British politics has always been open, fair and diverse to a certain degree but the recent element of antisemitism centred around the Labour Party has put Parliament in a dark and vulnerable place.
The storm kicked off with Jeremy Corbyn’s comments on an antisemitic mural in 2012, delayed response on dealing with Naz Shah’s remarks on a tweet she shared before becoming an MP. She apologised and resigned from her post as John McDonnell’s private secretary. Then former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone commented on Shah’s case when he appeared on Vanessa Feltz’s BBC Radio London Breakfast show. He said “When Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.” This was widely condemned. Livingstone was suspended and his suspension was recently extended.
The antisemitic issues have come from different angles. At the time it seemed they were not promptly challenged which allowed some party members to influence their views and mindset to spread further prejudice. This has resulted in some life long Labour Party members questioning their allegiance to the party. As a Londoner from an ethnic background with friends from all faiths and backgrounds, no faith or ethnic group should be subjected to hatred based on any narrative. It’s embarrassing and goes against what we are all striving for to continue championing fairness and equality in challenging times. This is not an issue just focused on antisemitism it’s about dealing with wide scale prejudice and racism. We often mock or criticise other countries about how they deal with racism but yet can’t get to grips on how we allowed antisemitism to end up infecting a political party in opposition.
We must remember the roots, values and traditions of the Labour Party. It has
traditionally always had support from minority voters. For many generations Labour has been the figured head for equality and diversity based on it’s roots and principals.
Labour spearheaded change in Parliament in the 1980’s with the first wave of BAME MP’s who were elected which included the late great Bernie Grant, Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng and Keith Vaz. They were part of the new wave – new wave of paradigm shifters who opened doors for stringent change and diversity which allowed the next generation of BAME parliamentarians to come through.
Thirty years on, things have gone somewhat in a difficult and challenging direction. It’s led to discussing why Labour have problems dealing with party members and MP’s on antisemitism and it’s day to day relationship with the jewish community. That’s worrying.
So what has gone wrong? Times columnist Janice Turner may have hit the nail on the head “Labour has been lost for fools and crackpots.” The ideology of the loony left certainly could be the cause of this current crisis. In her recent piece she examines the current issues which have engulfed the party citing many theories “This is image-management, not political epiphany. Corbyn’s supporters sense it, Jewish people know it”.
Turner is right, not just from a journalistic but realist prospective. This is about image and portrayal not just within the Labour Party but to voters and politics beyond the shores of Westminster. The issue has got out of hand and it needs immediate control to stamp out. This is not a party political issue or point scoring exercise. It’s about fairness for democracy. Regardless of political persuasion this is a turbulent moment for all of us as the inevitable outcome may have repercussions for years to come, not just for Labour but British politics in general. Especially with the recent Cambridge Analytical allegations, it doesn’t bode well for reaching out to the electorate and attracting the next wave of MP’s to Parliament.
How can this be resolved? Well comedian Eddie Izzard has been appointed as the new member of Labour’s ruling party. Eddie is now tasked to put things right. He said the party must “stamp out completely the stain of anti-Semitism”. If the issue is not tackled, it’s not a case of removing any stains, it may have an indefinite effect on parliamentary politics. Let’s hope common sense will prevail and Jeremy Corbyn can take command and take control of his ship.