This week’s events in the Labour Party are devastating not just for Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters but for all the people who want a credible democratic opposition in this country. No politician in recent memory (not even Tony Benn or Michael Foot) have had such a brutal kicking not just from the media and the Tories but from sections of his own party too.
Politics has been dragged yet again into a cesspit of lies, smears and pure vindictiveness all because parts of the establishment seen this one man as a danger. A danger to their cosy status quo yes but he was never a danger to us ordinary people but rather a ray of hope.
But Jeremy has never been a ‘god’ to me nor was there ever really a cult around him. When I rejoined Labour in 2012 it wasn’t because of Corbyn but because I felt the party had started (only started mind you) to turn a corner under Ed Miliband after the disastrous Blair and Brown years. Now I know some will say how can you call them years disastrous when Labour won 3 Elections under Blair. But to me the 13 years in power were mostly wasted, yes we did do some good things like the Minimum Wage and Surestart for example but a lot of the time we were being Tory like and of course how can we forget the awful illegal war we went needlessly into. I like many others were incredibly angry at the wasted opportunities of 13 years in power.
But I liked Ed and always felt he was hamstrung by the people around him. But all the same I could see he was passionate about inequality which for me is a key reason for being in the Labour Party and also about getting a Green New Deal which is vital for the very future of the planet.
There were plenty on the right of the party who didn’t like Ed but that was really only a very small taster of what was to come. When Jeremy Corbyn stood for leader I was really pleased because I hoped we would be able to steer the debate leftwards. The 3 candidates who had been standing were totally uninspiring not just to me but thousands of others too infact hundreds of thousands. Those people had similar ideas and beliefs to me which was a joy to discover. In that summer of 2015 me and many others started to dream. At first we didn’t think Jeremy had a chance of winning and neither did he himself but as that summer went on it became clear that he had an excellent chance of achieving what seemed impossible at the start of the contest actually winning.
When he did win the leadership on the 12th September 2015 it was a shockwave a political earthquake the like of which had never been seen. Many on the centre and right of the party couldn’t believe it but more than that couldn’t and wouldn’t accept the democratic result. Corbyn won partly because his vision was very popular with the young and also older people some of whom rejoined the party.
The vision was nothing new really it’s about creating a fairer type of society that works for the majority instead of just the ultra rich elite. That is why I became a member of the Labour Party to help challenge for that better society for the majority. That in essence is what Socialism is to me. So when I’ve been accused of being on the ‘hard left’ or some sort of Commie Trot I’ve found it amusing and depressing in equal measure.
So although I’ve always liked and respected Jeremy Corbyn it’s never been about one person but rather the ideas of Socialism and a different sort of society. However when he became leader it became very clear very quickly that certain elements in the party were never going to put up with him and much more than that undermine him at every turn. I wasn’t surprised by this in itself I expected some of it as I’m sure most of us on the left did. Jeremy would have expected some of it too. But the actual amount of sheer venom, nastiness and lies from people in your own party was on a completely different level to what had happened with Ed.
I won’t go over all that happened the last 5 years when Jeremy was leader. Frankly too much went on to go through it all. Everything and the kitchen sink was thrown at Jeremy and his dignity and calmness throughout in what must have been a personal nightmare at times shows the measure of the man. But of all the insults the one that must have hurt the most and which also gained the most traction was that Jeremy was anti-Semitic.
I’ve never believed for one second that Jeremy is or has been anti-Semitic. If I thought he was I would never have supported him. He’s certainly made mistakes as leader and before but who doesn’t. But what never gets reported in the mainstream press is how much an anti racist campaigner he has been over the years. The sheer hypocrisy of many who have called Jeremy for anti semitism is sickening and I won’t take lessons on anti racism from a Tory Party that has always had racist elements.
Now Jeremy got suspended after his statement after the EHRC report was posted on Facebook. Presumably it’s this paragraph that has caused his suspension but we haven’t actually been told.
“One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”
To me that is a obvious truth but to say a truth has got him suspended. It reeks of McCarthyism and I feel as though our freedom of speech in the party has been eroded. To say the problem was dramatically overstated for political reasons is not in anyway downplaying the evil of Anti-Semitism itself. Far from it but let’s briefly explain what I’m trying to say.
When Corbyn was elected leader in 2015 the General Secretary was Iain McNichol who its perfectly fair to say was not a fan in anyway. Also while Jeremy put his own people in the leaders office the full timers around the General Secretary were hardly fans too. The truth is a clever political game was waged by McNichol and the people working for him in the Party against Corbyn. Yes politics can sometimes get underhanded but what happened was completely nasty and on a scale not seen before because the Plot was about deliberately making Corbyn look bad regards complaints of Anti-Semitism. This would be lovingly reported by the right wing media that hated him and everything he stands for.
Corbyn called it as this,
“The party’s processes for handling complaints were not fit for purpose”. when he became leader and he added: “Reform was then stalled by an obstructive party bureaucracy.”
That’s him being polite about it. In 2018 Corbyn ally Jennie Formby became General Secretary and things got better. The proof in the pudding as I see it is in this. Forty-five members were expelled in 2019 for Anti-Semitism compared to one in 2017, according to the Labour Party own statistics. That shows things were moving in the right direction. However that wasn’t the narrative of course that was ever said by the media or Corbyn’s opponents. Rather he has been made a scapegoat. Nothing has been said about Labour’s inadequate procedures before he became leader or the efforts he made to improve it. Only that as leader he should have done more. The point is until Formby became GS he was obstructed not just by a slow moving party bureaucracy but by people who wanted to make the leader look bad. Because to some no matter what he did it was never going to be good enough.
All through his leadership there were plenty of Jewish people who supported him but that wasn’t reported either or if it was they were the wrong sort of Jew apparently. Again it’s vital to say how abhorrent Anti-Semitism is and remember throughout history the atrocities the Jewish people have endured. It must never be forgotten. I empathise with people who have been wronged. Which also means I empathise and feel for the Palestinian people too. It’s possible to do both.
But I believe more than anything else the demonisation of Jeremy Corbyn has been dirty politics by a right wing who could never accept his Socialist politics and who worked to undermine him at every opportunity. The small amount but completely unacceptable amount of Anti-Semitism in the party has been disgracefully used as a political football and a convenient tool against Corbyn in particular and the left in general. This is still going on now even though Corbyn isn’t leader and it’s obvious to me his suspension is about the destroying the left in the party. If Keir Starmer wanted unity he’s got a funny way of showing it. Of course unity was never the game rather a ruse to get himself elected as leader which worked.
If I sound bitter it’s because I am. We were so close in the 2017 Election and could have won it on a Socialist Manifesto if there hadn’t been insiders working against us. How life could have been different. That’s why I joined the Labour Party to help make a change to a better fairer more equal society. To find out that’s not how all members feel has been a hard pill to swallow.
So I’m calling for Jeremy Corbyn’s immediate reinstatement into the Party. He hasn’t broken the Parties rules even the EHRC report doesn’t recommend suspensions like this. I think Starmer has tried to look big and tough but I think it’s a strategy doomed to failure. The very thing Starmer says shouldn’t be done being factional he has done by suspending Jeremy. Which only goes to prove my point this has always been about politics. It’s a political act not Anti-Semitism or racism itself that was just the tools used. Which is a very sad reflection on life in the 21st Century and the party in general. We have to do better than this because racism in any form cannot be used in this way.