Nick Lowles says that the stain of antisemitism can only be removed by holding an independent inquiry into the allegations.
Today’s Sunday Times story is quite horrendous. If it is all accurate, Labour’s failure to tackle antisemitism in its ranks goes even deeper than anyone previously understood.
The examples given are absolutely chilling. It is reported that members have been investigated for posting comments as “Heil Hitler”, “F*** the Jews” and “Jews are the problem” online.
A Labour council candidate claimed that 9/11 was an “inside job” but has not had her disciplinary case heard despite the complaint being lodged over a year ago. That anyone at all would post comments like that is disgusting, let alone someone representing the party in an election. But the Sunday Times reports that she, like so many others who have been accused of making such offensive and antisemitic comments, those members have not been expelled.
There are other examples of members talking about “Jewish” media attacks on Labour, or citing the age-old antisemitic Rothschild trope.
Anyone who thinks of themselves as a progressive, a socialist, a Labour person would be ashamed to have anyone like this associated with their party. No ifs, no buts.
It’s been widely accepted that Labour has a problem with antisemites inside the Party. Jeremy Corbyn himself told the Evening Standard last year that it was clear to him that some “members and supporters hold antisemtic views and attitudes.” He added, “My party and I are sorry for the hurt and distress caused.”
Some elements around the party leadership have tried to fight back against this surge of racism inside Labour. Momentum’s national office has produced well-received videos condemning antisemitism and educating supporters about the antisemitic Rothschild trope. They’ve been calling out leftwing antisemites via their social media feeds and have called on supporters to shun supposedly left wing accounts that have posted antisemitic content.
While Momentum have received praise from Jewish communities leaders for their work, it’s clearer than ever that real change can only come from the top, and the Sunday Times report – if accurate – suggests that senior staff are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
We need to know – with absolute certainty – if the information leaked to the Sunday Times is accurate. If it is, we need to know who is responsible for covering for these racists within Labour, and who is responsible for the cover-up to hide the fact that has been going on. Conspiring to protect antisemites from disciplinary action is as serious as committing acts of antisemitism in the first place.
Socialists have a long history of struggle against antisemitism. Today, socialists have a duty to refight that battle. The first step should be a robust, independent investigation into the Sunday Times allegations, led by a person, or people, who understand and value the labour movement, but who are also determined to go wherever the evidence takes them. All materials should be made available, and staff obligated to cooperate.
The Labour Party has told the Sunday Times that its disciplinary system is robust and fair and these emails have been selectively highlighted and taken out of context. If that is true then they should open up the process to independent review.
Going back many, many months, the leadership of the party has been adamant that they have nothing to hide, and adamant that much more is being done to tackle anti-Jewish racism. If the party leadership truly believes that it has nothing to hide and its disciplinary practices are robust and thorough then it will not only welcome an independent investigation to resolve this matter but take the initiative and call for one to be established.
Without such an independent inquiry, and a promise to implement any suggested changes and recommendations, the stain of antisemitism is going to continue to hover over the Labour Party.