The Long Coup

JVL Introduction

A while back we reposted Simon McGinn’s The Labour party, the blood libel, and me.

It was a moving account of the dynamic of a witch hunt told from McGinn’s personal experience, a record of his surreal ‘notice of investigation’ by the Labour Party for antisemitism.

In a recent post on Medium, he puts the whole experience from Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader until today in a wider context.

It was, he affirms, a coup undertaken by the British state.

Here McGinn explains how he believed it was executed, summed up in this way:

“The UK state spoke with one voice, and it spoke loud and long, until Corbyn was deposed and his supporters forever tainted with the suspicion of Jew-hate. It executed a political coup.”

A speculation too far? Read McGinn’s article below.

This article was originally published by Medium on Sun 7 Feb 2021. Read the original here.

The Long Coup

Britain, state and media, 2016 — present.

In an LBC debate in June 2019 hosted by broadcaster Iain Dale, just a few months before the general election, author and Telegraph columnist Simon Heffer said this:

‘He wants to open the gates of Auschwitz.’

There’s of course no uncertainty as to who ‘he’ refers to in this sentence: Jeremy Corbyn, then leader of the UK Labour party.

The following is an attempt to understand how we arrived at that point.

Betwen 2016 and the present, a coup was undertaken by the British state. It was conducted, not with troops or tanks or tear gas, but with words, with accusations, with increasingly hyperbolic statements.

The roots of the coup can be traced back to the very early days of Corbyn’s leadership in 2015. His landslide victory in the first and then the second leadership contests was a visceral shock to many, if not most, in his parliamentary party, who had hitherto regarded him as a kind of odd relic, a harmless crank. For this ignored outsider to suddenly emerge as leader, not just of ‘their’ party, but of a popular movement on a scale not seen in UK politics in living memory, shocked them rigid. For were they not ‘the adults in the room’? Did they not hold up the Banner of St Tony, who won *three general elections* and rescued the Labour party from its near-annihilation in 1979 and 1983?

Something had to be done.

April 2016: Labour MP Naz Shah is suspended from the party for social media posts that are designated as antisemitic.

It is not my intention to argue the merits or otherwise of the case against Ms Shah. Certainly some of the wilder accusations against her — that she had suggested Jews be forcibly removed from Israel to the US, for instance — were obviously false and based on what would appear to be deliberate misinterpretations of a social media post. Much was made of little, which is a pattern that repeats throughout this story.

The Shah episode carries all the hallmarks of the campaign. As we would see in every subsequent case, there is a paucity of evidence, there is reliance on interpretation of what was said or done in the most unfavourable possible light, there is instant and angry denunciation, and there is demand for swift action. (Shah was suspended, apologised, and was reinstated. She remains a Labour MP and Shadow Minister.)

What followed from the Shah case would be the spark to ignite the firestorm. Ken Livingstone, former London Mayor, was interviewed about it and, because of the accusation that Shah had proposed relocating Jews from Israel to USA, made reference to the Haavara Agreement that Hitler had struck with German Zionists in 1933, which allowed some 60,000 German Jews to escape to then-Palestine, though of course in appalling conditions.

‘Hitler’ and ‘Zionists’ in the same sentence, no matter the context, no matter the history, no matter the logic.

Boom.

Livingstone was now the focus of hate, and was filmed being pursued and screamed at by a clearly out-of-control John Mann, MP. (Livingstone was suspended and finally left the party. John Mann is now an independent Peer and advisor to the government on antisemitism — the horrifically mis-named ‘Antisemitism Czar’.)

Here again: the evidence is poor (the argument makes no logical sense), the reaction extreme, and the demand for action immediate. Livingstone was from this point a shorthand for the ‘antisemitism crisis’ that was now being talked about in the Labour party. The facts around the case — what he said, what it means — were drowned out in the cries of anguish and rage from centrist and right-wing Jewish people and organisations.

The story was kept alive through the simple method of repeating the same few accusations, re-stating them in newspaper columns and broadcast segments. The same clip — of John Mann screaming at Ken Livingstone on a staircase as TV cameras followed them — was shown again and again, and instead of the obvious conclusion being drawn — that John Mann was in need of a holiday — it was used as further evidence against Livingstone.

‘Accusation = evidence’ is another key component of the campaign. To be accused is to be guilty, to deny your guilt is to be guilty of denial. It’s a perfect trap. So Mann yelling abusive accusations at Livingstone wasn’t seen as an attack on Livingstone, quite the opposite: it was seen as evidence against him.

These few incoherent scraps were sufficient to allow the ‘antisemitism crisis’ narrative to be born. Through the simple method of repeating a handful of minor and disputable ‘incidents’, a vast synecdoche was arrived at, whereby the entirety of the Corbyn programme and/or all of his supporters and followers and/or anyone who spoke in his favour were, automatically, fair game for accusations. It was now a legitimate subject of debate.

The media were of course thrilled to be given a scandal on a plate like this, and the feeding frenzy was underway. BBC and The Guardian led the charge, BBC going as far as to commission a Panorama which baldly stated a catalogue of unproven accusations, and which has been the subject of enormous controversy.

BBC News and Current Affairs’ role was and remains key. It has two main functions, to amplify and propagate the right-wing press in its ‘press reviews’, and to frame the news so that viewers get only one side of the story, and that side distorted and twisted into unrecognisable forms. Margaret Hodge’s innumerable BBC appearances, and the complete failure of BBC to challenge her on anything she said, were a major contributor to the atmosphere of crisis and urgency BBC established and sustained. The state was speaking to the nation, and BBC was its mouthpiece. BBC collapsed into a propaganda channel and has lost respect because of it.

The coup was also conducted in the arena of BBC topical comedy, which saw fit to make jokes about concentration camp guards and Holocaust denial. BBC rebadged its state propaganda as ‘comedy’, and thereby reached audiences who might not follow the news. It became ubiquitous and normalised, it propagated itself to Friday night audiences who just wanted a laugh, it seeped into the national consciousness and became a ‘shared understanding’.

A notable factor was the complete absence of any dissenting voices anywhere within the media. The other great political scandal of the day, the outrageous con-trick of Brexit, had media voices on both sides. The debate was fierce, both sides were presented, and it was entirely legitimate to be on one side or the other.

But with the Labour antisemitism narrative, dissent simply didn’t exist. It was never debated, it was just assumed. I can think of only two UK journalists who dared to challenge it — BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire, and journalist and author Peter Oborne. (Derbyshire’s morning TV show was cancelled. Oborne left the Daily Telegraph in 2015 and is an independent journalist.)

The absence of critical debate is crucial here. Had any kind of attempt been made by media to examine the accusations, to test what was being alleged against what was actually said — in short, to do journalism on the story — the narrative could never have gained any traction. Only in a media environment of total compliance could the narrative thrive. And that’s what happened. The narrative was accepted without hesitation, and there was (almost) no dissent. UK media failed, completely, to act as any kind of bulwark against it, and acted instead as an organ of the state.

Labour commissioned an enquiry into the issue by (now) Lady Chakrabarti, which duly reported in April 2016. But the report was instantly upstaged by one of the more remarkable incidents in the story, the Smeeth/Wadsworth episode, in which Ruth Smeeth MP accused anti-racism activist Marc Wadsworth of antisemitic abuse actually during the launch of the Chakrabarti report on antisemitism itself.

Again I don’t intend to go back over it all. Suffice to say that it required the manufacturing of an entirely new antisemitic trope — ‘working hand in hand with the media’. As if Jews do not or should not work for and with the media, as if saying Jews work in and with the media — just like anyone else — is somehow problematic. But reason has never played any part in this any more than evidence has. (Marc Wadsworth remains an anti-racism campaigner, though expelled from the Labour party. He had no idea Smeeth was Jewish. Smeeth lost her seat in 2019 and is now Chief Executive of Freedom from Censorship, a free-speech lobby.)

And then Corbyn took 40% of the vote share in 2017.

The image of MP Stephen Kinnock’s face at the exit poll is iconic: shock, dismay, almost physical distress.

Post 2017, the coup required fresh impetus. The general election result had been too close for comfort, and even with what we now know to be organised sabotage within the party machine, Corbyn had denied Theresa May her majority and scored a higher percentage of the vote than Blair in 2005, Brown in 2010 or Miliband in 2015.

Things were getting serious.

The new front was opened in 2018 by Luciana Berger, then a Labour MP, who resurrected an old grudge about Corbyn going back seven years — that he had made a comment underneath a Facebook post about a mural in London’s Brick Lane which — it was now declared — was antisemitic.

I have no intention of re-litigating this bizarre and inexplicably potent incident. Better minds than mine have patiently dismantled it, thousands of hours have been spent arguing about it on social media, and anyone who’s taken the trouble to investigate it even slightly knows it’s simply nonsense.

But I think it’s interesting that the opening salvo in the post-2017 war should be such a misshapen and seemingly ineffective weapon as what came to be called #muralgate. A Facebook comment about a piece of street art that no longer existed, and about which there was not, and could never be, any agreement about whether it was or was not antisemitic, even amongst Jews? This is your weapon?

The point to make here is that the campaign was essentially unconcerned with evidence. It would operate instead on the level of emotional manipulation, extreme displays of victimhood, and would at no point trouble itself to validate any of its extraordinary claims with anything as concrete as evidence. Evidence could be disputed, but who could dispute a feeling, particularly one about the oppression and suffering of Jews? To dispute it was to be the thing they accused you of being.

The paucity of evidence was not a problem, nor was it accidental: it was essential, it was by design. Only in an environment cleared of any inconvenient disputable facts could the emotional theatre be effective. Only by refusing to engage in any valid way with reality could it present its ‘alternative reality’.

What the British public were being invited to accept was that displays of rage were sufficient argument. To be angry was to be right, and to fail to be angry was to be wrong. I recall seeing Channel 4’s Jon Snow holding up a wholly fraudulent Daily Mail story about Luciana Berger and yelling at Corbyn, ‘Do you apologise for this?’ The coup worked by demanding unquestioning allegiance to this theatre of hate, and it got it. You were either for it or against it, and those against it were, by its own viciously circular reasoning, antisemites.

The other accusations — #ironygate, #wreathgate, #prefacegate, #friendsgate — were similar in structure. Take some scrap of reality — Corbyn did use the word ‘irony’, he did lay a wreath, and so on — and blow it up into a monstrous denunciation. Keep using the words ‘Labour’ and ‘antisemitism’ in the same sentence. Keep up the chorus of fury and outrage. Out of these meagre fragments of nothing very much a great rickety Palace of Smoke and Mirrors was constructed, held together only with indignation and hate.

That otherwise rational and intelligent people should get swept up in this poorly evidenced moral panic is testament to how effective the emotional bludgeoning was. But its own dynamic required ever-greater force, ever-greater brutality, and so it was only a matter of time before ‘the gates of Auschwitz’ would be invoked by someone. Cue Simon Heffer, and then Jeremy Hunt MP, who linked his visit to Auschwitz to Corbyn’s Labour party.

This marked the rhetorical nadir of the coup — there really is nowhere to go from ‘the gates of Auschwitz’. Normal inhibitions are cast aside as the race to the bottom is won. Margaret Hodge’s ‘suitcase in the hall’ speech — in which she compared being investigated for allegedly screaming at Corbyn that he was a ‘f****** racist antisemite’ to the pogroms of Nazi Germany — makes perfect sense in this context: the rhetorical pitch had been raised to such an extent that only the most extreme and emotionally violent statements would be attended to. Rhetorical inflation, and the end point of it all was the invocation of one of history’s most horrific events as if it were just a winning card to be thrown onto the table.

Corbyn’s Labour party suffered a huge defeat in the 2019 general election, though that probably had more to do with Brexit than anything else. But Brexit was a policy decision, Brexit was debated (endlessly, if fruitlessly) and anyone could be on either side of it without being accused of monstrous character flaws.

When Tony Blair lied us into the horror of Iraq, many influential voices were raised against it. Robin Cook resigned and made a speech in the House, Tony Benn spoke memorably and powerfully against it, millions marched against it. The debate was furious and passionate.

But the ‘Labour antisemitism crisis’ coup was different. It was not a policy debate (or not overtly anyway, though of course Israel/Palestine is at the heart of it). There was only one side it was considered legitimate to be on — more, there simply was no ‘other side’.

The UK state — politics, media and culture — rose up as one in a terrifying display of brute power and mounted the most gigantic, most concerted and most unanimous reaction I’ve ever witnessed, like a body mounting an immune response to an invader pathogen. The UK state spoke with one voice, and it spoke loud and long, until Corbyn was deposed and his supporters forever tainted with the suspicion of Jew-hate. It executed a political coup.

That such a weapon existed should surprise no-one, of course. But the UK state revealed itself in this strange and protracted coup as a force that could sweep away a political movement of half a million with astonishing ease, simply by lying.

We will be ready next time.

 

Comments (47)

  • Dave says:

    Simon is of course right in most of this. But I take issue with the start of this and the other force in play, which of course is Israel and Zionism, which was brought to bear against Ed Miliband before Corbyn was leader, and underpins much of the weaponisation of antisemitism.

    A small point – the Panorama did not generate enormous controversy as it was accepted in full by the mainstream and as Simon says dissenting voices are rarely heard. Likewise the EHRC report, and IHRA.

  • Dave Bradney says:

    Yes absolutely. We should have been better prepared, and more disciplined. But even so, I cannot agree with the conclusion, because I cannot – given the infantile state of the British public – see how anything, however well prepared, can resist such an amoral and powerful onslaught.
    I can see two omissions in this account, the major one being the IHRA “working” definition of antisemitism. The endless saga about and around this was used like polyfilla (sorry Polyfilla) to fill in any gaps or longeurs in the state of hostilities. Read it before you opine on it. Once you have read it, critically and objectively, it will cease to seem credible or even relevant. To me its only usefulness would be to serve as a reminder of the limited utility of logic and rationality in politics.
    The other thing that could have been mentioned was Ruth Smeeth’s tears. Someone should undertake a study of the Labour right’s ruthless (no pun) use on the one hand of concepts borrowed from feminism and on the other hand leftover aspects of and reactions to “femininity”.

  • Mary Davies says:

    Excellent article.
    ‘We will be ready next time’.

  • John Bowley says:

    An excellent summary of the big lie about Labour and antisemitism.

  • Sean O’Donoghue says:

    Brilliant piece of writing. Mirror image of Herman and Chomsky’s Propaganda from 40 years agp

  • Good article though what it doesn’t say is who was behind all these incidents – from Naz Shah (actually Gerald Kaufmann predated her as did Oxford Labour Club). The obvious answer is that there was involvement by the secret/deep state not least the Israeli Embassy,

    One correction ‘the Haavara Agreement that Hitler had struck with German Zionists in 1933, which allowed some 60,000 German Jews to escape to then-Palestine, though of course in appalling conditions.’ is not correct. Some 20K of the 55-60K German Jews who went to Palestine went via Ha’avara. Others were certificate holders. Ha’avara only benefited rich Jews with £1,000 in cash and t he rest of their fortune in frozen marks which was then realised in terms of the sale of German equipment in Palestine.

    Most of those saved under Ha’avara would have found little difficulty gaining entrance to other countries. Ha’avara was about saving the wealth of German Jewry not the Jews themselves

  • Linda says:

    I recommend reading the transcript of “The Crucible” as a means of understanding how the “Labour antisemitism” project gathered traction.

    However, I also feel it took a lot of money; hard, sustained work over years; and extensive contacts within and outside the Labour PLP, the media and media owners to produce the results this project did.

  • John Thatcher says:

    What a contrast to the other nonsense posted here. Simon Maggin accurately points out that the coup, and he is right to call it that, had no evidence, there was none, not against Corbyn and the other main targets for the coup plotters. What we had was disreputable people playing on peoples’ memory of what they knew of the holocaust and the history of anti Semitism to make a wholly false story about Corbyn and the Labour Left, by playing on their emotional reactions to their memory of the Holocaust. This was hugely successful, and continues to be used by the Right against the Left. They are reckless of the consequences for peoples feelings towards Jews and their history in the popular mind, those consequences will play out in ways yet unseen in the coming years.

  • Jack T says:

    A couple of points – Once Corbyn started to appease the Israel Lobby all was lost, they just wanted more and more and he obliged by giving it to them and not standing by those such as Chris Williamson who laid their political careers on the line for him.

    Secondly, in 2019, supported and egged on by Farage and the far right, a small section of the Labour, left who had a long term dislike for the EU, assisted in Corbyn’s and Labour’s downfall by trying to insist that it was not democratic to give the electorate a second chance to confirm their original Brexit position. Even when it was obvious at the time, shown by many opinion polls, that much of the electorate had changed their minds in the intervening years it became a mantra of the far right and some on the left that the electorate’s vote was being taken away from them when of course the opposite was the case. These two sequences of events combined to give us the dire situation which exists today in the Labour Party.

  • Allan Howard says:

    It’s interesting that Simon Mcginn finishes by saying that ‘We will be ready next time’, because even though I completely agree with him that the whole episode was a coup (against the left) by the British State and its minions – ie a black op Smear Campaign – what could ‘we’ have done about the onslaught even if we HAD been ready THIS time. When your enemies own and/or control the MSM, then they have total control over the narrative, and the MSMs reach must be at least thirty to forty times that of the left media.

  • Allan Howard says:

    The very first ‘anti-semitism’ episode that hit the headlines en masse was in fact the Oxford University Labour Club students episode in February 2016, and then just over two months later the ‘Naz Shah’ episode, followed almost immediately by the ‘Ken Livingstone’ episode. The interesting thing about the ‘Naz Shah’ episode is that she said what she said and reposted ‘the map’ of Israel in 2014 PRIOR to being elected an MP in the GE in May 2015, BUT, the map etc didn’t come to light until eight months after Jeremy was elected leader of the LP. Supposedly!

    I just this moment checked the wikipedia entry for her, and was somewhat surprised to read that in the 2015 leadership election she endorsed Yvette Cooper, and NOT Jeremy Corbyn, which is food for thought. As for her being a potential candidate, apart from anything else surely the LP vets potential candidates before they are short-listed.

    Anyway, the main point I wanted to make is regarding the ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ A/S episodes (which Simon cites), ALL of which happened in the year or so following the 2017 GE when Jeremy came so close to winning, and I have no doubt whatsoever that each and every one of them were known to Jeremy’s enemies within weeks of him being elected leader – and quite possibly long before! – and they DIDN’T just happen to come to light, one by one, as they supposedly did.

    The following clip is from an Electronic Intifada article:

    The Jewish Labour Movement is one of the main organizations within Labour promoting claims that the party under left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn has a major “problem with anti-Semitism.”

    The group’s parliamentary chairperson Luciana Berger kicked off the current wave of the “Labour anti-Semitism” furore.

    https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/jewish-labour-movement-worked-israeli-embassy-spy

  • Allan Howard says:

    Jeremy Corbyn’s enemies couldn’t have known that Ken Livingstone would say what he said when he defended Naz Shah in his radio interview with Vanessa Feltz – ie that ‘Hitler was supporting Zionism’ – but I have little doubt that the initial plan was for John Mann to verbally attack him (when he arrived at the studios to appear on the Daily Politics) for defending Naz Shah – ie for defending her ‘anti-semitic’ post re the Israel map etc, but isn’t it an amazing coincidence – and oh-so fortuitous for Jeremy’s enemies – that the Naz Shah ‘Map’ episode should just happen to come to light just a week or so before the Local Elections, and then Ken be invited on to the Vanessa Feltz radio program a day or two later. The following is a clip from a BBC News article at the time:

    The row comes less than a week before local elections in England, and for the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    Mr Livingstone, who has been a close ally of Mr Corbyn and his left-wing ideals, said he believed the attacks against him were coming from the right-wing of the party and were really aimed at undermining the leadership.

    “The really appalling thing here is dishonest MPs who know that what I said is true have stirred up all this nonsense because they want to damage our chances at the local election so they then have a chance of undermining Jeremy.”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36177333

  • Steve Griffiths says:

    A very important and much-needed alternative narrative, once again. But the last line: ‘we’ll be ready next time’? It certainly doesn’t look like it. Where’s the mobilisation of an organisation to confront the coup by the media-political complex? There are a few excellent fragments. It should draw in hundreds of thousands with a basic belief that a democracy without information is not a democracy. A massive Labour Party membership, overwhelmingly on board with this, and with its hands tied, so much frustrated energy. Huge potential. It desperately needs pulling together, with members of other parties and none. And to work on the ground, from the corner-shop up. Some of us feel physically sick walking past a news-stand. Can we take one step on from this and match them? Otherwise, what’s the point?

  • jimmy cooper says:

    Thank you Simon.

    The one phrase which stands out for me is “theatre of hate” which the leaders of the coup had created, with active support and complicity from the media [particularly the BBC].

    It characterises the dangers of allowing the loudest voices to portray lies as truth, and use propaganda to cite the holocaust as the baton to destroy dissent against austerity and support for apartheid. The irony of racists zionists, portraying themselves as the upholders of liberal values and bastions against anti-semitism, isnt lost on those of us who see right through the veil of deceit and lies.

    Maybe we werent prepared for the severity of the onslaught and the campaign of hate and vitriol? Did we really anticipate the Party would succumb to an enemy, which has mercilessly cut a swathe through the activists and dissenters – throwing them to the wall?

    We have the weapon of truth and the lessons of history to build on.

    Simon is right “We will be ready next time”.

  • Trevor Ault says:

    Heartbreaking . . .

  • I hope David Evans doesn’t discover I read this article!
    A brilliant, succinct analysis.

  • Doug says:

    If your glass is half full then it makes it easier to reform this country, the demographics, pandemics virus and financial, threats to our democracy
    What needs to change is the left, soft as muck, amateurish and spineless
    It takes discipline and resolve to get a job done
    JC was a spiritual leader, the kind of man that we all should want to be a lot more like
    But he was also practically useless,
    You need someone to do the dirty work, to stand up and hit back just as hard when the whole movement is under attack
    Proof of the pudding, name the double act in the Labour movement who can fill those two roles

  • Allan Howard says:

    It is odd how Doug and most of the OTHER all-day every-day posters on skwawkbox (and I’m talking LONG before Covid 19 and lockdowns kicked in) never cease to find fault with Jeremy, whilst at the same time professing to be left-wing supporter of his.

    And I mean practically EVERY single day for the past eighteen to twenty months or so, and when it’s not Jeremy they’re slagging off, it’s the SCG or the left in general.

    So did you feel the way you do about him prior to and in the months AFTER the 2017 GE Doug? And if not, when exactly did you begin to ‘develop’ such derogatory conclusions about Jeremy?

    Needless to say – as Doug and the other skwawkbox posters who endlessly find fault with Jeremy know full well – it is impossible to ‘hit back just as hard’ when your enemies own and/or control the MSM, *AND*, as such, have total and absolute control of the narrative. Oh, but I guess Jeremy just didn’t hit back hard enough when he defended his record on combating A/S in the party the day the EHRC published their so-called report, and THAT is why he was promptly suspended for saying that the ‘scale of the problem has been dramatically overstated by political opponents inside and outside the party and the MSM’ – ie for stating the actuality!

    Hmm…..

  • Ed Fredenburgh says:

    Some points: first, what was the war actually about? Why did (does) the right have this psychotic need to destroy the left, once it becomes a political threat? Simon details the elements of the destroying army—the PLP, the state, the MSM—but says little about the wider context, which is the desperate defence of neoliberalism. With the publication of the Corbyn/McDonnell manifesto and its avid reception, even a number of Tories felt obliged to discover a disillusion with neoliberalism. One of the most powerful guardians of neoliberal policy worldwide is the Trilateral Commission, whose members include current and ex world leaders like Jimmy Carter and most of his administration, press moguls, legal bigwigs and so on. Keir Starmer is now a member of the Commission, and weak minded people like myself, while rejecting conspiracy theories, smell the actual conspiracy.
    Some mention could have been made of Al Jazeera’s courageous exposé of Israel’s dirty work through the various zionist organisations inside and outside the Labour Party, and of the colossal resources poured into this and into its anti-BDS campaign.
    Doug’s comment is worth repeating: “It takes discipline and resolve to get a job done. JC was a spiritual leader, the kind of man that we all should want to be a lot more like. But he was also practically useless. You need someone to do the dirty work, to stand up and hit back just as hard when the whole movement is under attack.”
    We consistently pay the price for living in the country with the most nurtured and most corrupting class system, from the monarchy downwards. It’s a system that perpetuates a need for mythical authority and infantilises the people into passive complicity, of which the left is often and too easily a part.

  • Rob Ferguson says:

    I’m sorry. This is very very weak. It documents again all the crimes of the witch hunt of the left, but it nowhere addresses why it was successful. That can only be explained by the Achilles heel in the left Labour project itself – further exposed by ongoing collapse and impotence. Its nonsense to talk of this as a coup. That’s just cover for failure and lack of a credible explanation I’m afraid. It suggests irresistible force. It is also quite an insult to those who have suffered real force of the state. The only thing I would say is that if the Labour left was incapable of throwing this back on its heels, imagine how impotent it would be if the state really moved against us.

    The success was premised on the very nature of Labourism and the nature of the Labour Party, including after all the central principle, shared by the left, that the state is the means for bringing about social change. The right understood that. The left didn’t.

    And to talk of being “ready next time” shows that after everything the lesson has still not been .

    One lesson is there is not going to be a next time, not inside Labour.

    My own view from October after the election defeat.

    https://socialistreview.org.uk/461/antisemitism-and-attack-left-what-do-socialists-say

  • Geoff Drewe says:

    A fabulous article, I’m inclined to agree with all of the statements made. Has somebody been reading my mind?? Lol 👏👏👍

  • kim says:

    The UK is the root cause of the Palestinian nakba, and is unwilling to rectify this historic injustice inflicted on the Palestinians. Antisemitism accusation, is just a cover up for their crimes

  • Ann ferguson says:

    Interesting and v enlightening.

  • Ben Brown says:

    A superb article thank you

  • Dave Putson says:

    Rob Ferguson i think you have forgotten that the government paid at least £2million to the so called Integrity Initiative, supposedly toppose Russian interferrnce in the British State. But it actually was used by the government as a means to attack Corbyn, albeut indirectly.
    Further, on the Ken Livingstone issue. How many MPs, other than John Mann handily run around with TV crew in tow. How fortuitous that was……..
    There are many many incidents that support the “coup” contention. I do not believe it to be so eadily dismissed.
    As to why the right of the LP would want to attack the left that is clear, the RW of the LP are self interested and have only a passing interest in LP policy and aspiration. In that regard they are very similar to Tories. So any time the left come close to power that becomes a threat to their own well being. For a more thorough going explanation i believe Anuerin Bevan covered it very well.
    I found this a compelling article with much to commend it.

  • Alan Spence says:

    My understanding is that the Jewish Chronicle posted the first allegations of A/S two days before the first Labour Leadership election and the Guardian followed up the next day and the MSM piled in!!

    They gave the 140+ Blue Labour MP’s a season ticket to undermine Corbyn, not on A/S, but all manner and matters of governance. This produced the notion of Corbyn as unelectable and even undemocratic!! The die was cast.

    The notion of one Jewish community was circulated, led by the BOD/JLC who acted as paternal leaders professing to speak for all. Is there any other community that is treated in such a way? What % of that community actually attend synagogues?

    The Chakrabarti Report, set up by Corbyn, yet given no credit for it, only accusations of A/S. Bastardise by Wadsworth-Smeeth incident, but equally damaged by the immediate ennoblement of Chakrabarti as a Labour Peer.

    Forgotten in all of this, was Daniel “you can call me Baron” Finkelstein, ennobled by Cameron. Who went on to print an article, “Is our Corbyn Strategy working?” In the Jewish Chronicle of course.

    Next up was the Home Affairs Select Committee on A/S who spent most of their time savaging the Chakrabarti Report from a few months earlier how very convenient!!!

    The very fact they had said Labour was no more A/S than other party.
    But more importantly, currently and historically 75% of all A/S attacks were by individuals associated with individuals and groups on the right!!

    None of this was picked up by the BBC or anyone else, no Press preview went by without slagging Chakrabarti and Corbyn.

    The evidence for the report was provided by the Jewish Charity CST and yet still the MSM attacked
    Corbyn. Then there is Ruth Smeeth!! Who glorifies in her ex-BICOM status, who claimed 15,000 abuse calls in one night.

    Her claims could not be verified by the CST, yet her putting the blame totally at the feet of Corbyn. But it wasn’t true!! And was never investigated by the party.

    The notion of the Jewish community as a homogenous entity was challenged when Left supporting groups JVL and JSG complained to Tony Hill and even protested outside Portland Place. None of that featured on the BBC, of course not!!!

    I could go on, but let’s finish with Smeeth, who in a series of BBC clips to reflect the 2019 election, Smeeth smirks to camera and says…

    “This calls into question whether Labour should exist at all?”

    Oh and the next time is already here; Starmer promised unity and did everything but, then paid an ad agency to wrap himself in the flag!!!

  • Teresa Merrison says:

    They were terrible times, I don’t know how they all got away with it. Jeremy was so fantastic during that time, never raising his voice through all the tirade that was levelled at him. They were all so hateful to him. I will never forget that time for as long as I live. We had such fantastic leader in Jeremy, all I can say a great big thank you to Jeremy for taking us on the journey.

  • Brian Riches says:

    What we can now see clearly is that the coup carried out against Jeremy Corbyn was just the first step in establishing a proto-fascist state, evolving over time into a fully fascist dictatorship.This is truly frightening and I am not sure that even the weak excuse for democracy we had before is re-attainable.

  • Dr Nigel Speight says:

    Spot on. Disappointed in Jon Snow
    Agree totally one-sided relentless character assassination
    I wish Corbyn had managed to fight back and widen the debate, as opposed to appear to take it all lying down. Unrebutted falsehoods grow in credibility

  • Sal says:

    Social media may become increasingly censored, with (especially left-wing) politics banned. The press is very right wing, and it’s increasingly rare for a dissenting view to be published, even on the Letters pages. Most tv and radio allows only right-wing views, even before the new channels.
    I believe there is still a place for a single-sheet (A3 or A4) news sheet, with facts, discussion points and suggestions for action, emailed from reliable sources like JVL and the Peace and Justice Project, to people all over the country, to be printed, handed out in public places like markets, shopping centres, education centres and pubs – for information, discussion and action. Hard copy can sometimes be a better base for discussion than online media,

  • Martin Henning says:

    Very well put and I hope we all will be ready next time.

  • Thomas George says:

    Labour HQ assist Establishment to Destroy Jeremy Corbyn & the chance of a Gov For The Many..

  • Ken Stevens. says:

    It’s as I have always thought happened. But every action has a consequence, The very fact that Jeremy scared the establishment so much that they had to resort to three years of smears to get rid of that perceived threat. Proved to me and others that the idea that we live in a free and fair democracy, indeed just a democracy, is a lie. After the result of the 2019 election, the first thing I did was to get on the roof and tear down my TV ariel. I still will never forgive the BBC for the despicable roll they played in this.

  • Carol Oladipo says:

    Thank you. Such a shame that most people will not read this and understand how they werr manipulated and how we lost our chance to be in a happier state today with Jeremy Corbyn as our great leader. It’s so very very sad.

  • Colin Robb says:

    A comprehensive demolitions of the sham of so many people taken in , the Labour party is poorer now .

  • Glynis Walker says:

    We need stronger laws to prevent telling lies in the media and pubic office

  • CHARLI LANGFORD says:

    Three comments, in order of increasing importance:

    1). How convenient was it that John Mann had a Channel 4 TV crew in his back pocket at his confrontation with Ken Livingstone? Might one suspect a set-up?

    2). Why was the attack framed around antisemitism? I think the left is particularly vulnerable on this issue because we have a history of support for the oppressed, but this is a cause of confusion when a group that is itself oppressed can be used as cover by a part of it that in turn oppresses others. In this case, the Israeli state can label itself “The Jewish State” and use the mantle of oppression of Jews to minimise its own oppression of Palestinians. To attempt to clarify through imperfect analogy, I think there is a similar process going on in a very different area when women use the fact of the oppression of women to justify hostility towards trans-gender people. We as a thoughtful left have to recognise there is no simple binary division of the world into oppressors and oppressed and our resolution of the issues has to address this. (It would take a very long comment to go further into this so I’ll stop there)

    3). Simon closes his article with “We will be ready next time”. No, we won’t. The forces deployed against us are simply too strong and are completely out of our democratic control. The British public are suffering extreme nationalist delusions with a conviction that we are a special people who can withstand the economic realities of brexit. At such a time, rational consideration of political reality is completely out of the window. The philosophical-ideological climate is that there is no objective truth at any level (what else explains the tractability of insane covid conspiracies?) and therefore my opinion is as valid and unchallengable as the law of gravity. This is not a political climate that encourages rational, analytic thought

  • John C says:

    This should be put into a time capsule for our descendants to read and enjoy a hearty (tear-soaked) laugh at our expense. (This makes an assumption about the kind of world they will be living in, but the contrary assumption doesn’t bear thinking about.)

  • John Caveen says:

    Excellent piece thank you. I always refer to PMQs when May said to Jeremy Corbyn “ we will never allow you to have the keys to No 10 Downing Street “
    To me she was not reflecting just the Tory party position but that of the whole establishment.

  • Glen Shakespeare says:

    I am afraid one Anthony Charles Lynton Blair made it extremely easy for the media to launch this coup against Corbyn’s Labour. He had 10 years initially under a landslide win in which to reform UK media ownership but refused to do so as the current situation benefited the Tories of which Blair was one of course. So if you’re looking for somebody to blame look no further than Labour’s worst ever PM.

  • Nicholas Hill says:

    Brilliant. The state used the tactics of the left. We know the establishment is strongly and corruptly embedded but finding hard evidence for it is hard to prove.

  • Lisa Lisker says:

    Another depressing thing: people who accepted that this was a smear campaign but acceptable and useful as a political tool. The Liberal Democrats welcomed people such as Luciana Berger into their ranks, as well as using antisemitism comments to demonise the Labour Party in autumn 2019, besides orchestrating the campaign to never work with Corbyn. I accept it was a wide-ranging coup. What we’re left with is a huge lack of integrity across the board.

  • Kathleen Shaw says:

    This is such a clear and succinct piece of writing. It leaves me saddened that I couldn’t do more to argue the case for Corbyn’s Labour. I am comforted by the final sentence however. Let’s try again.

  • Amanda Sebestyen says:

    Excellent article (except for the last sentence, but others have addressed that)! To add three points:
    1. Naz Shah’s offending post was lifted from Norman Finkelstein’s blog. Then as later, Jewish antizionists were the first to be accused of antisemitism, with Muslims and people of colour a close second.
    2. I saw Mark Regev, the Israeli ambassador, walking around Brighton at the Labour conference and sending his sidekick/s into the fringe meeting held by Free Speech on Israel with Mirko Peled. Next day the Evening Standard carried headlines of Holocaust denial at Labour conference. An antizionist Israeli peace activist, son of a general, was the alleged offender this time.
    3. A significant factor in the conspiracy is the genuine media infiltration by members of the former RCG/Institute of Ideas network, now openly alt-right with places in the Lords and Number 10. This grouping also has at least one fake charity (WorldWrite) which attracts funding away from genuine anti-racist organisations. For a long time this sect has been defending Israel and slurring with antisemitism even cultural expressions like the plays Seven Jewish Children or Go To Gaza Drink the Sea. The BBC news and documentary programmes are particularly full of these people who in the past have ardently supported Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Muammar Ghadaffi and Ayatollah Khomeini. Now it’s Brexit and Israel. The attraction seems to be to a particular kind of power. And the usefulness of their anti-humanist ideology to the new right seems to be its facade of contrarian daring.

  • Joy Braithwaite says:

    Don’t forget, even the House of Commons Select Committee into AS used Ruth Smeeth’s assertion that the Community Security Trust had found there to be 25k AS tweets aimed at her after she stated her walkout. Yet the same organisation commissioned a report into all AS for 2016 and could only assert 15k AS tweets for the whole year…..systematic undemocratic denial of a good man and a following that has not diminished, it’s just gone international.

  • Pat Mitchell says:

    Excellent article but whereas the weaponisation of anti-semitism and its use against Jeremy Corbyn, and others, was clearly a factor in the outcome of the 2019 election it wasn’t the only nor necessarily the most significant one. Politically there was a powerful left argument for leaving the EU because constitutionally the EU does not permit socialism and the constitution can’t be changed without the consent of all members.. Democratically the case was unanswerable: people had voted and the vote needed to be respected. However the LP chose not to do that and adopted a Brexit policy which I believe was both morally wrong and illogical. Immediately the result of the election became known John McDonnell, referring to his active role in promoting the policy, said “Its on me. Its on me. Let’s take it on the chin. I own this disaster.”. Others argued that anyone who had had a hand in the Brexit strategy should not replace JC. Despite this we ended up with Keir Starmer. Brexit aside, I have no time for him due to his role in the persecution of Julian Assange. But his performance has outstripped my wildest nightmare. Until recently I assumed this was part of a ruthless plan to lead a right wing labour administration to what he hoped would be electoral victory next time and I could not help thinking that if only JC and others had been half as ruthless and determined we might be in a very different situation to where we are now. However I do now wonder what other forces are at work and to what extent they, rather than he, are in control. Returning to the weaponisation of anti-semitism, the article makes it sound as though this is something which has happened and is now over –“ we shall be ready next time” – rather than a process which is very much ongoing. In terms of what to do about it, I have great admiration for JVL, which I joined relatively recently precisely because it is taking legal action against the LP for the benefit of all members. We must support and keep up the good work. The aim is to drive out the left, so by leaving you are doing their dirty work for them. If you know people who have left, suggest they consider rejoining. Unity is strength! Time is not on our side. Ten more years of either a Tory or right wing Labour government will see the planet trashed, and our aspirations with them, beyond recall.

  • Stephen says:

    Simon succinctly covers the extensive campaign to undermine the Labour left with fabricated antisemitism charges. How refreshing to see articles of such quality in contrast to the vile, slanderous propaganda published by overpaid journalists in the mainstream press.

    Most of the comments are also worthy of the article, but fail to provide a solution to the Left’s dilemma. How do we regain power, and defend against a well organised establishment and media campaign to delegitimise any real opposition to the status quo?

    Since Socialists are confident of our logical arguments and moral integrity, we should be prepared to fund and utilise the law to support our cause whenever possible, and force all malicious bad actors to retract false antisemitism charges. Some of the most dangerous accusations and compromises come from the soft left, since these are most likely to divide, and destabilise the movement. Unfortunately, we have to forego our compromising good nature and use single minded ruthlessness to demand retractions and apologies. This was the fatal weakness of Jeremy Corbyn. I’m afraid that’s one thing we can learn from our opponents, both from the Labour Right, and from other parties.

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