The growing disease of racism and anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, ignored by pro-Corbyn supporters, is a shameful stain on a party that claims to have always supported equality for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion. While some have buried their heads in the sand over recent developments, the resignation of Frank Field should be applauded rather than dismissed.
The veteran Labour MP, admired by all sides of the political spectrum, has done what other intelligent officials of Labour should do. It is neither right nor moral to support a party leader who refuses to comprehensively sweep Labour clean of anti-Semitism.
Typically, there are those inevitable Guardian articles written in response, with one dismissing the seriousness of Field’s resignation, saying he “jumped before he was pushed”. Yet these, once again, fail to see clearly the extent of the problem. Journalists like Owen Jones never grasp the seriousness of anti-Semitism, preferring to be retaliatory in their response, adopting the role of the playground bully.
Jones’ response is the age-old retaliation ‘yeah anti-Semitism is bad and all, but here’s a nasty thing Field once said that makes him just as bad.’ Not only are these responses ludicrous, they’re also outrageous, because they are effectively acting as apologists for anti-Semites in the Labour Party. A love for Corbyn blinds supposedly educated people to the rancid stench of racism emanating from senior figures in the leadership.
The hypocrisy of this whole issue couldn’t be more apparent. If it was Theresa May, David Cameron, Vince Cable, Nigel Farage, or any other high-profile politician that was photographed placing wreaths on the graves of anti-Semitic terrorists, they would not only be compelled to resign, but probably forced to. However, the consequences of such despicable actions come down to perception. Amongst many people still, Labour is viewed as the ‘nice’ party because it promises lovely freebies to everyone and claims to support equality for all. As a result, this supposedly ‘nice’ party can never be guilty of racism. Anyone who suggests so must obviously be wrong!
Field has abandoned a sinking party not out of political opportunism as some would claim, but because it is morally indefensible to support a party leadership that believes anti-Semitism isn’t a serious issue to deal with. If Corbyn felt that it was, he would have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition in full, rather than propose a diluted version. He also wouldn’t have had to suffer the embarrassment of his own MP’s forcing the party leadership to accept the IHRA definition during an informal meeting back in July. Even this does not mean the Party has fully incorporated the IHRA definition into its constitution.
People such as Corbyn have garnered a deserving reputation for anti-Semitism because they continually cross a line when it comes to Israel. Now, there are many things, based on evidence, that you can criticise Israel for, especially the state’s actions towards Gaza since 2008. But here’s the crux of the matter, and one that flies over the heads of Corbyn and his supporters – you can be critical of Israel without allowing your criticisms to descend into racist dogma. You can also support the Palestinian cause for self-determination without filling your arguments with anti-Semitic hate. You can pledge support for pro-Palestinian demonstrators without supporting those who turn to terrorism to achieve their political goals. Surely this doesn’t sound too difficult to grasp?
Back in the far-gone days of further education, those who did not possess unwavering support for the Labour Party such as myself and a slim few others were often mocked for being out-of-touch and conservative. They were the type of people who loved comparing you to fascists if you supported restrictive immigration (or austerity for that matter).
Fast-forward to 2018, and they all support Corbyn, and it baffles me how the same people who called others ‘fascists’ and ‘Nazis’ are now supporting an anti-Semitic leader.
The most concerning thing about this issue is the extent to which pro-Corbyn supporters routinely dismiss and ignore anti-Semitism within their own party. But what is most worrying is that it appears these attitudes are not going to change anytime soon, as loyalists are too deeply in love with the idea of a Corbyn-run Britain. To borrow an oft-used phrase, Labour may be the party of the many, but not of the Jew. And that, itself, is despicable.
This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organisation as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing various opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, click here to submit a guest post!