This is ugly and Labour’s leadership candidates need to own it.
You will all be aware, already, of the illegal behaviour of Labour’s leadership in “tackling” (their word) anti-Semitism, whereby the party faked evidence to make it appear that I was an anti-Semite, broadcast the lies to the newspapers in order to induce people to believe them, and then used them as an excuse to expel me from the party.
I believe the current plan is to change the rules so even an accusation will be enough to justify expulsion.
Today, it seems at least one leadership candidate has announced that she is keen to spread the bigotry around, with a plan to expel people accused of being transphobic.
Wouldn’t it be better to talk to them instead? What happened to the art of discussion and explanation?
I have trans friends. I recently supported a person who – originally female – spent some time determined to become a man. Now she has had second thoughts and has decided not to go through with it, and that’s okay too. I supported her throughout, because that’s what friends do.
But I know that some people have a problem with that and I have talked some of them through. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of showing them a way of thinking that they haven’t considered before.
So when I saw on Facebook Rebecca Long-Bailey advocating the immediate expulsion of “transphobes” (I put the word in quotation marks because her interpretation of it and mine are likely to be very different), I couldn’t help but react with the “Ha ha” icon.
“What happened to the idea of Labour being inclusive?” I asked.
The initial response gave me a moment’s hope. James Waterhouse stated: “It should be mate. The amount of transphobia by some people whether members or supporters is depressing.”
But then the conversation went downhill:
Let’s have a look at this:
Lianne Powell: “I don’t think he’s being supportive considering he laughed at the post. Mike probably thinks we should be inclusive and allow transphobes to stay…”
According to whose definition are people to be tarred as “transphobes”, now? Is it to be on the same lines as Labour’s definition of “anti-Semite” – anybody who is accused of it?
That’s not acceptable and it isn’t inclusive. Hence my answer: “Don’t be silly, now.”
Lianne responded: “Says the person who thought it appropriate to laugh at this post…”
But it was appropriate. Labour’s record in dealing with anti-Semitism accusations is a disgrace, and now a leadership candidate is planning to eject anybody accused of something else? Ridiculous! Who will they be throwing out next – people with freckles?
I have to admit that my response – repeating “Don’t be silly, now,” wasn’t the best I could possibly have devised. I was disappointed that this person was so determined to see the matter in black and white, refusing to accept that it is possible for people to make mistakes and to learn from them. To be honest, I didn’t see the point in trying to reason with that kind of bigotry.
But worse was to follow:
In Lou Kilmartin we see a genuine, gold-plated bigot:
“What’s funny about the original post?”
I replied: “The idea that that is any way for an inclusive leadership candidate to behave.”
The response: “Seems pretty inclusive to me. No tolerance for intolerance is a pretty good jumping off point.”
No, it is not.
It is an opportunity for unscrupulous people to attack people they don’t like, tar them as something they aren’t, and ban them from a group – as we have seen with the anti-Semitism fiasco. The instant you start banning anyone for even questioning the wisdom of a course of action, you have left the progressive path and joined the fascists.
I said: “Not at all. You don’t leap to expulsion. You discuss and you educate. This is just an attempt to find an excuse to purge the party of “people we don’t like”. Or didn’t you think of that?”
The response: “If you genuinely believe that the terf movement [it means Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminst] in the Labour Party is open to discussion or education, then you’re either incredibly naive or a flat out moron.”
Really? It seems to me that Lou Kilmartin is the one who isn’t open to discussion or education. But Lou Kilmartin does seem very keen, on the other hand, to engage in accusation and vilification. That encourages me to suggest that Lou Kilmartin is on the wrong side of this argument.
“Why do you expect trans people to constantly justify and debate our existence?”
I don’t. I never suggested that they should. And falsely attributing that attitude to me is a false argument.
“Would you be so accommodating to racist or homophobic factions within the party?”
I think readers of This Site know its author well enough to know that I would not – but nor would I be willing to accept someone else’s word on it. Who says they’re racist? Who says their homophobes. And why are they saying it?
Now look at this:
“Or DiDnT yOu ThInK oF tHaT?”
What is this? Was this person trying to belittle me with alternate caps? What’s that all about?
It seemed very silly to me, so I ignored it and focused on the accusation and vilification I noticed at the start of the comment:
“That is an intolerant attitude. Shame on you.”
No response to that, notice.
Then I added: “For the record, I have trans friends.” This is true, as I have explained above. I should admit that I wrote it to see how the bigot would respond.
I wasn’t disappointed: Ridicule. “i HaVe TrAnS fWeNdS”
The bigot was incapable of accepting the possibility and had to try to belittle me instead. What do you think of that?
Then Lianne re-entered the conversation. Clearly a follower, rather than a leader, this person had seized on Lou Kilmartin’s lead, and had also apparently done a minimal amount of research into me:
“Weren’t you accused of AS and suspended with the offer of being allowed back if you took the education course offered to you??? Bit rich to preach about education if that’s the case.”
It’s an interesting comment for what it omits. I was accused and suspended – on the basis of lies. I was offered “education” with the Jewish Labour Movement, that had secretly recorded another person at one of its courses, edited the recording to create a false impression, and handed it to the press and the Labour Party as proof of anti-Semitism. That is not education. It is despicable. And if Leanne wants to use that as justification for attacking me, then Leanne is on the side of the demons.
Still, Lou Kilmartin seemed pleased: “Lianne Powell Holy shit I love you.”
I made a brief response: “No – because the accusation was false and I have taken the Labour Party to court over it. Labour is expected to lose.”
Now look at this from Lou Kilmartin: “Mike Sivier you’re right on one count, I am intolerant to intolerance. Sounds like you’re a fucking gem all round. No room for bigots in the party.”
Looking at all of the above, is this person intolerant to intolerance? Or are we seeing intolerance to differing viewpoints? That’s just intolerance. I’m big enough to shrug off the flat-out insult – although anyone reduced to ad hominem insults automatically loses any argument; if that’s all they can say, then they don’t have anything to say. As for the last line, here’s my response:
“In that case I hope you are not a member. You seem intolerant of anybody who does not agree with anything you say. Perhaps you would be more comfortable with the fascists.”
It is a fascist attitude to demand that other people agree with the pronouncements of a leader-figure, no matter how insane they are.
“That’s very rich coming from the guy suspended for accusations of antisemitism.” This person didn’t have anywhere to go. I had already pointed out that the accusations were false but, hey, let’s go back to that if it’s all we’ve got!
I figured it was time to point out the obvious: “Shocking behaviour by some people on this thread. Desperate to kick out people they don’t like. Try talking. It doesn’t cost anything.”
But I couldn’t resist responding to that last jab: “Did you not read my response to that? I think you did and I think you need to grow up.”
And what witty gem did Lou Kilmartin grace me with by way of reply? “Okay, boomer.”
It’s a response to people born in the baby boom of the 1940s and 1950s (I wasn’t): “Oh, you’re old and you don’t understand.”
So there you have it. This is the kind of Labour Party Rebecca Long-Bailey (and, presumably, the other leader candidates because none of them have distinguished themselves in these matters) wants to lead.
A party of intolerance, bigotry, liars, ageism, and fascism.
If you’re still a member of the Labour Party, is that the kind of organisation you want associated with you?
Because I don’t.
I’m staggered that a membership of half a million has allowed the situation to degenerate this far.
There is only one answer to the kind of attack I experienced on Facebook today.
Rejection. These people, along with everybody who agrees with them, can – and I don’t say this often – FUCK OFF.
Postscript: In a move typical of those exposed as bigots, those responsible for the disgraceful display chronicled above have removed it from Facebook. Draw your own conclusions.
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Its vile Labour now. The most intolerant and rigid organisation I have ever seen. RIP Labour. It’s gone beyond saving now. Trash and should be put in the rubbish bin where it belongs.
Like any long-running organisation, it is vulnerable to invasion by malcontents intent on damaging it. But it can also be saved by the actions of people of good conscience.
With half a million members (at least, until the next pogrom), it shouldn’t be too hard to find someone capable of rescuing it.
“But it can also be saved by the actions of people of good conscience”
It looks unlikely while Mandelson’s around…
When answering questions posed at the Jewish Labour Movement hustings on Thursday, Lisa Nandy, Rebecca Long-Bailey, and Emily Thornberry unequivocally called themselves Zionist. Their fellow Labour leader candidate Keir Starmer qualified his answer, saying “I don’t describe myself as a Zionist, but I understand, sympathize, and support Zionism.
Well fought Mike.
I’m out. Personally I hope the party DOES destroy itself from within, with Corbyn – and any hope of a truly socialist government – gone.
I will vote Green in future.
You state things can change. Not while certain factions hold all the power, with those in leadership positions so fearful of them. We should have long ago broken ties with all affiliates who were working with outside / foreign interests. Surely that must be illegal anyway?
Members of this party have, for years, been racially abused (and I’m NOT talking antisemitism here), verbally abused, trolled, called names and slung out of the party for simply wanting a Labour government. They have been harassed by the right wing of the party, including the very MPs who are meant to represent them. They have been subjected to the most vile of witch hunts and democracy has died a death.
You can plainly see from social media how frightened people are to voice any kind of opinion on their personal accounts, lest it be trolled and vetted in order to try to remove them from the party. Z-list celebrities throw legal challenges about willy nilly just because they can, not because they have any merit whatsoever.
A disgraceful and utterly unsustainable set of affairs. Anyone with any sense would leave.
Wrong approach, Mike, IMHO. You could have focused on the implications of treating an accusation as automatically proving guilt. Instead, the others were able to tell themselves that you were in some way excusing transphobia.
It’s fair enough to make the point that leaping straight to expulsion is a mistaken response, but mostly it seemed that your comments were underlaid with “why can’t they see what’s wrong with this?”
They were going to say I was excusing transphobia no matter what I did; it’s all they had.
My standpoint wasn’t “why can’t they see what’s wrong with this?” It was more an attempt to point out that these people were spitting hate at others via the social media, not caring whether those others had actually done anything to deserve it; this made them worse than some, and certainly no better than others. Note also that they deleted the entire thread from Facebook after I published the article. That is not the action of innocent people.
And now I see that TV presenter Caroline Flack has been found dead and attacks on her in the media and social media are being blamed. I note also that people who have been expelled from the Labour Party on questionable allegations of anti-Semitism are also being found dead due to the stress of dealing with an unfair disciplinary system. Both of these phenomena tie in to what I was saying in this article and I feel that another is warranted.
Labour has always been the party of intolerance, bigotry and racism. Yet you still want to return to clean up the party. Look, the party is beyond redemption, and your court case and others have proved that. It’s time that a new left party, one which is open and inclusive, be set up to challenge Labour where they are in power and put forward a long term strategy to replace them as an opposition to the Conservatives.
That will not work.
Labour has not habitually been a party of intolerance, bigotry and racism – you’re thinking of the Conservatives.
Attempts to build up a new Left party would require the UK to struggle under the yoke of Toryism for decades.
If you want that – and that seems to be what you’re saying – then you’re on the Tory side, not that of the people.
We have to be realistic. Labour are further from power now than at any time since the 1980s. Starmer, Long-Bailey and Nandy will spend the next five years playing their petty playground games, trying to outdo each other. Meanwhile the country is facing huge problems because the Conservatives have been allowed to get away with little public or media scrutiny.