Apologising for an epidemic of antisemitism in Labour that isn't there and giving in to the right's demands has only accelerated the attacks, argues Lindsey German
When the IHRA definition of antisemitism was adopted by Labour's NEC last year, many of us argued that this would not mark the end of the political weaponisation of the issue, but would rather accelerate it. How right we have been proved. The suspension of Chris Williamson, the casual assumption that Labour is an institutionally antisemitic party, the endless demands for investigations, the slanders linking Labour and Jeremy Corbyn to Nazism and the persecution of Jews - all have led to an atmosphere which is absolutely toxic.
The evidence for this epidemic of racism is thin. There have been a very small number of cases proved, and a small number of accusations made. There is no evidence of institutional antisemitism and none of such racism from Jeremy Corbyn himself. Instead, we are supposed to take the word of the likes of Margaret Hodge, who should have been suspended last year for her vicious attack on Corbyn.
These are political attacks - against Corbyn and his left wing politics, and against all those who criticise the state of Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians. These are the real reasons for their scale and ferocity, and why they are taken up with such enthusiasm by the BBC and the rest of the media.
In the process, some astonishing sleights of hand occur. A Today programme presenter said on Monday morning that how can we have Labour in government with this record of racism. This is at exactly the time when Boris Johnson is about to become Tory leader, where Farage is feted by the BBC, and where the hostile environment for migrants continues apace.
Are these people seriously saying Corbyn's Labour is like the Nazis? Or that racism is worse in Labour than in the other parties? I don't know whether it's closer to 1984 or to Alice through the Looking Glass.
Labour's left need to stand up and call these accusations for what they are - lies and distortions. Giving in and apologising more will only feed the frenzy.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
More articles from this author
- Can Johnson gain politically from this crisis? – weekly briefing
- Straight talking honest politics - As It Happened book extract
- Tory arrogance is threatening our lives - weekly briefing
- World War 2: we weren’t all in it together
- Coronavirus, the market and who controls society? – weekly briefing
- Afghanistan is a prime example of why 'humanitarian intervention' is a lie
- Trouble at the top – weekly briefing