, but also corrupted the United Kingdom’s electoral processes. It proves once and for all that the right wing of the Labour Party would prefer the Tories in power to the left forming a Government. Iain McNicol and Tom Watson must be called to account.

THE WITHHELD DOSSIER MUST BE PUBLISHED IN FULL.

by Martin Odoni

Some on the left think ‘Sir’ Keir Starmer has made a good start as a Labour Leader whom real progressives can rely on. Some think he is already on the brink of completely destroying every bit of progress the left made in reforming the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.

For myself, I would argue that it is much too early to draw a clear conclusion, but I have to say, I already see clear signs that the left should be very suspicious. I shall list them with limited elaboration; –

  • Starmer off-loaded a lot of Corbyn supporters from the Shadow Cabinet before getting around to appointing even the first of the ones he retained. This gives a very strong impression that the likes of Rebecca Long-Bailey were only kept as a pacification gesture to the party-left. (No, Emily Thornberry is not a leftist.) Also note that Long-Bailey was Shadow Industry Secretary under Corbyn, but is now Shadow Education Secretary – something of a demotion.
  • Starmer did not retain leftist Richard Burgon, who was clearly one of the most able of, admittedly, not a huge whirlpool of potential front-bench talent.
  • Starmer recalled Blairite dinosaurs like the immensely-corrupt Lord Falconer, Nick Brown, and Rachel ‘we’ll-be-tougher-on-welfare-than-the-Tories‘ Reeves. Starmer could hardly be less progressive without offering a place at the table to Jacob Rees-Mogg.
  • Starmer failed to appoint a Shadow Minister for the Disabled.
  • Starmer has been rather ‘fluttering his eyelashes‘ at the Tory benches about forming a Government of ‘National Unity’ during the CoVid-19 pandemic. After years of fashionable complaint around the country that a Leader of the Opposition with over forty defeats of the sitting Government to his name has provided ‘ineffective Opposition’, it is utterly bewildering that Starmer’s idea of being ‘effective in Opposition’ to a Tory administration is to join forces with Boris Johnson.
  • By the same measure, Lisa Nandy, the new Shadow Foreign Secretary, keeps talking about ‘working with the Government’, rather than cross-examining Government conduct.
New Labour co-operative opposition

Corbyn defeated the Government over forty times in the Commons, and centrists called him ‘ineffective’. Starmer and Nandy want to work WITH the Government, and centrists say, “At last, some EFFECTIVE Opposition!” Do they even think before they speak?

  • Starmer asks the Government to publish their ‘exit strategy‘ for the pandemic. Not a bad question to ask in itself, but surely if he was really looking to be ‘effective’, he would prioritise other questions? Like, for instance, “How in blazes has the Government responded so badly to the pandemic that the UK is now projected to be hit far worse than any other European country, with a death-toll higher than the next four countries combined?” A national emergency requires at least as much rigorous cross-examination of Government as ‘normal’ times. This would be a much rougher question to ask, but it needs to be asked. Why is Starmer being gentle on an extreme right-wing administration?
Projected CoVid-19 death-tolls

The projected death-toll for the UK, unless there is a serious change of approach by the Government, is LARGER than the civilian death-toll due to air-raids during World War II

  • Starmer has offered little discernible reaction to the shocking death-toll confirmed in the UK for the 24 hours prior to the 8th of April. Even allowing for complications in the way data is processed – another failing he should be criticising – the toll for the day of 938 demanded a fierce response. Equally, he should have been leading the pushback against the preposterous attempts by the mainstream media to claim that the day was ‘better news‘ than the previous day, even though the new death-toll was not only a record for the UK during the crisis, but was actually higher than the disastrous peak in Italy – 919 on 27th March. Worse than Italy, after it was the epicentre of the crisis for weeks!
  • Starmer shows disturbing signs of giving in to unreasonable demands from the excessively-respected Board of Jewish Deputies, and of taking all its complaints about ‘anti-Semitism’ (actually criticism of Israel) at face-value. This was the key weapon of the Labour Right in their campaign to undermine Corbyn and smear the reputations of his supporters. It was used filthily, ruthlessly, unscrupulously, and without abatement for over four years, and destroyed the lives of thousands of good, decent people – the overwhelming majority of whom were on the party-left – who simply wanted Palestinian rights to be respected. Many of them, like myself, are actually Jewish. Starmer has displayed no willingness to discuss the matter with anti-Zionist Jewish groups like Jewish Voice For Labour, suggesting he is uninterested in getting a broader perspective, and regards ‘Jews’ as a homogeneous mass.
  • Is it ever a good look for a Labour leader to accept a knighthood?
Sir Keir - the egalitarian

Not writing off Starmer as Tony Blair mk II yet. But he is off to an unpromising start.

If you have spotted other worrying signs, feel free to list them in the comments.

To repeat, I am not writing Starmer off yet, as such. But if you know the important details to watch for, the signs are bad.

Anyway, to lighten the mood, we shall now finish on a joke, albeit one with a serious point behind it that centrists should pause to consider about their own behaviour under Corbyn. It relates to the first Opinion Poll of the new Leader of the Opposition’s tenure, a survey for Wales only; –

Centrist whining goes around & comes around

You can’t have it both ways, Centrists. Given Starmer is a new leader, there should be a ‘bounce’ and yet there isn’t one, so he has to take the same stick as Corbyn used to every time there was bad polling news.

As I say, it is a joke, but there is an echo of truth. This is exactly the sort of knee-jerk rubbish the Labour-Right were throwing at Corbyn any time there was a problem. They had better brace themselves for a lot of the same grief coming the other way in the years ahead.

_____

UPDATE: As I was writing the above, Starmer added to the Shadow Cabinet Jess Phillips, Wes Streeting, Peter Kyle, and Stephen Kinnock. All right wing of the party and a history of malignant anti-Corbynism, including undermining both of Corbyn’s General Election efforts. The Shadow Cabinet is now dominated by the right. I think that counts as an extra mark against Starmer’s progressive credentials.

Starmer’s total lack of pushback against the Evening Standard’s brazen display of anti-Semitism this week is another. This was against his own colleague, and while Starmer was promising the Board of Deputies that he would fight anti-Semitism. It seems that he, like all the Labour-Right, are only interested in fighting Jew-hate on the left of their own party – even when it is not there – than fight the real thing in the party that is supposed to be their diametrically-opposed enemy.

by Martin Odoni

First off, thanks to those who left me nice messages of support last month when I fell ill with the CoVid19 fever. I am happy to report that I have more-or-less recovered now. I am one of the lucky ones, in that my case was relatively mild, even if it has been maddeningly persistent. I am no longer showing most of the symptoms, apart from a lingering cough, and I do not think my lungs have suffered any lasting damage. Sadly, with all indicators suggesting that the pandemic is out-of-control across the country and poised to be even worse than the disaster in Spain, I fear my case should not be seen as the ‘standard’ example.

So. Keir Starmer is the new leader of the Labour Party. I cannot hide my despair at how many Labour members did not seem to realise that they were voting for a man on the right of the party, or indeed that his foolish insistence on pushing for a Remain platform was effectively the blunder that cost Labour the General Election in December. Almost all the Leave-supporting heartlands in the north, “The Red Wall” usually unchallengeable in their support for Labour, fell, due to the perception that Labour was trying to reverse the 2016 Brexit referendum. Now, some 270,000 Labour members have come around to the idea that the man who aggressively seeks to reverse Brexit is the leader to win back all those lost pro-Brexit voters?

As I say, I despair.

The signs within the party are not good at all for the left. There are clear moves afoot to start yet another unscrupulous purge of the membership, even of leftists who chose to support Starmer. It seems, just as the electorate in the country were turkeys-voting-for-Christmas-dinner back in the winter, so too are the much narrower electorate within the Labour Party. Starmer was quick to use the, now-very-worn, pretext of semi-fictitious “anti-Semitism-in-the-Labour-Party” in his opening speech yesterday, which means once again it is Open Season on victims of false accusations.

Anime Corbyn supporters Hiding From a Terminator called Starmer

“What have we done?”

As I have been saying about Boris Johnson over the last few weeks with his appalling mishandling of the CoVid19 pandemic, I also say now about Starmer; “Don’t come whining to me when you’re purged. You guys wanted him. I didn’t.

The hypocrisy of the anti-Corbynites in the Parliamentary Labour Party is only underlined by their obnoxious celebrations. Their relentless, cruel kicking of Corbyn when he is down on social media has been as thoroughly nauseating to observe as it has been unnecessary. It suggests a really juvenile insecurity among their number. But also, if we think back to four-to-five years ago, when Corbyn first became leader, we have to recall the arguments the Labour Right were raising against him; –

“He’s such a dull speaker… he’s so uncharismatic… he doesn’t have any fire or inspiration” etc. To be honest, I find those descriptions rather appropriately apply to Keir Starmer, whom I find to be one of the most monotonous speakers in the House Of Commons, as well as yet another ‘Blair-clone’ in both appearance and rhetoric.

There was also the curious objection that a few self-proclaimed ‘feminist writers’ in the Guardian were raising over and over, that Corbyn should not have been made leader because it was time for Labour to have a female leader. If that were the case back in 2015, surely five years on that need is even more urgent, right?

And yet, checking the columns on the Guardian website this morning, the likes of Suzanne Moore and Anne Perkins, so vocal in 2015-16, appear to have no pressing thoughts on the change of Labour leadership at all. How bizarre.

All those women writing in 2015 that it was time for a female Labour leader are oddly quiet today

The leftist candidate this year was one of the women. Surely Suzanne Moore got behind Rebecca Long-Bailey then? No? Oh, how strange…

Could it be because, this time, the leading female candidate was Rebecca Long-Bailey, who was also the farthest-left candidate? Surely the likes of Moore would not let their economic views interfere with their feminist principles? No, of course they would not…

Pardon? Er, yes, I am scratching my chin at the moment. The cause is purely an itch, nothing more.

Other bad news is that the National Executive Committee of the party is now firmly back in the grip of the centrists, paving the way for them to reverse the democratisation reforms the left had managed to impose over the previous few years.

Oh well, it looks like the door that was opened with Corbyn’s election is closed again. There have been three great civil wars in the Labour Party. The first was a bruising battle between the centrists, headed up by Hugh Gaitskell, and the left, in the form of the Trade Union leadership, in the 1950s. That war proved fairly indecisive, and ended with Gaitskell’s death through illness, and the emergence of Harold Wilson as a new compromise leader who was on neither wing of the party.

The second civil war was in the 1980s, and fought between the centrists, headed up by Denis Healey and Neil Kinnock, and the left, headed by Tony Benn. The centrists won through a campaign of grotesque dishonesty and Conservative-like ruthlessness.

Now, the Third Great Civil War Of The Labour Party has also been won by the centrists. Again, not because they are ‘in-the-right’ – they are not – but because they are always willing to fight dirtier and far more ruthlessly than the left.

Like Benn before him, Corbyn’s failing was always that he was not capable of the kind of ruthlessness that was bound to be necessary in a Parliamentary Party dominated by his opponents. For the left to succeed in future, it seems it will need a new leader who has Benn’s and Corbyn’s steadfast principles, but who also can accept when sword-and-cannon are required.

by Martin Odoni

I was never very confident going into this General Election. Oh, I often tried to project as positive a mood as I could, to do my bit for morale, but I never quite got the sense of the Labour Party closing the gap on the Tories as I got in 2017.

Even so, the shock of the Exit Poll suggesting Labour were down to below 200 seats was absolutely horrible, worse than the one in 2015. In the end, Labour were twelve seats up on the Exit Poll, but that is scant consolation. It is a disaster, and Labour are now in a weaker position in the House of Commons than they have been at any time since the end of World War II.

The right wing of the party, and the media, have been quick to push a message that Labour have moved too far left under Jeremy Corbyn, and need to start moving in a Blairite direction once more. Nick Robinson and Laura Kuenssberg – whose imprisonable offence from the other day should not become forgotten in all the electoral fall-out – of the BBC were particularly fast to try and contend that there was far more to Labour’s defeat than just a loss of pro-Brexit supporters. Through the night, they repeatedly pointed to anecdotal evidence from Labour campaigners that Corbyn was often spoken of as a “problem” for voters. Therefore, Robinson, almost obscene in his haste to announce that the ‘Corbyn Project’ was over even before Corbyn had said anything public about the results, concluded that it was time for a switch to the right.

This is, and I make no apology for the foul language here, bullshit.

Utter bullshit.

It is absolutely self-evident, and was even so as the results were unfolding, that the biggest factor in the outcome by a country mile was Brexit. At almost every turn where Labour’s support had slumped, a similar number of votes had been claimed by the Brexit Party, by the Tories, or by a combination of the two – the two parties that are most rigorously pursuing British departure from the European Union. Most of Labour’s lost support was in traditional working class territory in the north of England, the north of Wales, and the Midlands, and most particularly in areas where there was a high Leave vote in the 2016 Referendum.

Now, I have no doubt Corbyn was a factor in some voters’ rejection of Labour – no politician will be everybody’s cup of tea. And given how brutally and relentlessly he has been smeared by the media, including many supposedly ‘left-leaning’ periodicals, there can be no doubt that the wider public’s view of Corbyn has been unfairly coloured. But the general results do not offer any specific evidence of a rejection of Labour’s policy platform as a whole. The shift was very definitely Leavers, with their maddening tunnel-visioned obsession with Brexit, moving to parties boasting their determination to ‘Get Brexit done’.

Either way, a personal objection to Corbyn does not constitute an objection to his policies. When discussing the Labour Manifesto, people were usually very enthused – Labour’s polling numbers did improve substantially rather than deteriorate after it was launched – just as they had been in 2017. On that occasion, Labour scored forty per cent of the vote, and it seems unlikely that huge numbers have suddenly reversed that position.

The real issue appears to be that Labour’s position on Brexit over the last couple of years was a little difficult to follow. It did make sense if you took the time to study it, but there was never time enough for the short attention spans of the modern British public. By adopting a cautious pro-Remain position, Labour alienated a substantial number of ‘Lexiteers’, without drawing in all that many Remainers.

My own position on Brexit, by the way, has not changed. I still think it is a phenomenally stupid national endeavour when it is so disorganised and so ill-planned, hence the chaos of the last three years. But at the same time, I did accept that it should go ahead on democratic grounds. As did the Labour Party initially. The key mistake probably lay in trying to please Remainers within the party by allowing an option in the party policy to seek a new referendum.

In all this opportunistic scummery from the right wing of the Labour Party, there is also outright deceit; they know better than anyone that what has consistently brought their party’s chances of winning under Corbyn has been themselves, not Corbyn. Their endless and unnecessary rebellions, their cynically-timed public tantrums, their obvious and over-orchestrated charades of opposition to their own side, have done far more harm to Labour’s hopes than any Tory move. That has always been the point of course. The Labour Right may sound angry and disgusted about last night, but in truth, they are happy, because they would rather endure another five years out of power and with Boris Johnson in Downing Street than have a proper leftist leading their party into Government.  They were as much a part of the character-assassination of a man who owns an allotment, makes his own jam, and does not want a nuclear war, as the tabloids who caricatured him every day for years. And they were as much what skewered Labour’s own chances of success as the media too.

The infuriating irony is that, if I had a single pound for each time in my life I had heard members of the public complain about the sordid, cut-throat nature of politics, about how deceitful and treacherous politicians are, and how desperate they are to see some honour and integrity in the nation’s highest office, I would probably be rich enough to buy the Conservative Party. And yet, in Jeremy Corbyn, the nation had the perfect opportunity to get a real standard of honour and integrity in its Prime Minister. However, when it came to the crunch, the people ultimately rejected him, and instead sided with a bludgeoning, buffoonish, money-loving, pathological liar in his place.

People who try to defend such decisions on the grounds of ‘realism’ are being fatuous in the extreme. By definition, there is no ‘realism’ in putting one’s trust in a pathological liar, or in being taken in by smear campaigns, and other very obvious theatrics; and let us be honest, theatrics are the defining characteristic of what is called ‘New Labour’. What realism is there in calling a man who has fought racism his whole life a racist? What realism is there in calling a man of peace who has consistently opposed unnecessary wars a threat to national security? What realism is there in a narrative that says that anti-Semitism in a party’s membership is rife when its actual rate of anti-Semitic incidents is below 0.1% per head?

No, opposing Corbyn is not about realism, it is about defeatism, and it is a sign of very dark and unhappy times that so few people seem able to see any distinction.

The end for Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn is beaten, and has announced he will step down as Labour leader before the next General Election.

So, what next? Well, Corbyn has already made clear that he will not lead the Labour Party into the next General Election, whenever that is. This is not exactly a resignation, as it could mean he is still leader as late as 2024. But it is clearly an acceptance that he will never lead the country, and that means the opportunity that opened to the British left four years ago has been missed. There are not enough leftists still in the Parliamentary Party to be sure of enough nominations for a left-wing successor.

The Tories, red and blue, have broken the spirits of many tens of thousands of good, honest, Labour idealists, usually through the foulest of foul play. Cheating has triumphed, and for the third time, cheating appears to have won a Labour Party civil war for its right wing.

by Martin Odoni

Let all those plastic, manufactured career politicians in the House of Commons consider this. We do not care how hard you have ‘worked’ to make yourselves look all polished and business-like. We care about how hard you are prepared to work to make people’s lives better. We care about how hard you are prepared to fight – how much you are prepared to endure – to make it happen.

Corbyn earned my vote

He has earned my vote, and yours, through maintaining his integrity in the face of unparalleled and unjustified opposition and hostility from media and MPs on all sides.

No politician in the UK over the last four years has had to endure as much as Jeremy Corbyn. He has shown he can handle it, and he is fighting in the name of making people’s lives better. In going through all he has, and still persevering, he has earned my vote, and he should have everybody else’s too.

Vote Labour, 12th December 2019.