Hannah Sell, Socialist Party deputy general secretary
The furore around charges of anti-Semitism engulfing the Labour Party is, in reality, an orchestrated and cynical new stage of the campaign by the right-wing pro-capitalist wing of the Labour Party to try and prepare the ground for ditching Jeremy Corbyn at the earliest possible opportunity.
It is not possible to tell what the timescale will be, but this has all the hallmarks of a slow coup.
Iain Watson, the BBC’s Political Correspondent, reports a Labour MP telling him a week before this broke publicly that: “There is a lot more in this anti-Semitism issue – a lot more. And the people we will take out are all close to Corbyn.”
Jeremy Corbyn was elected less than a year ago by a landslide; having enthused hundreds of thousands of people with his anti-austerity policies.
The Blairites were trounced and these 4.5%ers were horrified at the prospect of Labour – a party whose leadership had loyally acted in the interests of big business for decades – being reclaimed by the working class.
Backed to the hilt by big business and the right-wing media, they are dedicating all their time and energy into once again making Labour a party that can be relied on to act in the interests of the 1%.
Compromise no solution
As we have repeatedly warned, no amount of attempts to compromise with the right wing that dominates the parliamentary Labour Party will pacify them.
On the contrary it only emboldens them. Nor are there any limits to the levels they will stoop to. MPs like Jess Phillips, who declared she would happily knife Jeremy Corbyn in the front, or John Mann, who has attempted to discredit Corbyn with the most scurrilous lies since the moment his name appeared on the ballot paper, will be prepared to use any means necessary to achieve their goal.
Hence an attempt is being made to equate criticism of the right-wing Israeli government with anti-Semitism and to smear the whole of the left with the charge.
This has included an outrageous attempt to smear the Militant, now the Socialist Party. The slur was made on Newsnight by former leading SDP member Baroness Neuberger.
She has since admitted that she has ‘no written evidence’ but based her accusation on the reports of ‘personal friends/acquaintances’! In fact Militant (and now the Socialist Party) has always fought against anti-Semitism and all forms of racism, and has a very longstanding position of supporting the right of two states – Israel and Palestine – to exist side by side, which would be possible on a socialist basis.
We have a sister organisation in Israel Palestine that takes the same stance and heroically campaigns against the Israeli government.
Unfortunately, this is not the position of many others on the left. We would criticise Ken Livingstone [former London mayor and Labour MP] for his crass remarks mentioning Zionism and Hitler, which were greeted with glee by the right wing because they gave them an opportunity to step up their attack.
However, Jeremy Corbyn made a mistake when, rather than just making clear his disagreement with Livingstone’s remarks, he acceded to the frenzied demands of the right to suspend him from the party.
No action against John Mann
At the same time no action has been taken against right wing Labour MP John Mann for his brutal public provocation of Livingstone other than a supposed ‘dressing down’ by Rosie Winterton, the right-wing Labour chief whip.
In fact, as the capitalist class’s mouthpiece, the Financial Times (FT), reported, far from being punished, Mann had “Labour MPs…lining up to pat him on the back”.
The FT added that: “One party insider said the row was indeed a proxy for the left-right split within the Labour party. ‘You go to party conference and all the leftwingers are at the Friends of Palestine event and the right are all at the Friends of Israel drinks’.”
They conclude that: “Mr Corbyn is now under pressure from his critics to make a big speech on anti-Semitism with a promise to stamp it out; for the Labour leader, making good on that promise is the politically dangerous part.” The right intend to keep ratcheting up the pressure on Corbyn to denounce all those on the left who have criticised the right wing Israeli government.
Badge of honour
Meanwhile, voting for bombing Iraq or Syria will, in their view, continue to be badges of honour.
It would be a serious mistake for the Labour leadership to retreat in the face of this onslaught. Many of those who were enthused by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign can see this onslaught for what it is and will be eager to come to his defence.
Outrageously, leaders of Momentum, initially set up to organise those very people, have cravenly gone along with the attacks by the right.
Unfortunately this has been the trend – from refusing to campaign for deselection to attempting to exclude non-Labour Party members, including the Socialist Party, from Momentum.
But by supporting Livingstone’s suspension and demanding he should permanently “exit politics” Jon Lansman, founder of Momentum, has shown he is incapable of organising a movement to effectively defend Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership from the Labour right.
It is urgent that the lessons of this incident are learned. As we have consistently pointed out it will only be possible to defeat the right by mobilising the anti-austerity movement in a mass, democratic movement.
To succeed this cannot be led by those who see the way forward within the narrow and undemocratic constraints of the existing Labour Party and whose approach is for endless compromise with the pro-austerity warmongers that dominate the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Instead it means building a movement – organised on federal lines – that brings together all of those workers, young people and community activists who have been inspired by Jeremy Corbyn and want to see a determined anti-capitalist party. The Socialist Party will do all we can to assist in the building of such a movement.