You’ve got to admit that Jeremy Corbyn managing to combine being a “Czech spy, Putin collaborator, anti-semitic neo-Nazi, member of ISIS, IRA and Communist Party, with being leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, and still finding time to grow marrows is bloody impressive”, Tom Pride wrote on Twitter earlier this week.
With Brexit negotiations entering a crucial stage, reports on cosy relationships between Tory MPs and Steve Bannon emerging and news that the government misled the High Court over its decision to refuse unaccompanied child refugees in Calais the right to join their families in the UK you might think that an event that happened eight years ago wouldn’t find pride of place on the BBC’s homepage today.
But you’d be wrong. Today the national broadcaster led with Jeremy Corbyn’s apology in response to a Times’ report that he hosted an event in 2010 at which a Holocaust survivor compared Israel to Nazism, which comes hot on the heels of recordings from the National Executive Committee in which Peter Willsman asked for proof over racism accusations in the party, blaming ‘Jewish Trump fanatics’ for inventing Labour antisemitism.
That the Labour leader “sharing a stage with” an Auschwitz survivor in 2010 makes front-page headlines is curious. But that it comes hot on the heels of recordings from an outspoken Labour politician who chose brash words to demand evidence over antisemitism accusations is even more peculiar.
Or is it.
According to an Independent investigation smears aimed at Corbyn and the Labour Party are incredibly common. Some 75 per cent of press coverage misrepresents Jeremy Corbyn, with over half of the news articles examined in its analysis critical or antagonistic in tone. As Bart Cammaerts notes, “we all want and need a strong and a critical media, but maybe we do not need an attack dog that kills off anyone who challenges the status quo”.
There is no arguing that Labour has an antisemitism problem, but it exists on a fringe of the left, and there is no evidence to suggest it is remotely a widespread problem. Corbyn has supported the Jewish Community on numerous occasions over his career, he has worked tirelessly for peaceful solution in the Middle East and has been a staunch opponent of racism in politics, which is more than most MPs in parliament today can say for themselves.
If you need the evidence, take a look at it yourself:
1- Corbyn was one of only 6 Labour MPs under Ed Miliband’s leadership who voted against the Bill – now the Immigration Act 2014 – that made the Windrush scandal possible.
2- Corbyn was a member of Shropshire Campaign Against Racism in the 1970s, and campaigned passionately against the 1971 Immigration Act, which was that Commonwealth citizens lost their automatic right to remain in the UK, meaning they faced restrictions.
3- Corbyn signed numerous Early Day motions in Parliament condemning antisemitism, years before he became leader and backed the campaign to stop Neo-Nazis from meeting in Golders Green in 2015.
4- Corbyn was arrested for protesting against apartheid while the Thatcher government defended white majority rule and branded Nelson Mandela a terrorist.
5- Corbyn was a strong supporter of Labour Black Sections – championing the right of Black and Asian people to organise independently in the Labour party while the Press demonised them as extremists.
6- Corbyn has long been one of the leaders of the campaign to allow the indigenous people of the Chagos Islands to return after they were forcibly evicted by Britain in the 1960s to make way for an American military base.
7- Corbyn has been MP for Islington North since 1983 – a constituency with a significant Jewish population. Given that he has regularly polled over 60% (73% in 2017) it seems likely that a sizeable no. of Jewish constituents voted for him.