Another dismal 24hrs in the racist cesspit that is British politics.
I have a lot of thoughts and criticism following yesterday’s panorama. Will try to contain them all in this thread. There’s nobody in this that escapes criticism so bear with me as I work my way through it. Hard to know where to start but might as well start at the top.
For coming on 3 years I’ve lamented and openly criticised Labour’s response to this scandal. Whether by intention or accident, nobody could say it has been good. Slow would be kind, clunky would be polite. Abysmal would be mild, amateur wouldn’t go far enough.
A more clownshoes approach I have never seen. I don’t know half the ppl who have been involved in the background (and really, nobody should). Collectively they all failed. And continue to fail. It’s not good enough.
As a long time resident of Islington North I will state that I know Corbyn to be far better than the responses we’ve seen. If what we’ve seen was a comms choice, the entire office needs sacking yesterday because rarely have I seen ppl reach for defeat in the jaws of victory so...
consistently outside of Arsenal FC. Politics, like football is a team sport. You either build a team of similarly talented players. Or you build a team around your star player. Labour are unable to do the former due to the lack of similarly solid left wing MPs in the PLP.
Embarrassingly, they have also failed to do the latter. That’s on LOTO office and something they need to address quickly and swiftly.
From watching the doc the first thing that struck me was the age and exp of all the people that were working in disputes the past 3 years. Now, this isn’t ageist because there’s no age barrier for competency. Theoretically, there’s no reason why a 22yr old would be incapable..
of dealing with the cases that came up. But theory & reality don’t always go hand in hand. It is not good practice for a disputes team for such a high profile organisation dealing with such a high profile issue, to be majority staffed by newly graduated students & ppl with very..
little HR, political or activism backgrounds. Some of them barely looked old enough to spell antisemitism let alone have the experience necessary to tackle it in the face of a clearly hostile media. That’s not their fault, but the fault of the general secretary who hired them.
That’s on Iain McNichol, who is next for criticism. It was interesting in the documentary which, in its structure, was essentially a chronology of the last 3 years with testimony of affected members & staff, that McNichol was interviewed but never questioned on his own failings.
When Sam Matthews states he felt Livingstone’s suspension wasn’t fitting, did he bring that up with the general secretary at the time, McNichol? Is the accusation here that the leadership leaned on the NCC for leniency? Who was actually in charge of that decision? We don’t know..
because it’s never asked. Is the charge that the NCC failed? Well then ok, let’s make that charge! It’s one I agree with. The decision was loudly denounced by most leftists who had long pointed out Livingstone’s unsuitability. His antisemitism didn’t start in 2015.
Yet it didn’t preclude him being Labour’s mayoral candidate for every single London mayor election except the first, and the last one. Think about that. Ken Livingstone was labour’s mayoral candidate for 3 elections in a row, two of which he lost to Boris Johnson, whilst saying
increasingly incendiary stuff that was either a dogwhistle or outright antisemitism, and yet was repeatedly selected as a candidate by the party. Who made those calls? It certainly wasn’t the left, consensus agrees they didn’t control the party until post 2016.
But that’s largely immaterial. Collective responsibility is collective responsibility and that was bungled, allowing the impression that proximity to Corbyn = leniency. He was suspended and eventually quit before he was expelled. That was the end of that.
So we move on to the comments surrounding Seumas Milne. Now, I can’t say I’m a fan. Before he joined labour I generally found his articles to be laborious reads for ppl who have far too much time on their hands no offence.
Is he a Stalinist? Probably not. Does he have a Russia boner? Probably, but he’s not alone there tbf, the left are really into dead Russians whether figureheads or philosopher. Whatever floats your boat I suppose. The thing that strikes me most about Seumas Milne coverage is...
that were Milne to convert to Judaism tomorrow, almost every single description of him in the media would immediately become antisemitic. It is wild. There seems to be some kind of understanding that antisemitic tropes are only antisemitic if they’re made about Jewish ppl...
specifically. Problem there is that if the trope is allowed to continue when directed at non Jewish ppl, then it’s eventually going to end up being directed at a Jewish person. Why? Because you’re not going to know you’re talking to a Jewish person half the time.
I’m not sure we’re in the business of Jewish identifiers anymore that seems pretty Nazi germany to me. Which means it’s probably better off not engaging in language that would become instantly antisemitic upon knowledge of that identity.
Yet the descriptions (and images) of a puppet master secretly controlling the leadership of the party continue. Maybe it’s a lack of originality, maybe it’s clumsiness, but the English language is pretty rich and has s̵t̵o̵l̵e̵n̵ borrowed enough words from other languages that..
it shouldn’t be hard to convey the same opinion with less dogwhistle language. And yet.
Which leads me to the next case that was discussed and probably the most controversial after Livingstone. The case that birthed a crank movement. Jackie. Walker.
I often find myself wondering if Walker’s case is a snapshot for why an understanding of intersectionality and co-existing minority identities is imperative to any real undertaking of anti-racist work. Why is this relevant? I’ll explain.
When I came across the comments my immediate thought was YIKES DOT COM. Antisemitism in the black community isn’t a rarity. No, the very nature of societal racism in a white supremacist world is that it trickles into all communities, even those also oppressed by the powers.
But a regularly understood concept is that questioning the identity of a minority within a community they claim to belong to, is not your place to make. And Jackie Walker (to my knowledge) claims to be Jewish. So as a black woman I could with some confidence say her comments were
antisemitic, but as someone who wasn’t Jewish, I couldn’t with any confidence call her antisemitic. It’s not unusual for ppl within a community to display or reproduce racist rhetoric towards their own community. It happens across board and isn’t unique to Jews. The problem here
is that the discussion on “can I be racist against my own people” is one that necessarily excludes those outside those identities, which can occasionally give the appearance of condoning offensive comments & when a political party is not solely contained within a specific group..
it becomes tricky for a majority non Jewish organisation to rule on what minorities are allowed to say about their own minority group when it doesn’t fall outside of legal laws around speech. We can argue that Walkers comments *did* but that doesn’t really change the headache.
This is relevant because one of the charges against Milne from leaked emails, shown here and contested by labour, is that he was attempting to downgrade the charge to politics as opposed to antisemitism
What the email shows is Milne actually wondering the same thing - how does a non-Jewish specific party charge Jewish ppl with antisemitism without appearing to be policing speech in a community to which they do not largely belong? It’s the correct question to ask because...
it protects the party from counter-charges. Perhaps a way forward would be for mini dispute panels (which have been deployed) where relating to instances of racism to be made up of ppl from the corresponding community of various political leanings.
So an all Jewish panel of various political leanings within the broad church of the party could handle Jewish cases, all black for those of anti-blackness and so on and so forth. This, I feel, would be a better approach and would also take a lot of the sting and backlash out of..
some of these cases. The other charge contested by the party is that Milne laughed at Creighton’s suggestion that one way to tackle antisemitism would be to state he believes in Israel’s right to exist. Labour claim the convo never took place but let’s assume it did.
Firstly, a speech like that wouldn’t stop antisemitism in the party. It might turn the antisemites against Corbyn, but they’d still be there. But more importantly, Corbyn is, has been, and remains a believer in the 2 state solution. Which actually puts him to the right of most...
left wing discourse around Israel/Palestine. The charge that a belief in a single state of Israelis and Palestinians is actually a call for the eradication of Israel doesn’t really stand up either. The question “is the 2 state solution dead” has been approached & asked by many
including, most famously, John Kerry in his final speech of the Obama administration. I’m not sure who would call staunchly pro Israel John Kerry antisemitic for stating that, as things continue, a 2 state solution goes from hopeful to impossible. The point here is mainly that..
Corbyn re-affirming his long held belief in a 2 state solution wouldn’t lessen antisemitism, nor would it lessen anti-Zionism. It would largely be ineffective. What it would do would be reassure those in the Jewish community who questioned his position on Israel of his position.
But again, that’s less tackling antisemitism and more placating the concerns of a minority group. Still an good thing to do in these circumstances but that should have been made clearer. We don’t know however, because it’s just one person’s word against another that the convo..
even took place. Which leads to the next charge in the doc - Formby’s deletion of emails. It’s safe to say GDPR compliance in Labour is bozo the clown levels. But GDPR also only came in last year so prior to that, orgs had to rely on confidentiality clauses. Which may explain the
use of NDAs previously. However, her claim of doing so due to hostile forces seeking to access confidential information was only bolstered by the @labourpress account either being hacked or a staff member going rogue with an unauthorised tweet last night.
This only serves to weaken the charge against her AND embolden those who are convinced that everything is one big fat conspiracy against poor defenceless Jeremy.
The person put forward by labour to respond to the documentary was Andrew Gwynne. His contribution was pitiful imo. “Is 15 expulsions in a crisis that has been running 3 years evidence of a party that is serious about dealing with antisemitism?” Easy answer Andy - no. It’s honest
If you don’t have the numbers with you to say 15 out of how many, the easy and honest answer is just no. 15 fewer racists is great but doesn’t really answer why it’s taken 3 years for that. The number is damning when not given a full data set & if you’re not offering the full..
data-set then why try to justify it at all? There’s no reason to believe you. It’s another example of the bungled responses which end up exacerbating this crisis rather than pouring water on already high flames.
The rest of the documentary is largely filled with restating of past stories. I can completely understand why those ex staffers thought this might be a good idea. Frustration is powerful and when you feel action is slow you want to take matters into your own hands.
The problem here is that, by going to the media, they’ve not just jeopardised the EHRC investigation into labour, they’ve opened themselves up to charges of factionalism. A lot of this may just be a failure by the media to use correct language.
Whistleblowing has a very strict definition within employment law. There are specific bodies (as well as organisational policy) that are responsible for whistleblowing. The media is not, and has never been one.
There is no argument against the idea that concerns of racism within the Labour Party should be a public matter. But there’s a reason why the media are not a proscribed body and why whistleblowing to the media does not...
provide you with cover under the government whistleblowing rules. This is pertinent when you’ve actually followed procedure but it’s even more important when (to date) there’s been no evidence of an attempt to follow whistleblowing procedure.
what this documentary has actually done is probably undermined the ability of the EHRC investigation because it bolsters a Labour Party argument that it’s impossible for them to adequately respond given the constant leaking of confidential information.
As dismal and unedifying as the panorama documentary was, the social media response from the “pro Williamson/it’s all a smear” contingent of the Labour Party was worse by a whisper. If you were going out of your way to prove the documentary correct, well done you did it.
The hysterical reaction and utterly bizarre responses (half of which made brainless Israel references) only bolster the allegations against the party. Those who are in staunch belief there’s no problem need to seriously question why a) they are so incensed by baseless claims and
b) how their reaction has actually helped the issue.

The entire discourse is so toxic and disgusting.

Reactionary approaches to dealing with racism or charges of racism never ever work. What are you doing? Seriously.
It’s time for this increasingly noisy & wrecking section of the party to ask themselves “if I want a Corbyn govt so much how am I helping to disprove the allegations by screeching about the Israel lobby all day long?” or “if I’m antiracist, why am I convinced this is all smear?”
After all, there’s a difference between saying “elements of the crisis is the result of a weaponisation against ideological opposites of Corbyn” and “nah it’s all lies”. Yet it’s the latter you choose every time despite all evidence to the contrary.
The tendency to exaggerate is strong on all sides and I have no idea why because the charges are damning enough. Jackie Walker’s comment that the Jews were the chief financiers of the slave trade was always the charge against her. Packaging that, as happened in the documentary...
alongside the charge that she had said Jewish people were “unwelcoming to black people” serves what purpose? How is that about antisemitism? Antiblackness within the Jewish community is, after all, a very real phenomenon.
You don’t need to take my word, here’s the new Israeli education minister calling intermarriage by American Jews a “second holocaust”
Too many on all sides have sought to use this crisis as a vehicle to whitewash and revise history. This is perhaps best seen in the deployment of “anti-racist” both referring to the party (and the tenet of institutional racism) and on the opposing side, in defence of individuals.
The Labour Party, is not, has not, and probably may never be, an anti-racist party. The Labour Party mainstream is quite proud of its broad church status. But being a broad church politically means it’s impossible to actually be an anti-racist party. So the party needs to decide.
Neoliberalism demands racism, centrism demands racism, Bennism demands racism. Racism respects no political ideology. It supersedes them because it’s ingrained in society. It was present in the formation of the party, it was present in the Atlee administration.
It was present in the Foot years, the Kinnock Years, the Blair Years, the Brown Years, the Miliband years and yes, the corbyn Years. The party that created Yarls Wood was not an anti racist party. The party that took us to an illegal Iraq war was not an antiracist party.
The party that stood at the cliffs of dover before an all-white specially selected audience was not an anti-racist party. The party that introduced exhorbitant costs for non immigrants to become citizens was not an anti-racism party.
The party of Phil Woolas’s racist campaign was not anti-racist. The party that carved Controls on Immigration in stone, and sold them on mugs, was not an anti-racist party. To believe so is to demonstrate possibly a larger indifference to racism than Corbyn is alleged to do.
Similarly, being a life long ally of various anti-racism struggles does not automatically make you an anti-racist and being “anti-racist” doesn’t absolve you of the capability to engage in racism subconsciously. There has been so much cheapening of essential concepts by all sides
that going further, I can not see an end to this crisis, but a normalisation of denial, conspiracy and, most sadly, antisemitism. And everyone should feel deeply ashamed about that.
This probably should’ve been an article not a thread. Sorry.
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