Oxford University: Labour can still shock

For all the warm words and promises, when it comes to action, the most charitable interpretation of Labour’s attitude to antisemitism is that the party simply doesn’t care, writes Stephen Pollard.

January 18, 2017 11:14

Is it possible to be shocked by something that is entirely to be expected?

The answer is yes.

Because yesterday’s decision by the Labour NEC’s disputes panel to drop any further investigation into the two members of the Oxford University Labour Club accused of engaging in antisemitic acts in front of Jewish students is both shocking and entirely to be expected.

Shocking, because it is so brazenly contemptuous of the rights of Jewish students to be free from antisemitic abuse. But entirely to be expected because of Labour's response to antisemitism over the past year.

The FSA requires all adverts for investment products to contain the warning that past performance is no guide to performance in the future. But when it comes to Labour and antisemitism, past performance is clearly a 100 per cent solid predictor of future behaviour. Because from all we’ve seen from Labour since these allegations first surfaced – the drip, drip, drip of cases emerging and the almost total failure to treat any of them with the appropriate degree of seriousness – it should surprise no one that Labour has effectively said to Jewish students, indeed to the entire Jewish community: screw you.

For all the warm words and promises, when it comes to action and Labour’s attitude to antisemitism, the most charitable interpretation of its behaviour is that, under Jeremy Corbyn, the party simply doesn’t care.

Let me remind you that Ken Livingstone remains a member of the Labour Party.

At last year’s party conference, Mr Corbyn – perhaps we should now refer to him as Jeremy Hypocrite-Corbyn – pledged: “This party always has and always will fight against prejudice and hatred of Jewish people with every breath in our body.”

He went on: “We know that robust debate has at times spilled over into abuse and hate around our party, including misogyny and anti-Semitism, especially on social media. That is utterly unacceptable. Our party must be a safe and welcoming space for everybody and we will continue to take firm action against abuse and intimidation.

Whatever word you use to describe the opposite of the truth is, this was it.

Because the message sent out yesterday by the party’s disputes panel was the exact opposite: that the Labour Party is a safe and welcoming space for everybody except Jews and it will continue to take firm action against abuse and intimidation unless the victims are Jews.

Be clear that this is not about unsubstantiated allegations being ignored. Labour’s own inquiry, under Baroness Royall, found: "It is clear to me from the weight of witnessed allegations received that there have been some incidents of antisemitic behaviour and that it is appropriate for the disciplinary procedures of our Party to be invoked.”

Labour’s disputes panel has chosen to uphold the rights of bigots to express their bigotry rather than the rights of the victims of that bigotry to be protected.

In politics and public life there are issues shrouded in nuance, where there are no black and white answers and only grey. Race hate is not one of them. You either tolerate racism and bigotry or you don’t.

Now we know, for certain, where Labour stands on that divide.

January 18, 2017 11:14

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive