One of the things about now living in Scotland that looking in on what happens politically in England makes the utter insanity of Scottish politics seem sane and sensible, well, as sane as politics can be in this world dominated by Brexit and the aftermath of that. In this case the Jeremy Corbyn antisemitism row is one I look upon with interest as it seems most everyone involved in this are at some level, an arsehole.
It’s clear that some of those attacking Corbyn are doing so not because they’re fighting antisemitism, but they’re doing so to land lumps upon Corbyn. This of course isn’t true for all of Corbyn’s accusers as a number of people have very clear concerns with how Labour’s failed to deal with an issue that shouldn’t arise in a supposed party of the people like Labour. However as those of us in Scotland know, Labour are peachy with the like of Hugh Gaffney in their party and although it’s fair to say all parties have eye-popping racists and bigots in them, it is how they deal with them that’s the mark of a party. I can see that if I were Jewish that a party I’d normally consider safe refuge seems to be not treating bigotry aimed at my people as seriously as they should.
But the problem is that instead of an informed debate about antisemitism we now have a polarised shouting session where the decreasing voices of sanity are being drowned out by folk on all sides of this debate.
Do Labour, and the left as a whole, have an issue with antisemitism? Yes. This Guardian article provides some context for Labour, but parts of the left need to address this head on and no, that doesn’t mean turning the subject to Israel or mentioning Zionism. The comedian David Schneider make a wee test for those of us on the left and I think he’s nailed it.
I’ve been at Stop the War meetings not long after the second Iraq War where Tony Benn would agonisingly spell things out for people along similar lines to Schneider and when the floor was thrown open to questions, it would be guaranteed one of the first would be mindbogglingly antisemitic. At one in London around 2003 myself and my then partner (who was Jewish) left raging after folk ignored Benn’s message which meant she left before getting into a fight, and in Bristol a few years later myself and a mate left because we couldn’t be arsed arguing with people about ‘THE JEWS’ with spittle-flecked anger.
A section of people on the left have a blind spot for Jews. Do I think Corbyn antisemitic? No, he’s trying to protect his party and in doing so he’s fucked up because he’s never confronted the problem head on as it’d mean tackling allies, just as Gaffney isn’t tackled as it means he loses an ally here. It isn’t all Corbyn’s fault as no Labour leader in my lifetime had truly tackled the issue head-on but the issue sits within Labour and needs sorted. The left as a whole has the same issue and this leaves a massive open goal the Tories are only too glad to take advantage of. Of course the Tories have issues with every sort of bigotry going but the difference between us on the left and them is we’re supposed to care about people as people rather than find ways to get round this. Basically, we’re supposed to be better but I think some folk just have a blind spot which is why they need called out if they can’t be educated as Tony Benn used to try to do.
We have the worst government in a succession of awful governments which has wallowed in lies and corruption. A Prime Minister in Theresa May unfit for the job leading us to a Brexit nobody with sanity and compassion backs and yet the official Westminster opposition can’t break a lead because they can’t keep their own house in order. It’s a sad, pitiful and hopeless situation but if the left learns something from this then at least it may just have been worth it.
It won’t of course.