How the Labour Right, the BBC, the Israel lobby & the Establishment Destabilised a Political Party
How they brought down Jeremy Corbyn
It speaks volumes that Asa Winstanley could not find a British publisher, not even Pluto Press or Verso Books, willing to publish the definitive account of how ‘anti-Semitism’ was weaponised to remove the only socialist leader the Labour Party [LP] has ever had.
The so-called left press has retreated into identity politics and abandoned the terrain of race and class politics. I found exactly the same with my book Zionism During the Holocaust.
Winstanley’s book is the story of how the British Establishment, their US counterparts and the Israel lobby set out to destroy what they saw as a threat to their interests. Winstanley notes how documents revealed in the failed deportation case against Raed Salah
‘demonstrated the intimate relationship between the UK’s Home Office, the Israeli government and the British pro-Israel lobby group Community Security Trust.’ (38)
In a passage that reflected what I wrote in the Anti-Semitism Wars, Winstanley wrote of how Corbyn’s election ‘must have set off warning sirens in Whitehall and in Langley Virginia [CIA HQ].’ 
Corbyn in his pre-leadership days
‘Anti-Semitism’ wasn’t the first line of attack against Corbyn but it proved to be ‘the most successful attack vector.’ (p.20) Why? Because it enabled his opponents to wrap themselves in the mantle of a false anti-racism. It imbued them with a moral righteousness that opposing Corbyn’s economic policy didn’t have. When imperialism goes to war it always does so for the best of reasons such as women’s rights.
‘Anti-Semitism’ became a ‘wedge issue’ to play off ‘soft’ supporters of the Palestinians like Owen Jones, to ‘hardline’ anti-Zionists. This was put into effect during the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign when Jones became a guest speaker at JLM conferences and spoke out in support of the expulsion of Jackie Walker and Ken Livingstone. (125)
If anyone is in a position to write the history of how ‘anti-Semitism’ was used to destabilise Corbyn and the Labour left it is Winstanley, who almost alone broke a series of stories revealing the truth behind the ‘anti-Semitism’ narrative that the BBC and the media ran with.
The Jewish Labour Movement [JLM]
Winstanley revealed how the JLM, which led the ‘anti-Semitism’ attacks, far from being the continuation of Poale Zion [PZ], an affiliated socialist society of the LP since 1920, had been refounded in 2015 with the specific task of undermining and removing Corbyn from the leadership of the LP.
PZ’s original affiliation was agreed, not because it was the Jewish section of the LP, at that time very few Jewish workers were Zionists, but because, Labour leaders like Herbert Morrison:
Saw in Jewish agricultural labour a form of purification, redeeming the anti-Semitic projection of the Jew, which Morrison took for real. (156)
Richard Crossman, vehement Zionist supporter & Labour Minister, who believed that civilisation meant the genocide of native peoples
Winstanley describes the anti-Semitic imperialism of Labour’s pro-Zionist hierarchy. People like Hugh Dalton and Richard Crossman who was of the opinion that the Palestinians were fortunate not to have been exterminated like other indigenous people before them. (53)
As an affiliated socialist society the JLM was able to move motions to LP conference and propose rule changes. The JLM repeatedly threatened to disaffiliate from the party. Instead of welcoming such a prospect, Corbyn ‘practically begged them to stay.’ The JLM repaid Corbyn’s appeal to his enemies to make his life even more miserable by passing a motion of no confidence in him in April 2019.
It was by no means the last concession Corbyn made to the Israel lobby. (71)
Almost at the same time Al Jazeera had made an under-cover documentary, The Lobby, infiltrating the JLM. He was able to listen to Newmark boasting about how, in 2015, he had sat in a café in Golders Green planning to revive a moribund JLM.
One of Winstanley’s revelations was that the JLM’s new Director Ella Rose was a free transfer from the Israeli Embassy and she admitted in The Lobby to having worked with spy Shai Masot.
The JLM was effectively an Israeli Embassy front. (117). Likewise Labour Friends of Israel [LFI], founded in 1957 by PZ, had become an empty shell. In 2015 the Israeli Embassy all but took it over. (12)
Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry developed a series of groups in Britain, such as the Friends of Israel, passing them off as Jewish community groups whereas they are extensions of the Israeli state. The CST, which collates anti-Semitism statistics is a Mossad project.
The only time Winstanley got it wrong was when he wrote of
‘an apparent power struggle in the wake of Newmark’s forced departure, Katz was appointed chairperson in 2019.’ (65)
Newmark resigned as JLM Chair when the Jewish Chronicle [JC] ran an expose of how he had defrauded the Jewish Leadership Council.
There was no power struggle. When Newmark departed former Hove MP Ivor Caplin became Chair. I described what happened in my blog:
Early last week a report appeared in the Jewish Chronicle stating that the JLM’s war criminal Chair, Ivor Caplin… after having met with Labour’s General Secretary, Jennie Formby, was happy with the Labour Party’s new Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct. …
Caplin had clearly forgotten that the anti-Semitism witchhunt had nothing to do with anti-Semitism… Even worse he didn’t seem to grasp that the purpose of the anti-Semitism witch-hunt was that it had to continue until Corbyn’s resignation.
You might expect that the New Statesman would cover these things fairly and accurately. That would be naive. Instead it ran a PR puff on behalf of Caplin’s critics The Jewish Labour Movement did not approve Labour’s anti-Semitism guidelines. Here’s why.
Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson was an ardent Zionist, seen here alongside Golda Meir, the Labour Zionist Prime Minister Who Believed that there was no Such Thing as Palestinians
‘JLM chair Caplin condemned over Labour antisemitism meeting’ was the JC heading. The New Statesman, obliged the JLM’s efforts to cover their embarrassment with an article by Katz.
The JC was right. The next JLM Conference elected Katz when he stood against Caplin for Chair. He won over 90% of the votes. It was no power struggle. More of a coup.
Len McLuskey hit the nail on the head when he wrote Corbyn Has Answered Concerns On Anti-Semitism, But Jewish Community Leaders Are Refusing To Take ‘Yes’ For An Answer. But this aside Winstanley’s reporting on the JLM cannot be faulted.
Oxford University Labour Club & Anti-Semitism
Winstanley describes the role played by Michael Rubin, Chair of Labour Students, in the Oxford University Labour Club affair. The Report he compiled into allegations of anti-Semitism by its Chair Alex Chalmers consisted of a series of rumours. (98) In The Lobby Rubin admitted that LFI was funded by the Israeli Embassy.
Winstanley revealed who was behind Oxford’s ‘anti-Semitism’ affair and how Chalmers had been an intern with Israeli PR group, BICOM. (79) Every newspaper reported Chalmer’s allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ but gave no details. Yet on his own Facebook page he had written that he resigned over the club’s support for Israel Apartheid Week. That was the extent of the ‘anti-Semitism’ problem.
Corbyn appointed Baroness Royall to head an Inquiry into what had happened but she could find no anti-Semitism. Royall wrote of her ‘disappointment and frustration’ that she could find no ‘institutional anti-Semitism’ at the club. She found a ‘cultural problem’ of anti-Semitism instead. Anti-Semitism was now metaphysical. (83)
The Labour Video Keir Starmer Doesn’t Want You To See
The Ken Livingstone Affair
In Nazi Comparisons Winstanley rebuts the argument that there was anything anti-Semitic in Ken Livingstone’s statement to BBC London presenter, Vanessa Feltz, that Hitler supported Zionism.
‘Recounting the historical fact that in the early 1930s, Hitler’s new Nazi government had extensive and well-documented links with the German Zionist movement is not anti-Semitic – precisely because it is a fact…. Instead of throwing Livingstone under the bus… Corbyn should have brought Livingstone on side. (142) (264-5)
In the words of veteran Israeli socialist, Moshe Machover:
It is correct to expose Zionism as a movement based on both colonisation and collusion with anti-Semitism. Don’t apologise for saying this. If you throw the sharks bloodied meat, they will only come back for more. (159)
The overwhelming majority of world Jewry supported a Boycott of Nazi Germany in 1933 yet the Zionist movement negotiated a trade agreement, Ha’avara with it in August 1933. The intention was not to save Germany’s Jews but to save their wealth.
Whereas 99% of Jews wanted to strangle the Nazi state in its infancy, the Zionist movement only saw opportunities to build their ‘Jewish’ state. Even the JC condemned this ‘unclean act’.
Instead of defending Livingstone Corbyn threw him to the wolves. It was the same with Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and myself. I repeatedly argued at the time that Jackie, Marc, Ken and myself were collateral damage. The real target was Corbyn.
The Zionists had been out to get Livingstone, one of the few Palestinian supporters in a position of power in the LP. The fake ‘anti-Semitism’ crisis provided the ideal opportunity.
Livingstone, during his interview with Feltz, defended Naz Shah who had joked that if Israel was relocated in the USA then there would be no more trouble. Shah was an aide to John McDonnell:
The Livingstone affair was a key moment in the manufactured anti-Semitism crisis. It was a moment when the whole affair could have been turned around. (133)
Instead of defending Livingstone, Corbyn intoned that Livingstone ‘has caused deep offence and hurt to the Jewish community’. Causing offence to Muslims is a question of free speech but offending Zionists was an entirely different matter. Corbyn and the Lansman ‘left’
Set a long running pattern of concession, retreat and compromise which would undermine untold numbers of Labour activists in the years ahead. If the Labour left would not defend one of its most heavyweight veterans from politically motivated charges of anti-Semitism, then what chance would anyone else have? (133)
The abandonment of Livingstone by Corbyn and much of the Labour left, such as Novara Media, ‘sent a message to the grassroots that none were safe should they step out of line.’
Appeasing the Unappeasable
Winstanley’s argument that Corbyn’s overthrow was inevitable given he refused to fight back cannot be faulted. Rather than challenge the fake charges of ‘anti-Semitism’ Corbyn tried to appease his accusers.
Corbyn’s response to the false accusations was not to call them out but to emphasise how much he opposed anti-Semitism. Corbyn never understood that when Zionists talk about anti-Semitism, they don’t mean the Oxford English Dictionary definition, ‘hostility or prejudice to Jews as Jews’ but hostility to Zionism and the Israeli state.
What Winstanley doesn’t explain is why Corbyn was unable, despite his years in the Palestine solidarity movement, of realising that anti-Semitism is a go to defence of Zionists against Palestinian supporters. Why did Corbyn behaved like a rabbit frozen in a car’s headlights?
The answer is simple enough. Corbyn was determined to appease the Labour right. This was the fatal strategy of the Labour left historically. It was summed up by Tony Benn when he compared the LP to an airplane which needs two wings.
It was a superficially clever analogy but fallacious. The LP is a political party not a flying machine. How can pro-capitalists and anti-capitalists co-exist in one party indefinitely?
Another damaging allegation was that Corbyn supported ‘terrorism’. (33) Winstanley cites the interview Khrishnan Guru-Murthy (5-6) of Channel 4 conducted with Corbyn in the summer of 2015.
At a meeting addressed by spokespersons for Hamas and Hezbollah, Corbyn had referred to them as ‘friends’. Corbyn’s answer was they were part of the peace process therefore he was simply being polite.
The terrorist hobgoblin repeatedly came back to bite Corbyn.. that would contribute heavily to his ultimate downfall. (7)
The obvious answer was that Hezbollah and Hamas weren’t terrorists. Corbyn knew that they were the representatives of their people. As Lord Carrington, Thatcher’s Foreign Minister said: ‘One person’s freedom fighter is another person’s terrorist.’ Corbyn had said as much himself. The real terrorists were those who bombed apartment blocks with families inside. Yet Corbyn refused to take the anti-imperialist track.
The JLM’s attack on Jackie Walker brought out the Zionists’ visceral racism
The ‘Left’ Witchhunters
Those around Corbyn, like Jennie Formby and Laura Murray, became better witch-hunters than Iain McNicol and Sam Matthews. Whereas the former reinstated Walker when she was first suspended, Murray would have expelled her straight off.
Corbyn’s staff boasted at how efficient they were at expelling people compared to their predecessors. They thought they were very clever in having expelled so many more socialists than McNicol.
What they didn’t understand was that the more people they expelled, the more they confirmed that there was an anti-Semitism problem in the LP. It was the historic role of the Labour left to dig its own grave.
The IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism
Winstanley points to the adoption by Labour of the IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism as the point of no return.
Winstanley is right when he says that it was Corbyn who bore the responsibility for the adoption of the IHRA:
the long, slow trickle of concessions Corbyn made to the Israel lobby in the face of the sustained ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign made capitulation inevitable.
Opposition to the IHRA became ‘anti-Semitism’ in the eyes of the witch-hunters. (260)
Corbyn had conceded to the JLM the right to ‘police the discursive boundaries of the conflict.’ (242). But despite all the concessions 77% of LP members refused to accept this false narrative. (244) Amongst Momentum members the figures were even higher, at 92%. (353)
Jewish Voices for Labour [JVL]
Winstanley describes uncritically the foundation of JVL, a group that was not anti-Zionist. Initially JVL contained Zionists whose sole purpose seems to have been to destabilise it – people like Rob Abrahams and Colin Appleby who later surfaced in the JLM arguing that it should disaffiliate from the LP because of ‘anti-Semitism’.
Although JVL’s Zionists soon departed they were symptomatic of a wider political problem. JVL never fully understood that the ‘anti-Semitism’ witchhunt was never about anti-Semitism. They naively believed that by forming a non-Zionist Jewish group they could take the sting out of the JLM’s claim to represent all Jews.
But the JLM’s support derived, not from the ethno-religious make-up of its members but its support for Zionism. Playing off one identity against another would not overcome what was a political question.
Being a wholly Jewish group with a second class membership for non-Jews was politically wrong and did not avail them any because they were the ‘wrong sort of Jews.’ JVL’s belief that they could include Zionists in the ranks of Corbyn supporters was naïve at best.
Corbyn’s self-imprisonment meant that ‘despite JVL’s efforts, Corbyn effectively ignored the group while he was leader.’ (271)
In The Crucible, a nod to Arthur Miller’s play of the same name, Winstanley writes about Jackie Walker, one of the earliest victims of the witchhunt. Jackie was suspended twice.
The first time Jackie was suspended she wrote, during a private Facebook conversation, that, ‘I will never back anti-Semitism but neither am I a Zionist’. She spoke about her Jewish-African heritage:
I hope you feel the same towards the African holocaust? My ancestors were involved in both – on all sides… millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues to this day on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews and many Jews, my ancestors too, were (among) the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade… so who are the victims and what does it mean . We are victims and perpetrators, to some extent by choice. And having been a victim does not give you a right to be a perpetrator.’
On the basis of omitting, in an informal conversation, one word, ‘among’ she was pilloried as an anti-Semite by those whose sole agenda was propping up an apartheid state. So flimsy was the case against Jackie that even McNicol’s witchhunters quickly reinstated her. (see The lynching of Jackie Walker).
Jackie Walker speaking on the same platform as John McDonnell at the LRC’s TUC fringe meeting in Brighton
As I predicted, the JLM were determined to get a Black-Jewish anti-Zionist expelled. When John McDonnell spoke on the same platform as Jackie at a meeting during the TUC Congress, the JLM withdrew an invitation to him to speak at their LP conference meeting.
Free Speech on Israel picket of Momentum Executive Meeting at TSSA HQ which removed Jackie Walker as Vice-Chair of Momentum
The JLM’s agenda was clear and the soft Momentum left under Jon Lansman were willing to do the JLM’s bidding a second time around.
The pretext for Jackie’s suspension and later expulsion was a JLM training session on ‘anti-Semitism’ at which Katz, a political lobbyist for the privatised rail industry, expounded on why the IHRA, which conflated anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, was the only definition acceptable to the ‘Jewish community’ i.e. the Zionist lobby.
This was the kind of racist abuse that the Jewish Labour Movement encouraged
During the session Jackie said that she hadn’t found a definition of anti-Semitism that she could live with asking:
‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust Day was open to all peoples who experienced holocaust.’
Cue for Zionist outrage, fed by the national media. Corbyn and his coterie immediately capitulated and Jackie was suspended. Yet the website of the Holocaust Memorial Day only commemorates the Nazi Holocaust and ‘subsequent genocides’ not slavery.
Jackie Walker speaking on the same platform as John McDonnell at the LRC’s TUC fringe meeting in Brighton
Jackie was right yet the truth was lost in the hypocritical outrage of the former Hitler supporting Daily Mail and The Guardian. As a Black Jew, Jackie suffered from vile racism at the hands of the Zionists. No one, neither Corbyn or Lansman protested this racism because anti-Black racism was invisible. Black Jews are not accepted as real Jews by many Zionists or are treated as second class Jews.
The Zionists took a few words out of context and relied on Lansman and Owen Jones to do the rest. Jackie was from a well-known Jewish family in Jamaica who were fleeing persecution in Spain. But as with virtually all Europeans in the West Indies at the time, they were involved in the slave trade as financiers or slave owners. (173)
It wasn’t only Zionists who questioned Jackie’s Jewishness. Novara Media’s Aaron Bastani said that Walker ‘is as Jewish as I am. And I’m not Jewish.’ Guido Fawkes, the Tory blogger was happy to quote Bastani’s call for Walker’s suspension. As Winstanley noted even Mike Creighton, a long standing Blairite staff member described Walker’s suspension as ‘the weakest of the recent suspension.’
It wasn’t just Lansman, Jones and Bastani who were hostile to Walker. So too was the Jewish Socialists Group which only very reluctantly, after being publicly shamed, released a tepid statement of support, see Better Late than Never – Jewish Socialists Group Finally Supports Jackie Walker. David Rosenberg, its Secretary had criticised the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network for heckling the JLM at the 80th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Cable Street.
David Rosenberg backed up Zionists in JVL
Instead of treating the JLM as an Israeli surrogate, Rosenberg saw it as a legitimate Jewish organisation. The JSG also controlled the Jews for Jeremy Facebook group which removed those who criticised Corbyn’s surrender on ‘anti-Semitism’. This refusal to allow criticism of Corbyn ensured that his mistakes were never corrected.
I was removed from the Jewish Socialists Facebook group by Julia Bard for criticising one of their members, Jon Lansman! Others like Debbie Fink of J-Big, were also removed.
In an attempt to end the anti-Semitism crisis, Corbyn commissioned the Chakrabarti Report. But when, at its launch press conference, Black anti-racist activist Marc Wadsworth criticised Ruth Smeeth MP, who was working with Telegraph journalists, he was subject to a political lynching. Smeeth angrily walked out resulting in Marc’s expulsion in 2018. Smeeth gave evidence to Marc’s expulsion hearing accompanied by an all-White, KKK style march by Labour MPs.
Labour Against the Witchhunt [LAW]
Winstanley describes the refounding of LAW, which in the 1980s had Jeremy Corbyn as its Secretary. Now it fighting a witchhunt led by Corbyn. Winstanley compared it to the Salem witchhunt where
‘confessing to the sin of witchcraft meant you were damned by your own word. But pleading your innocence also condemned you to death.’
At Salem the only people who were hanged were those who denied their guilt. Those who confessed were spared. Denial of guilt was taken as proof of the accusation. The same was true in Labour’s witchhunt. ‘Denialism’ was itself proof of one’s guilt.
The JLM insisted that if they made an accusation of anti-Semitism then it had to be treated as true because it had come from Jews. When Lara McNeil, the youth representative on Labour’s NEC defended Corbyn from one particular accusation she was told by Izzy Lenga of the JLM, who had trained with the Israeli army, that McNeil had no right to disagree with the Jew JLM because ‘You’re not Jewish.’
Zionist accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ were entirely subjective and dependent solely on the perceptions of the ‘victim’. Of course this only applied to Zionist, not the ‘wrong sort’ of Jews!
Winstanley wrote that ‘marginalising anti-Zionist Jews has been a key goal of the Zionist movement from its outset.’ Jamie Stein-Werner, an academic researcher, observed that ‘virtually every allegation’ of anti-Semitism in 2017 concerned statements by Jews. When Michael Kalmanovitz of IJAN called for the expulsion of the JLM, the Guardian’s Zionist gatekeeper, Jonathan Freedland equated this to a call for the expulsion of all Jewish groups citing a right-wing Labour MP as saying the situation was ‘redolent of the 1930s.’ (204)
Winstanley recalls how Lansman used the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign to undermine any fightback. Lansman worked closely with the JLM and he attacked JVL as not being part of the Jewish community. (205) Momentum, set up to defend Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the LP, was now actively engaged in undermining him. In Brighton, as a member of the local Committee, I witnessed this at first hand.
BBC Panorama’s Is Labour Anti-Semitic?
The ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign reached its climax with the Panorama programme ‘Is Labour anti-Semitic’ presented by John Ware. The programme centred on Liverpool Riverside, the constituency of Louise Ellman MP. It contained an allegation that at the disciplinary hearing of a Jewish member, Helen Marks, her representative had asked investigator Ben Westerman, whether or not he was from Israel.
The interview was recorded so it was easy to disprove. Westerman had been asked which branch of the LP he was from. Despite this the BBC rejected all complaints and Ofcom refused to even investigate it. The British Establishment closed ranks behind a wall of lies. This notorious programme, which hadn’t had the honesty to even divulge that all the Jews who participated were officers of the JLM, was nominated by the BBC for a BAFTA award. (271-220)
The Turning Point
Winstanley described Margaret Hodge’s attack on Corbyn as ‘a fucking anti-Semite and a racist.’ in summer 2018 as the ‘turning point’. Disciplinary action was considered but who should ride to her rescue? John McDonell who proclaimed she ‘had a good heart.’ (245)
Thanks in part to the intervention of John McDonnell, Hodge remained unpunished. The Rubicon had been crossed. (247)
The summer of 2018 was an important milestone on the road to defeat. (231) It was the year of the ‘discovery’ of a 6 year old mural of bankers sitting on the heads of the oppressed. There was nothing obviously anti-Semitic about the mural but that didn’t stop Luciana Berger producing it like a rabbit out of a hat in order to undermine Labour’s local election campaign. 2018 was also the year that over 200 unarmed Palestinian demonstrators, including 50 children, were mowed down by Israeli sniper fire. Labour’s response was inaudible.
The Israeli Labor Party is irrelevant in Israeli politics, holding just 4 out of 120 seats in the Knesset. For 30 continuous years they formed the government of Israel. Today their main role is outside Israel, sanitising the far-Right in Israel using ‘anti-Semitism’ as their chosen weapon. As former leader Avi Gabbay made clear when cutting links with the LP, when it comes to violence against the Palestinians there isn’t a chink of light between them and Likud. (240)
I said to Chris Williamson at the LAW fringe meeting at the 2018 LP conference that the decision of Corbyn to oppose Open Selection of Labour MPs was the final nail in the coffin of the Corbyn Project.
In his concluding chapter Winstanley, in my view correctly, attributes to the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign the loss of credibility that Corbyn sustained. By repeatedly apologising he made himself seem weak and shifty rather than standing up for his previous beliefs:
Corbyn’s eventual embrace of the false ‘Labour anti-Semitism’ media narrative constituted a series of own goals and his embrace of the Jewish Labour Movement was politically suicidal… That the left-wing leader should actively support a group openly dedicated to his removal was an entirely avoidable mistake. The mass base never abandoned him but slowly, Corbyn seemed to abandon some of his supporters.’ (268-9)
Chris Williamson was the strongest supporter of Corbyn amongst MPs yet Formby, instead of defending Williamson’s right to show the film Witchhunt in parliament led the attack on him. It was alleged he had said, at a meeting of Sheffield Momentum, that the LP was doing too much to tackle anti-Semitism. What he actually said was:
The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party.
I have got to say I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic…
We’ve done more to actually address the scourge of anti-semitism than any other political party. Any other political party. And yet we are being traduced.
Williamson’s words were distorted into meaning their exact opposite. What he said was that the LP had backed off too much against the false allegations of anti-Semitism.
On 27 February 2019 Williamson was suspended by Formby for a “pattern of behaviour“. (259) When a Labour disciplinary panel reinstated him, there was uproar from the right. Instead of defending him Corbyn remained silent and Formby re-suspended him, which the High Court later held was unlawful.
Capitulation was nowhere more evident than in Corbyn’s willingness to allow his most dependable allies to be purged. (254)
‘He has got to go’ raged Lansman (259) and just in case they lost the case Formby suspended Williamson for a third time. Corbyn’s own General Secretary ended up doing the work of the Right
Formby, by now a discredited figure, warned local Labour Parties that resolutions opposing Williamson’s suspension were not ‘competent business’. When Corbyn was suspended this ruling was used by David Evans, Starmer’s General Secretary, to prevent any discussion.
The NEC in 2019 had proposed a ‘fast track’ expulsion procedure for the most ‘egregious’ examples of ‘anti-Semitism’. In practice it applied to everyone henceforth including, ironically, Corbyn himself.
The Corbyn Project had imploded. Corbyn’s promises to Williamson that he would support his reinstatement were untrue. Corbyn had jettisoned his last ally.
Corbyn’s abandoning friends like Chris Williamson were anything but honest. As Winstanley notes Corbyn was not a leader. He was well intentioned but incapable of fighting back against the right.
What Winstanley called ‘the greatest single moral failure of Corbyn’s leadership’ was his disavowal of a meeting that he chaired in 2010. John Ware Louise Ellman Helen Marks, her representative had asked investigator Ben Westerman, Margaret Hodge’s Avi Gabbay Hajo Meyer, an Auschwitz survivor, was the speaker. Hajo was an anti-Zionist who rejected the Zionist movement’s weaponisation of the Holocaust against Palestinians. This meeting was anything but anti-Semitic yet still Corbyn issued a toe-curling apology: (273)
I have on occasion appeared on platforms with people whose views I completely reject. I apologise for the concerns and anxiety that this has caused.
Why was Corbyn incapable of defending his previous beliefs? Winstanley quotes Steven Garside as saying that ‘his critique of Zionism is evidently far from internally consistent or rigorous.’ (274) I would go further. Corbyn supported the Palestinians but had never understood Zionism, the ideology that led to their dispossession.
In part this was intellectual laziness, a common trait on the Labour left. Corbyn supported the two state solution, which meant supporting a racist Jewish state. He never called Israel an apartheid state. His problem was that he was not an anti-Zionist.
This is why supporting the Palestinians solely on a human rights or ‘peace’ basis is insufficient. Zionism has to be opposed as the racist, ethnic cleansing settler-colonial ideology/movement that it is.
This is true not just of Corbyn but Palestine Solidarity Campaign [PSC] of which Corbyn was a patron. The cowardly refusal of PSC to oppose Zionism, believing that if you stand on a street corner and shout about human rights abuses then you don’t have to challenge the Jewish Supremacist ideology that causes these very same abuses, led to Corbyn’s inability to defend himself.
That was why, when PSC abandoned its opposition to Zionism in 2021 I resigned from the organisation I had helped found in 1982.
A ‘disinformation paradigm’
The Media Reform Coalition termed the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign a ‘disinformation paradigm’. It was led by the Guardian. From 2015 to 2019 the Guardian published 513 articles on Labour ‘anti-Semitism’ compared to 62 on Conservative anti-Semitism, despite Boris Johnson’s anti-Semitic 72 Virgins novel which spoke of Jewish magnates fixing elections, hook noses and the rest.
It was this that led Corbyn to treating LFI, as a friend. (277)
‘no matter how much Corbyn tried to pander, the Israel lobby always refused to take yes for an answer.’
Yet the intellectual and political mediocrities surrounding Corbyn never once worked this out. Where was Corbyn’s strategic director, Seamus Milne, a man who must have known better? Why did no one suggest a major speech on Anti-Semitism and Zionism early on when Corbyn could have made it explicit that although he opposed anti-Semitism he also opposed its weaponisation?
Corbyn’s failures were not simply ones of intellect but political strategy. He entered the leadership intend on appeasing the Right. That was the strategy of the whole Labour left, including Tony Benn.
The final denouement under Starmer was predictable. Starmer was responsible as DPP for the persecution of Julian Assange and for blocking the prosecution of MI6 over torture. But it was Corbyn who harboured this viper within his Shadow Cabinet and allowed him to dictate Labour’s disastrous strategy on Brexit.
Despite Corbyn’s commitment to a host of good causes, including Palestine, as leader he was prepared to jettison each and every one to please the right. Corbyn’s work for Assange today doesn’t excuse his failure to support him when he could have made a difference. Corbyn was betrayed by McDonnell, Lansman and Jones but Labour members and hundreds of thousands of trade unionists supported him.
As Bob Dylan wrote in ‘I Threw It All Away’
Once I had mountains in the palm of my hand
And rivers that ran through ev’ry day
I must have been mad
I never knew what I had
Until I threw it all away.
Corbyn’s failures were not the failure of one man but a Labour left that has always sought to reform capitalism rather than abolish it.
Asa Winstanley has generously acknowledged the fact that I proof read chapters 2 and 5.
I have just one minor criticism of the book. The ‘anti-Semitism’ witchhunt did not begin in Oxford. It was during the summer of 2015, even before Corbyn was elected, that the Daily Mail accused him of having associated with a holocaust denier Paul Eisen.
This was followed up with a campaign against the late Gerald Kaufman, a Jewish MP and self-declared Zionist, for having used the term ‘Jewish money’ a phrase commonly used by influential Jews. Kaufman was referring to the funds that Conservative Friends of Israel ploughed into the Tory party.
Kaufman made one of the outstanding speeches of all time to the House of Commons during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 2008/9. When he died the JC’s Marcus Dysch wrote an obituary ‘Gerald Kaufman: Jewish MP reviled by the community’. Hatred for Jews is part of the psychological make-up of Zionism.
Gerald Kaufman’s Speech to the House of Commons comparing Israeli killers to the Nazis