The failure of national Momentum to consistently defend the leadership from false attacks has contributed to the inaccurate public perceptions of bigotry in Labour.
Jeremy Corbyn is frequently accused of being, amongst other things: a threat to national security; ‘soft’ on terrorism; a Brexit voter; and an antisemite. These allegations are entirely false.
In relation to that last area of allegations against Jeremy, this includes false claims that a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn would pose an existential threat to Jewish life in the UK, that he is a racist and antisemite and that he has made Labour unsafe for Jews.
The truth is that Jeremy Corbyn is a resolute opponent of antisemitism; a Labour government led by him would be a staunch defender of Jewish life and a powerful ally in the fight against antisemitism; plus the Labour Party is entirely safe and also genuinely welcomes Jewish members. Jewish Voice for Labour, in its submission to the EHRC, gave evidence of the satisfaction and security many Jews experience as members of the Labour Party led by Jeremy.
Antisemitism and Labour
Antisemitism is a vile ideology, with a long, despicable and extensive history, which in its most extreme form underpinned what is considered to be greatest crime in history – the Holocaust.
Everyone should unite to fight against antisemitism so that it is rooted out and defeated wherever it exists, including in political parties, and that includes Labour. Every instance of antisemitism within Labour needs to be dealt with in a robust manner.
In contrast to any other party the leadership commissioned an enquiry into the extent and scale of antisemitism in the Party (the Chakrabarti report) and set up and trained a unit to investigate allegations of antisemitism.
To deal appropriately with such a vile ideology there needs to be an objective assessment of the scale of the problem, which neither understates, nor overstates, what needs to be tackled.
According to the 2016 House of Home Affairs Committee Report on ‘Antisemitism in the UK’: ‘there exists no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party’ (pg 46).
The Institute for Jewish Policy Research (IJPR) reports that antisemitic ideas are highest on the far-right, not on the left.
As Barry Gardiner MP set out earlier this year, the number of antisemitism cases being dealt with by the Labour Party is tiny relative to the size of Labour’s membership.
There is significant evidence that some of the allegations made against Labour are wildly exaggerated or based on misinformation. See for example this article ‘Journalists check your evidence’ and this report on the disinformation taking place. Plus there are some Liberal Democrat members voicing criticisms of the exaggerated allegations made against the Labour Party.
Jeremy is a supporter of international social justice, including Palestinian human rights. There is nothing remotely antisemitic in his opposition to the violence inflicted on the Palestinians.
The false allegations against Jeremy are refuted by significant numbers of Jewish people, for example here, here and here, but unfortunately these Jewish views of the party and its leadership are not publicised by Momentum. Apart from opposing some of the wild distortions in July’s Panorama documentary, Momentum appears to give credence to the exaggerated claims made by Labour’s political opponents, conveying a distorted picture of the real situation.
The change needed in Momentum
To ensure Momentum consistently defends the leadership against the false allegations thrown at it, Momentum’s members need to elect an NCG that will change the orientation of Momentum.