On February 27th, Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) issued the following statement in support of Labour MP Chris Williamson.
We are shocked at the suspension from the Labour Party of Derby North MP Chris Williamson, despite his apology.
As a Jewish organisation we condemn antisemitism unreservedly. And, of course, we support robust measures to deal with any instances.
Like Chris Williamson we stand in a long tradition of opposition to all forms of racism, including antisemitism. We support the statement in which he apologised to anyone hurt by his words. But we agree with him that the number of instances of antisemitism in the Labour Party, though small relative to its size, is still too high. Any antisemite in the Party is one too many.
Williamson based his statement on the official statistics published by the General Secretary of the Party, Jennie Formby. They confirm that over the last 10 months complaints received led to 453 cases being investigated for antisemitism. This represents 1/12th of 1% of the membership. There is no wave of antisemitism in the Party.
The existence of antisemitism in the Party, as everywhere in society, is not in doubt. It needs to be contested, and the Party’s beefed up disciplinary processes are doing just that. But these figures, and the experience of the hundreds of our Jewish members in the Labour Party, give the lie to the false narrative that the Party is rife with antisemitism. Such a description bears no resemblance to reality.
The flood of exaggerated claims of antisemitism make it harder to deal with any real instances of antisemitism. The credibility of well-founded allegations is undermined by the less credible ones and real perpetrators are more likely not to be held to account. Crying wolf is dangerous when there are real wolves around the corner.
This was the reality that Chris Williamson was drawing attention to. His suspension from the party is unjust and should be rescinded.
Click here to read the statement on the JVL website
In Summary: the truth behind the stats [on cases of antisemitism in the Labour Party]
On February 24th, Labour Briefing published an article by Glyn Secker, secretary of Jewish Voice for Labour, and Dr Alan Maddison, a solidarity member, that looked into the data recently released by General Secretary of the Labour Party, Jennie Formby. The article is reproduced in full below.
FROM THE MOMENT Jeremy Corbyn emerged as leader of the Labour Party a barrage of allegations of antisemitism was levelled at him and the party. These allegations have tarnished the party’s image and deflected it from promoting its core programme of anti-austerity and redistribution of wealth.
Representing several hundred Jewish members of the party, Jewish Voice for Labour from the very start challenged the existence of this antisemitic wave. Never denying for a moment the existence of serious, isolated expressions of antisemitism, none of us – many with decades of party membership – experienced anything at all resembling such undercurrents. Why was Labour singled out for such interrogation, and was antisemitism really more prevalent in the party than elsewhere?
The wave of allegations swamped the party machinery. After Jennie Formby became General Secretary, the implementation of some of the Chakrabarti recommendations and expansion of staffing levels, it is clear that this wave of reported allegations is being managed promptly, with only 24 cases outstanding.
And a clear picture has finally emerged. Jennie Formby’s data confirms that the grounds for the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and Labour have indeed been grossly exaggerated, and in some cases fabricated. Over the last ten months there were:
» 1,106 referrals of antisemitism allegations;
» 433 of these had nothing to do with party members, leaving 673 to be investigated;
» 220 of these were dismissed entirely for lack of evidence;
» this left 453 cases;
» 453 is 0.08% of the party’s 540,000 members – that’s about 1/12th of 1%;
» 96 of these resulted in suspensions – that’s 0.01%, or 1/100th of 1% of members;
» there were twelve expulsions – that’s 0.002%, or 1/500th of 1% of members!
By no stretch of the imagination can a 0.08% incidence support the claim of a ‘”rampant problem in Labour”. Of course, even one case of antisemitism is one too many. But these are vanishingly small statistics, especially when you consider that 2-5% of the general population are considered to be antisemitic.
This is not a wave, it is not even a ripple. In nautical terms it’s almost a dead flat calm.
Furthermore, there is no record of the thousands of abusive messages MPs like Ruth Smeeth claimed to have received, alleging most emanated from the Labour Party. The source of these might well have been traced to the ten fake twitter accounts masquerading as Labour Party members, unmasked by journalist Asa Winstanley. But to our knowledge, such numbers have never been submitted for investigation.
Margaret Hodge MP was informed by Jennie Formby that of the 200 dossiers of cases of antisemitism she had submitted, only 20 were found to be by Labour Party members. In other words, her allegations of antisemitism in the party had been exaggerated tenfold. And single handedly she accounted for approaching one fifth of all referrals.
Headlines proclaiming there was “no safe place for Jews in Corbyn’s Labour”, or that Labour needed, in the words of Marie van de Zyl, when vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, to “drain the cesspit of antisemitism”, have been shown to be contradicted by the evidence.
When the Shami Chakrabarti inquiry was presented we learned that there was no evidence of widespread antisemitism in Labour, but there were some offensive comments often borne out of ignorance. In cases such as these 146 written warnings were issued.
If the facts are at such odds with the accounts of leading politicians and mainstream media, there can be only one explanation – these accounts are driven by ulterior political agendas. Other forms of racism, for which manifestations in the UK are 70 times more prevalent than those for antisemitism, barely get a mention.
At the last election Labour fell short of becoming the government by a few percentage points. The next election is predicted to be as close. The damage to the party inflicted by the allegations of antisemitism is calculated to impact on this tipping point – to keep the party out of office. Ironically, the Labour Party is the only party in western Europe which has both the programme and the potential to govern, and thus the power to address the economic and political causes of the very real rise of fascism across Europe. The stakes couldn’t be higher!
Click here to find the original article entitled “Labour antisemitism: the Truth Behind the Stats” written by Glyn Secker and Alan Maddison published by Labour Briefing.
And here to read the same article with a brief introduction on the JVL website.
Additional: The Boris Johnson Supporters’ Group
While every fresh accusation of Labour Party antisemitism makes headline news, our media shows a deplorable lack of interest when it comes to reports of racism within the Conservative Party. The following extract is part of a report published today by Evolve Politics about The Boris Johnson Supporters’ Group on facebook:
The group appears to have been ostensibly set up to support the current Tory MP and former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, in his bid to become the leader of the Conservative Party.
However, a huge amount of the posts use unashamedly racist, far-right language – especially ones lambasting immigration, refugees, minorities, and in particular, Muslims.
Amongst the disgustingly racist posts and comments that the Tory-led administration team have failed to remove, and in some cases even endorsed, are:
At least 7 comments that describe Muslims and immigrants as “ragheads”
There is also a comment that describes BAME people as “wogs“; another telling a black British soldier to “p**s off back to Africa”; another telling an EU immigrant to “f**k off back to Poland”; a comment directed to Bradford-born Labour MP Naz Shah telling her to “p**s off to [her] own country”; another that describes London Major Sadiq Khan as a “conniving little muzrat”; one comment calls black Labour MPs Diane Abbott and Dawn Butler “monkeys”; another says black former Labour MP, Fiona Onasanya, should be “put on a banana boat back home”; there is a joke about bombing mosques; numerous jokes about shooting immigrants and their families; and lastly, numerous posts spreading white-genocide conspiracy theories.
I shall not include any images of these facebook posts, however they can be found embedded in the original article.
The most incriminating revelation is that one of the people running ‘The Boris Johnson Supporters’ Group’ is a serving Conservative Party councillor:
Among the people running the Boris Johnson: Supporters’ Group are a current, serving Tory Councillor in Wellingborough, Martyn York (Moderator), and a failed Conservative Party Council candidate in Newcastle Under Lyme, Dorinda Bailey (Administrator).
Click here to read the full article entitled entitled “Tory Politicians are running a VILE Facebook Group where members joke about BOMBING MOSQUES and SHOOTING IMMIGRANTS” written by Tom D. Rogers published on March 1st by Evolve Politics.
Back in June 2018, former Conservative co-Chair Baroness Warsi gave an exclusive interview to Business Insider in which she accused the party leadership of ignoring “widespread” Islamophobia, and of deliberately stirring up anti-Muslim hatred to win elections. She told Business Insider:
[T]he “poison” of Islamophobia had now affected all levels of the party.
“It’s very widespread [in the Conservative party]. It exists right from the grassroots, all the way up to the top.”
“It has been a classic case of ‘we’re not racist — we like brown people but we like this kind of brown people as opposed to this kind of brown people.”
“It’s saying ‘these are the acceptable brown people and those are the unacceptable brown people’ and I think that is really dangerous.”
The article continues:
She cited the example of the 2016 London mayoral election where the party was condemned for targeting Hindu voters with leaflets suggesting that the Labour candidate Sadiq Khan, who is a Muslim, was attempting to take away their jewellery.
“We specifically went out for Hindu voters saying Sadiq’s after your jewellery and I love Modi and by the way, Sadiq is an extremist. It was really amateur dog whistle politics,” Warsi told BI.
Click here to read the full article entitled “The Islamophobia scandal in the Conservative party goes ‘right to the top’” written by Adam Bienkov, published by Business Insider on June 11th, 2018.
On March 2nd, the Guardian published an article by Miqdaad Versi in which he details “A litany of unpunished bigotry by [Conservative] MPs”. Here is an excerpt:
An unbelievable 42% of Tory voters have a positive view of the way Yaxley-Lennon [aka Tommy Robinson] highlights issues ignored by the media (compared with 18% of Labour voters).
One might have assumed that such a positive view about a widely reviled and hateful figure would not have any place in a modern Conservative party membership.
But the problem seems to be far worse.
The Conservative MP Bob Blackman retweeted an anti-Muslim post from Tommy Robinson, yet he did not even get a slap on the wrist from the party. In fact, depite having subsequently hosted anti-Muslim extremist in parliament (Tapan Ghosh), shared an Islamophobic story on Facebook, and been found as a member of a number of Islamophobic social-media groups, the party seems to have no real concern and the prime minister even chose to campaign with him.
He’s not alone. Conservative MP Nadine Dorries shared a tweet from Tommy Robinson before using far-right tropes against Sadiq Khan, Yasmine Alibhai-Brown and Muslims more generally and – despite being personally against same-sex marriage – weaponised gay rights to attack Muslims. Unlike Blackman, she didn’t even apologise once she was found out.
And I could go on – whether it is Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell’s Facebook account being found to have joined a “Free Tommy” group, or Conservative MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson meeting Steve Bannon, who famously praised Tommy Robinson as representing the working class. Johnson’s burqa comments have led to many claiming that he is using Islamophobia as part of a populist, Trump-like appeal to anti-Muslims in the party.
Click here to read the full article entitled “The Tories’ response to raging Islamophobia? Turn a blind eye” written by Miqdaad Versi, published in the Guardian on March 2nd.