Another day, another anti Semitism storm hits the Labour party.
Last night a public meeting was held in Golders Green where Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell was in debate with Jenny Manson, Labour activist and Chairman of JVL (Jewish Voice for Labour)
All sounds fairly straight forward, doesn’t it? After all, you would like to think that political parties would engage with the electorate over their plans, especially as McDonnell would be in charge of the country’s finances should Labour win the next general election?
However, nothing is ever straightforward where Corbyn’s new, ‘improved’ Labour Party is concerned.
Golders Green has long been an area with a large Jewish Community, yet Ms Manson’s JVL group counter demonstrated against Jews calling out anti Semitism in Labour on Parliament Square earlier this year – according to them, the claims are fictitious and the work of ‘right wing’ Jews to counter the electoral threat of Jeremy Corbyn. JVL also opposed the adoption of the IHRC definition of anti Semitism in to the Labour Constitution.
Ms Manson is also a member of the leftist Momentum organisation within Labour – her Barnet branch were reported by The Independent in August to have stated in leaked emails that security guards were stationed outside synagogues to “generate an atmosphere of insecurity” because “Zionists” wanted to “exploit and generate the fear of antisemitism”.
Finally, footage emerged earlier this month (Reported by The Daily Mail) that Ms Manson stated ‘I began to identify as a Jew in order to argue against the state of Israel and its behaviour and its conduct.’
Not surprisingly, some of the local community wanted to go along to the meeting to find out more, especially as Ms Manson is looking to stand in the area at the next Parliamentary elections – with the full backing of Mr McDonnell who refers to her as ‘a fine socialist and a splendid advocate for our movement’.
Alarmingly, a number of people who had tickets found them cancelled on arrival including Etan Smallman, a journalist and resident of the constituency. They had also banned journalists from the Jewish Chronicle and Jewish News but relented after negative headlines put the spotlight on to the event, with Ms Manson’s only comment being that the decision was made by her campaign team for security and administrative reasons.
Some of those who were not allowed in to the event joined a small protest outside where, outrageously, one of the attendees was alleged to have tried to set alight an Israeli flag that one of their number had draped around his body, as reported by Joseph Cohen of the Israel Advocacy Movement who filmed the scenes outside the hotel.
Inside, the ‘facilitator’ of the event made it clear that any questions from the floor would not be accepted regarding Israel, Palestine or anti-Semitism, attempting to shut down any potentially damaging lines of enquiry from the audience to the two main speakers at the meeting. As a result, most of the conversation centred around economic policy although one audience member did ask at the end of the meeting why there were Jewish people outside denied entry – as warned, she had the mic removed!
So, once again, the Labour Party get the headlines for all the wrong reasons. But what lays behind it?
Is it anti-Semitism, bravado, lack of sensitivity or just plain ignorance of the storm that has been engulfing them?
To understand that, you need to look at the background of those at the top of the party. Both Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have been outspoken supporters of the ‘Palestinian’ cause for many years, just as they were for the Republican cause in Ireland when the IRA were bombing civilians in this country. In both cases, they have put their dogma ahead of proof of atrocities on the ground from those they support and claim they are ‘committed to peace’ despite only ever meeting representatives from one side of the argument.
In the case of Ms Manson, McDonnell is putting his weight behind her attempts to be selected as Parliamentary candidate in this constituency despite the stench of anti Semitism hanging around her, but it is not an isolated incident. Next door to his own constituency of Hayes & Harlington, he had been championing the candidature of Ali Milani for Uxbridge & South Ruislip which will pit him head to head with Conservative incumbent Boris Johnson – Milani has just been confirmed. His background is also littered with anti Semitism and allegations of bullying and election irregularities when he stood for position in the NUS branch at our local Brunel University.
A fish rots from the head down and the head of the Labour movement at the moment is very rotten indeed. In my opinion, they don’t care about the anti Semitism allegations because the Jewish vote is not large enough nationwide to stop them at a general election, whilst the growing Muslim community (Or, more accurately, the Islamist elements inside it) may be attracted to their anti Israel and pro Palestine stance which has blurred the lines between opposition of Israel as a state and Jews as a community and ethnicity.
I hope and trust that the sane majority of the Muslim community along with the wider population in this country stand together and reject this poisonous narrative at the ballot box.
My thanks to Jewish News, The Israel Advocacy Movement and The Independent for additional background for this report
Once more in the last week we have seen the spectre of anti Semitism raise it’s ugly head …