I believe that the recent dismissal of Rebecca Long-Bailey from Labour’s front bench was a disturbing development. She was the runner-up in our recent leadership election, and won 135,000 votes as the candidate most identified with the legacy of Jeremy Corbyn. Here are some notes I wrote in response. 

  1. She said nothing that could remotely be construed by any reasonable person as in any way anti-Semitic. On the contrary, by implying that any criticism of the Israeli state is anti-Semitic, it is Keir Starmer who is breaking one of the IHRA’s basic definitions of anti-Semitism: i.e., implying that Jews in general can be held collectively responsible for the actions of Israel.

2) Israel makes no secret of the fact that one of its main exports is police and military security training and equipment, and does use similar repressive techniques itself (although it’s true that the US police don’t need much advice in how to murder innocent civilians).

3) Tory propaganda based on the accusation that Labour is anti-Semitic is just that: propaganda – a monstrous lie, in the traditions of previous Tory smears, such as the Zinoviev letter in 1923, or Churchill’s warning in 1945 that a Labour government would instal a Gestapo police state. The only defence against such propaganda is implacable exposure of the truth, not appeasement. The ritual sacrifice of so many innocent socialists unfairly branded anti-Semitic (Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, Chris Williamson, and hundreds more) has done absolutely nothing to placate the Tory liars.

4) By far the biggest Labour Jewish organisation is not the so-called “Jewish Labour Movement”, for membership of which there is no requirement to be either Jewish or Labour, but Jewish Voice for Labour, which staunchly opposes this witch-hunt.

5) Keir Starmer won the leadership election promising to unite the party and maintain Corbyn’s radical agenda; that’s why he had to appoint one token Corbynite to his front bench team. Now, at the first and flimsiest excuse, he has wasted no time in sacking RBL, in the process breaking both promises at one fell swoop. I suspect that his real motive for doing so was to escape Johnson’s repeated taunts that Labour was supporting the legitimate objections of the National Education Union to a premature reopening of the schools. Already Starmer’s policy is visibly shifting towards Johnson’s policy, which risks a new wave of infections and thousands more deaths.

6) Labour will stand a far better chance of winning the next election by upholding principled policies rather than capitulation and appeasement.

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