It’s claimed that the twentieth century saw a totalitarianism of race, fascism, and one of class, communism. But the truth is that the two tended to mingle. The nazis were class warriors, at least in their earlier phases (the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, our italic). And the communists were sometimes race ones.
Stalin “always hated Jews”, Paul Johnson tells us. “He hated the fact that so many of his relatives wished to marry Jews, and refused to meet five out of his eight grandchildren.”
So perhaps the institutional anti-semitism of Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership should not be all that surprising. But it still has the power to shock. One Jewish party member was told that “Hitler was right”; another heard two members agree that Jews are “subhuman”. Another that “we only have prostitutes in Seven Sisters because of the Jews”. An unsuccessful council candidate was told to go home and count his money.
An online post referred to “bent-nosed manipulative liars”; another to “cockroaches of the Jew kind”. Others used such terms as “kike” and “yid”. One Jewish Labour MP was called a “yid c**t”. Another was told that “we shall rid the Jews who are a cancer on all of us”. The party has certainly lost the MP concerned. It was Luciana Berger, now a Liberal Democrat – unable to bear Corbyn’s Labour any more.
Another member was called a “f**king Jew”. Another former Labour MP, Louise Ellman, has left the party. But why continue this shaming list? Please note: none of these quotes are connected with Israel. None of them even land in that murky territory where anti-Zionism and anti-semitism meet – for example, where Israel’s actions are compared to the nazis’.
All that is necessary to add is that the source of these quotes is decidedly non-Conservative. It is the closing submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission of the Jewish Labour Movement, the party’s “only Jewish and longest-standing affiliate”, as it describes itself. The assertion that Labour’s anti-semitism is “institutional” and “endemic” is the Movement’s own.
And it is in no doubt at all why it has come about. “Since Jeremy Corbyn has become leader of the Labour Party, he has made the party a welcoming refuge for anti-semites,” the submission says. It goes on to list in detail Labour’s failing to deal with the problem under the following headings: failure to implement processes to protect Jewish members from anti-semitism; hostile response to those calling out anti-semitism…
…Denial; discrediting of victims; defence of perpetrators; active victimisation of those calling out anti-semitism: on and on the submission goes. The more of the detail one reads, the less Corbyn’s own personal views matter. Whether he is or isn’t himself anti-semitic becomes scacely the point any more (though the evidence suggests that in his characteristic dim muddy way he is. (“Zionists don’t understand English irony”, he once said.)
Yes, anti-Muslim prejudice, and even anti-semitism, can be found on the Right. ConservativeHome needs no-one to remind us so: after all, we were the first conservative media outlet, as far as we know, to call for an enquiry into the former – doing so as long ago as 2010. We later supported an enquiry into all forms of hatred by the anti-extremism commissioner. The Conservatives have taken up the idea of an independent probe.
But there is a solid reason why most of our media colleagues have fixed their attention on anti-semitism and Jeremy Corbyn rather than anti-Muslim prejudice and Boris Johnson. It is because while parallelism always has a mesmeric attraction, there is sense in not applying it in this case. Which is why Sayeeda Warsi’s campaign has struggled to gain lift-off outside its usual Guardian and Independent stomping grounds.
If the parallel really applied, Johnson would have been playing footsie for years with, say, David Duke. (Steve Bannon is not the same thing – and his relationship with Johnson is clearly tangential, in any event.) And the problem with Party members would be far wider and deeper than all the available evidence suggests that it is. That independent enquiry into prejudice and hatred cross-party would tell us more.
In the meantime, there is an election to be getting on with. Most voters will have what to them are more pressing reasons to reject Corbyn than anti-semitism. After all, nearly all of them aren’t Jewish. Labour’s anti-semitism thus touches few of them directly. Far more simply don’t trust Labour with their taxes. Or think Corbyn just isn’t a leader. Or hate his pro-IRA history. Or else just want to “get Brexit done”, as Johnson keeps putting it.
They nonetheless have – in the other sense of the words that follow – an interest in anti-semitism: a stake in opposing it, one might say. Hatred of Jews is what doctors would call an early indicator, a bit like memory loss in relation to Alzheimer’s: a warning of what is to come. If Labour is prepared to treat a group of people with such institutional viciousness, simply because of who they are, how will they treat other people they dislike?
If the party’s own internal processes won’t deal with anti-semitism justly, how can its leaders be trusted to use the machinery of government fairly? For example, would businesses get a fair price for assets that are nationalised? Would companies get proper value for the shares they commandeer? What price would Labour compel landlords to sell their properties at? What wages would they force businesses to pay?
As Neil O’Brien recently put it on this site: “where Corbyn’s ideas really differ from previous Labour leaders is that he doesn’t really believe in the rule of law. Your house, your business, your savings: all these things don’t really belong to you, in Corbyn’s eyes: you have them only as long as the government suffers you to have them, and they can be retrospectively taken away if he sees fit.”
The Jewish Labour Movement knows all this very, and has decided that, Labour though it is to the core, it cannot give Corbyn the thumbs-up – or even wrap itself in the silence that can be taken for consent. Others have decided otherwise. We know what his own Shadow Health Secretary thinks of Corbyn, thanks to Guido Fawkes’ story yesterday.
We scarcely need to guess what the stalwarts of Blairism and Brownism believe: Yvette Cooper, Hillary Benn, Jess Phillips, Liz Kendall. Unlike Berger, they haven’t been driven out. Unlike Tom Watson, they haven’t walked away.
They’re still there – standing for election. Their anti-Toryism outweighs Corbyn’s anti-semitism. It must do: or they wouldn’t be prepared to support him as Prime Minister in the event of Labour forming a government. We say that they are therefore even worse than he is – worthy of a place in an even lower circle of hell.
Corbyn either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the vileness of the institutional anti-semitism that he has brought to his party: the other of what was, until he got hold of it, Britain’s great modern democratic twins. They know. And truly, they care. But not enough.