The Labour Party machine is hastening to “clean house”. It announced at the end of January that it had expelled 45 members over antisemitism in 2019. Another 104 members voluntarily quit in 2019 while charges of antisemitism were pending.
In 2018, ten people were expelled and in 2017, one.
296 members were suspended over antisemitism complaints in 2019, compared with 98 suspended in 2018. The numbers are still small compared to the many hundreds “auto-excluded” in 2015 and 2016 (without a hearing and often without precise charges), not for antisemitism but for left-wing associations, current or previous.
One expellee claimed that “Jews control everything”, raged against “corrupt Jewish puppet bankers”, and since being expelled has claimed that “Labour is ruled by Israel”.
Clearing such ideas out of Labour discourse is good and necessary. And as yet we have no evidence of anyone suspended or expelled for positive activity for Palestinian rights (as distinct from spreading “world Jewish conspiracy” theories targeted on Israel).
Cause for concern, though. National Executive Committee candidate Jo Bird was suspended during most of the NEC nominations period, and then had the suspension lifted with as little explanation as when it was imposed.
We won’t be voting for Jo Bird, but we oppose this administrative “cancel-culture from above”.
Ideas that success against antisemitism is measured by numbers of expulsions are generating a spillover towards an idea that the measure of trans rights is numbers of expulsions of claimed transphobes and bannings from debate of claimedly-transphobic motions.
The “house-cleaning” hits chiefly people who are gushing and garrulous on social media, and leaves swathes of more intricate anti-Jewish prejudice untouched.
The best medicine is open debate and education.