Labour Party reinstates Jeremy Corbyn after suspension over antisemitism comments
The anti-Semitism witch-hunt and the failure of Corbynism
18 November 2020
Yesterday, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was readmitted back into the party after being suspended on October 29. Corbyn had said on that date that the issue of anti-Semitism in the party under his leadership was “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by opponents and the media.
Corbyn was readmitted after declaring yesterday, ahead of a meeting of a panel of the national executive committee that was to discuss his case, “To be clear, concerns about antisemitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’”.
He has secured his placed in the Labour Party by strengthening the right-wing and accepting their slander that left leaning Labour members are anti-Semitic and paving the way for further witch-hunts of his supporters.
The following speech was delivered by Socialist Equality Party National Secretary Chris Marsden to an online meeting, The Blairites’ anti-Semitism witch-hunt and the failure of Corbynism, held on November 15, 2020. A video of the meeting can be viewed here.
On October 29, a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was released claiming “serious failings in the Labour Party leadership in addressing antisemitism and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints.”
A few hours after its release, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn issued a defence of his record in opposing anti-Semitism, stating that “the scale of the problem” within the Labour Party was “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”
Within two hours, Corbyn was suspended from a party he has been a member of for over half a century, by new party leader Sir Keir Starmer. Asked on BBC’s Today programme if Corbyn could be expelled, Starmer said, “Yes, people have been expelled from the Labour Party,” saying hundreds of Labour members had already been expelled since he replaced Corbyn in April.
This will not end with Corbyn. The next step by Labour was to lay down the basis for expelling anyone else who criticised the EHRC report or who tried to defend Corbyn. Guidance to Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) from General Secretary Dave Evans states, “social media accounts of branches, CLPs and other Party Units should not be used to comment on the EHRC investigation or the publication of its report.”
Another guidance document from Evans warned, “The Party has accepted the recommendations in full. Consequently, motions [from CLP’s or branches] that seek to question the competence of the EHRC to conduct the investigation in any way, or repudiate or reject the report or any of its recommendations are not competent business and must be ruled out of order.”
The witch-hunting of members is being intensified by an online dragnet of members’ comments. The Skwawkbox blog made public a document from the party leadership to officials which states, “If you see any members who you believe may have broken the Party’s rules with what they’ve posted on social media—whether that be on antisemitism, the independence of the EHRC, or reducing the EHRC’s report to smears, staff can submit evidence here.”
On Friday, Bristol West CLP, which had voted to condemn the treatment of Corbyn as "a politically motivated attack against the left of the Labour Party by the leadership," had its chair and one of its co-secretaries suspended for the crime of allowing the motion to be debated.
These are politically outrageous, even illegal acts. The EHRC, in whose defence Starmer purports to act, feels obliged to reference in its own witch-hunting report, protections of free speech and political comment afforded under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It states in bullet points:
• “Speech does not lose the protection of Article 10 just because it is offensive, provocative or would be regarded by some as insulting.”
• “Statements made by elected politicians have enhanced protection under Article 10.”
• “Relevant factors will include whether speech is intended to inform rather than offend, whether it forms part of an ongoing debate of public interest and whether it consists of alleged statements of fact, or of value judgment.”
• “We also take into account how far the speech or conduct interferes with the rights of others, and the severity of impact of any measures that we might propose to take in respect of it.”
• “Article 10 will protect Labour Party members who, for example, make legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government, or express their opinions on internal Party matters, such as the scale of antisemitism within the Party, based on their own experience and within the law.”
This is politically devastating for Starmer, the former lawyer and Director of Public Prosecutions. But it will not give him a moment’s pause.
Despite our fundamental political differences, the Socialist Equality Party condemned the action taken against Corbyn immediately, writing in a World Socialist Web Site perspective the next day of “a vicious and antidemocratic action by the right-wing cabal in control of the Labour Party.”
The political pretext on which the suspension was carried out, claiming the existence of widespread ‘left anti-Semitism’ in the Labour Party under his leadership, is a slander not only against Corbyn, but of countless party members. It is a political witch-hunt designed to justify the enforcement of the policies of British and US imperialism in the Middle East, built around the dishonest and illegitimate identification of anti-Semitism with principled opposition to the policies of the Israeli state.
We also made the crucial observation:
“The level of cynicism involved beggars belief. Anti-Semitism, racial hatred directed towards the Jews, is historically identified with the far right, especially with Nazi Germany, though it had many adherents within the British ruling class, including among the Royal family. Now the left is being targeted as the source of anti-Semitism even as the fascist Alternative for Germany has been elevated to the position of official opposition in the Bundestag and similar formations, including Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France, are being cultivated by the ruling elite throughout Europe…
“Left unchallenged, it will have a chilling effect on democratic rights, including the right to free speech and the right of political parties to advance policies that are deemed illegitimate by an unaccountable cabal of state operatives and political scoundrels… The ultimate target of this McCarthyite orgy is the working class, which will face censorship, political victimisation and even criminal prosecutions for opposing imperialism’s crimes internationally and at home.”
The SEP made clear that the aim of the Blairites in driving out Labour’s left-leaning rank-and-file, was to make sure that Labour would act in future as a reliable instrument of the most reactionary elements within the British state apparatus. But before addressing this, I want to explain in more detail the fundamental and truly international issues at stake in the fight against the witch-hunt and the forces leading the “left anti-Semitism” slander campaign.
The broader aim of this offensive, politically led by an alliance of Blairites, Zionists and Tories, all with intimate connections to the security services of Britain, the US and Israel, is not only to prohibit criticism of Israel’s repression of the Palestinians—though this alone makes this struggle a fundamental one.
Israel, after all, plays a key strategic role for US, British and world imperialism in the Middle East, sitting at the hub of a network capitalist states that collectively police the oil-rich region, ensuring global fuel supplies while suppressing the region’s working classes.
Whipping up religious, communal and ethnic divisions when this suits them, and even waging wars to determine regional hegemony, they all come together when it is a case of repressing popular opposition—as evidenced in the close alliance between Israel and Egypt against the Palestinians, and the recent normalisation agreements signed by the Netanyahu government with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, with more to follow likely including Saudi Arabia.
Moreover, they all do so at Washington’s command.
The EHRC investigation was announced in June 2019. That same month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lifted the veil on plans to prevent a Corbyn-led Labour government from coming to power in Britain in the then upcoming general election. At a Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, he was asked, if Corbyn “is elected, would you be willing to work with us to take on actions if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the UK?”
Pompeo responded, “It could be that Mr. Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected. It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best… It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”
It is impossible to wage a struggle against imperialist warmongering and to fight for the unity of the working class of the Middle East while accepting the political restrictions being demanded in the name of combating “left anti-Semitism.” It would leave Jewish workers under the control of the Zionist state and politicians, and Arab workers prey to the claims of bourgeoisie Islamist groups, Sunni and Shia, to represent the anti-imperialist strivings of the region’s workers and oppressed masses.
But this points to the most fundamental aim of the “left anti-Semitism” lie machine—to denigrate and discredit socialism, by associating it with hatred of the Jews while concealing the real threat posed by the far right.
When the first phase of this campaign was in full swing, I wrote an article centred on a column by Roger Cohen of the New York Times titled “Anti-Semitic Anti-Zionism.”
The SEP had been warning for months that the accusations levelled against Corbyn and his supporters were a calumny against hundreds of thousands of progressive and anti-racist working people in order to place the Labour Party under the firm control of its pro-NATO, pro-business right wing, and to outlaw all criticism of the state of Israel and Zionism. But I also explained:
“Its broader purpose, however, is made clear in the very first line: ‘The hard left meeting the hard right is an old political story, as Hitler understood in calling his party the National Socialists.’
“Cohen’s ‘old political story’ is an old political lie. Nazism was developed not primarily as an anti-Semitic, but as an anti-communist movement. Anti-Marxism and opposition to the international unification of the working class was Hitler’s driving obsession, to which he counterposed ethnic German nationalism. His hatred of the Jews was based upon their association with the socialist movement.
“He stated in Mein Kampf that his aim was to destroy ‘Jewish Bolshevism.’ He wrote of his ‘conviction’ that “the question of the future of the German nation is the question of the destruction of Marxism... In Russian Bolshevism we must see the attempt undertaken by the Jews in the twentieth century to achieve world domination.’
“The service provided to German imperialism by ‘National Socialism,’ i.e., fascism, was to mobilise the ruined petty-bourgeoisie and the declassed lumpen-proletariat as a shock force against the organised workers’ movement. Its essential political aim was to eradicate Marxian socialism and destroy the labour movement as a precondition for the unleashing of militarism and war, which were necessary to secure the markets and territory required by German imperialism, as expressed in Hitler’s goal of ‘Lebensraum.’”
As for the socialist movement, that is the Marxist movement, it attracted so many Jewish workers and intellectuals precisely because it stood resolutely for internationalism, for equality and unity, and an end to all forms of ethnic or religious discrimination, including opposition to the anti-Semitism espoused by all of Europe’s bourgeois governments.
What the Zionists and their right-wing allies are undertaking is a grotesque and potentially devastating distortion of history. Think about its implications for a moment.
At a meeting in London in March 2019, chairperson of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site David North explained:
“What is involved in this attack on Corbyn and his supporters in the Labour Party entails such a vicious falsification of history and such a distortion of reality, that it has served to undermine the ability to conduct a struggle against fascism and anti-Semitism where it really exists.”
The Zionists, Blairites and Tories, in pursuit of the most reactionary political goals, are drawing an equals sign between the “far-left” and “far-right”, when six million Jews perished at the hands of the Nazis and under conditions where the far-right is once again reemerging as a significant political force, both in Europe and internationally.
In his Anti-Semitism, Fascism & the Holocaust: A critical review of Daniel Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners, which should be read by everyone, North explains the real historic struggle waged by the socialist movement in Germany against anti-Semitism. Here is a brief passage:
“The history of the German Social Democracy, in the years when it represented a revolutionary mass movement of the working class—that is, from the 1870s to the outbreak of the First World War I in 1914—is one of unrelenting struggle against anti-Semitism. The exigencies of the political struggle in the working class required an intransigent attitude toward all forms of anti-Semitic propaganda. Aside from democratic principles and moral considerations, the Social Democratic Party saw the association of anti-Semitism with demagogic anticapitalist rhetoric as an attempt to disorient the working class and subordinate it to the political representatives of the middle class.
“The formation by Adolf Stoecker of his explicitly anti-Semitic Christian Social Workers Party sought to use Jew-baiting as a means of winning the working class away from the increasingly influential, albeit illegal, Social Democracy. In opposition to Stoecker, the Social Democracy waged a powerful campaign to educate the working class as to the reactionary nature of anti-Semitism….
“The counteroffensive of the SPD exerted immense political and moral influence over the working class. Anti-Semitic rallies were broken up by workers, and Stoecker was jeered. The opposition of the SPD to anti-Semitism found a powerful symbol in its selection of a Jewish socialist businessman, Paul Singer, as its candidate for the Reichstag in an important Berlin district. In the elections of 1887, Singer received more votes than any other candidate in the city.
"Opposition to anti-Semitism," writes Wistrich, "had become a badge of honor for the workers movement....”
There is not the space here to do justice to the fundamental struggle waged by the founder of our own movement, Leon Trotsky, against the fascist danger.
Trotsky’s central aim in the early 1930s was to change the course of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in order to stop the rise of National Socialism and prevent Hitler’s victory.
The KPD, under Stalinist leadership, refused to make any distinction between fascism and Social Democracy, which it labelled social fascism, and rejected the policy of the United Front, developed by the initial congresses of the Comintern under the leadership of Lenin. Trotsky wrote constantly warning against this ultra-left policy.
In the article “For a Workers’ United Front Against Fascism” Trotsky explained:
“The thousands upon thousands of Noskes, Welses, and Hilferdings [leaders of the SPD] prefer, in the last analysis, fascism to Communism. But for that they must once and for all tear themselves loose from the workers. Today this is not yet the case. Today the Social Democracy as a whole, with all its internal antagonisms, is forced into sharp conflict with the fascists. It is our task to take advantage of this conflict and not to unite the antagonists against us. The front must now be directed against fascism. And this common front of direct struggle against fascism, embracing the entire proletariat, must be utilized in the struggle against the Social Democracy, directed as a flank attack, but no less effective for all that.”
By rejecting a united front with the SPD, by delivering ultimatum after ultimatum to the SPD and—in some instances—working with the Nazis against the SPD, the Communist Party pushed the social democratic workers, who were very critical of their leaders, back into their arms. It paralyzed the working class, demoralized its own members and strengthened the fascists.
This allowed Hitler to come to power without a shot fired.
Trotsky waited to see if any section of Communist International would react to the German catastrophe and criticise the Stalinist bureaucratic clique leading the Comintern. When this did not happen, he wrote:
“An organization which was not roused by the thunder of fascism and which submits docilely to such outrageous acts of the bureaucracy demonstrates thereby that it is dead and that nothing can ever revive it.”
The conclusion he drew from was that it was necessary to build the Fourth International, which was founded in 1938.
Ultimately the “left anti-Semitism” campaign is directed at concealing these essential historical realities and preventing the emergence of a mass international socialist movement of the working class against capitalism.
Cohen’s column and so many others did so by seeking to identify the “hard” left with the “hard” right as advocates of what “the British political theorist Alan Johnson has called ‘anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.’”
Let me explain the origin of this theory, which does not begin with Mr. Alan Johnson. The discovery of a supposedly new form of antisemitism was made in order to shield Israel from international opposition to its displacement and then repression of the Palestinians, especially after the 1967 War, which naturally came from the left but which also found mass expression among the Arab peoples in the Middle East.
The theory developed, with a large input from various governments and state institutions in Israel, was that the “left” and the Muslim populations of the world had either joined with or even eclipsed the far-right as a danger to Jews because opposition to Zionism, the Israeli state and its crimes, was a barely disguised anti-Semitic hatred of the Jews. The argument became that identification with the State of Israel was integral to the Jewish self-identity, especially as Israel was supposedly the only true guarantor of their safety.
The then foreign minister of Israel, Abba Eban, made this explicit in 1973, writing:
“One of the chief tasks of any dialogue with the Gentile world is to prove that the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is not a distinction at all. Anti-Zionism is merely the new anti-Semitism….”
Irwin Cotler, Professor of Law at McGill University, asserted that the new antisemitism "is anchored in discrimination against the Jews as a people—and the embodiment of that expression in Israel.”
The Israeli state and its defenders set up various initiatives to defend war crimes, de-legitimise the left and target solidarity actions with the Palestinians, including here in the UK.
The Jewish Labour Movement began its life as the Zionist group Poale Zion, which affiliated to the Labour Party in 1920. It became the JLM in 2004, and is affiliated to the World Zionist Organisation whose Jerusalem Programme declares its commitment to “The unity of the Jewish people, its bond to its historic homeland Eretz Yisrael, and the centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem, its capital, in the life of the nation.” The JLM’s director, Ella Rose, previously worked as an officer at the Israeli Embassy.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism was founded in 2014 during Israel’s bombardment of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip to counter rising criticism of Israel. Both organisations played a leading role in the anti-Semitism witch-hunt in the Labour Party. The Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party was initiated based on formal complaints in summer and autumn 2018 from these two groups.
Another group is the Community Security Trust (CST), in which Dave Rich is a key figure. He is the author of the book, The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Antisemitism, published by Biteback, part-owned by Political Holdings Ltd, which is run by billionaire former Tory Party Deputy Chairman Michael Ashcroft.
Finally there is the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM), run by Poju Zabludowicz, a billionaire who also funds Conservative Friends of Israel and for whom Alan Johnson, cited by Roger Cohen, works as a senior research fellow.
Johnson, a former member of the anti-Trotskyist Alliance for Workers Liberty, is a leading advocate of imperialist military intervention and co-author of the 2006 Euston Manifesto arguing in favour of the 2003 Iraq war and occupation. He defines “left anti-Semitism” as “a wild, demented, unhinged form of anti-Zionism,” involving any comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany, “even in the language of intellectuals.” He denounces the socialist movement, and Lenin in particular, for their advocacy of “assimilation,” writing of how, “The Left hoped to dissolve Jewish peoplehood in the solvent of progressive universalism.”
Among those playing a leading role against Corbyn over the past five years is the now former Labour MP Ruth Smeeth. She too held a post at BICOM. A US embassy diplomatic cable, dated April 24, 2009, published by WikiLeaks, identified her as a “strictly protect” US informant.
The insistence that Zionism is the legitimate and unchallengeable voice of the Jewish people and therefore denouncing Zionism is anti-Jewish animates the entire “left anti-Semitism” witch-hunt. Its pseudo-legal justification was provided by the demand for the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Association Working Definition of Antisemitism.
Only finally adopted by the IHRA itself in 2016, the definition was then endorsed by a slew of international organisations and states despite deep misgivings expressed by legal and human rights figures
Concerns focused on the attached eleven illustrative examples of anti-Semitism, of which seven relate to Israel. These include:
* Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour.
* Applying double standards by requiring of it behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
* Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
The definition also declares, “Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.” and “Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”
It seems to have struck no-one that the formulas advanced in the IHRA definition, stressing that Zionism is integral to the Jewish faith and is inseparable from the state of Israel, play directly into the racist tropes of fascist propaganda.
Among those criticising the IHRA definition were 243 British academics, who signed a letter in 2017 stating that voices protesting the "violation of the rights of Palestinians for more than 50 years" should not be silenced and condemning the definition for conflating “conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism."
In July 2018, human rights solicitor Geoffrey Bindman wrote, “Unfortunately, the definition and the examples are poorly drafted, misleading, and in practice have led to the suppression of legitimate debate and freedom of expression.”
In August 2018, Geoffrey Robertson, QC, said that several of the examples are so loosely drafted that they are likely to impact on legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government and of human rights abuses against Palestinians and the definition therefore “is not fit for any purpose that seeks to use it as an adjudicative standard."
Nevertheless, the witch-hunt of Corbyn and the Labour left has codified this reactionary offensive as the new orthodoxy and the basis for a far wider campaign against the left. It is a dangerous development for workers everywhere.
North, in the passage on the anti-Semitism campaign I quoted earlier, was speaking at a public launch of the English-language edition of Why Are They Back? Historical Falsification, Political Conspiracy and the Return of Fascism in Germany, at Foyles in London.
The book’s author Christoph Vandreier, deputy chairman of the Socialist Equality Party (Germany), explained that his book sought to draw the attention of the international working class to political events of far-reaching significance:--the elevation of the AfD, an avowedly far-right party, to become the official opposition in the German parliament.
North said of Vandreier’s book:
“It is extraordinary that what has been taking place in Germany has gone almost completely unreported in the European and American press. The fact that the most politically influential party in Germany today—the official opposition party, the AfD—is a party led by out-and-out pro-Nazis, apologists for Hitler, has been largely ignored, as if it’s a non-event… The importance of Christoph’s book... is that he makes clear that what has taken place in Germany is a concerted political conspiracy involving the highest levels of the state, with the complicity of an academic community indifferent to the resurgence of neo-Nazi forces.”
Far-right parties are also attracting significant support in France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Poland and elsewhere. But let me focus on Germany.
In 2018, German police forces registered 1,646 antisemitic criminal acts, with antisemitic acts of violence growing by 40 percent in a year. The largest number of antisemitic violent crimes were perpetrated by individuals associated with the far-right spectrum—670 out of 755. In 2019, attacks on people of the Jewish faith reached their highest level since statistics began being compiled 20 years ago--five to six each day, with 93 percent committed by the right, including the terrorist attack on a synagogue in Halle.
Yet even as the Zionists were busy demonising the left and declaring Corbyn as an existential threat to Britain’s Jews, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu was rolling out the welcome mat to various far-right parties and leaders because of their shared nationalism, an embrace of Zionism’s goal of an exodus of Jews from Europe, and mutual hostility to Muslims.
He has hosted Italy’s Mussolini-admiring Interior Minister Matteo Salvini of the anti-immigrant Lega party, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who described Admiral Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s World War II-era dictator, who collaborated with the Nazis in the murder of 565,000 Jews, as “an exceptional statesman,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who rules as part of a coalition with the Freedom Party, founded by two former Nazi SS officers, Philippines ruler and Hitler admirer Rodrigo Duterte, and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil.
This is where the threat to the Jews and the working class the world over comes from—the far right, including its Zionist variant. And again I must insist:
The answer to this threat is the development of the international socialist movement of the working class which the Blairites and Zionists are so determined to oppose.
All this unfolds under conditions where in the United States, Israel’s primary ally and the most powerful imperialist nation in the world, Donald Trump is making a direct appeals to far-right groups and armed militias to support his refusal to accept defeat in the November 3 presidential election, and demanding that he is accepted as a de facto dictator.
Of course, none of these acute political dangers carries any weight for Starmer et al., who are bought and paid for defenders of imperialism. But nor does it put any steel in the political backbone of Corbyn and the caucus of invertebrates ludicrously known as the “Labour left.”
There will those among you who are here out of sympathy for Corbyn as a victim of the right-wing. We, however, must urge you to confront uncomfortable truths.
The fact is that Corbyn is responsible for his own fate—one that has been sealed by his refusal to honour the mandate on which he was elected five years ago.
Corbyn won leadership of Labour in 2015 and then again in 2016 at the head of a popular rebellion involving hundreds of thousands of workers and young people demanding a political reckoning with the criminal pro-business and warmongering legacy of the Blair and Brown governments. He was mandated not only to oppose the Blairites, but to kick them out.
He refused to do so, again and again, making one pathetic capitulation after another. He instead used all his political authority among workers to preserve the control of the right-wing, opposing all popular moves to expel them while insisting on “party unity.”
It was this which enabled the Blairites to pursue their plans to remove the Corbynites, centred on the anti-Semitism witch-hunting of his leading allies, including former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, black Jewish activist Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Chris Williamson MP, and countless rank-and-file members. They then retook control of the party following the electoral disaster of December 2019.
And I must stress: This defeat, like Corbyn’s defeat in the party itself, was not because Labour was too “left wing”, or because of Brexit, or the attacks on Corbyn by the Blairites, and the media.
He could have cut through all of that and won massive popular backing if he had fought back. But instead he succeeded in convincing workers and young people that he would never fight, and never achieve a damn thing on behalf of the millions in poverty and the millions more struggling to survive.
Within weeks of retaking control, the Blairites under Starmer began laying the basis for a fresh round of mass expulsions. On July 22, Labour officially apologised in the High Court to seven former staffers from Labour’s governance and legal unit, involved in investigating accusations of anti-Semitism, who became whistleblowers in a July 2019 BBC Panorama documentary, Is Labour Anti-Semitic?
Corbyn had previously issued a press release denouncing the Panorama allegations, which were clearly meant to reinforce the case for the prosecution in the EHRC inquiry. The ground was thereby laid for a right-wing victory party when the EHRC’s flimsy charges were finally published and Corbyn was suspended.
Britain’s chief rabbi told the Daily Mail that his unprecedented intervention in run up to last year's election, opposing a Labour vote as a threat to “the very soul of our nation”, had been vindicated. Israeli Labour politician Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin posted on Twitter, “Justice is done. Proud I was part of this puzzle.” In the Times of Israel, Jonathan Goldstein declared, “The investigation and ouster of the UK Labour party head offers a case study for responding to far-left extremism worldwide.”
The right-wing are on the warpath. In contrast Corbyn et al are waving the white flag of surrender once again.
The EHRC’s 130-page report does not prove widespread anti-Semitism within the Labour Party because it doesn’t exist. Yet Corbyn accepted all its recommendations, once again leaving his supporters open to victimisation.
Amid an inevitable purge of their supporters, and with many members leaving Labour in disgust, Corbyn’s message is still loyalty and unity, and a pathetic appeal for a return to the status quo.
He told Sky News, “What I will be doing is appealing to the party... to kindly think again.” He later appealed to Labour members, “Don’t go away, don’t leave the party,” before falling completely silent, even on his twitter feed.
Former shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, tweeted, “Divided parties don't win elections.”
Former Labour general secretary, Ian Lavery said, “We have got to try to keep people calm. This dispute with Jeremy has got to be resolved as quickly as we possibly can and then we can move forward.”
Former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell tweeted, “In interests of party unity let’s find a way of undoing & resolving this.”
At an online meeting organised by “left Labour groupings Tribune, Momentum and Red Labour, McDonnell pleaded that if the objection was to Corbyn’s “language or timing, these are issues we can hammer out in discussion. Let’s do it quickly.”
The “large number” of members leaving or threatening to leave the party was a form of “self-harm”, he said. Reaching out directly to Starmer, who has spoken of the need for a “broad coalition” to ensure Labour’s general election victory in 2024, McDonnell added, “The lesson of the US is that you only win elections when you have massive rank and file activity that turns the vote out. It was extremely close. Biden only got there in the end because socialists on the ground turned the vote out.”
Corbyn and company are pleading with Starmer not to expel them in return for a loyalty oath and a pledge to take Labour’s unpalatable message of pro-business policies, militarism and collusion with the Tories during the COVID-19 pandemic and wrap it up in left-verbiage.
What conclusions must be drawn from this?
Corbyn is absolutely opposed to any political struggle by workers and young people against the Labour and trade union bureaucracy. For this reason, he has already delivered an electoral victory to Boris Johnson, for which the working class has paid a blood price in the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands thanks to the Tory policy of “herd immunity.”
Now he and his inner core of supporters are urging unity with Starmer, Labour’s Torquemada, and for their own supporters to emulate the political cowardice of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
McDonnell has praised Sanders for throwing his support behind Biden in the interests of the “party, the country and for the future movement.” The lesson from the US is that you “have to have a united party”, he went on, and, “I hope that lessons can be learned.”
Events testify to the complete collapse of Corbynism and all claims by the pseudo-left groups such as the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party that the Labour Party could ever be a vehicle for socialism.
The SEP warned from the outset that no change of leader, or influx of left-leaning members, could reverse Labour’s transformation into a naked party of big business. Labour’s abandonment of reforms and embrace of Thatcherite neoliberalism was not the product of the scheming of Blair and Brown. Rather, fundamental changes within world capitalism associated with globalisation have objectively undermined all organisations embedded in the nation state and seeking limited reforms through an accommodation with their own bourgeoisie.
The conflict between rival imperialist powers for control of global markets and resources demands trade war and militarism abroad and austerity, authoritarianism, and class war at home. Combatting the agents of this capitalist perspective such as Starmer and his allies, therefore, demands far more than trench warfare to maintain a “left” rump within the Labour Party. It means building a new and genuinely socialist party.
This lesson has been proved again and again, with Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain and Sanders in the US. Yet once again the pseudo-left groups are urging workers to stake everything on a leftwards shift by a section of the bureaucracy.
The Socialist Party, for example, has most recently tried to wipe out any memory of the years of support it gave to Corbyn with the claim that it had “warned” that Starmer wanted “to annihilate the last vestiges of ‘Corbynism’”. Somehow, it adds, “the opportunity to transform Labour into an anti-austerity, socialist party was thrown away, as endless compromises were made.”
But these compromises were engineered by Corbyn, nominal “left” trade union leader such as Len McCluskey of Unite, and all those the SP supported—and still does!
They now urge, “Instead of pleading with Starmer, left trade unions should immediately institute a call for a conference, to be a council of war of the workers' movement--inside and outside of the Labour Party—to fight this attack, and to discuss how to ensure workers have a vehicle that does fight for their interests.”
This mythical fightback by mythical “left trade unions” is advanced once again as the basis for founding “a new mass workers' party with a socialist programme.” In any event the make clear that this is all conceived of only a means to “turn the heat up on Starmer and the Labour right…”
As for Corbyn’s boosters in the SWP, its leader Alex Callinicos writes now of Labour’s move “sharply back to the extreme centre” and also urges the “left” to begin “preparing to break with the bankrupt politics of the extreme centre that is being forcibly reimposed on Labour and form a new socialist party.”
This party will naturally be a Labour Party Mark II, with Callinicos declaring, “Within this broader left we need a stronger organised revolutionary pole,” by which he means, “Let us in and allow us to act as defenders of your exposed left flank as you betray the working class.”
This constant searching for a supposed left faction of the Labour and trade union bureaucracy is endlessly promoted by the pseudo-left to prevent a genuine break from the bureaucracy by the working class. It is a dangerous and debilitating fantasy that must now end, once and for all.
The protracted death of the Labour Party must instead become the occasion for a political turn by the working class to revolutionary socialist internationalism, to the building of the SEP and its sister parties in the International Committee of the Fourth International.