Friday 30 October 2020

Labour: tackling the symptom but not the disease

This week Labour have - inevitably - suspended Jeremy Corbyn over what from the brief reports I have seen seems to be consistent and persistent enabling of anti-Semitic bullying, harassment and conspiracy theory promotion within the Labour Party.

I've seen people talking about it at a couple of levels.

At the level of setting distance in the public eye from the massively losing 2019 campaign it is a little bit of a "Militant" Kinnockish moment, albeit probably not enough when the average voter is still far more focused on COVID. And it's, so that logic goes, a great move by the new leader to separate himself from the old leader. He's manouvred Corbyn skilfully into being removed.

At another level some people are talking about how it was not an intentional move and that Starmer did not want to remove Corbyn because of the internal fighting it will prompt.

And then those who cannot deviate from the Momentum party line, the denialism. Being in the Labour party and being loyal to the cult of Corbyn means that he cannot have done anything wrong.

What I'm not seeing people talk about is how Corbyn is - while only too happy to be lifted to power by bigots and to defend their freedom to bully and hate - not actually the whole of the problem.

Because of which, suspending or expelling him will not address the problem in any depth.

The thing is that because the Labour rank-and-file does not see the kind of human rights enshrined in the Equality Act as inherent and inalienable, it sees respect for difference as something that should only be extended to those who are compliant and submissive to the cult of the party.

Anti-Semitism against people inside the party who dissent, or against anyone outside the party whether to the right of Labour and Momentum in the Tories and Brexit or to the left of them in the Liberals and the Greens is, from most Labour members' perspective, fine. Deserved. If you want to call them names, threaten or intimidate, throw a brick through their window, key their car or whatever... a-okay. They aren't compliant to the cult and so they do not qualify for human rights, from the Labour perspective.  It has been going on for many years - long before Corbyn's rise - and anyone who pays any attention to politics knows this well. 

Just briefly this is being thrown into the public eye.

But it doesn't stop there. Labour is not just a proudly anti-Semitic party that endorses anti-Semitism and has done for years. It also has those values for other racisms, for other religious hate, for homophobia and for biphobia, for transphobia, for sexism, for hating on people for being disabled.

And therein lies the problem with the tightly defined investigation Labour has faced. Removing Corbyn will not even lance the boil of anti-Semitism and yet it leaves all the other systemic prejudices that Labour helps promote in society. And as long as they remain our politics will remain just as toxic as the near-identical political culture MAGA has sculpted across the pond.

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