On the day when John McDonnell said Labour needed to “listen to anti-Semitism claims”, it seems appropriate that Richard Hutton, author of the ‘Right-Minded View’ series of humorous articles, has responded to the allegations at length, and in all seriousness.
His point that the allegations have no bearing on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership because the members who were accused joined before he became leader and left under his leadership is strong.
Does the Labour Party have “a problem with anti-Semitism”? This accusation gained prominence in March 2016, when two Labour Party members, Vicki Kirby and Gerald Downing were removed from the organisation; generating several comment pieces in the national press. In addition to this, allegations had been made against Labour-affiliated students at Oxford University. The commentaries bemoaned the Labour party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, for not doing enough to tackle anti-Semitism; and, in some cases, suggested that they have actually encouraged the prejudice.
So then, are these claims supported by evidence; and does the Labour party, or its leader, have a case to answer? No. In fact, what becomes clear when the various allegations are tested against the evidence is that they are not merely inaccurate, but in most cases false. This is cause for concern in its own right.
The point at issue, here: it isn’t entirely clear whether these two individuals are anti-Semitic; or whether their criticisms of Israel are poorly worded. It could be either which is true. Their views on Israel could be rooted in racism; but they could equally well not be. Either way, the facts of both cases fail to support the conclusion drawn by Freedland that Kirby and Downing’s membership of the Labour party has implications for its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Both of them joined the party before Corbyn was elected to lead it – both were removed while he leads the party.
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