Antisemitism, Labour and Jeremy Corbyn – letters to the Guardian

Antisemitism, Labour and Jeremy Corbyn

Readers respond to an advertisement from 67 Labour peers claiming that the party’s leader had ‘failed the test of leadership’ over his handling of antisemitism complaints

The advertisement from Labour peers (Peers tell Corbyn he has ‘failed test of leadership’, 17 July) does a fine job in spelling out accusations against Jeremy Corbyn (saying he is “presiding over the most shaming period in Labour’s history” shows peers still in denial over Iraq, never mind 1931), but unhelpfully they say nothing about what should be done next.

Labour leaders, Jeremy Corbyn included, are not responsible for enforcing the rules and constitution of the party. That is the responsibility of the National Executive Committee (NEC), of which the leader is only one member. Discipline is the responsibility of the National Constitutional Committee (NCC), and Jeremy is not part of this at all. The party’s rules are not imposed, dictated by or changed by the leader.

After a period when the governance unit was under-resourced, and the NEC singularly failed to address the problem, and ignored recommendations which would have helped, contrary to the peers’ view, the party structures in relation to complaints have been strengthened in the last year. The NCC has been expanded, legal representation increased. In February, general secretary Jennie Formby reported that since April 2018 the party had investigated 673 complaints against members and gave details of progress. It would be helpful for Formby’s deputy now to give an update so we can see exactly what has been done to address the party’s antisemitism problem, and what remains to be done.
Phil Tate

It was a famous Jewish singer, Bob Dylan, who coined the lyric “Money doesn’t talk, it swears”, which seems quite apt for the minority of Labour peers who have paid for an advert to subvert the democratically expressed wishes of Labour members who have twice voted overwhelmingly for Jeremy Corbyn to lead the party.

In those leadership elections of 2015 and 2016, thousands of Labour members – overwhelmingly Corbyn supporters – many with decades of commitment to the party, and including a significant number of Jews, were told they were definitely unwelcome in the most brutal way, when they were summarily suspended and excluded from participating in those elections with little or no explanation.

I know the toll that had on individuals, whose reputations, social networks and self-esteem were seriously damaged overnight by unfounded allegations or none at all. Who was overseeing that process? Iain McNicol, the party’s general secretary until 2018, who is one of the signatories of this advert.

As an elected officer of my constituency Labour party I have never felt at all unwelcome as a Jew in the party, where I am surrounded by people who have fought racism and bigotry all their lives, including other Jews. The worst I have felt is great embarrassment at the reactionary interventions and policy positions put forward by some of the same Labour peers who signed that advert, such as Peter Mandelson, John Reid and Michael Levy.
David Rosenberg

Full-page Guardian adverts won’t come cheap, of course, even between 67 people. I find myself asking why they’ve done it? I note the names like Mandelson in there, whose hostility to Corbyn is very well documented, but it does appear to me that people who have never accepted Corbyn as leader of the party have now decided that losing a possible forthcoming general election to the Tories is a price worth paying to rid the party of him. Interesting to note, too, that Donald Trump is now using the same kind of language against “the squad” of four female Democrats, that they too are antisemitic. The 67 Labour peers now find themselves sharing the same kind of ideology that Trump does. I also find that disheartening, and unsurprising, sadly.
John Holroyd
Thornhill, Dumfries

With Jeremy Corbyn’s swift action in sacking his Brexit spokesperson in the Lords (Corbyn sacks senior peer over ‘Hitler bunker’ remark, 18 July), I hope the 67 fellow Labour peers who attacked Mr Corbyn in an advert in the Guardian on 17 July for not taking leadership on controversial comments by Labour members will be happy that they have had a quick impact.
Dr David Lowry
Stoneleigh, Surrey

I actually drew some limited comfort from reading the names of former Commons colleagues – now peers – in their advert attacking the conduct of the party leader. I had genuinely been under the impression that several of them were dead.
David Hinchliffe
Labour MP for Wakefield, 1987-2005

The Labour peers who signed an advert in Wednesday’s Guardian would be most welcome to come to our constituency Labour party and explain to the many Jewish members, including our immediate past chair, why they are apparently no longer welcome in the party.
Professor Emeritus Nick Spencer
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

John Harris (Labour can effect positive change despite its discord, 15 July) seems to have let his enthusiasm for linking anti-imperialism and antisemitism run away with him. In particular he tries to show a connection between Jeremy Corbyn, some of his advisers and the political forces who “eventually formed the deeply inconsistent and compromised Stop the War coalition”.

We have always been consistent in opposing our government’s military interventions, and – far from being compromised – the Chilcot inquiry vindicated our criticisms, as do the continued failed wars from Libya to Afghanistan. We opposed bombing by Russia in Syria, but argued that intervention by the US and UK would lead to further misery for ordinary Syrians. We currently oppose Trump’s dangerous escalation of conflict with Iran.

The latest attempt to blame the left for antisemitism is turning reality on its head. Those fighting imperialism have long been champions of anti-racism, including antisemitism, and we are proud that some of those most able and consistent at doing so have been Jewish.
Lindsey German
Convener, Stop the War Coalition

There is no doubt that there is antisemitism in the Labour party, as everywhere, and it has been badly handled, not least by its equivocating leader, but I would like to ask MPs who have submitted dossiers of complaints just how many turned out to be members of the party, and how many were vile, troublemaking trolls? Figures from the party state, for instance, that the 200 examples submitted by Margaret Hodge concerned 111 people, 91 of whom turned out not to be Labour party members. Reportedly, 1,100 complaints were lodged between April 2018 and January 2019, but 433 (nearly 40%) were found to relate to people who weren’t Labour members.

If the figures have been exaggerated, they have unnecessarily alarmed the Jewish population and made the Labour party seem far more antisemitic than it really is. I therefore hope that the current EHRC investigation publishes some figures on actual membership involvement as against vile social media trolling.
Jeanne Caesar
Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Comments (8)

  • Terry Kelly says:

    Final straw – Guardian no more after 50 years.

  • Sheena says:


  • Sara says:

    Please God let the witch hunters be defeated, their lies and smears be fully exposed, the truth made to be broadcast by the biased publicly funded bbc, the pathetic panorama character assassination retracted and their Israeli apartheid regime backers driven out with their odious coniving puppet Watson, Mann and Hodge expelled along with the poisonous peers. Then finally the amazing peaceful Labour Movement who created the jewel of our nation the NHS can concentrate on defeating the horrendously callous tories and helping the poor and defenceless who are literally dying under their cruel policies.Thank you to our fantastic JVL, all the contributors, writers and brilliant independent publications around the world who are supporting us in this struggle and fight. We are so very proud of everyone.

  • TP says:

    Anti brutal Israeli apartheid oppresser regime is NOT anti semitism, it’s a bloody totally natural, humane and moral reaction.

  • Liberty says:

    ”We found that calling critics of Israel’s foreign policy ‘anti semitic’ has become a deliberate tactic of some of the more strident Israeli lobby groups’ — Dispatches inside Britain’s Israeli Lobby 2009

  • S H says:

    Who is the mastermind behind the horrible expensive anti Jeremy Corbyn ad? None other than the Prince of Darkness dosh loving blair wingman bloody awful Mandy Mandelson.

  • Lily says:

    David Hinchcliffe’s letter is so absolutely hilarious.

  • Alan Harrison says:

    Thank God I live in Australia which is a much more egalitarian society than the UK and where the top wage earners pay tax at a rate of 47 % ( including Medicare of 2 % )

Comments are now closed.