It has been a very sad day for the Labour Party. Not because seven MPs have resigned from the party – these things happen and I’m sure they will happen again. No the reason why is because a senior member of the Labour Party had to resign because she had been subjected to continual anti semitic abuse. I am sure there is room for some form of debate over whether certain things that have been said are or are not anti semitic but that really does miss the point. A woman has been driven out of a major political party because she is a Jew.
If this were any other organisation, let’s say the Police, then the Labour Party would rightly be demanding an enquiry as to why this has happened. The wilder fringes would have started concocted theories that may well fit their view of the world rather than the facts, such as they are. The organisation would have been trying to recover from this and their leader would have been on TV trying to undo some of the reputational damage caused by the headline ‘…Senior member of staff hound out by anti semitism…’ . Jeremy Corbyn’s response was somewhat light when addressing the accusation by Luciana Berger that she left because of what she described as institutionalised anti semitism.
Beyond the shame that any organisation should feel under these circumstances it is really bad politics. My son and his wife live in north London. The other Sunday we visited them and were held up on the Hendon Lane because of children attending the local synagogue – as with the school run their parents had insisted on dropping their kids off right at the door. So as we were waiting to get through this we noticed three security guards outside the building. We later passed another synagogue where again there were security staff at the gates. None of this was because of the Labour Party’s ability or otherwise to deal with anti semitism within its organisation but if I were a Jew and I heard Luciana Berger today then I may well start to join the dots. Which leads us to the Labour Party’s political problem.
The borough of Barnet has three Conservative MPs. None of the constituencies are safe seats:
Result from 2017 General Election
They are all Conservative/Labour marginals and so are exactly the seats that Labour needs to win if they have any hope of progressing beyond their 2017 number of MPs. All of the seats have a significant Jewish population. So you have to ask yourself will claims that the Labour Party is anti semitic help or hinder their attempts to win any of these very winnable seats? I think it is best described as a sub optimal problem.
Now it is fair for the Labour Party to attack the seven MPs for leaving the party for political reasons. I have seen them described as Tories and good riddance to them which again is part of the political rough and tumble which I don’t think is unfair. Politics is a rough game and if you can’t take the knocks then you really should look for a different pursuit. As things stand at the moment I suspect there break today will not really count for much other than to probably allow political scientist PhD candidate to fill a chapter in their thesis .
Now anyone reading this might suggest that what I’m saying is outside the current Labour Party. Perhaps that is so but I before you jump to that conclusion listen to what Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party, has to say about the matter:
I guess it is too much ask that the leader of the Labour Party make a similar address and in some way try to alleviate the damage being done to a once great political institution. An institution that has probably done more to improve the lot of the average person in Britain than any other . This whole problem gives the Tories a free pass because I have no doubt that anything Labour supporters can do the wilder fringes of the right wing can equal. Unfortunately, the Labour Party can no longer stand up against such oppression and in the end that is possibly one of the greatest losses from today.