Socialist Worker

Left Labour joins in with right over Brexit and antisemitism smears

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2661

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and supporters

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and supporters (Pic: Richard Burgon/Twitter)

Frail, weak and unprepared for the pressures of being in government. Not Jeremy Corbyn—the Labour left.

Leading left wing figures in Labour have put themselves at the forefront of demands to capitulate to the right over Brexit and accusations of antisemitism.

On Sunday Labour’s left wing shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Labour had to “move now” over changing its policy to campaigning for a new referendum and backing Remain.

Another refendum would drive division among the working class, damaging the chances of a united fightback against racism and austerity.

McDonnell’s call came after prominent left figures also fell in behind a right wing attack on MP Chris Williamson.

Williamson was readmitted as a Labour MP last Wednesday after being accused of antisemitism. But he was suspended again just two days later following an outcry from right wing Labour MPs, backed by prominent left wing figures.

Williamson was suspended for saying that Labour’s leadership had given “too much ground” to claims that it is riddled with antisemitism. He also said it had been “too apologetic”.

The right claimed this meant he thought antisemitism was acceptable. In fact he was challenging the accusation that the left’s support for Palestinians makes it naturally inclined to antisemitic ideas. Williamson was readmitted by a three-person panel from Labour’s national executive committee.

But a statement coordinated by right wing deputy leader Tom Watson made it clear the right will only accept one result.

“Ultimately it is for Jeremy Corbyn to decide on whether Chris Williamson retains the Labour whip. He must remove it immediately if we are to stand any hope of persuading anyone that the Labour Party is taking antisemitism seriously” it said.

Jon Lansman, founder of the left wing Momentum group, said Williamson “has to go” and accused him of “behaviour grossly detrimental to the party”.

The Labour left hope that by throwing Williamson under the bus, they can show they are “tough” on antisemitism.

But as the victimisation of Williamson shows, every concession to the right only leaves the left more vulnerable.

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