Labour and anti semitism: Let us not hide behind the smear

“It can be hard for people on the Left to admit that our movement has a problem with bigotry”, Abi Wilkinson wrote in the Telegraph at the height of the last anti-semitism smear waged against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour in 2016.

It is true that as politic’s “good guys” those of a left-leaning persuasion are used to thinking of themselves as the people who stand with the oppressed against the architects of their oppression.

Notions of equality and liberalism tend to out-trump anything resembling prejudice, and so when accusations of hostility rear their head the go-to reaction is that they must have been orchestrated with an intent to smear.

And you can forgive those in the Corbyn camp for feeling sensitive to such slander.

Over the course of his leadership the Labour leader has gained no favours from the national media and the pursuit to destabilise him still runs on today through links to Czechoslovakian spies, the Brexit divide and such like.

But accusations of anti-semitism in the party do not fit into this camp, and hiding behind the smear risks the party falling prey to the oppression they pertain to campaign against.

In the wake of the latest Jewish crisis the hashtag making the rounds on social media is #PredictTheNextCorbynSmear.

The attempt to undermine the strong words issued by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council who have called on Corbyn to “properly address Jewish concerns and tackle antisemitism” in the party couldn’t come at a worse time, and it is an entirely inappropriate response.

Labour has at its hands a one time opportunity to address the concerns being put forward by influential Jewish groups, and if it is seen to ignore them it could come as a deeply damaging blow for the party at a time when it has started to gain a head of steam in the polls.

If a misjudged response to Spygate and half baked reforms on anti-semitism puts the stoppers on the Labour Party growth it could signal the beginning of the end for Jeremy Corbyn.

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