More False Allegations of Labour Anti-Semitism, and the Need for a Democratic Response

berger times 2019

One of Jeremy Corbyn’s leading capitalist critics, Luciana Berger (Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree), is once again driving a national campaign of fearmongering against so-called Labour racism. Last weekend, writing in The Times (February 4) Berger asserted that her own party is “imbued with the oldest hatred — that directed towards Jews.”

After revelling in organising the anti-Corbyn #enoughisenough protest in Parliament Square last year, she stated that since then it “feels like [Labour] have gone backwards.”

Heaping unfounded smear upon smear, Berger says that Labour’s leadership had adopted a position of “intransigence and glacial slowness in tackling antisemitism.” She further inverts the truth when she says that “Labour’s disciplinary committees are turning a blind eye to hatred towards Jews”; and goes on to argue that unless her unfounded assertions are answered in full by the Labour leadership, “there will be a suspicion of deliberate obfuscation, of incompetence, or worse, of cover-up.”

Attempting to escalate her muck-spreading at every instance, Berger adds:

“…as the antisemitic online attacks on Countdown’s Rachel Riley in recent weeks have shown, orchestrated by people with #JC4PM19 in their social media biographies, and if my Twitter timeline is anything to go by, the levels of hate have risen.”

No mention is made of the fact that most of those promoting anti-Semitic comments on social media are from the far-right of the political spectrum.

Berger, it seems, like Riley, seem only keen on impugning the socialist critics of each and every warmongering Blairite MPs that still resides with the Labour Party (and there are many of them who certainly do need replacing with democratic and socialist alternatives).

In fact, it is fitting that in a recent interview on Channel 4 News, Riley traced her newfound interest in fighting anti-Semitism to the anti-socialist smears promoted by the right-wing author, Dave Rich, and his 2016 book The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel & Antisemitism.

The influence of far-right (and ironically racist) conspiracy theorists upon Riley are unfortunate to say the least. For instance, last year Riley retweeted what she called a “FANTASTIC article” which was authored by vocal Islamophobe David Toube (who is the Director of Policy at the notorious Quilliam Foundation). Then, on December 18, she tweeted an article attacking Corbyn’s alleged anti-Semitism that was authored by one of America’s most famous anti-socialist lobbying groups, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA); and to make her position clear, on the same day tweeted:

“The tactics the far-left bullies are using now, have been used time and time again against those speaking out against Antisemitism in the @UKLabour party. My aim in this, is to expose them as the vile racists that they are for all to see. And they are playing right into my hands.”

 

 

 

Naturally, Riley was quick to rally to Berger’s defence earlier this week when the national press reported on the so-called witch-hunt against Blairite MPs that was being driven forward by Corbyn supporters within Berger’s Constituency Labour Party (CLP) – a witch-hunt that doesn’t appear to be very effective given the fact that no CLP’s have yet to organise a trigger ballot against any Blairite MPs. Anyway this week’s news concerning the so-called bullying witch-hunt came to prominence in the wake of the revelation that two motions had been proposed by members of Berger’s CLP (but not yet voted upon by local members) that called for a vote of no-confidence in Berger as their Labour MP. The first motion asked members to vote to agree that:

“Wavertree CLP has no confidence in Luciana Berger as our representative in Parliament.

“The UK is in crisis because of the appalling austerity policies of a government that serves the interests of the rich.

“We need a Labour government under the socialist leader of the twice-elected leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“Instead of fighting for a Labour government, our MP is continually using the media to criticise the man we all want to be Prime Minister.”

Nothing too controversial here. Nevertheless, this motion was seized upon by Riley, Berger and her pro-establishment Blairite buddies — and by the national press — to suggest that Berger was being bullied out of the Labour Party by anti-Semites. But the fact of the matter is that what enrages such critics is that members of Berger’s CLP were finally expressing their democratic right to express their discontent with the anti-socialist actions of their elected MP.

Of course, Berger’s Blairite friends like Liz Kendall were quick to rally to her side, who quickly tweeted her agreement that the motion of no-confidence was “deeply unhelpful” to the Labour Party.* Kendall being the same MP who only last year ignored a motion that was passed by her own CLP that highlighted Corbyn’s longstanding commitment to anti-Semitism and politely requested that Kendall follow their example in sending a letter to Corbyn to thank him for his dedication to fighting for justice. So much for Kendall’s commitment to Labour Party democracy!

kendall feb 2019

There has never been anything wrong in CLP members raising motions that attempt to hold their local MPs to account… this is a basic democratic right. But there is much that we can learn from the anti-democratic responses of Blairite MPs to the idea that local Labour Party members might want to encourage them to promote the type of socialist politics that could bring an end to austerity.

In the short-term, trigger ballots are one democratic solution to this enduring Blairite problem. However, a less conflictual approach for achieving the same democratic ends in the long-term would involve the reintroduction of the mandatory reselection of all Labour MPs to once again become a proud centre-piece of Labour Party democracy.

Note

*On Sunday (February 10) Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth joined Kendall in backing Berger (as he has done before) telling the BBC:

“I think what we’ve seen on anti-Semitism in the party utterly breaks my heart. I am such a big fan of Luciana Berger… She has stood up against anti-Semitism all her political life, she has got my full support. It’s clear that we need to go further and faster in dealing with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.”

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