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Jeremy and Shami can’t both be right – one of them must go


No one can have missed Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-Semitic shaming after it surfaced that he questioned a London council’s decision to destroy a mural which depicted a group of Jewish bankers counting money on the backs of ethnic minorities and that, allegedly, he’s belonged to three anti-Semitic Facebook groups.

His excuse that he hadn’t looked at the image – a cry of ignorance which echoes through the Left whenever they are found doing anything wrong – hasn’t gone down well.

Members of his own party branded it totally inadequate. It brought him a severe reprimand from the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council. Enough was enough.

Only then, with a major Parliament Square demonstration in prospect, did Mr Corbyn finally issue a mea culpa. Only then did he seek an ‘urgent meeting’ with Jewish leaders to discuss their concerns about the rise of anti-Semitism within his party.

Action came only when the stream of allegations about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party finally landed on Mr Corbyn’s own doorstep. For Labour’s discovery that it is riddled with racist anti-Semites is hardly new It led Mr Corbyn in May 2016 to commission an ‘independent’ inquiry by civil liberties poster-girl Shami Chakrabarti, it has been argued in an effort to kill the revelations before the upcoming elections.

Labour MP Naz Shah’s Facebook posts were one of the catalysts. The MP for Bradford, then a member of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee (which, ironically, was conducting an inquiry into the rise of anti-Semitism at the time), had shared a post which showed a picture of Israel superimposed over the United States, with the approving comment: ‘Problem solved and save you bank charges for the £3bn you transfer yearly’.

In comments below, Shah said she would tweet Barack Obama and David Cameron with the suggestion [that getting rid of Israel this way] would ‘save them some pocket money’.

Shah, then parliamentary private secretary to the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, apologised only for further posts to emerge in which she compared Israel to the Nazis saying, ‘the Jews are rallying’.

Shami Chakrabarti’s report, which took her just two months to complete, concluded that anti-Semitism and other types of racism were not endemic within Labour, and that there was only an ‘occasionally toxic atmosphere’.

All of its generalised twenty recommendations were made with studious avoidance of any admission there was a problem within Labour

It was dismissed as amateurish and deceitful.

Chakrabarti, having completed this convenient whitewash for Mr Corbyn, then decided to join the Labour Party. Within weeks the leader had elevated her to the House of Lords, the only Labour peer created in that period.

Condemnation was swift and widespread. With just one Lords appointment, Corbyn undermined any remaining credibility of his anti-Semitism inquiry.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews criticised the decision. Marie van der Zyl, its vice-president, said: ‘It is beyond disappointing that Shami Chakrabarti has been offered, and accepted, a peerage from Labour following her so-called “independent” inquiry.

‘The report, which was weak in several areas, now seems to have been rewarded with an honour. This “whitewash for peerages” is a scandal that surely raises serious questions about the integrity of Ms Chakrabarti, her inquiry and the Labour leadership.’

Nor did the Home Affairs Select Committee report published in October 2016 make for happy reading for Mr Corbyn:

The Chakrabarti Report is ultimately compromised by its failure to deliver a comprehensive set of recommendations, to provide a definition of anti-Semitism, or to suggest effective ways of dealing with anti-Semitism.

How could it though, by its very nature, provide a comprehensive set of recommendations to address something it said did not actually exist?

Now, nearly two years later, Corbyn has grudgingly admitted that, after all, there are ‘pockets’ of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

In an admission that is in direct opposition to Chakrabarti’s ‘occasional toxic atmosphere’ conclusion he’s acknowledged that anti-Jewish prejudice had surfaced within Labour and it had been wrong for some people to dismiss it ‘as a matter of a few bad apples‘.

The two positions are irreconcilable. If Chakrabarti is right then there is no anti-Semitism in Labour, and Corbyn is simply being manipulated by public pressure. If Corbyn’s latest admissions are to be believed then he was at best mistaken, and at worst lied, when he defended Chakrabarti against allegations of a whitewash report – which it now clearly appears to be.

So who is right? And who is to step down? The whitewashing Shami? Or the new ‘militant opponent of anti-Semitism’, as he claims he now is on his Twitter feed?

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Melanie Platt
Melanie Platt
Melanie Platt worked at the Home Office as a Higher Executive Officer.

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