Socialist Worker

It’s Margaret Hodge who has peddled racist rhetoric, not Jeremy Corbyn

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2618

Right wing Labour MP Margaret Hodge

Right wing Labour MP Margaret Hodge (Pic: Chris Boland/Flickr)


Right wing Labour MP Margaret Hodge directly linked support for Palestine to accusations of antisemitism, in an interview last week.

Speaking to the right wing Sky News, Hodge appeared to repeat her slanderous claim that Jeremy Corbyn is antisemitic.

And she linked it to his support for the Palestinians.

“It’s a very fine line between being pro-Palestinian and the Palestinian cause and being antisemitic,” said Hodge. “And I think he’s gone the wrong side of that line.”

Hodge also blamed Corbyn’s anti-establishment credentials and mass support for antisemitism. She even compared his support to that of Donald Trump and the far right.

“I think it’s a bit scary,” she said. “We’ve got this growth of populism—whether it’s Trump, whether it’s Boris Johnson, and now whether it’s the cult of Corbynism—which allows these sort of attitudes to emerge.”

Her list of examples didn’t include the growth of actual racist and far right street movements, such as the one forming around Nazi Tommy Robinson.

Hodge stirred up Labour’s row over antisemitism last month when she shouted in Corbyn’s face that he was “a fucking antisemite and a racist”.

Corbyn is a lifelong anti-racist who has joined protests against Nazi groups such as the National Front, British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League.

In contrast Hodge adopted the racist rhetoric of the BNP in 2006 when she claimed white people were angry at “black and ethnic minority communities moving in”.

Indigenous

She also called for “indigenous” people to have priority on council house waiting lists.

Hodge initially faced disciplinary action for her attack on Corbyn. But the investigation was dropped—leaving her free to say whatever she likes.

But the really insidious comparison was the one that linked the antisemitism of Nazi Germany to support for Palestine.

The accusations of antisemitism have always been about discrediting support for Palestine.

The point is to link criticism of Israel to antisemitism. That becomes more open and overt every time Corbyn backs down.

That’s why the right are so desperate for Labour to adopt the IHRA example of antisemitism that rules out calling Israel a racist state.

It would make it almost impossible to talk about the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that accompanied Israel’s creation in 1948.

It would also mean Labour members couldn’t describe Israel’s foundation as racist.

If Labour adopts that example it will be used against Labour members who call Israel racist, or campaign for a boycott of Israel.

Any criticism of Israel that goes beyond condemning particular actions of its government could see Labour members having to answer charges of antisemitism.

Labour’s shift on the question would be used by Israel’s supporters in the universities and the unions to demand stifling of pro-Palestine activity.

That’s why it is crucial to stand confidently against the attacks on Palestine solidarity and on Corbyn.


If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.