Antisemitism is bad enough right now, without trying to frame actual Jewish allies

by Rob Marchant

If the horrific news coming out of Israel and Gaza resulting from Hamas atrocities were not sufficient, the last six weeks have been the worst period of antisemitism in living memory, not just in Britain but in many other parts of the world.

Some Labour figures have not exactly covered themselves in glory: if you can manage to live with the cognitive dissonance of framing the “ceasefire” narrative as a neutral one, rather than one which helps Hamas; or recent serial hate marches as “peace demonstrations” – as it seems both Andy Burnham and Sadiq Khan were able to, not to mention a highly-predictable Jeremy Corbyn – you are not going to get to common sense or coherence any time soon.

However, at national level, Keir Starmer has largely avoided the platitudes of his predecessors and has managed to hold a sensible line with his Shadow Cabinet in not “both-sidesing” the Hamas atrocities and the civilian casualties resulting from Israeli counter-attacks. This all in the face of Chicken-Licken comment pieces predicting imminent, and terrible, splits in the party over this stance, which in the end have turned out to be rather overblown.

In difficult times, then, Labour has managed to truly move on from the Corbyn years and not fall into the trap which has recently befallen the Spanish, Belgian and Irish prime ministers, in wetting the bed on this issue. Bravo to Starmer.

So far, so good; until we come to last weekend’s Sunday Times piece, in which it was revealed that Rosie Duffield MP, one of the very few MPs to stand up and be counted as a Jewish ally when antisemitism was rife in the party and is, let us not forget, a vice-chair of the APPG on antisemitism, has not yet been added to the approved parliamentary candidates list, despite having been reselected for Canterbury seat, on grounds of a complaint over alleged antisemitism.

You what, mate?

An accusation – clearly vexatious – which was submitted to the party in March and to do with her liking a satirical quote-tweet of Graham Linehan’s mocking Eddie Izzard, is still outstanding in November. An accusation which, moreover, many Jewish figures and Labour Against Antisemitism, have rightly dismissed as rubbish.

And that is because this is clearly nothing to do with her solidarity or not with the Jewish community, and everything to do with her stance on women’s rights.

Comedy scriptwriter Linehan is the hated bête noire of the trans activists, and therefore Duffield’s liking of his tweet[1], which would probably have been ignored by most as a comedic dig at Izzard, has sent them apoplectic, and been deliberately framed by politicians and their fellow-travellers who should know better, as an antisemitic tweet.

In other words, they saw their chance to take a swing at Duffield, and took it. They might not get much traction pursuing her on what is now pretty much Labour’s own position on trans rights: so trump up a charge of antisemitism instead.

However, the MP has strong backers among women’s groups, journalist and public figures[2], not to mention her views being arguably far more in line with the British public than most of her colleagues, who are now turning their guns on Labour, which this summer finally found its way to a sensible position on trans rights.

That said, while none of this furore can be good news for Keir Starmer, it is not exactly something for which blame can be laid directly at his door, either. As was observed yesterday on Twitter, he can hardly intervene in a disciplinary; it was in that way that his predecessor got into such trouble, which ended with the party being investigated by the EHRC for antisemitism.

At the same time, a process which keeps a vexatious complaint in play for eight months is clearly in need of sorting out. It seems difficult to believe that someone on the party’s ruling NEC – for example, a union delegate, given the antipathy towards Duffield from all the main unions, all pro-self-ID – does not have it in for Duffield, and is therefore trying to drag out this tomfoolery for as long as possible from behind the scenes.

But this is really not how a complaints process should work. It is not how a parliamentary selection process should work. And it is really not how a political party should work.

This may not be Starmer’s fault, at least not directly, or the fault of Head Office. But something ought to be done to stop the party organisation facilitating the continued bullying of one of its female MPs, whoever may be at the root of this. Why?

Because it is pretty twisted to allow the manipulation of an upsurge in antisemitism to denounce in bad faith an MP who bravely stood up to it, from the day she first arrived in Parliament.

Because it is morally wrong to do this to an elected representative in the first place, and perhaps Labour needs to wake up to the unpleasant fact that bullying didn’t end with Corbynism.

And because, for a party aspiring to government, this kind of idiocy makes it look like amateur hour.

Rob Marchant is an activist and former Labour party manager who blogs at The Centre Left

[1] Izzard, perhaps in somewhat dubious taste, commented that he would have been killed in the Holocaust. Linehan mockingly suggested that, being a blond-haired male, he would probably have been ok. Jewishness was not mentioned at any point in either tweet.

[2] A prominent one being the author J K Rowling

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4 Responses to “Antisemitism is bad enough right now, without trying to frame actual Jewish allies”

  1. Tafia says:

    The people of Gaza were stupid enough to vote for a political party (HAMS political wing), who had never-ending war with Israel as a key policy.

    They are getting what they deserve. If you support terrorists you are by extension a terrorist yourself.

  2. john says:

    Whilst not agreeing with the authors gratuitous comments about the former leader and his support for the new leaders pause now & bomb again later line. I do, although not a supporter of RD, agree with his comments about the reason for the complaint against her and the absolute shambles of Labour’s disciplinary process.

    As an example of that process I have been suspended for 20 months for a complaint where the facts are not in dispute, but it is a question of whether I was right to resist a national officers instruction to ignore NEC guidelines or whether the National officer should have supported me in adhering to the guidelines. The fact that the two complaints against me are from NEC members who wanted to ignore their own guidelines is, of course, neither here nor there.

    It is generally accepted by Labour Party members who fall foul of the disciplinary process that it is often used to settle factional complaints. Whilst the processes can be dragged out and stop people standing in elections (in my case I very much doubt that it will be settled until my CLP has held it AGM, which will prevent me being an officer) there is no doubt that the faction which at one time is in charge will abuse the system.

    Until strict time limits to deal with cases are imposed, such abuses of process will continue. Justice delayed is justice denied.

  3. John p Reid says:

    Izzard being heterosexual would’ve avoid the Holocaust too

  4. John P Reid says:

    A former liberal Dem joined my local labour party in the summer of 2019 I recommended him as our local LGBT rep
    I wasn’t around but he tried to pass a motion that was voted against unanimously for the expulsion of Rosie duffield
    as such he rejoined the libdems he couldn’t have even joined the Green party , As in East London the local Green party is the one area of the country where locally The Green party are gender critical
    Ironically at the same time I got out local party to nominate Johanna Baxter and Gurinder Josan Singh to the national executive by election
    Eddie izzard or Corbynites failing to get on the NEC at that election

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