Labour must face up to new antisemitism storm

Submitted by AWL on 22 May, 2019 - 12:57 Author: Martin Thomas

According to the 16 May issue of the satirical magazine Private Eye, “former Labour staffers have… collected 100,000 emails, including tens of thousands showing how the party ignored complaints that supporters were promoting antisemitism”.

They plan to submit the material to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, and probably also to make it public. The story has been boosted by the pro-Tory Daily Mail. The main movers evidently have axes to grind. But that doesn’t mean that their grindstones are invented, and surely not that all of them are invented.

As shadow chancellor John McDonnell said on 6 February, when invited on a phone-in programme to rebuff the “smears” about antisemitism directed at the Labour Party: “It isn’t a smear campaign... I’ve seen the evidence”.

The Labour Party has been injured and skewed by a reflux of people who were trained politically in the 1980s, in the era of bans on university campus Jewish societies and the like, and have not re-educated themselves since. Labour needs to “face up to it”, as McDonnell said, and re-educate itself.

• Glyn Secker, secretary of Jewish Voice for Labour, a group focused on depicting concerns about antisemitism within the Labour Party as baseless, has made a partial apology for his speech at the Palestine Solidarity Campaign “Exist! Resist! Return!” march on 11 May. Secker has written: “At the rally, which highlighted the deaths and injuries suffered by Gazans demonstrating for their freedom, I allowed my outrage to dictate my expression and I am not pleased with the language I used…”

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