Barry Gardiner, the Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade was doing the rounds this morning on Sky and other news outlets. When challenged about the ongoing antisemitism charges against the Party, there was one thing that stood out in his statements. Asked whether Corbyn would apologise, he cited several occasions where he believed Corbyn had apologised to Jewish communities for hurt caused and for not acting quick enough on antisemitism.
So let’s look at this statement.
I had previously worked to deliver social cohesion projects under Blair and the environment that was within the Labour Party was one based on a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism. Indeed, so low were the charges of antisemitism within Blair’s administration, that they hardly even registered and did not affect the deep relationship that Blair had with Jewish communities. He was much respected and much loved by them, and continues to be so. So why the change now in the Labour Party – or at least since Corbyn took the reigns of leadership?
Whilst I wholeheartedly disagreed with Blair’s decision to go to war on Iraq on a false premise, his approach to pluralism and his principled stance on reducing antisemitism and speaking out against it publicly, cannot be faulted. He brought with him a different leadership culture.
It is this leadership culture that is at the heart of why the cancer of antisemitism has taken root within the Labour Party.
Under Corbyn, it seems that a dual track approach was taken to try and play to the hard left activist base that his leadership had attracted, whilst keeping the status quo. However, this approach, much like his ‘wait and see’ approach on Brexit which has tried to play to both Brexiteers and Remainers, has failed.
You see, that hard left activist base, anti-imperialist in its nature also brought with it conspiracies about the ‘Rothschilds’, about Jews being ‘all powerful’ and ‘controlling the banking world’; these classic tropes had become fused within this hard left activist base who then used Palestine as their social justice crutch to rehash these tropes.
They also must have thought that this world view was one that Corbyn’s leadership may subscribe to, given that he, in their eyes, was an ‘anti-Imperialist’ campaigner.
Corbyn has tried to balance this base whilst repeatedly claiming that he is against antisemitism and an ardent anti-racist.
However, the question can be asked, that if you know someone is racist, doesn’t justifying and keeping their existence in your presence make you as bad as them?
You see, this is the fundamental issue here; that Labour’s antisemitism problems are not just a ‘few bad apples’.
There is a systematic rot that starts with dear ‘Comrade Corbyn’. How long will he be seen as ‘Cuddly Corbyn’ or ‘Grandpa Corbyn’, before we realise that he has actively played the Labour Party and sold out Jewish communities in his desire to play all sides. With racism, you can’t play all sides – you have to choose what you stand for. On this Corbyn has made his decision. He stands with the hard left and all of the antisemitic baggage they bring.