When Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission announced it was investigating Labour’s treatment of its Jewish members, many of Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents claimed this as proof of his supposed antisemitism. But the inquiry is itself a political weapon — and as the Commission publishes its much-hyped, long-delayed report today, the attacks against the Left are only intensifying.
by Daniel Finn
Part 7 - Crisis Theory
The fact that the JLM submission plays so loosely with the facts concerning matters of public record has obvious implications when it touches upon subjects where no such record exists. It beggars belief that the EHRC could have found sufficient basis for an investigation in this dossier, while brushing aside the MCB’s exhaustive inventory of Tory racism as an inadequate starting point. The double standards applied to the Labour and Conservative Parties by the Commission would be visible from space.
Much like the BBC Panorama broadcast “Is Labour Antisemitic?”, which aired shortly after the EHRC announced its inquiry, the JLM submission leans heavily on the testimony of former Labour officials who accused Corbyn and his allies of protecting antisemites among the party membership.
A leaked report, prepared under the supervision of Labour’s former general secretary Jennie Formby, has since provided considerable evidence that these self-styled “whistleblowers” were themselves at best grossly incompetent in their handling of antisemitism complaints, allowing cases to pile up for months instead of dealing with them promptly. The handling of such cases indisputably speeded up when Formby replaced Iain McNicol in 2018.
However, too close a focus on the handling of complaints would neglect the big picture. The “Labour antisemitism” media narrative — which has as much to do with actual incidents of antisemitism as the “welfare fraud” narrative has to do with actual incidents of fraud — relies on the assumption that there was a dramatic upsurge in the prevalence of antisemitism among Labour members after 2015, to the point that the party became infested with antisemitic attitudes from top to bottom. This is where the deceit truly lies.
In truth, there is no evidence of any substantial increase in antisemitism under Corbyn’s leadership; nor is there any evidence that antisemitic views were more common in Labour than in the other major parties; nor is there any evidence that Labour members were more likely to be antisemitic than a random cross-section of the British public (in fact, they appeared to be considerably less so). What changed after 2015 was the massively increased level of scrutiny from the national media and various campaigning groups seeking proof of “Labour antisemitism.” It was fundamentally a question of demand rather than supply.
If the same scrutiny had been applied to the other British parties — or to Labour before Corbyn — it would certainly have been possible to find a tiny percentage of their members expressing antisemitic views on social media; and if the British media had decided that this was sufficient grounds for declaring an “antisemitism crisis,” a crisis would have ensued. The concept of a Tory “racism crisis” or “Islamophobia crisis” has never gained purchase in the British news cycle, no matter how egregious the party’s record is shown to be, so the declaration of a crisis is clearly not based on objective criteria.