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Jeremy Corbyn: Can he talk his way out of this tight corner?

Labour made a huge mistake on Friday.

After 40 white people escorted another white person to the hearing in what looked like a lynch mob, a panel composed entirely of white people found an innocent anti-racism campaigner – who happened to be black – guilty of a form of racism.

Just on the face of it, that makes Labour look like the racist party.

We are told the verdict on the allegations of anti-Semitism facing Marc Wadsworth went against the evidence.

According to Grassroots Black Left, “The panel … ruled the case against Wadsworth could be proven based on solely on the perception by some people that what he said at the launch of the Charkrabarti report on June 30, 2016 was anti-semitism.”

That would certainly run against the meaning of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism to which Labour has subscribed. That document states that anti-Semitism “may be expressed as hatred towards Jews”; it is not behaviour that may be inferred as offensive by Jews.

In other words, according to the definition which Labour supports, a person’s behaviour should not be deemed anti-Semitic because someone else took offence at it; it would have to be informed by, and motivated by, hatred towards Jews.

And criticism of an individual Jewish person, or a group of them, should not raise accusations of anti-Semitism unless it is informed by hatred towards all Jews. Such criticism may be entirely reasonable, depending on the evidence supporting it.

So the decision against Marc Wadsworth is doubly wrong. And it could jeopardise Labour’s ambitions in the local elections taking place on May 3.

Black and minority ethnic people are infuriated, and you can see why.

As one commenter to This Site put it: “To see Marc Wadsworth shouted down for daring to express an opinion, “How dare you, how absolutely dare you,” like [a] servant being berated by the white mistress of the house, makes me shudder. Do they ever think how much courage it takes for a black person to stand up and speak honestly in a room full of powerful white people?”

And then the Labour Party expects black people to come out and vote it into power in councils across London.

It has been suggested that New Labour expected black and minority ethnic people to vote for the party because they had nowhere else to go. That assumption was wrong; they just stopped voting.

The arrival of Jeremy Corbyn gave them a reason to start voting again – and for Labour.

But the Wadsworth decision suggests that Labour will not support the BAME community; that Labour does not support justice.

In that case, why should the BAME community support Labour?

The party has painted itself into a corner in an attempt to appease liars.

I do not know if there is a mechanism in place that can reverse the damage before Thursday.

If not, I hesitate to speculate on how much harm the NCC panel, Ruth Smeeth, Wes Streeting and the posse of MPs and Lords who supported her at the hearing have done to the people of the United Kingdom.


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