On Oct. 29, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission published a report in the UK about the problem of antisemitism in the Labour Party. Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn agreed to implement the measures recommended by the report to fix the issue. However, Corbyn also claimed the scale of the problem was “overstated for political reasons.” Following this, he was suspended from the Labour Party in a decision supported by current Party leader Keir Starmer.
Jeremy Corbyn is correct. To imply there is any sort of institutional nature to antisemitism with the Labour Party is to blindly ignore the realities. One of the only actual instances of supposed antisemitic behavior was Ken Levinstone, a member of the National Executive Committee, criticizing the policies of Israel. The idea that criticizing the actions of Israel is antisemitic, is itself, ironically, incredibly antisemitic. The actions of the Israeli government do not represent the perspective of all Jews, but those who call criticism of Israel antisemtic seem to think they do.
Corbyn’s suspension represents a strong rejection of his socialist perspective, perhaps signalling a return to the “New Labour” era of the Party. Corbyn’s tenure as Leader of the Opposition represented a rare and empowering moment for true left politics in the western world. His suspension can’t be seen as anything but an open attack on the global movement for justice and progress.
The suspension is even more egregious in the context of the Labour Party’s continued persecution of Corbyn and the direction he took the Party in. Text messages leaked earlier this year revealed a desire among Labour officials for their Party to lose in the general election so that they could elect new leadership to replace Corbyn. The officials of the Party wished to change the system by which the leadership is elected away from a “one member one vote system,” as this is what led to Corbyn’s election.
From the beginning, almost all of the supposed concern over antisemitism within Labour has been completely cynical. No one really believes it’s an issue that infects the Labour Party, and the people in charge of the smear have no real concerns about racism or dignity. The idea of an antisemitism problem in Labour was just repeated enough times in the media for it to root its way into the public consciousness. The people who led the smear campaign aren’t concerned with human dignity; look at Tony Blair, who was never removed from the party for his hand in killing a million in Iraq.
Whenever a left-wing leader grows in power and influence, they will face persecution from almost all established institutions. This certainly doesn’t exclude the political party they join and build support within. It is difficult not to compare Corbyn’s situation with the opposition progressive Democratic primary challenges faced in the U.S. The DNC is usually transparent about its distaste for these candidates, funding their incumbent opponents. We got even clearer evidence of this relationship from DNC emails leaked in 2016, which clearly showed the Democrats’ opposition to demcratic socialist Bernie Sanders’s run for president. There is no reason to be surprised at these attempts to stifle left actions. They should serve as a reminder to always remain vigilant and remember that our power lies in people, not established institutions.