Lee Scott was MP for Ilford North from 2005-15.
The appointments to the new shadow cabinet by Jeremy Corbyn have confirmed his stranglehold over the direction and control of the Labour Party. The placement of his left wing metropolitan cronies to the key posts illustrates how irrelevant the elected members of the Parliamentary Labour Party have become. His confirmation as leader, resulting from a voting system that allowed any far left loony to simply pay a fee and get a vote, has gifted him absolute power over the party.
Labour has not only sprinted away from the centre ground of British politics they have abandoned any link they might have had with common sense. Their announcements on policy from their Party conference platform and beyond are a clear indication of how unqualified they are for public office at any level, let alone national government.
I have commented before on the anti-semitism that is becoming an increasingly common thread in the mindset of the extreme left of British politics. During both the 2010 and the 2015 General Election campaigns I was on the receiving end. Hate mail, threats and intimidation were the very clear indication of these problems. Increased security precautions, prudent planning and a police presence when required addressed these obvious signs. Since raising these issues I have heard from candidates from most of the political parties who told me of their own experiences. What many will find astonishing is that some of those on the receiving end of this far left inspired anti-Semitic ‘campaigning’ are not even Jewish.
This is the disturbing trend that is becoming more and more entrenched inside the Labour ‘movement’ at every level. Now let’s be very clear – I am not suggesting that all their members are anti Jewish. However, it is a bellwether issue for the extremist entryists and one of their key tests for the faithful.
It must be noted that during the past several months the Labour Party leadership really began to take notice that they could well have a difficulty with the issue of anti-semitism. The evidence for this hostile outlook was apparent from statements made in their youth wing, especially in universities and colleges, from officials and elected members. There were, short term, suspensions from the Party that even included current and former MPs.
However, the problem the Party leadership wanted addressing was not the one of explicit hostile opinions of Jews. These had become increasingly commonplace over the past few years. Their dilemma was that the media had started to notice and so something needed to be seen to be done. Their preferred distraction was to hold an internal inquiry, the outcome of which was not only predictable but absurd.
It would be very easy to dismiss the Labour Party conference as a medium sized gathering composed of silly people saying foolish things. However, in much of what is being suggested as policies, often away from the main hall, are in fact dangerous and those advocating these schemes really do want to implement them.
In parallel with the main conference there was Momentum’s “The World Transformed” fringe event. Israel Radio parliamentary correspondent Jerry Lewis was granted accreditation only to have it revoked just over one hour later with the excuse from Momentum that they had “run out of press passes” for the event. Lewis has covered Labour events for 35 years so what was it they did not want reported or message did they mean to send. Some have explained away the Momentum fringe as just a bunch of tired old Trots talking only to themselves. However, let’s not forget that this umbrella group have just been instrumental in securing the re-election of Corbyn as Labour leader.
Given the Labour Party’s obvious problems on the issue of anti-semitism one can only assume that efforts were made to keep the most embarrassing outbursts under wraps during their conference. In spite of these we still got to peek behind the façade. In the main hall when discussing why the Jewish community feels let down Mike Katz of the Jewish Labour Movement was actually heckled from the audience. The team on the Labour Friends of Israel stall apparently had to field a number of bizarre approaches from conference delegates peddling their own peculiar ‘Jewish conspiracy’ fantasies. What will this bunch of loonies come up with next – The Protocols of the Elders of Zion?
In his leaders speech on the last day of the conference Corbyn’s team slotted in a few clever words on the autocue – ‘absolutely clear, anti-Semitism is an evil’ ‘and ‘always will fight against prejudice and hatred of Jewish people’. Labour must be judged not by words but by deeds. Under their new system ‘investigations’ into the offensive actions or comments, such as those on the Holocaust and of Jews being responsible for the slave trade, will be held in secret. This practice was implemented following their internal inquiry and aims to keep such political embarrassments hidden behind closed doors. The expulsion of a hand-full of indiscreet loudmouth individual Momentum activists will never address their underlying problems.
A somewhat broad brush impression of the present state of the Labour Party can be gathered from the recent broadcasts by both the BBC Panorama and the Channel 4 Dispatches programmes. If you did not see these I would urge the use of the catch up service. The character of the ‘Momentum’ group and the political factions that operate under its banner were very revealing. What has become certain is that the token temporary suspension of far left activists elected to Constituency Labour Party office is gesture politics at its worst. I was never a huge fan of Neil Kinnock, but as Labour leader he recognised his duty to purge the Party of the Militant Tendency and its supporters. Without similar robust action Labour, as recognised by its supporters and opponents, will soon be extinct in British politics. What may linger in its place should give us all pause for thought.
As Conservatives we can take some small pleasure in the self inflicted difficulties of our main political opponents and the likely impact in their attempts to become Britain’s 21st century Socialist Government. However, we must remember the past record of the far left’s malign influence on Labour. Through control of local councils, up and down the country, they did tremendous harm and we can’t let that happen again.