The ousting of Corbyn and the Starmer coup
30 October 2020
Jeremy Corbyn says that the allegations of antisemitism against the British Labour Party are exaggerated. That it appeared that one third of the party were antisemites when the cases brought forward involved a minute fraction of the membership.
That provoked the astonishing reaction of his immediate suspension, with the leadership scrabbling to define a charge to justify their action.
But first things first. Is Jeremy right in his assertions?
Of course he is! Any examination of the report shows that the detail focuses on a few cases, themselves of doubtful evidential value.
Jeremy stops with his stubborn assertion of truth, but there is more to be said. If there is only the most flimsy of cases behind the tumult then the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has acted in bad faith, the complainants are acting in bad faith and the Labour leadership and right wing are acting in bad faith.
Let's start with the EHRC. A government funded commission kept on a short leash by the administration, with some members having connections with the Tory party. Former members have expressed sharp criticism of the institution and its record has been abysmal. A report on racism was diluted by giving equal weight to a tiny number of complaints of racism against whites. The commission delayed multiple cases of Islamophobia against the Tories and eventually refused to investigate. They enthusiastically took up the case against Labour even though it is historically the party opposed to racism and antisemitism in a sea of Tory bigotry.
The complainants, the Jewish Labour Movement and the Campaign Against Antisemitism, have fairly transparent motives. The CAA was established during the Gaza bombardment of 2014, to drown out criticism of Israel by silencing the critics with claims that they were anti-semitic. The JLM have direct links with the far right Israeli labour party, now in the government of occupation in Palestine.
The Israeli government had been caught off-balance by the BDS boycott movement and had mobilised around the world to ensure that criticism of the occupation of Palestine was labelled anti-semitic. Leading spokesman Regev was sent to Britain, as was a Mossad agent caught boasting of controlling front organisations in both Labour and Conservative parties.
The Israeli campaign was eagerly supported by the majority Blair faction in the parliamentary party. Their drive to delegitimise criticism of Israel also allowed them to pick off leading Corbyn supporters who supported Palestine.
Their victory was when Corbyn accepted a declaration that criticism of Israel was itself antisemitism and this was the foundation of the EHRC investigation and report.
However Corbyn has proven unequal to the task of building a socialist movement. He accepts the EHRC report and strains at the fine detail. All along he has bent over backwards to placate the right rather than fight for a socialist movement that would exclude them.
Of course we should defend Corbyn, but that will not answer the urgent questions that face socialists. Calls for unity will not wash, nor will arguments that division will lead to electoral defeat. The fact is that Corbynism has been crushed and "Sir Keir" has reinstated the patriotic little England party of the past - a "socialist" movement that reveres royalty, the military and faded imperial glamour. There is little to distinguish the parliamentary party from their Tory opposites and strategy is to avoid political issues and simply pose as a safe pair of hands that would handle Brexit and Covid-19 more efficiently than the current government.
As things stand, the fight to reinstate Corbyn will concentrate on tactical issues and the need for unity, even though the Labour leadership have already demonstrated that they would rather loose than win under Corbyn. Likewise debates about being inside or outside the Labour Party mean little without a programme of action for the working class.
The supporters of Corbyn are clearly an advanced section of the working class and of keen interest to socialists. The call should be for a guaranteed standard of life for workers without food banks or emergency accommodation, public health above commercial interests and a reversal of Brexit. Militants can learn from experience that these aims cannot be met within the Labour Party and an action programme will see workers organised inside and out. A platform would give grounds for pressuring union leaders such as Len McCluskey, who want to express unhappiness while cleaving to the idea of a future Labour government as the saviour of the workers.
The combination of opportunism and demoralisation that characterises many socialist groups at the moment means that they are unable to unite and respond to this despicable attack from the right. Many still hold to Lexit illusions despite the massive shift to the right taking place in front of their eyes. It is up to those who can unite to do so. Parliamentary reformism will not produce socialism. We must advocate for strike, for civil disobedience and for insurrection.