Comments on a LabourList article by Nadia Whittome

Nadia Whittome, MP for Nottingham East and one of those MP’s supporting the restoration of the whip to Jeremy Corbyn.

She is the author of an article in LabourList entitled Labour antisemitism must be confronted – with nuance, clarity and empathy.

It is, unfortunately confused and contradictory, as David Pavett shows in his careful analysis  below.

Nadia Whittome’s article is here reproduced in full, with comments following each paragraph.

The recent publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation reconfirmed what many of us have been arguing for some time: that antisemitism is a real issue in the Labour Party, that requires serious confrontation.

Comment. The EHRC report did nothing of the kind. It considered 70 cases and investigated two in detail. It did not explain on what basis the 70 cases were selected and its analysis of the two cases looked at in detail is highly questionable.

Antisemitism in left-wing and radical movements is not new, dating back to at least the mid-19th century. One of the oldest themes of antisemitism, the conflation of Jews with money and finance, was incorporated into some early critiques of capitalism. Since the 2008 financial crash, conspiracy-based critiques of capitalism, which often demonise particular Jewish figures, have had a resurgence.

Comment. Yes, some early critics of capitalism were still captives of the racialist attitudes of the time. We need to understand how that sort of objectionable confusion can arise. However, Nadia Whittome says nothing of (a) the racism involved in the origins of Zionism (e.g. in Theodor Herzl’s The Jewish State), (b) the racist bias involved in early Labour support for Zionist objectives (see The British Left and Zionism by Paul Kelemen) (c) the withering impact on traditional ethnic prejudice among left political activists of WWII and its horrors such that the left, in the decades that followed, overwhelmingly separated itself from any sort of racist explanation of social/political events.

This has happened most prominently on the far right, including via Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s promotion of conspiracy theories about George Soros, and Donald Trump’s campaign ads that overlaid footage of Jewish figures from the financial sector with narration about “global special interest groups” – but also on the left, including in sections of movements such as ‘Occupy’.

Comment. Racism of any sort is completely incompatible with both democracy and socialism. Therefore accusations of racism must be treated with the utmost seriousness. It follows also that frivolous or unfounded accusations of racism are also harmful to the cause of opposing racism. It is therefore unacceptable to make such accusations about the left without this slightest supporting evidence.

Antisemitism on the left has also manifested in certain critiques of Israel and Zionism, which radically overstate Israel’s role and power, and allege a powerful or even controlling “Zionist” influence on world affairs. The late Moishe Postone, a Marxist academic who wrote extensively about antisemitism on the left, called this form of “anti-Zionism” the “anti-imperialism of fools”: a version of anti-imperialism that makes “Zionism” central to, and synonymous with, world imperialism.

Comment. Attributing the course of world events to the will of any given ethnic group is bound to be racist. Even if it were true that a particular group in fact held sway for a period over events that analysis would still be wrong. White people have in modern times held a predominant influence in world politics. That does not mean that the problem lies with white people as such. That would be like attributing the problems of poverty as arising from the people who happen to be poor. But Nadia Whittome makes no attempt to estimate either the extent of antisemitism on the left or its evolution (in practice diminution) over time to the unfortunate expression of an ill-informed few.

The presence of these ideas on the left significantly predates Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, and there is not one quick fix to uproot them. The publication of the EHRC report could have been an opportunity to discuss these issues and turn the page on how antisemitism in the Labour Party is dealt with. However, so far this necessary process has been obstructed by vicious infighting.

Comment. The phrase “The presence of the ideas on the left” in the context of the current febrile media commentary leaves everything to be said. Does Nadia Whittome believe that it is actually “widespread”, “frequently encountered”, “common in Labour Party meetings” or instead “rarely encountered”, “virtually always opposed when it appears”, “overwhelming restricted to the social media comments of a tiny minority”? We have no idea what her evaluation of the scale of the problem is. This makes her comment null and void.

Jeremy’s statement on the day of the EHRC report was ill-advised. But the decision to suspend him and remove the whip was, I believe, unjust and lacking due process. When we should be coming together to tackle antisemitism and reach out to Jewish communities – who of course are not monolithic, and contain lots of different experiences and opinions – we again end up fighting each other instead.

Comment. What in Corbyn’s statement was ill-advised? We are given no clues on this decisive point. Nor do we see much “reaching out” to Jewish communities like Jewish Voice for Labout members who are being hounded and demonised as abettors of antisemitism on the left.

Party members feel strongly and want to do something about the situation. Many are putting motions to their Constituency Labour Party (CLPs). I support the right of party members to express concerns about due process and natural justice, and to express solidarity with Jeremy – and I believe a blanket ban is wrong for this reason. Neither do I support the threat of suspending CLPs for hearing such motions.

Comment. Here is one point on which everyone on the left should be able to agree. Except, Nadia Whittome seems not to have practiced what she is preaching here, having opposed the right of Nottingham East CLP to discuss these very concerns!

However, it is also the case that officers of the party have legal duties with regard to the EHRC report. It is important that, when we discuss the situation, we separate the issue of fairness for Jeremy from those of the general issues of the EHRC report and wider problem of antisemitism.

Comment. This undermines the previous paragraph by repeating the Evans/Starmer line of legal duties. There are legal duties arising from the EHRC report but that does not justify every comment in the report nor all of its recommendations. If it is legitimate to discuss the Report then it must be legitimate to discuss it freely without being instructed that we must accept everything in it 100%.

When this separation does not take place, I am concerned that many Jewish members feel unwelcome – and, yes, unsafe – as a result of the way that debates relating to antisemitism are often conducted and handled at CLP level. We have a duty to protect the wellbeing of all Jewish members and ensure they feel welcome and included in everything we do in our local parties. After all, how democratic can a debate or discussion be said to be if many Jewish members do not feel able or safe to attend in the first place?

Comment. What is the evidence that “many Jewish members feel unwelcome”? I have never in 10 years or so of Labour membership attended a meeting (and I have attended many) of which this could be said. People I speak to, whose membership has been over a much long period, say the same. And “unsafe”? Really? Shouldn’t we have some detail for such a serious accusation?

Tackling antisemitism and implementing the EHRC recommendations must be at the forefront of our minds and form a bare minimum in terms of the basis for any further or related discussions. The position of our ‘side’ of the party, or short-term accumulation of political capital, should not come into it.

Comment. This shows how little thought Nadia Whittome has given to the details of the Report’s recommendations. What for example is meant by requiring that the Labour Party should consult on its process with “Jewish stakeholders”? Who are these stakeholders? The JLM? The JVL? Many other such questions can be asked about the recommendations. The idea that all we have to do is implement them shows a real lack of will to think the details of “implementation”.

I appreciate that this balance between democracy, freedom of expression and inclusivity is a difficult one for us all to navigate, and that we might not always get it right. I include myself in this. In any case, contributions that are antisemitic or deny or downplay the existence of antisemitism in the party can never be acceptable and must always be challenged, and we should all take responsibility for this. In particular, it is the responsibility of CLP chairs and other party agents to intervene and to ensure a safe space where all party members feel comfortable and welcome.

Comment. No, this is entirely wrong. There is no “balance” between freedom of expression and inclusivity. If we accept that racism of any sort is completely unacceptable as do the crushing majority of Labour members then, within that context, people must be free to say what they think. This will include discussing borderlines as to what is racist and what is not and the criteria involved. But with a modicum of good will we can be confident that a quasi-totality of Labour meetings would strongly condemn any contributions based on racist considerations. To that it should be added that the assumption any critical comment on the IHRA “definition” or the EHRC will make Jews feel unwelcome is based on the racist assumption that all Jews think alike.

A transparent disciplinary and complaints process, that ensures due process for both “complainant” and “accused”, is essential for making the party a hospitable and accessible environment for all its members. However, disciplinary measures are in themselves an insufficient way of tackling antisemitism on the left, given that it often comes not from a place of hatred or conscious hostility towards all Jewish people, but ignorance about common tropes that have been used against Jews, and why they can be discriminatory or hurtful.

Comment. Here Nadia Whittome comes close here to a considered view. Disciplinary measures are not an appropriate way of resolving legitimate differences. The problem is that she assumes that (1) such residual antisemitism that exists in the Labour Party is only a matter of the left and (2) that naivety and ignorance about common antisemitic tropes makes someone into an antisemite rather than someone to whom a comradely conversation is likely to be the best way of handling the issue.

Confronting antisemitism in the party means mobilising a large cross-section of the membership in an effort of political education, and convincing members as yet unsure about the issues of a political common sense that rejects these tropes. This requires the ability of members to discuss these issues in an atmosphere of mutual respect, and it is a great shame that the current atmosphere in the party doesn’t enable such conversations. That’s why a timetable of training, education and any changes to disciplinary measures needs to be communicated to CLPs as soon as possible.

Comment. Nadia Whittome says that it is “a great shame” that currently it is not possible to have comradely and rational discussion about anti-semitic tropes. In fact the majority of Labour Branches and CLPs are well equipped to hold such discussions. The main thing preventing that from occuring is the febrile disciplinary approach to controlling such discussions. Nadia Whittome, in effect, condemns the Party membership rather than the authoritarian approach of the Party leaders.

Admirably, some local parties have taken it upon themselves, without national resources or support from party officials, to arrange training on antisemitism. As one of the organisers of Sheffield Heeley CLP’s education series wrote on LabourList: “In recent years, the party has waxed lyrical about ‘political education’ but actually done very little… Here, we have tried a more participatory and discursive approach. It has, we believe, allowed us to cut through the often fraught arguments about antisemitism on the left and grapple with the complexities of the issue on their own terms. While we would not claim to have all the answers, we are proud of what we have achieved and urge other comrades to follow suit.”

Comment. Sounds sensible.

The national party should support other local parties in rolling out similar programmes. Until the party makes a serious turn to consistent political education (and not only on this issue), we will be unable to establish the robust, critical, rational political culture – one that rejects antisemitism, conspiracy theories, and bigotries of all types – and ensures that we are effective in arguing for the democratic, internationalist, socialist policies our party should advance.

Comment. Sufficiently general and well-intentioned that there is no reason to disagree.

It’s tempting in these emotive debates to pick a side and refuse to listen to one another, when what we need is nuance, clarity and empathy. It’s not a contradiction to fully support the recommendations of the EHRC report, to believe Jeremy’s statement was ill-advised and to oppose the way he has been treated. Communicating the idea that more than one thing can be true at the same time is difficult to navigate – particularly on social media platforms where there is a decided lack, and even deliberate removal of, any nuance.

Comment. This is just hot air. Nadia Whittome has not given a single reason for either saying that Corbyn’s comments were ill advised or that the EHRC Report’s recommendations should be fully supported. So she wants, on the one hand, to condemn Corbyn’s comments and to uncritically accept the EHRC Report, and on the other hand to deplore his suspension by a leadership which justifies its action precisely on the basis of those two points.

I know I am not alone in my determination to move on from this period. We have a Tory government mishandling the coronavirus crisis, an economic recession that is about to bite hard and a new round of brutal public spending cuts to fight. I still believe that the left of the party, as well as the party as a whole, can come out of this dark episode stronger and more united, but only if we are willing to be crystal clear on the acceptance and implementation of the EHRC report in full and are determined to do the hard work to contribute to the party being a safe and welcoming place for all members.

Comment. Here it is suggested that we need to be “crystal clear” about total acceptance of the EHRC report without every discussing a single aspect of its analyses and recommendations. If this is not dead- beat politics then I don’t know what is.


Comments (28)

  • Dave Bradney says:

    I emailed Ms Whittome yesterday along the following lines:
    Dear Ms Whittome
    I’m contacting you about an article in your name that has appeared on the Labour List website today.
    This has you saying:

    Jeremy’s statement on the day of the EHRC report was ill-advised …
    officers of the party have legal duties with regard to the EHRC report …
    Tackling antisemitism and implementing the EHRC recommendations must be at the forefront of our minds …
    It’s not a contradiction to fully support the recommendations of the EHRC report, to believe Jeremy’s statement was ill-advised and to oppose the way he has been treated …
    I still believe that [we] … can come out of this dark episode stronger and more united, but only if we are willing to be crystal clear on the acceptance and implementation of the EHRC report in full …

    But you seem to have not noticed the EHRC’s comment on p27 of its report that:

    Article 10 will protect Labour Party members who, for example, make legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government, or express their opinions on internal Party matters, such as the scale of antisemitism within the Party, based on their own experience and within the law. It does not protect criticism of Israel that is antisemitic.

    Jeremy would have had the report in advance, and I assume chose to express his views in exactly the terms that the EHRC itself permitted. Hence his use of the term “scale”, when the “safest” word to use is “prevalence”. (Note: I am having to ask myself which words are safe to use, a strong indicator of a bad situation).
    I do not see how it is reasonable or equitable to criticise someone for commenting on a report in a way that has been explicitly permitted by the report itself. If it makes sense in any way perhaps you could explain it to me?
    Otherwise, I suppose you could be arguing that Jeremy’s statement was “ill-advised” because it was poorly timed, but I would suggest that in suspension/expulsion/whipping terms that would really be scraping the barrel, and in any case would not be an issue that could ever be definitively resolved.
    Finally I take issue with your view that:

    Until the party makes a serious turn to consistent political education (and not only on this issue), we will be unable to establish [a] robust, critical, rational political culture …

    It is of course offensive to argue that a section of the party, or some individuals within it, or some “experts” that you could hire, are in a position to introduce the rest of us to robustness, criticism and rationality (or for that matter to sensitivity, tact and irrationality), like the missionaries of some proselytising religion. You seem to be attempting to misrepresent legitimate political differences and discourse as ignorance and error. Sorry if this in turn is offensive, but I find that to be both arrogant and also unsubtle. Either education is voluntary and consensual, or it is a prison activity. I have no wish to be locked up, even inside the Labour Party. I have not consented to be supervised by jailors.
    Enough, I have probably said too much to someone that I have never met. Please try to give these matters some thought.
    Best, Dave Bradney
    Member, Ceredigion CLP

  • Naomi Wayne says:

    Dave Pavett – absolutely bloody brilliant commentary. And disturbing, that a supposedly left MP can be so shallow and passive in her response.

  • DJ says:

    Totally agree. Nadia Whittome’s article is naive and demonstrates her lack of understanding of settler colonialism and apartheid. This can lead some on the left to buy into the”left wing antisemitism”narrative which underpins the IHRA definition of antisemitism. When you go down this road you abandon the Palestinians and end up on the wrong side of the struggle against oppression.

  • Amanda Sebestyen says:

    I’m sorry to break ranks , but I personally HAVE heard antisemitic remarks in the Occupy/anticapitalist movement, and I do concur that making Israel the CHIEF (sometimes the only) outpost of imperialism in the world today is worrying. Where I differ from Nadia Whittome is that I have never heard or experienced these antisemitic remarks anywhere around the Labour party or the traditional left. But as the experience of WW2 fades, it possible that younger anticapitalists have not had the exact same anti-racist education. The mainstream conversation about racism often now seems to focus down onto micro-aggressions and obstacles to social mobility, so anti-imperialist and anti-war socialist movements have been blanked and often isolated. A lot of us lefties who joined CLPs after Corbyn became leader have tried and tried to have the kind of educational sessions which Nadia Whittome is talking about. I think the response to her statement from JVL has so far been overly defensive and even patronising. We need to all be in a room, so people like her can hear the voices of (for instance) the two Holocaust survivors in Camden Labour who are both hurt and shocked at being assumed to support Israel’s actions.

  • Doug says:

    Can the CLP investigate complaint by member who walked out
    I trust them more than I trust Labour leadership

  • Dr ALAN MADDISON says:

    In a recent post 2019 GE survey of Labour Party members by Michael Ashcroft, 73% said they thought the Labour antisemitism ‘problem’ had been exaggerated.
    I’m sure this is often based on personal experience over many years, or analysis of the complaints data involving 0.24% of members making mostly online comments.
    Are these 73%, or 400 000 members, to be accused of antisemitism by the Labour Right/ JLM/ BoD/ CAA/ LAAS etc. and suspended or expelled, simply for telling the truth, as did Jeremy?
    Even if the EHRC report says its OK to give such opinions ?
    There is a reason to censor debate on the prevalence of antisemitism in Labour. Those weaponising antisemitism have convinced most people outside the Party that it is widespread, and they don’t want anyone asking to see their evidence…..because they have none.
    Time we called this out.

  • Simon Lynn says:

    I think this is an unnecessarily combative approach to discussing Nadia’s article. We can have a different perspective, have a critique of points made – whilst also being comradely to someone who is on the left, rather than being dismissive and even patronising.

  • Gregory Douglas says:

    I submitted the following reply to Nadia Whittome in Labour List

    Your report on Angela Rayner’s statement shows that she and many Labour Party members just do not understand what Antisemitism is and is not.She and others refer to the Jewish Community and show their utter ignorance about Jewish people.
    I am a Jew and joined our party because I thought it was anti racist and a fighting party for the underprivileged and oppressed. I was active in the Anti-Apartheid protest movement and have for a long time been a supporter of Palestinian self determination and have opposed Israel territorial conquest in the Middle East.
    Those who refer to the Jewish Community are apparently unaware that there has never been a homogenous Jewish Community. We belong to many varied groups and this has been true for over a century. Rayner and Starmer accept the self defined groups represented by the Board of Deputies and Jewish Labour Movement as speaking for the non- existent Jewish Community and disenfranchise the many other Jews such as myself,who are described as ‘fringe groups’.
    David Evans’ restriction on meetings in support of Jeremy Corbyn make me as a Jew uncomfortable in attending such meetings which may proscribe me and his advice to CLPs is itself antisemetic.
    I expect to engage in vigorous political debate in a democratic Socialist party and intend to speak in support of restoring the Whip to Jeremy Corbyn as he is a lifelong Antiracist and has supported various Jewish requests for assistance, by many Early Day Motions in Parliament and meetings in his constituency. He has stated he supports the conclusions of the EHRC report and has apologised that insufficient action was taken during his leadership,but he was absolutely correct in stating that the SCALE of the problem was overstated. That was a fair political comment ,not warranting suspension.
    I should also emphasise that in 65 years in the Labour Movement I have never experienced Antisemitism.Of course every Jew of my age(82) has experienced it in society in general,but those campaigning on the issue these days are Jews obsessed in preventing criticism of Israel’s racist behaviour towards Palestinians and criticism of Israel or the political philosophy of Zionism.This insistence on preventing such criticism will itself encourage real Antisemitism which is expressed as hostility towards Jews.
    It’s time Jews outside the small realm of the BoD & JLM were consulted about their opinions. We do NOT feel uncomfortable as Jews debating this subject.

  • Sarah T says:

    Excellent dissection but not surprising by Whittome; after all there is an AWL connection. In fact, in giving Angela Rayner ammunition, one should have no illusions about what one is dealing with.

  • Mary Davies says:

    Excellent analysis here. Thank you to JVL for the brilliant work you do and your resilience and courage in the face of terrible abuse.

  • Dave Pavett’s article is, by and large, very good but he falls into the trap of accepting that antisemitism in the Labour Party is any form of problem that need training sessions.

    People need to be clear. The fake ‘antisemitism’ campaign was NEVER about anti-Semitism and always about other things, not least Israel’s racist oppression of the Palestinians and Zionism.

    What Dave should have said, but didn’t, was that at one and the very same time as ‘antisemitism’ was being weaponised there was a complete and total disregard of the Windrush Scandal, the Grenfell Tower horrors and state racism against Black people. THIS IS WHAT THE REAL RACISM OF THE LABOUR PARTY SHOULD BE ABOUT.

    Nadia Whittome’s treacherous behaviour in supporting the witchhunt against Nottingham East officers is explained by the fact that she is a supporter of the overtly pro-Zionist Alliance for Workers Liberty

  • DJ says:

    Sarah T. You have “hit the nail on the head” here. This is all about political differences on the issue of Israel-Palestine. Anti zionism is not anti semitism!

  • Susan Greaves says:

    Thank you Dave for a good analysis. May I make a personal and very focused point. As one of the members of Nottingham East CLP who has been wrongly accused of anti-semitism, I would like to ask Nadia if she could show the same kindness to me and to others wrongly accused that she shows for the one member of our constituency who makes all these wild accusations that come to nothing (my own case dates back 18 months and Disputes have not even the civility to reply to me). I and others have tried kindly to explain to Nadia that she may be being badly advised, but she insists on sticking by this one member who is running amok. Nadia has already had to apologise to me personally for another smear, probably from the same source that I am not allowed to name. Meanwhile I have no difficulty giving my true name as I have nothing to apologise for. It should not be possible for one individual to cause as much mayhem as this one person has. I repeat, there need to be sanctions against someone making false accusations that cause hurt, doubt and above all, this absurd waste of all our time.

  • AE says:

    JVL, you’ve provided another brilliant article to give us all food for thought. I hope the situation regarding the reinstatement of Jeremy Corbyn will be quickly resolved. However, as the rhetoric is building, and Labour seems to want the world to think there is a huge problem of antisemitism- but only in Left Labour – I can only think they are building towards expelling him from the Party. I hope this is not the case, but why else would Labour Right be self harming in this way?

  • Philip Ward says:

    Someone above points to the connection between Nadia Whittome and the AWL. This applies too to the educational discussion in Sheffield Heeley Labour Party, by Edd Mustill, who claims not be a member of AWL but has has close links to them. This presumably explains how she knows about Heeley’s educational. Before a commentator commends that material, they should examine the content (go through the links above), which wholly accepts the framework of the IHRA definition of antisemitism and decontexualises other material, such as Corbyn’s comments on the removal of the notorious mural.

    It’s also no wonder the Nadia Whittome quotes Moishe Postone to support her arguments. His interview with Workers’ Liberty contains all the old distortions of the views of the anti-Zionist left – especially the claims that we are befuddled by worldwide conspiracy theories and are in bed with “Islamists”. Interestingly, there is almost nothing in the article about the far right and the danger it represents to Jewish people.

    The whole interview has the tone of a left wing Zionist deciding that because they support Israel they need to justify themselves with outlandish theories for why most of the rest of the left doesn’t.

    The AWL has a long and utterly destructive history of attacking the left and providing a cover for the Labour right on this issue.

  • dave says:

    According to a number of reports, including on the BBC site (link below), the member who left the meeting says that earlier another member had told him; “We don’t want Jews in the party.”

    Now this is about as serious as it gets for expulsion in my view but we are left with the impression that no action has been taken. If someone said that to me they wouldn’t get any rest from me and others in my CLP in getting them expelled.

    This leads me to think that the quote was fabricated or taken out of context as I find it hard to believe this was said at all or in the way it seems. We know that quotes of what’s said have been fabricated, such as the Panorama interviewee who was caught out because the meetings he conducted in Liverpool were recorded.

  • Doug says:

    In the BBC article Steve Lapsley the member who left the meeting makes a very serious accusation
    He states he was told by another member a few months back ‘we dont want Jews in the Labour party’
    He accuses a member at the meeting of being a witness to that event
    Something has to give here, we need to know the truth and if it is as I suspect, we need to force the BBC to publish it
    It also needs to be resolved in a matter of days, then let’s see how Nadia and the party respond
    Thats how we turn the tide and we begin to frame the story

  • Dave Bradney says:

    Re Philip Ward’s comment above
    Analytically, logically and linguistically – before we even get to the politics – the IHRA “definition” is not really a definition. See, on this site:
    It is “so poorly constructed that it is not a definition at all, and so does not provide a viable base on which to rest any party policy or organisational principle.”

  • David Pavett says:

    Thanks everyone for all your points.

    @David Bradney. We are arguing along similar lines.

    @Naomi Wayne. Thanks. I know nothing about Nadia W. I was shocked by the poor quality of her argument.

    @DJ. I agree.

    @ Amanda Sebestyen. Yes some have bought into the narrative of left-antisemitism. It has some historical validity but very little today. It is not enough to note the phenomenon. If people want to talk about this (and it can be of interest to do so) then that needs to be based on sound historical evaluation and not simply relaying media-tropes.

    @Doug. I don’t think you are breaking ranks. We all know that there is a low level of antisemitism among political activists of all sorts. The question is just how widespread or virulent it is. It may be that the JVL doesn’t always get things 100% right. Who does? Overall however I think that it has produced a large body of high quality work. Very impressive.

    @Dr Alan Maddison. I assume that the complaints will be taken up. The problem is that the current authoritarian wave engulfing the LP will do nothing to ensure that complaints are considered on their merits free from factional pressure.

    @Simon Lynn. Yes antisemitism has been weaponised for factional purposes to the great detriment of any serious attempt to deal with the small amount of antisemitism in the LP.

    @Gregory Douglas. I partially accept your criticism. I was annoyed when I wrote the piece and I wrote it rather quickly. On reflection it was unnecessary to say “dead beat politics” which made no difference to the content of my piece. I could also have avoided speculation about what Nadia W has or, has not, read carefully. On the other hand, I think that her piece reinforced anti-left tropes and on that basis deserved strong criticism. So yes, I was combative but I don’t feel that that was without good reason.

    @Sarah T. I agree with you and it is disturbing to see how many on the left are lining up to say, like Nadia W, that Corbyn’s comment that the extent of antisemitism in the LP had been exaggerated was “ill-considered”, “wrong”, “unfortunate” … . As for feeling uncomfortable in LP meetings, that is something that happens to me with alarming frequency and it has nothing to do with antisemitism which I have NEVER encountered in a LP meeting.

    @Mary Davies. Thanks. Yes, I too think that the JVL does an excellent job.

    @Tony Greenstein. I don’t understand how I have fallen into the trap you describe. I agree about the contrast with the Windrush scandal but I was writing for a website which presents clear material on that so I felt I could take that as a background assumption. I wanted to keep the piece as short as I could. You know the problem …

    @DJ. The fact is that the charges of antisemitic bias started to emerge under Ed Miliband. If memory serves they intensified when the LP voted in Parliament to support recognition of a Palestinian state (also under Miliband).

    @Susan Greaves. Thanks and I hope you are getting support from party members for your efforts to clear your name.

    @Thanks. I think Evans/Starmer have made it impossible to back down gracefully. Are they prepared to ruin the party’s chances at the next election in order to deal with the left? It rather looks like it.

    @Philip Ward. Thanks. I know very little about the AWL. I read some of their publications a while back and was struck by what seemed to be a somewhat mad quality. I understand that they are a very small group and I would have to be given a good reason to read any more of their stuff (But I will have a look at the Postone piece to which you gave a link). Is Nadia W mixed up in that? I have no idea. I have judged her by her own words in the LabourList piece.

  • steve mitchell says:

    This article clearly shows the necessity of establishing the truth about the shameful assassination of Corbyn. In all my 80 years on this earth I have never seen such a disgrace. I believe there can be no unity until the truth is revealed. In fact the Party is at the moment ,impotent. It cannot be taken seriously Perhaps Labour should change its name to Ingsoc

  • William Johnston says:

    I find Nadia Whittome’s comments on Jeremy Corbyn’s statement particularly ill-considered.

    Corbyn’s statement, far from being ill-advised, was an essential and timely corrective to Keir Starmer’s unconditional acceptance of the EHRC report. His assessment that the whole party should feel shame in the light of the report was a lawyer’s emotionally loaded, and partisan, address to the jury, rather than a considered assessment of the facts.

    As for reaching out: Corbyn has spent a lifetime reaching out to all sorts of communities, not least his Jewish constituents and local party members – which is why they would appear to be so fully supportive of him. If there are Jewish members of his constituency who feel intimidated by other members, then I am sure that someone would have let us know about that by now.

  • Margaret West says:

    I agree that the generalised accusation from the member who walked out requires following up ..

    The questions should be specific:
    (1) Who said it ?
    (2) When did this happen and what meeting was this – a Labour Party meeting?
    If so – since March they have all been via “Zoom” or “Teams” and will have been witnessed by many.
    (3) Why did he not report it at the time – why wait ..
    (4) Given he did not – why was he not specific at the Nottingham meeting – in contradicting the member who said he personally had not been aware of any anti-semitism.

    As for Nadia – she appears to have given a completely different message to “Jewish News” compared with the article in Labour List.

  • DJ says:

    Before sounding off about antisemitism and endorsing the IHRA definition Labour Party MPs and officials need to educate themselves about the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. They need to listen to the majority of genuine Jewish socialists who are highly critical of the state of Israel. They should go out of their way to understand the Palestinian experience of the state of Israel. This applies to some MPs who claim to be on the left including Nadia Whittome.

  • Rosemary Brocklehurst says:

    Concerned that Jewish members who disagree with Whittome’s ill-informed position and with the autocratic edicts of Starmer and Evans, are being made to feel uncomfortable if they speak about it in Labour Party meetings. Some feel scared , others saddened and sickened by being silenced and made to feel they as Jews with a point of view that diverges from that set out by Starmer and Evans who are not Jewish. Being unable to speak to their own experience of being Jewish in the UK and in the Labour Party is an appalling infringement of human rights and given Jewish History, wrong and dangerous. Some inidivduals who feel strongly that they have been made to feel unwelcome, may need support and encouragement to put in complaints to HQ about this, particularly in relation to being silenced. That the leader of the Party and his appointed General Secretary have revealed a preference for the views and interpretations of one group of Jews over another guided by the Board of Deputies and largely right wing Jewish members such as Margaret Hodge. Worryingly, we heard only this week of a former Labour donor announcing he will give money to the Party again because he approves of Starmer’s actions. This does not send out a confortable message to those Jewish people who disagree but are not in a position to donate large sums.

  • Stephen Richards says:

    70 complaints about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, kept ‘Secret’ & ‘Anonymous’………..much like accusations made against many Left Wing Labour Party members who can never know their accuser nor the substance of the complaint made against them.
    George Orwell take notes………..

  • rc says:

    Nadia Whittome omits the crucial fact that Viktor Orban, like many other extreme right-wingers, dotes on Israel; his country takes the lead in promoting the miserable ‘IHRA’. ( a small minority of countries and an even smaller proportion of the world’s population) ‘definition’ of AS. Steve Bannon etc have made it very clear: Israel is the spearhead of, and a model for, US imperialism in the Middle East. Not surprising that Sean Matgamna, the prophet and high priest of the AWL, advocated in a heavy hint that Israel should attack Iran without provocation (or even pretext) – and that long before US hatred of Iran became frenetic and slavering obsession under Trump.

    As for forgetting WW2, which Margaret (?) above uses to explain the lack of generalised antiracist attitudes, the main by(?)product of British imperialism’s modest contribution to the downfall of the 3rd Reich was glorification of the greatness of Anglophone ‘civilisation’. The UK was as antisemitic after WW2 as before (though perhaps not as much as during WW2, cf Herbert Morrison’s rejection of Jews fleeing the Nazi Judeocide, Political Warfare Executive’s rejection of publicising that Judeocide – ‘in case it seemed to be a Jewish war’ and labelling of Jews as spies and cowards); though Zionist atrocities in Palestine aroused antisemitic prejudice e.g. in Liverpool. Feelings of embarrassment at UK/US passivity from Evian to Auschwitz were and are not antiracism.
    Whittome’s piece is a classic attempt to ride two horses at once. She will do well on ‘the greasy pole’.

  • Tim Draper says:

    Thanks David, a detailed and precise deconstruct of although a very young MP she should still know better. The division and hatred being demostrated by the right leadership must be a scary thing to be around. I’m sure a lot even uneasy to whats hapening will go along with out of fear. For KS read McCarthyism

  • Cormac Kelly says:

    A brilliant analysis. Nadia Whittome is yet another example of a naive left winger who has been corrupted by the parliament sewer. In her case it has happened in such a short period of time. Decent socialist MPs, such as Dave Nellist and Terry Field had to be expelled. They could not be bought off. so how will Whittome be ‘bought’ . As her reward for attacking the Left, she will come back to the shadow cabinet and in the extremely unlikely event of Labour ever winning an election she will be made a minor minister. Then she will have networked enough to get herself a nice well paid job such as Chuka Umuna and Lucianna Berger have obtained. Perhaps Whittome will be given an ‘important. quango to lead. The bottom line is that she is not fit to represent working class people.

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