Racism thrives in conditions of rising inequality, all the more so when the elected representatives of all of our mainstream political parties are adamant in their refusal to represent the needs of ordinary working-class people. This dire problem has been further aggravated by the fact that unaccountable social democratic leaders, like those within the Labour Party, have consciously chosen to dispatch with class politics. To make matters worse, such Labour misleaders then harp on about how the EU, not militant trade unions, should be viewed as the most effective means of fighting inequality.
Fresh hope against capitalist narratives however has recently been found in the most unlikely of places. As with the surprise election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour’s new leader in 2015, it is now possible to envisage how the Blairite dominated Labour Party might be reclaimed by the working-class to once again fight for our class interests, and in doing so help bring about a permanent end to the scourge of both inequality and racism.
But for decades British politics has been deprived of a democratic Labour Party that might be able to promote the needs of ordinary people, and so into this void stepped all manner of rightwing ideas, like those popularised by the likes of UKIP, or by the dangerous conspiracy theories of David Icke.
New Labour’s contribution to allowing this toxic state of affairs to develop has always been critical; which is why we can be thankful that Corbyn has now opened up new possibilities for bringing a government to power that can actually be forced to serve working-class interests. This means that if a Corbyn-led socialist government is elected to power in the coming months, it can, if it acts decisively against the profiteering of the capitalist class, play an important role in undermining the far-right racist trends within society that are presently coalescing around hatemongers like Icke, UKIP and Tommy Robinson.
Needless to say, the enactment of socialist policies is not something that the political representatives of capitalism are particularly excited about; and included amongst these fearful ranks are a hundred-plus rightwing Labour MPs (who appear to be demanding to be replaced by socialists at the earliest possible opportunity). This capitalist unrest is why all manner of rightwing groups have been so desperate to tar Corbyn with the same anti-Semitic brush as the likes of David Icke – a man who, unlike Corbyn, does deserve this moniker for his anti-Semitic contributions to hate-speech.
Thus, two of the key rightwing groups that have focused on exposing Icke’s anti-Semitism — the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Community Security Trust (CST) — have also been leading the ongoing public attacks upon Corbyn for his alleged anti-Semitism. Given these ongoing smears against Corbyn – that have been backed-up by many Blairites — socialists would be well-advised to avoid jumping into any public campaigns against anti-Semitism with these and similar such organisations without being completely sure of the political terms of their alliances.
The Guardian newspaper, as one might expect, does not view such matters in the same critical light. In fact the newspaper celebrates the formation of alliances that bring socialists and Blairites together, and last week they published Rachel Shabi’s glowing article entitled “How David Icke helped unite Labour’s factions against antisemitism” (November 27). After first arrogantly noting how Brexit supporters are allegedly more prone to conspiratorial beliefs than those who voted Remain, Shabi explained how…
“…a small, cross-party Labour group including the Jewish Labour Movement, Socialists Against Antisemitism, Momentum, Open Labour and Labour First last week protested against a David Icke show in Watford, part of a tour.”
For those who don’t know, Socialists Against Antisemitism is a newly formed facebook group which has yet to announce who its founders are, but, who staked out their middle-of-the-road politics in part of a social media post which states:
“The two main groups of Jewish people within the Labour Party are:
- the Jewish Labour Movement,
- the more recently-formed Jewish Voice for Labour.
“There are good people, in our view, in both groups; but we feel that the former has been too willing to accommodate even the most hysterical attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, such as Lord Sacks’ comparison of Corbyn with Enoch Powell. And we feel that the latter has been too reluctant to call out left anti-Semitism, which it seems to regard as a low priority or merely a ploy to attack Corbyn.” (October 21, 2018)
Either way, it seems that Icke had first piqued the interest of the Guardian journalist earlier this year, when in her own words, she explained: “I saw the actor Marlon Solomon’s stand-up show on the subject of conspiracy theories and how they infiltrate the left.”
Named after Icke’s reptilian obsessions, Solomon’s show is titled “Conspiracy Theory: A Lizard’s Tale”, but whilst Icke’s promotion of rightwing conspiracy theories is worrying, I don’t have high expectations that the politics of this comedy show will be particularly socialist in content because Solomon is a vocal supporter of the rightwing Jewish Labour Movement.
So rather than highlight how the Labour protest against Icke was focused on exposing the hate-speech of an influential anti-Semite who is openly hostile to the Labour Party and labour movement more generally, the Guardian author instead asserted that the main outcome of the Icke protest was to “unite Labour’s often fractious intra-party groups over the common cause of tackling the conspiracists in its midst.” This is a particularly bizarre outcome of the protest, as in her following sentence Shabi admits that belief in conspiracy theories is actually “more common on the right of politics”.
Shabi then explained how “a large chunk” of the British population believe the “pet theory of the far right” “that there really is a Muslim plot to take over the UK, 31% of leave voters (and 6% of remain voters)”. Presented in this way, this seems to represent yet another way of bashing Brexit voters; as if the journalist had bothered to do any research at all she could have added that only 8% of Labour voters support this belief compared to 27% of Tory voters. And to be sure, much of the blame for any Labour voters believing in racist conspiracies, just like this one, should be traced to the vile Islamophobia that is still perpetuated by both the mainstream media and by New Labour’s many mis-leaders.
Nevertheless, Shabi remains strangely focused on Labour’s alleged problems, adding: “As the CST’s Dave Rich, author of The Left’s Jewish Problem, points out, these might be crank theories but they aren’t fringe any more.” Here it is significant that Shabi chooses to defer to the wisdom of Dr. Rich, a man who is a hysterical rightwing critic of Corbyn’s socialist ideas, and whose aforementioned 2016 book has the telling subtitle “Jeremy Corbyn, Israel & Antisemitism”.
The excited Guardian journalist then goes on to speculate that Momentum’s recent decision to focus on Icke’s anti-Semitism is just a clever way of allowing them “to flush out the conspiracists in their ranks”. If this is true – and you really couldn’t get more conspiratorial and deluded than that — it certainly doesn’t represent a sound socialist strategy for challenging the widespread presence of anti-Semitic ideas in society. Shabi’s conspiratorial take on the new series of protests however didn’t apparently raise any concerns with Momentum, who were quite happy to provide uncritical support to her Guardian article on social media; with the same being true with the Socialists Against Antisemitism, who happily endorsed the analysis presented therein, noting:
“Excellent article by Rachel Shabi (@rachshabi) in the Guardian. We’d like to thank her for giving us a mention, but far more important than that, it’s just a very good article.” (November 27, 2018)
Of course, no genuine socialist would argue that people shouldn’t challenge anti-Semitism wherever it rears its ugly head. But judging by the contents of the first, and so far, only report on the germinal “cross-party Labour group” protest against David Icke, it is worrying that how anti-Icke sentiment is being used to support the reactionary arguments of Corbyn’s numerous rightwing enemies. This is why, rather than focusing on Icke, socialists might at this present juncture be better advised to use their time to bring down the Tory government, which they might do by exposing the numerous ways in which the Tories anti-working-class ideologies promote both anti-Semitism and racism.