It’s hard to believe people are still prepared to believe Ruth Smeeth (MP)’s claim that she was subjected to “anti-Semitic slurs” and an accusation that she was part of a “‘media conspiracy'”. This blog debunked her claims yesterday but I’ll be quoting an article later that shows it hasn’t sunk in among some irresponsible journalists.
One journalist who does get it is Craig Murray, who has written an article making a few more points about Ms Smeeth’s outburst. He quoted Momentum activist Marc Wadsworth’s words as follows: “I saw that the Telegraph handed a copy of a press release to Ruth Smeeth MP so you can see who is working hand in hand. If you look around this room, how many African Caribbean and Asian people are there? We need to get our house in order.” (Mr Wadsworth is a person of colour, as I understand the current politically-correct term has it.)
Neither what Wadsworth actually said, not his denial that he knew she is Jewish, is being reported by the broadcast media. What is being reported very widely is Ms Smeeth’s subsequent statement:
“I was verbally attacked by a Momentum activist and Jeremy Corbyn supporter who used traditional anti-Semitic slurs to attack me for being part of a “media conspiracy”. It is beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories against Jewish people.”
Ms Smeeth’s statement contains one stark dishonesty. She puts “media conspiracy” in inverted commas, when Mr Wadsworth did not use the phrase, or even either of those two words separately. Ms Smeeth appears to have deliberately misrepresented what Mr Wadsworth said, which I presume she checked.
It seems to me an untenable interpretation of what Mr Wadsworth said to characterise it as an accusation that Jewish people control the media, as opposed to an observation about a particular action of a particular MP with a particular journalist.
I really cannot see any way that Mr Wadsworth’s statement could bear the interpretation that Ms Smeeth put on it. Unless we take the position that nobody can ever be accused of doing anything wrong, lest it further “traditional slurs” against the ethnic group to which they belong.
In fairness I should add that Mr Murray offers Ms Smeeth a way out by suggesting that, considering the subject matter of the meeting – anti-Semitism – and her own Jewish ethnicity, her reaction may have been genuine – simply reading more into Mr Wadsworth’s remark than was intended (or, indeed, stated).
Logically the end to the matter should be Ms Smeeth apologising for her overreaction and fabrication, with a possible addition that she is not “hand in hand” with the right-wing media, if she feels the need.
So why on Earth has Mr Wadsworth been expelled from the Labour Party? And why are journalists – who should know better – writing much like this:
The Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth fled in tears today from the launch of a Labour party report on antisemitism – an event supposed to stamp out the ugly trope of crazed Zionist conspiracy theories – after a Corbynite activist stood up and accused her of being part of a “media conspiracy” against her own party.
We know it’s nonsense, but it is the centrepiece of a Gaby Hinsliff article in The Guardian, attacking supporters of Jeremy Corbyn who have, she tells us, been threatening Labour MPs who have rejected the democratic decision of their party membership and have spent all week trying to push him out of office as leader.
As a piece of journalism, it is worthless. The whole thing is filled with hearsay and false comparisons.
For example: We know that Ms Smeeth’s shrill claim of “anti-Semitism” was false. Personally, I hold to my opinion that it was a contrived – and failed – stunt to create embarrassment for Mr Corbyn and support her call for him to resign. How do we know the other incidents weren’t equally false?
Did anybody see the man who was coming to Vicky Foxcroft’s office to “kick the f*** out of you”? What about the messages telling Lucy Powell to kill herself or the threats to an “unnamed rebel’s” child? I don’t want to use the words “false flag” so soon after they were used to distort the killing of Jo Cox – but look at the behaviour of those Labour rebels over the last week. I would not put anything past them – and that fact depresses me more than any other part of this affair so far.
“The vast majority of Corbyn supporters will obviously feel nothing but abhorrence for all this,” the article continues – possibly the only accurate statement it contains. The thought of other people behaving in the manners described is abhorrent; equally abhorrent is the thought that it might all be fabricated to smear Mr Corbyn, as Ms Smeeth’s outburst was.
Ms Hinsliff justifies herself by stating, “when a leader holds rallies where people feel comfortable turning up in T-shirts saying ‘exterminate the rightwing Blairite vermin’, then the fire is already burning” – as if Mr Corbyn is responsible for that person’s choice. He wasn’t. It is unlikely he even knew it had happened until he saw the photograph – same as the rest of us. But according to Ms Hinsliff, it was his fault. No.
Then she goes off on a false “two wrongs don’t make a right” argument, saying Corbyn supporters might suggest that the behaviour Ms Hinsliff has attributed to some of them is justified by the appalling way the Labour leader has been treated.
Has anybody actually voiced such an argument? I haven’t. I haven’t seen evidence of it from anyone else, either – and I’ve been watching the media as closely as possible since the start of the week.
What we’re seeing here is a false equivalence; supporters of Jeremy Corbyn linked with the kind of people who would carry out such attacks (verbal, if not physical) and who would make such excuses. Corbyn supporters aren’t like that. At least, most of them aren’t, and there’s no need to tar any of them with that brush until we see absolute proof.
There’s more. “Yes, what’s happening to Corbyn is cruel,” writes Ms Hinsliff. ” But it’s what happens to leaders in the end stages.”
Ah. That’s what it’s all about. Brainwashing. She’s trying to get us to accept that Mr Corbyn will be ousted from the Labour leadership.
No matter what the facts about everything else may be, there’s certainly no evidence to support that!
“But by barricading himself in office, Corbyn is not preventing a leadership contest.” This one’s difficult to judge. If she’s referring to the claim that Mr Corbyn actually refused to let anybody into his office on Thursday, she’s mistaken because it was disproved. If she’s saying he is metaphorically barricading himself in, she has misunderstood the Labour leadership issue entirely.
For clarity: This is about a number of MPs deciding they can disregard the democratic wish of the entire membership of a political party and trying to hijack it, against the will of the majority.
That’s why people are supporting Mr Corbyn. They want his kind of politics, not the policies of the rebels – ideas that drove nearly four million voters away from Labour between 1997 and 2010. They’ve had enough of men and women in suits who think they can push everybody else around. And they’re fully prepared to stand up for their rights.
But Ms Hinsliff wants it to seem that he’s holding back any progress. She wants him to resign because his huge popularity means his opponents only get to put one person up against him (otherwise they split their own vote): “A resignation might allow a more open contest, held after some reflection on the leave vote, in which the membership could rightly demand a full slate of candidates – from Corbynite left to soft left to right to those less easily pigeonholed – and begin the overdue business of reinventing the left… But instead, it’s becoming a referendum on Corbyn. For him or against him. Loyalty or betrayal. Mandate from the members who want him to stay, or mandate from Labour MPs (representing millions of voters) who want him gone.”
Did you see the other falsehood that was slipped in there? The “mandate from Labour MPs (representing millions of voters)”? Yes, MPs represent millions of voters if you lump them all in a group. Individually, each MP represents everybody in their own constituency – anything between 50-80,000 people. Mr Corbyn’s mandate from Labour members dwarfs that – 251,000 people. Not only that, but Labour MPs are elected as representatives of the Labour Party and are expected to follow Labour policy – even if the leader changes during a Parliament. They can’t say they represent the party when the party supports the man they’re trying to dethrone. Finally, of course, as Labour candidates they made use of Labour resources, including the goodwill and assistance of thousands upon thousands of Labour members who they are now trying to disenfranchise.
It’s a poisonous piece. That’s why I’ve spent so long ripping it to shreds.
But it isn’t the only one out there.
Be careful what you read. Be careful who you believe. And think for yourself at all times.
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