IT WAS the Right Honourable Sir Keir Rodney Starmer KCB QC MP’s hero, Harold Wilson, who said at the Labour conference on October 1, 1962, ‘This party is a moral crusade or it is nothing.’
Under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party became a pogrom.
Following the publication of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission’s report into anti-Semitism in the party, Corbyn supporters have been selectively quoting its findings as a way to minimise Labour’s problem and also to blame an anti-Corbyn faction. Corbyn started this bandwagon by denouncing the report in his usual vague style less than forty minutes after its public release. This earned him a suspension from the party. It has now been reversed.
Not even three weeks ago, I predicted this outcome when I stated ‘He will be investigated, and will probably come up with one of the excuses he always furnishes at times like these. His supporters might pack meetings to pass crucial votes. The party rulebook will be scrutinised. There may be a court case.’
Corbyn produced a statement ‘clarifying’ the statement that got him suspended. That statement used weasel words to make it seem he was retracted his previous statement, where he had said ‘the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media’, and ‘I do not accept all of its findings . . .’. There was no retraction. The Islington Weasel said that ‘concerns about anti-Semitism are neither “exaggerated” nor “overstated” . . . in accordance with my own lifelong convictions, [I] will do what I can to help the Party move on . . . ‘.
Both posts remain on Facebook, despite Corbyn being asked to delete the first one, and when he refused he was suspended. In the second post, he does not withdraw his assertion that anti-Semitism in Labour had been overstated, but instead talked about the ‘concerns’ about the problem. Also he is going to act according to his ‘lifelong convictions’, the ones that saw him happily share platforms with terrorists and racist anti-Semites. So no change there.
Corbyn using weasel words to get out of trouble is not new. He does it all the time, notably during the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into anti-Semitism, and it is only when he is repeatedly challenged that he will be backed into a corner. His demeanour changes from droning sloganeer to irritable codger. To date he has been cornered on television only three times, when challenged by Channel 4 News over his support for the Venezuelan regime during its violent crackdown on dissent, by Sky News over his wreath-laying in a cemetery for terrorists, and finally by Andrew Neil over his refusal to apologise to British Jews for Labour’s anti-Semitism on his watch.
It seems likely that Corbyn supporters in Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) voted to fast-track the creation of a panel to consider his case for lifting the suspension. It is also possible that the panel’s main consideration was for how long they should meet before unanimously rubber-stamping Corbyn’s readmission to make it look as if they had seriously looked into the matter. The answer was about four hours. It is interesting that while Corbyn was suspended and reinstated in less than three weeks, NEC member Peter Willsman, who was recorded blaming the Israeli Embassy and ‘Trump Supporters’ for Labour’s anti-Semitism woes, was suspended in May 2019 and his case does not seem to have been heard by a panel of any kind. So much for equality. Corbyn jumped the queue. Rank hath its privileges.
The queue-jumping may have also been because Baroness Shami Chakrabarti was helping organise a legal challenge to get Corbyn reinstated. Chakrabarti, author of the widely-condemned internal report that diluted the issue of anti-Semitism, clearly has no shame. It is curious that she does not seem to realise her political career is over, perhaps because in a post-Sir Keir Labour Party, it may not be.
Corbyn and his supporters ticked all the boxes.
The only saving grace in the whole sordid affair was Sir Keir stating that the whip remained withdrawn, which seems to be his only real power. However, given the record-breaking number of times Corbyn defied the whip when he had it, this is all but irrelevant. Sir Keir was obliged to act quickly because had he not, then every Labour MP, supporter or useful idiot who appeared on TV or radio would have been interrogated over Corbyn’s reinstatement, and Labour was having to pull politicians from programmes to avoid this. Imagine that, dear reader, broadcast media being entirely Labour-free. Ah, well . . .
Sir Keir remains the most inexperienced politician to be made Opposition leader for more than 100 years and it now really shows. The Corbynistas have run rings around him. The line that he drew over anti-Semitism when he became leader has been breached, as he admitted in his statement.
His assertion that the party is ‘under new management’ is false, his statement ‘that must mean establishing an independent complaints process as soon as possible in the New Year’ suggesting that Corbyn’s reinstatement was under the still-functioning old management.
While it is helpful that a political party is not run on a hierarchical leadership principle, it is clear that being Labour Party leader does not actually mean leading the party, which role is performed by the quasi-politburo of the NEC. Despite recent elections, when Momentum’s dominance was seemingly curtailed, Corbynism still thrives in the various subcommittees and continues to influence party decisions, such as reinstating a former leader after he has been unrepentantly anti-Semitic and refusing to accept responsibility.
When Sir Keir was elected, it was on a Corbynist platform of his ‘ten pledges‘, which he has yet to change. Corbynists voted Sir Keir in as they probably realised that Rebecca Long Bailey, for all her political reliability, was not potential Prime Minister material, thus prolonging Labour’s problem with women in leadership roles. While some Corbynists have since quit the party in protest, this may just be the irrational fanatical fringe.
It also seems increasingly clear that the Corbynistas can walk in and take over the Labour Party any time they want to. Sir Keir is just the useful idiot kept in place to gull the voters until they do. At present Labour is not Sir Keir’s party, and it is unlikely it will ever be so. Corbyn, hidden away like Fu Manchu, is still pulling the levers of party power.