Monday 2 April 2018

How anti-Corbyn programming works

The Guardian has hosted an article by the deputy editor of the New Statesman Helen Lewis that contains a highly deceptive piece of anti-Corbyn programming.

The title of the article suggests that it's broadly sympathetic to Corbyn and his supporters, but the content clearly gives the game away as an effort to shift public opinion against Jeremy Corbyn and anyone who supports him.

A one-sided article attacking Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters in the Guardian should hardly come as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with their track record of supporting every Blairite attempt to undermine him and oust him as leader, but one particular section of this article in particular is quite extraordinary.

Lewis brings up the fact that three people have been jailed for hurling grotesque anti-Semitic abuse at the Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger, but somehow forgets to mention that all three of these people were extreme-right fanatics, presumably in the hope that readers would associate her graphic description of extreme-right anti-Semitic abuse with Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour left who are clearly mentioned in the initial sentence of the paragraph.

The cases of the three jailed extreme-right trolls can be read about here, here, and here.

In light of the fact that all three were notorious extreme-right trolls (one of whom threatened and abused the author of this blog too), it's exceptionally deceptive to mention the abuse they slung in a paragraph that starts out talking about Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters.

There's no way that Lewis could have researched the actual words these abusive anti-Semits used without picking up on the fact that they were written by right-wing extremists, not Corbyn supporters. So the refusal to make the distinction is damning.

This conflation is especially vile given that extreme-right fanatics have also killed one Labour MP (Jo Cox) and plotted to kill the London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Corbyn himself.

The evidence is absolutely clear that anti-Semitism is way more common on the extreme-right than anywhere else on the political spectrum (see image), and that rates of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party have actually declined dramatically since hundreds of thousands of new left-wing people became Labour members to support Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

But none of this is important to Lewis, who's agenda seems to be to portray the vile anti-Semitic abuse of the extreme-right as if Jeremy Corbyn and Corbyn supporters somehow bear responsibility for the actions of people they actually vehemently oppose.

Of course Labour have a responsibility to confront any signs of anti-Semitism within their own ranks, but the data suggests that the commonplace anti-Semitic attitudes of the past are being rapidly outnumbered by the flood of new progressive left-liberal people to have joined Labour since Corbyn became leader (no other major party has seen such a rapid decline in anti-Semitic views since 2015).

The main purpose of the article seems to be an effort to belittle those who make the case that some people are weaponising allegations of anti-Semitism to attack the Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party, when it's so obvious that this is exactly what has been going on. Anyone who clocked Theresa May's use of the vile "self-hating Jew" trope to smear Jewish members of the Labour Party couldn't reasonably draw any other conclusion.

The conclusion of the article is equally warped, making out that Corbyn somehow carries the sole responsibility for addressing the anti-Semitism problem. 

Anyone with a basic understanding of how the Labour Party actually works (like a deputy editor of the political New Statesman magazine really should) will understand that disciplinary proceedings are actually carried out by the NEC administrative team, and that the party leader has no right to set about rewriting the rules or slinging people out of the party.

If Labour's response to anti-Semitism has been inadequate between 2015 and 2017, the Blairite General Secretary of the NEC Ian McNicol should surely be liable for at least some of the criticism, especially since the NEC devoted so much of their time and effort to purging left-wing Labour members during the two Corbyn leadership elections for "crimes against the party" such as once retweeting a non-Labour politician, voting Green years before they joined the Labour Party, and even liking the Foo Fighters too much!

Perhaps if McNicol and the NEC had devoted a fraction of the time and effort they expended on purging Corbyn supporters to the task of hoofing anti-Semites out of the party, Labour could point to a much stronger track record of dealing with anti-Semitism over the last few years?

Now that McNicol has quit to be replaced by Jennie Formby, maybe the NEC can move quickly to introduce new procedures to root out anti-Semitism and any other forms of bigotry that remain hidden within the Labour ranks?

We'll have to wait and see if that happens.

But bringing it back to the article, there are a number of questions to be asked:
  • Why does Lewis ignore the fact that anti-Semitism within Labour has demonstrably fallen since Jeremy Corbyn became leader?
  • Why does Lewis attempt to belittle the argument that certain people are attempting to weaponise allegations of anti-Semitism to attack the Labour leadership, when it's so damned obvious that this is exactly what is happening?
  • And why does Lewis not ask questions about why the Labour right who controlled the party for two decades apparently did so little to confront anti-Semitism that it was a much bigger problem when Corbyn became leader just two years ago than it is now?

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