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.