by Martin Odoni

The current chapter with Ruth Smeeth and Marc Wadsworth has only underlined how the right wing of the Labour Party have nothing to offer but theatrics. They are far more resistant to the left wing of their own party than they will ever be to the Conservatives. The ridiculous ‘march-of-solidarity’ a number of Red Tory MPs carried out with Smeeth on Friday, as she headed out to hear the findings of the National Constitutional Committee’s investigation, was just another example of their over-orchestration.

No one should be fooled for a moment by any of this. These people are no more worried about racism than they are about an invasion of Earth by the armies of Ming The Merciless. Their expressions of disgust are only triggered selectively after all. The current clamour about the appalling mistreatment of the Windrush Generation by the Tories is the clearest and most scandalous example of institutional racism in this country in generations. An unspoken but clear expression that victims did not ‘count’ as truly British, and were therefore perfectly acceptable fodder for a policy designed to get net immigration down by any means. And yet all of these Labour MPs shedding crocodile tears for Ruth Smeeth – and indeed Smeeth herself – seem incredibly reluctant to call it racist. They rightly attack the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, for incompetence. Her lack of awareness of so many goings-on at the Home Office are reminiscent of Jim Hacker trying to find out information from Sir Humphrey Appleby, and Yes, Minister was supposed to be a parody. But the racial dimension is unmistakable, and yet few of the people losing bladder-control over Smeeth’s spat with Wadsworth (over something that could only be interpreted as racist by the most ridiculous mental gymnastics), will mention that dimension over the Windrush Scandal.

Luciana Berger, who is also Jewish, is one Labour MP I particularly want to single out for condemnation. I used to respect her for her work on mental health. I was marching next to her at an anti-Tory protest in Birmingham about eighteen months ago. But she no longer has my respect, and if the chance ever came up, I would refuse to march with her ever again.

Berger triggered last month’s ridiculous clamour about a mural that does not even exist anymore, just as Labour’s Local Election campaign was getting underway. It was so blatant what she was doing, it astounds me how few people have picked up on it. She put up a tweet with a screenshot of Jeremy Corbyn questioning on social media way back in 2012 the removal of the Brick Lane Mural, and claimed that she had demanded an explanation from the Leader’s office earlier that day. Not long after, she put up another tweet complaining that the response of the ‘spokesperson’ from the Leader’s office was not good enough. She did not state what the response was, or what was wrong with it. What is clear is that she had not offered much time for a response.

Why did Berger feel the need to announce this on social media? Why did she not make a full attempt to discuss it with Corbyn in private first? Why did she not at least give Corbyn time to look into it and refresh his memory? Why did she feel that this was important at all, given six years had passed since the mural had been painted over? Why did she feel it was important, given that, despite the clamour, the mural was not anti-Semitic in its content? Why did she have to announce it then, and not three years earlier when the matter had previously been raised in the media? Why did she have to choose a moment that was sure to de-rail a Local Election campaign?

The answer to all of these questions is the same, and it is obvious. She and her right-wing colleagues are trying to get rid of Corbyn any way they can, and they find the nearest they have to an effective weapon against him is supposed ‘anti-Semitism’ among his supporters. And as the Angry Yorkshireman points out, the Blairites and their allies had little choice but to side with the left during the General Election a year ago, because their own seats in the House of Commons were at stake. But they are perfectly happy to sacrifice local councillors and the hard work of grass-roots activists up and down the UK, in order to create a Local Elections disaster, for which Corbyn can then take the blame.

Berger was in yesterday’s march, even though she must have been as aware as anyone that Smeeth had repeatedly lied about what had happened during her spat with Wadsworth. Smeeth put up the following statement on social media not long after the contretemps; –

Smeeths statement on Wadsworth

Smeeth’s lies and exaggerations are considerable. Wadsworth most certainly did not say anything anti-Semitic, for reasons I outlined yesterday. He did not speak of a ‘media conspiracy’, nor did he espouse any other ‘vile conspiracy theories about Jewish people’. Smeeth’s statement then twisted events, on very doubtful grounds, into an attack on Corbyn. It is noticeable that Smeeth felt compelled to take the statement down from her Twitter feed in February this year, perhaps hoping that her false claims could not be summoned back to haunt her.

In a later interview with the Evening Standard, she claimed,

“Wadsworth… said, ‘Ruth Smeeth is working hand- in-hand with the Right-wing media to attack Jeremy’. So I shouted, ‘How dare you?’ The audience started shouting at me — at the launch of an inquiry into how we treat Jews in the Labour Party!

However, it is quite clear from video of the incident that no one was shouting at Smeeth. From the soundtrack, some people seemed to be hushing her because they were trying to hear what Wadsworth was saying, but that is quite different from what Smeeth claims.

Smeeth further claims that, in the aftermath of the spat, she received over twenty-five thousand abusive messages, including twenty-thousand in about twelve hours. That she sat there while receiving all this hostility, earnestly counting the messages, seems implausible in itself, but as Jonathan Cook points out, an analysis of the facts raises severe doubts about her claim anyway. The Community Security Trust, a Jewish lobby group in the UK that, a little like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, has a habit of seeing anti-Semitic attitudes lurking around every corner, carried out a study of anti-Semitic activity on Twitter across a year-long period that, as luck would have it, included the spell in which Smeeth claims to have been ‘under siege’. Their research found that there were only fifteen thousand anti-Semitic tweets.

“She received fifteen thousand anti-Semitic tweets?!?” I hear you cry. “All right, it’s less than she said, but that’s still horrible!!!”

Well, yes, it would be, except for two details; the fifteen thousand figure is not the total number Smeeth received. It is in fact for the total number of anti-Semitic tweets the CST were able to detect for the entire year. And they were from all of the UK, including all anti-Semitic tweets that had not been directed at Smeeth.

In fairness to Smeeth, she might have meant abuse of a more general type, and some of it may have been away from Twitter, but given she has spent several years using this incident to talk up the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, it seems likely that she was being deliberately misleading. Either way, the twenty-five thousand figure sounds fantastically inflated, if not plucked out of thin air. So she was lying. Again.

I find it difficult to believe that Berger was unaware of all of this, and yet she, and other colleagues, still found Smeeth’s plight of “anti-Semitic bullying” so great that they had to express complete solidarity with her, while paying comparatively little mind to the far more severe plight of the Windrush generation.

To sum up the Labour Right position; –

An MP on the receiving end of a snide remark about co-operating with the Telegraph is a victim of racism. A generation of innocent people threatened with deportation from the country they helped to rebuild after the war, because they have a background of oppressed colonial slavery, are not victims of racism, but of incompetence.

The real give-away though, is that these two-faced Blairite frauds are not even consistent in their anti-racist stance among their fellow MPs. No other MP in the UK has suffered as much, or as vile, abuse of both the racist and misogynistic varieties, as Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott. She gets abuse, especially on Twitter, every day. Including recently, calls for her beheading.

Diane Abbott beheading threat

You might laugh at the reference to lightsabres, but don’t ignore the bit when ‘Greg’ says “whatever you can put your hands on.”

Half the Labour Party were ridiculously quick to express sympathy and support for Berger when she tried to claim she was ‘hurt’ by the business with the mural. (Oh really? Grow a skin, Luciana!) And the same suspects were quick to join the march with Smeeth on Friday.

But when Abbott gets bombarded with, frankly, primitive abuse over social media or in public, these same MPs’ Twitter feeds are so quiet you can hear pixels on their profile pictures clearing their throats.

The above threat was sent to Abbott on the 15th of April.

Check Luciana Berger’s Twitter feed on that date and the days afterwards… nothing!

What about Harriet Harman, Mother of the House, and always a staunch champion of female MPs against misogynistic abuse…. no, nothing!

How about John Mann, who has been extremely loud in his opposition to supposed anti-Semitism? Does he oppose anti-black racist threats too….? No, nothing!

What about Ruth Smeeth? She demands so much solidarity and support when she claims to be a victim of racial abuse, so surely she would have spoken out against the threat Diane Abbott received…? No, nothing!

How about John Woodcock, who made a point of supporting Smeeth very publicly, while joining the insinuations that Jews who do not support Israel are ‘the wrong kind’? Did he back Diane Abbott against threats….? No, nothing!

And on. And on. As I say, Abbott gets abuse on a totally different scale from anyone else in Parliament every single day, and her colleagues on the right wing of the party always just ignore it. The reason, almost certainly, is that she is a Corbyn supporter in the Shadow Cabinet, and therefore, despite her admittedly modest talents, she is regarded as an ‘enemy’ who has to be removed. Expressing any support for her might evoke sympathy for her, and the Red Tories are worried that that would make it harder to get rid of her.

The strategy is comprehensible, but also makes a complete joke of the manufactured outrage against supposed ‘anti-Semitism’. The only racism they get fired up about is the type that is exaggerated and against individuals who are far less vulnerable than victims who are isolated (Abbott) and powerless (the Windrush Generation).

Being Jewish, I would welcome a sincere attempt to combat anti-Semitism. But that anti-Semitism has to be real to begin with, and the attempt to fight it should never happen at the cost of fighting more egregious racism that does more substantial harm. What real anti-Semitism there is in the Labour Party at present is intermittent and fleeting, and no matter how distressing it can be, it causes little real harm. Whereas the institutional racism highlighted by the Windrush Scandal has done enormous harm, and simply has to be dealt with first, on the basis of what it really is – not just Tory incompetence, but Tory racism and incompetence. Labour right wingers need to march with anti-racist groups and attend anti-racism demonstrations in support of all minorities, not just the ones in support of colleagues who are quite clearly telling lies anyway.

Otherwise, they are just using accusations of racism as a weapon, and as I have pointed out many times before, that makes them racists themselves.