Socialist Worker

Antisemitism accusations designed to attack the left

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2644

Labour MP Chris Williamson was sacrificed to appease the right, but it just spurred them on

Labour MP Chris Williamson was sacrificed to appease the right, but it just spurred them on (Pic: Chris McAndrew)


It’s open season on the left of the Labour Party as right wing Labour MPs campaign to portray their own party as riddled with antisemitism.

Two right wing Labour MPs attempted to link left wing politics to antisemitism this week.

Meanwhile, a left wing MP has been suspended from Labour for speaking out against the accusations. And party members have been demonised in the press for refuting the attack on their party.

Labour MP Margaret Hodge cited “unacceptable anti-Zionism” as antisemitism. Anti-Zionism is opposition to Israel’s founding ideology that justifies racism against Palestinians.

Hodge went on to blame the “culture” and “policy” of Labour’s left wing leadership.

Hodge also claimed to be fighting antisemitism in the same way that she had “fought the extreme right”.

Rhetoric

But, when the Nazi BNP were growing in her constituency a decade ago, she reacted by adopting much of its racist rhetoric.

She called in 2006 for “indigenous” people to be given priority over migrants on housing waiting lists.

Her comments this week followed a claim by Labour MP Siobhan McDonagh, who argued, “To be anti-capitalist is to be antisemitic.”

Speaking on Monday, McDonagh said, “It’s very much part of their politics, of hard left politics, to be against capitalists and to see Jewish people as the financiers of capital. Ergo you are anti-Jewish people.” Her comments are part of an effort by the right of the Labour Party to discredit, silence and drive out the left.

Right wing Labour MPs are outraged that, as they see it, not enough Labour members have been found guilty of antisemitism and expelled from the party.

McDonagh and Hodge defended attempts by deputy leader Tom Watson last week to interfere in investigations into allegations of antisemitism made against party members.

Yet Watson hypocritically responded to reports that members of Corbyn’s office were involved in investigations as “unacceptable political interference.” And Labour MPs routinely provide “examples” of antisemitism investigations to the press, with no way for members to respond or verify if they’re true.

Meanwhile ordinary members are bullied into silence for daring to speak out.

Passing

The Hackney North and Stoke Newington Constituency Labour Party was branded “disgraceful” and “despicable” for passing a motion denying that the party is “institutionally antisemitic”.

It followed the suspension of left wing Labour MP Chris Williamson for telling a Momentum meeting in Sheffield that Labour had given “too much ground” over the accusations. Williamson later apologised for the comments. He insisted that Labour had “held ourselves to a higher standard

than any other political party when it comes to anti-racism”.

Yet he was suspended after prominent figures on Labour’s soft left turned on him.

Influential groups on the left of Labour think that by conceding to the idea that they have a problem with antisemitism they can show the right they are listening to their “concerns”.

Instead they are fuelling an atmosphere of fear inside Labour designed to silence and discredit the left.

1pm, 30 March. Israeli Embassy, London W8 5EA


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