Tonight, Labour MPs will debate antisemitism and continue to delay confronting the inevitable

Daniel Sugarman asks: What will they do when they - again - get no satisfying answers from Jeremy Corbyn?

February 04, 2019 14:16

Tonight, Labour MPs will continue to delay confronting the inevitable.

The Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) will vote on a motion giving the party leadership seven days to answer a query – with eleven points - on how the party is addressing its antisemitism problem.

This sounds like progress – and it is genuinely encouraging to see some MPs who have previously been relatively uninvolved on the issue now speaking up about it. It is also not a bad thing at all to ensure that Labour’s disgraceful lack of proper action is kept in the public eye, where it belongs.

But there is absolutely nothing to suggest that Jeremy Corbyn, or Labour’s General Secretary, Jennie Formby, have the slightest inclination of taking any real action to address this issue.

And what will MPs do when they fail to get the answers they have demanded?

Write another sternly worded letter? Sadly shake their heads?

Certainly nothing suggests they will finally break with a party which has proved itself to be rotten to the core with antisemitism.

Labour’s current line is that they have “significantly sped up and strengthened our procedures for dealing with complaints about antisemitism.”

Setting aside the fact that there are members, like Jackie Walker, who have been suspended for over two years now, what Labour actually appears to have done is sped up its process in terms of dismissing or ignoring many complaints.

Labour members such as ex-MP Jim Sheridan - who said he had lost “empathy and respect” for British Jews because they were working with “Blairite plotters” to attack Mr Corbyn - have been reinstated.

Other complaints about members breaching the IHRA definition of antisemitism – something the Jewish community had to pressure the party into adopting - are resulting in boiler plate responses saying the member’s remarks didn’t breach party rules, as in the case of Professor David Miller or general secretary of the PCS union Mark Serwotka.

For months, Labour’s press office has responded to case after case of Jew-hate with a statement saying the party “takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously”.

A few days ago HuffPost reported that Labour’s finances were set to go into deficit, something that was attributed, in part, to a “dramatic increase in spending in the past two years, with more than 30 US-style ‘community organisers’ hired across the country and a doubling of staff in the Leader of the Opposition’s office in parliament, compared to Ed Miliband era.”

At the same time as this money was being doled out, the party’s compliance team was driven to the brink. Last summer it was reported that just one person was left to look at hundreds of cases of reported antisemitism.

Whatever the result of the motion tonight, MPs must know that the questions they are asking will not result in satisfying answers or concrete action. The last few years have proved that much.

So what will their next step then be?

February 04, 2019 14:16

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