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A Question of Humanity

Article Source: Guardian 23rd February 2019

There is so much wrong with this article that it is difficult to know where to start or where to stop, but I’ll take just this passage about Derrick Hatton’s allegedly antisemitic tweet:

She said that she voted Green and had never agreed with Derek Hatton but, as a supporter of the Palestinians, she couldn’t see what was wrong with his tweet. Had she read it? “A summary of it, yes.”

The original wasn’t long. It stated: “Jewish people with any sense of humanity need to start speaking out publicly against the ruthless murdering being carried out by Israel!”

Essentially, Hatton did what the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance defines as a concrete example of antisemitism: “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”

His tweet rendered them guilty until proven innocent. If they didn’t condemn Israel, they had no humanity. And what happens in history when we strip a minority of its humanity?

A few points:

  1. Stating that Jews need to speak out about Israel’s actions IS NOT the same as holding Jews collectively responsible for for Israel’s actions. If I said to anyone that them need to speak out against a particular evil it does not equate to them being responsible in the sense of being culpable for that evil.
  2. Hatton’s statement DOES suggest that Jews have a particular responsibility for speaking up against the particular abuses perpetrated by the state of Israel. I do not accept that Jews have such a responsibility because they are Jews. I believe that we all have equal responsibility in this matter because we are equally human and rational beings. It is true however that Jewish groups such as JVL and JVP appear to come together on the premise that they, as Jews, have a particular role to play in opposing the abuses. It is also true that Muslims are often urged to take responsibility in the sense of speaking out against and identifying Islamist terrorism and ‘radicalisation’. Indeed there are government programmes that seek to engage Muslims in such activity. If Hatton had tweeted (after seeing an Isis beheading) “Muslim people with any sense of humanity need to start speaking out publicly against the ruthless murdering being carried out by Isis and other Jihadist groups” I might, for the reasons I gave above, question that formulation but I would not say that he was Islamophobic because of it. Hatton would be equally wrong in saying this but I suspect that he would not receive the same degree of censure.
  3. Saying that Jews with ‘any sense of humanity’ ought to speak out against the brutal acts of Israel does not imply that those who do not speak out against such acts have no sense of humanity much less that they have no humanity. It may be argued that Hatton meant this to be inferred but this is not logically implicit in what he said.

In conclusion while I consider statements like Hatton’s to be flawed because they incorrectly assign responsibility for moral action to people on the basis of their belonging to a particular group rather than on the basis of them being rational beings, I understand that this as a matter of erroneous (though common) speech rather than antisemetic or racist intent.

Anti Corbynism

There has been a sustained campaign against Jeremy Corbyn since he was elected leader of the Labour party. The walkout is part of that campaign and Tom Watson’s characterisation of it as a ‘wake up call’ is part of that campaign. Watson wants Corbyn to give up and go away so he is pushing the narrative that Corbyn is damaging the party. Look at the storm over antisemitism and and ask yourself if there is evidence of wrongdoing that supports this level of attack. Look at the likes of Berger, Umunna and Watson and compare them with Corbyn. Who seems more authentic to you? Who is more likely to have your back as an ordinary citizen of this country, maybe struggling to make ends meet? If you think it’s Berger, Umunna, Watson and the billionaire press barons, go ahead make their day.

If Jeremy Corbyn is a racist, an antisemite, how is it that he is supported by very many Jewish people on the Left?

“It is … shocking that cynical attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and the progressive movement around him continue, baselessly alleging a failure to tackle antisemitism.

This morning [25th January 2019] Nick Ferrari’s flagship LBC talk show devoted a slab of prime-time radio to Holocaust commemoration. At least that was the ostensible subject. But actually it provided Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council, with yet another opportunity to attack Jeremy Corbyn. This as we remember the millions of dead, and with the reincarnation of fascism visible on our streets.

The racist threat is serious, and it needs to be treated responsibly. The treatment of Diane Abbott last week on Question Time was neither serious nor responsible. That the BBC allowed, indeed encouraged, racially abusive behaviour towards her is a disgrace. We urge the widest possible support for a petition in her support.

The Labour Party can be proud of its record in combatting antisemitism and other forms of racism within its own ranks. No other party has commissioned and acted upon a comprehensive report exploring failings in relation to members of minority communities. No other party is dealing with bigotry among its membership so forcefully – indeed the Tory party’s links to antisemites are blatant.

Under Corbyn’s leadership Labour is uniquely equipped to mount a serious challenge to the very real far-right threat, with racism including antisemitism at its core. As we remember the inhumanity of the Holocaust, other responsible political organisations would do well to follow Labour’s lead.”

Jewish Voice for Labour
Jewish Socialists’ Group

“WE are very concerned about the joint statement of the three Jewish newspapers in the UK that asserts false definitions of anti-semitism for political ends and falsely claims that a British government led by Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party would somehow represent an “existential threat to Jewish life.”

Jewish Voice for Peace

” Consider these facts. Jeremy Corbyn is the democratically elected head of the Labour Party. His ascendancy vastly expanded and galvanized the party’s ranks. Corbyn has devoted a lifetime to fighting racism; like eponymous labor organizer Joe Hill, where workers strike and organize, it’s there you’ll find Jeremy Corbyn. By British and even global leadership standards, he cuts a saintly figure. On the opposite side, mostly unelected Jewish bodies have dragged Corbyn’s name through the mud, slandering and defaming him. They have refused to meet with Corbyn, even as he has repeatedly extended olive branches and offered substantive compromises. Instead they issue take-it-or-leave-it ultimatums.”

Norman Finkelstein

Chomsky would vote for Corbyn.

There is no evidence that the Labour party is ‘institutionally antisemitic’. There is plenty of evidence of Israeli attempts to influence the Labour party. 

Tom Watson and other Labour Friends of Israel equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism. 

It’s time for the media to recognise the tremendous support that Jeremy Corbyn has among members of the Jewish community. It is inconceivable that he would have that support if he were the antisemite that his enemies accuse him of being. Those who are making these accusations are not merely mistaken nor is this just some difference of opinion, they are being consciously dishonest and are using antisemitism as a strategem to undermine the Labour party and it’s leader.

On Wednesday 20th February “over 200 Jewish members and supporters of the Labour party sign[ed] a letter [to the Guardian] urging that anyone seeking an end to bigotry and racism should back Labour and Corbyn.

CORBYN’S record against Amti-Semitism……A valuable resource from Swansea CLP by way of Mehboob Noormohamed

1. In October 1936, Jeremy Corbyn’s mother participated in the battle of Cable Street in defence of British Jews after British fascists had staged an assault on the area. Corbyn was raised in a household passionately opposed to antisemitism in all its forms.
2. In 23rd April 1977, Corbyn organised a counter-demonstration to protect Wood Green from a neo-nazi march through the district. The area had a significant Jewish population.
3. On 7 November 1990, Corbyn signed a motion condemning the rise of antisemitism in the UK
4. In 2002 Jeremy Corbyn led a clean-up and vigil at Finsbury Park Synagogue which had been vandalised in an anti-Semitic attack
5. On 30 April 2002, Corbyn tabled a motion in the House of Commons condemning ananti-Semitic attackon a London Synagogue
6. On 26 November 2003, Jeremy Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion condemning terrorist attacks on two synagogues
7. In February 2009, Jeremy Corbyn signed a parliamentary motion condemning a fascist for establishing a website to host antisemitic materials
8. On 24th March 2009, Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion praising British Jews who resisted the Holocaust by risking their lives to save potential victims
9. Nine years ago, Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion praising “Jewish News”for its pioneering investigation into the spread ofAntisemitism on Facebook
10. On 9 February 2010, Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion calling for an investigation into Facebook and its failure to prevent the spread of antisemitic materials on its site.
11. On 27 October 2010, Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion praising the late Israeli Prime Minister for pursuing a two state solution to the Israel/Palestine question.
12. On 13 June 2012, Corbyn sponsored and signed a motion condemning the BBC for cutting a Jewish Community television programme from its schedule.
13. 1 October 2013, Corbyn appeared on the BBC to defend Ralph Miliband against vile antisemitic attacks by the UK press.
14. Five years ago Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion condemning antisemitism in sport.
15. On 1 March 2013, Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion condemning and expressing concern at growing levels of antisemitism in European football.
16. On 9 January 2014, Jeremy Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion praising Holocaust education programmes that had taken 20,000 British students to Auschwitz.
17. On 22 June 2015, Corbyn signed a Parliamentary motion expressing concern at the neo-nazi march being planned for an area of London with a significant Jewish population.
18. On 9 October 2016, Corbyn, close to tears, commemorated the 1936 Battle of Cable Street and recalled the role his mother played in defending London’s Jewish community.
19. On 3 December 2016, Corbyn made a visit to Terezin Concentration Camp when Jewish people were murdered by the Nazis. It was Jeremy’s third visit to such a camp, all of which were largely unreported in the most read UK papers.
20. Last year, a widely-endorsed 2018 academic report found ninety-five serious reporting failures in the reporting of the Labour Antisemitism story with the worst offenders The Sun, the Mail & the BBC.
21. On 28 February 2016, five months after becoming leader, Jeremy Corbyn appointed Baroness Royall to investigate antisemitism at Oxford University Labour Club.
22. On 27 April 2016 Corbyn suspended an MP pending an investigation into antisemitism.
23. A day later, Corbyn suspended the three times Mayor of London after complaints of antisemitic comments. Party.
24. On 29 April 2016, Corbyn launched an inquiry into the prevalence of antisemitism in the Labour Party. In spite of later changes in how the inquiry was reported, it was initially praised by Jewish community organisations.
25. In Corbyn’s first seven months as leader of the Labour Party, just ten complaints were received about antisemitism. 90% of those were suspended from the Labour Party within 24 hours.
26. In September 2017, Corbyn backed a motion at Labour’s annual conference introducing a new set of rules regarding antisemitism.
27. In the six months that followed the introduction of the new code of conduct, to March 2018, 94% of the fifty-four people accused of antisemitism remained suspended or barred from Labour Party membership. Three of the fifty-four were exonerated.
28. When Jennie Formby became general secretary of the party last year, she appointed a highly-qualified in-house Counsel, as recommended in the Chakrabarti Report.
29. In 2018, Labour almost doubled the size of its staff team handling investigations and dispute processes.
30. Last year, to speed up the handling of antisemitism cases, smaller panels of 3-5 NEC members were established to enable cases to be heard more quickly.
31. Since 2018, every complaint made about antisemitism is allocated its own independent specialist barrister to ensure due process is followed.
32. The entire backlog of cases outstanding upon Jennie Formby becoming General Secretary of the Labour Party was cleared within 6 months of Jennie taking up her post.
33. Since September 2018, Labour has doubled the size of its National Constitutional Committee (NCC) – its senior disciplinary panel – from 11 to 25 members to enable it to process cases more quickly.
34. Under Formby and Labour’s left-run NEC, NCC arranged elections at short notice to ensure the NCC reached its new full capacity without delay.
35. Since later 2018, the NCC routinely convenes a greater number of hearing panels to allow cases to be heard and finalised without delay.
36. In 2018, the NEC established a ‘Procedures Working Group’ to lead reforms in the way disciplinary cases are handled.
37. The NEC adopted the IHRA working definition of antisemitism and all eleven examples of antisemitism attached to it.
38. A rule change agreed at Conference in 2018 means that all serious complaints, including antisemitism, are dealt with nationally to ensure consistency.
39. Last year, Jennie Formby wrote to the admins and moderators of Facebook groups about how they can effectively moderate online spaces and requested that any discriminatory content be reported to the Labour Party for investigation.
40. Since last year, no one outside Labour’s Governance and Legal Unit can be involved in decision-making on antisemitism investigations. This independence allows decisions free from political influence to be taken. 
Thanks to the Swansea Constituency Labour Party.

Although I Voted Remain

Although I voted Remain and would almost certainly vote against a Tory led Brexit, one of the things that has put me off the ‘People’s Vote’ campaign is the dishonest characterisation of Jeremy Corbyn as a poor leader because he is not leading a campaign to overturn a choice made by more than half the voters in the referendum and supported by about half of the people of theis country.

The Labour position is to push for a Brexit that works and oppose a Brexit that is likely to be harmful as May’s deal is, or disasterous as a No Deal Brexit would be. If these options remain the only ones on offer then Corbyn and the Labour party are, as I understand it, obliged by Conference decision to oppose Brexit.

The following was posted to FB and purports to be a motion moved and passed at the Labour Party Conference in summer. It’s badly written (no one can support ‘all options left on the table’ especially when they don’t know what those options are) but if this is the Labour Party conference position then JC has been faithful to it so far.

Claims that Corbyn is out of step with the mood of Labour voters and members appear to be false:

“As a means of keeping together an unpromising electoral coalition that includes the constituencies of Doncaster North (72 per cent Leave) and Bristol West (80 per cent Remain), Corbyn and Keir Starmer’s Brexit strategy has been jaw-droppingly successful. Making every effort to reach a workable Brexit settlement before countenancing switching to Remain if impossible, is also arguably the only moral and democratic response to the referendum result. Voters agree. “
Guardian 3 January 2019

” A leaked poll commissioned by the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign suggests that voters would be less likely to back Labour if the party was committed to stopping Brexit.”
Guardian 19 January 2019

Corbyn’s Leadership

I posted this article in Facebook yesterday and was pleased that at the time I’m posting it here it’s been shared 59 times and liked more than 85 times.

There has been a fair bit of talk recently about an alleged lack of leadership from Jeremy Corbyn, about people being ‘disappointed’. I’m far from being an uncritical supporter of Corbyn, of Labour, or of anyone really but I must say that over the past few weeks Corbyn has gone up rather than down in my estimation and his has been the clearest and most rational leadership on offer. Let us remember:

It wasn’t Corbyn’s leadership that led to a referendum on the EU that wasn’t necessary and that unnecessarily divided the country. That was Cameron.

It wasn’t Corbyn’s leadership that led to a deal that Parliament could not accept. That was Theresa May.

It is not Corbyn’s leadership that is calling for a gamble on a second referendum that might well deliver the same result as the first and be more divisive than the first. That is David Lammy.

Corbyn’s leadership seeks to mend our nation rather than to break it further. It is not about asking again the closed question of Leave or Remain, it is about having an open debate about the best way forward, recognising where we are now. It is about recognising division and the causes of that division without blaming either side for their concerns. It is about seeing opportunity in crisis and the potential for grasping victory from the jaws of a self-defeat wrought by others.

Corbyn’s leadership is not about playing on passions but about engaging us in thought rooted in compassion.

We will be told again and again that Corbyn is a bad leader or a wrong leader or no leader but the people telling us that are not thinking or do not want us to think, they are deluded or seek to delude. As to Corbyn? He is the leader for those who do not care to be misled, for those who prefer to think, for those who understand that the world is more complex and deeper than ‘yes or no’, or ‘black and white’, or ‘left and right’ but know that compassion and reconciliation are good and that hate and blame are wrong and self-defeating.

Question Time Ambush

It’s interesting to watch how this battle is developing. To begin with Jeremy Corbyn was taking the brunt of it, now that he’s weathered the storm and has gained the (sometimes grudging) admiration of a lot of non-political people, they are trying to pretend they actually quite like him and make ‘hard left’ Momentum, his ‘extremist, MP threatening antisemitic supporters’, and ‘that nasty piece of work’ John McDonnell, the ‘real problem’.

The strategy was evident in everything Alistair Campbell, Anna Soubry and Quintin Letts said on QT, which had all the appearance of a coordinated ambush. Soubry’s vicious attack on McDonnell, Campbell’s quickly escalating fight with the Shadow Chancellor, the SNP’s Joanna Cherry sniping from the sidelines and Letts’ far from subtle faux affectionate attempt to associate Jeremy with Albert (the dirty old man) Steptoe.

This is a like a piece of theater designed to have a particular effect on the public mind. I hope that by holding it up, examining it, we can use it to the opposite effect.

Cameron Condemned over Libya

This week a parliamentary-report-on-libya-intervention has admitted that the intervention in Libya was unnecessary and led to that country’s collapse and the rise of Daesh. Another shameful episode in Britain’s history. Cameron is as much a war criminal as Blair and although he claims that the intervention was sanctioned by the UN it is clear that he, Sarkozy and Obama went far beyond any remit they had and supported terrorists in destroying the Libyan state. I don’t know if Cameron’s resignation as an MP was in any way connected to the publication of this report but the timing seems more than coincidental.

While Cameron is rightly blamed for leading the charge, most parliamentarians are morally complicit, as 557 of them were right behind him .. Look at who were against:

The House of Commons voted by 557 to 13 to support UN-backed action in Libya at the end of their debate on 21 March 2011 – here is the full list of MPs who voted against, or did not vote:
Fifteen MPs (13 voted against plus two “tellers”) against:

Conservative: John Baron (Basildon & Billericay).
Labour: Graham Allen (Nottingham North), Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North), Barry Gardiner (Brent North), Roger Godsiff (Birmingham Hall Green), John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington), Linda Riordan (Halifax), Dennis Skinner (Bolsover), Mike Wood (Batley and Spen), Katy Clark (North Ayrshire and Arran), Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South-East)
Green Party: Caroline Lucas (Brighton Pavilion)
SDLP: Mark Durkan (Foyle), Margaret Ritchie (Down South)



JC and Me

Jeremy Corbyn was in Newham last Tuesday (22 Aug). It was a good evening. This is part of his speech. There’s a nice shot of me in the audience.

Supporting Labour Party Democracy


Yesterday evening I attended a meeting to ‘Support Labour Party Democracy’ held by Newham Momentum at the British Institute of Technology and Ecommerce on Romford Road.

Matt Wrack (pictured at a different event), General Secretary Fire Brigades Union was the main speaker while John Pickard, a Momentum National Committee member, chaired the meeting. At a glance I would say that there were a bit over 100 attendees.

Matt and the meeting were strongly supportive of Jeremy Corbyn and condemned the attempt by a majority of Labour MP’s to oust him as leader. Newham MP’s Lynn Brown and Stephen Timms were also condemned for their support of a vote of no confidence in Jeremy. Eleven Newham Councillors who signed a letter calling for Jeremy’s resignation were also condemned.

While robustly refuting the unsubstantiated allegations of ineffectiveness levelled against Jeremy, Matt and others emphasised that we are not just defending Jeremy but also, and primarily, Labour Party democracy against attempts by the PLP to veto the membership’s choice of leader.

It was noted that the structure of the Labour Party discouraged and dis-empowered ordinary members from participating actively in decision making and policy setting. This must change and all members wishing to support Jeremy must do more that attend Momentum meetings and rallies, they must get involved by attending CLP branch meetings, as uninspiring as those tend to be.

I can’t remember the detail of the formal resolutions from the meeting but they essentially expressed support for Jeremy Corbyn and condemnation of those MP’s involved in the attempted coup. There was a call for the institution of a deselection process for those MP’s who refused to work with the leader that the membership has elected.

No Brexit

I support Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party in saying we are better in than out of Europe. These are my reasons based on the arguments I have heard:

1. To be a single market the EU provides and requires a) industrial production standards, b) labour protection standards and c) environment protection standards that the UK. These require structures that the UK will have to subscribe to if it wants to trade preferentially as part of the single market. Withdrawing means either losing preferential access to the single market or having access while not having a say in making the rules.

2. The departure of the UK may well destabilise an EU already under stress. Varoufakis argues that there is likely to be a split between the ‘Germanic’ countries and the rest with negative social and economic consequences that would affect us in the UK.

3. Without a strong Europe the framework of protections already mentioned is further endangered and trade agreements such as TTIP will be even more weighted towards the global corporatocracy and more difficult to oppose.

4. Outside of Europe the UK is likely to be pulled even more towards the US economically and militarily.

5. Racism/fascism in European states is more likely to be moderated by a strong Europe including the UK than by a fragmenting Europe.

6. Many social and economic programmes run by local authorities and charities in the UK depend on European funding; these are likely to be lost if we leave the EU.

7. If England votes for Leave and Scotland votes heavily for Remain further strains will be put on the Union and there will be renewed calls for Scottish independence.

8. A Leave vote will be seen as a victory for the Right of the Conservative Party even if it is a defeat for Cameron. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party will be immediately weakened whereas Jeremy could build on a Remain vote as his strategy is likely to be seen as having been effective.

I am sure there are many other reasons that I do not know but these are strong enough for me.

Losing Momentum?


In some ways, that support for Corbyn seems as vehement as ever. The newly formed Labour movement Momentum, which claims to have between 90,000-100,000 supporters, is adamant that it will fend off any challenge to the leadership results in the May elections go badly for Corbyn. The group also swept the board at the party’s youth elections, albeit on a very poor turnout.

But behind the scenes at constituency parties, new supporters seem reluctant to get involved with the new era they’ve created. The drudgery of monthly branch meetings has set in and most of these new members have stopped showing up, if they ever did.
Original article.

This is an interesting article and it confirms my own experience. There were just nine people at my first ward meeting on Thursday with me being the only new member. This despite the claim of 80 plus members on paper, most of whom were new. I think this is a problem but instead of bemoaning it we should be looking at strategies to overcome it.

Having voted for Jeremy to become leader I felt obliged to support him but I understand the factors keeping many people from participating. If people are not participating in a project or part of a project it is because it is not perceived as accessible, it’s not perceived as relevant to their needs, or its goals and direction are not perceived as congruent with their own goals and directions.

How do we address this? I would like to have that conversation but a clue may lie in the reasons that new members were so attracted to Jeremy. Among these reasons are:

1. Authenticity – clear about values, focused on them.

2. Radicalism – going to the root of the issues not just tinkering with them. Jeremy is genuinely challenging the status quo

3. Vision – clarity about direction

4. People Orientation – focussing on inclusion of people rather than systems and structures

5. Moral Autonomy – Jeremy is not a ‘good soldier’. He is more interested in doing the right thing than in doing things right.

It was for these reasons, and because he was seen to have lived them, that young people (and not so young people) were inspired by an old man. If they don’t see these characteristics in the party they will not feel inspired by it or motivated to participate.

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