Archive for the 'Antisemitism' Category

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On Betfair punters make it a 20% chance that Corbyn won’t last the year

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Corbyn’s constant changes of his story have made matters worse

One betting market which we’ve never reported on has been the Betfair’s year of Corbyn’s departure. This isn’t so surprising for following his reelection by a whopping margin 2 years ago the Labour leader has looked totally secure. This of course has been helped by the overwhelming support he appears to have from the membership and there has been virtually nothing his detractors can do to shift him.

That might be changing because of the manner that he and his team have dealt with the Daily Mail revelations about what he did in the Tunis Cemetery 4 years ago.

The current explosion in news coverage on this should have come as no surprise to Corbyn and his team. This has been known about ever since he wrote in the Morning Star about his visit in 2014 when he was not Labour leader and probably never even had any thought that stage that such a position would be possible.

During the GE2017 campaign the Tory attack dog and then cabinet minister, Michael Fallon, sought to highlight what top Corbyn and done during his Tunis visit but the story did not seem to have legs. That, however, you should have been a warning to Labour’s press team and Corbyn himself that it could blow up again. For that Morning Star column made clear that he was doing more in the cemetery than just honouring those who had been killed in the Israeli air raid.

So why oh why was the first reaction from the party that the visit had been confined to the air raid victims?

What’s giving this legs this time has been the photographs from 2014 which have been available on the internet all this time. It becomes very difficult stating that you don’t think you laid a wreath when there is a picture of you doing it. So the story changed to the now ridiculed quote on the Metro front page above.

My guess is that he’ll still be there at the end of the year but the chances of him not making it have risen. I’m on at 7.4 on Betfair. This is currently 5.

Mike Smithson




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YouGov finds that just half of those who voted LAB at GE2017 choose Corbyn as “Best PM”

Friday, August 10th, 2018

The detailed data from the latest YouGov Times poll shows that when asked just 50% those sampled who voted Labour at the last election chose Corbyn in response to who would make the Best PM.

This is the worst polling for the LAB leader since the election and has Corbyn showing the same sorts of ratings from past party voters as Ed Miliband was getting ahead of GE2015.

This is all a long way from the post-GE2017 polling when Corbyn’s support on this question amongst who had voted for the party was touching 80%.

It comes at a time when his leadership has been under sharp scrutiny over the bespoke antisemitism policy that has caused so much anger in the Jewish communities and amongst Corbyn’s own MPs.

The strongest thing in Corbyn’s favour at the moment is that his supporters control just about all the lvers of power within the party and of course he continues to have the strong backing of members.

He isn’t going anywhere and it is hard to see him and close adviser, Seumus Milne climbing down on the definition of antisemitism.

Mike Smithson




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Analysing the weekend’s extraordinary Twitter storm targeting LAB Deputy Leader, Tom Watson

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

One cultist alone sent 613 Tweets

There’s a great analysis published overnight on the tech site, GizmodoUK on the extraordinary effort over the weekend against Labour’s elected deputy leader, Tom Watson.

This is from the site’s analysis:

“In the hour from 7pm-8pm, including retweets, 29,844 #ResignWatson tweets were sent. Excluding retweets, there was 6149 unique tweets sent in the space of an hour.

Over the course of the entire 32-ish hour timeframe that the hashtag existed, 89,373 tweets were sent including retweets, or 74,745 once you exclude retweets.

What’s perhaps important though is the number of unique people using the hashtag: For slightly misleading context, as of January 2018, Labour reportedly had around 552,000 members.

According to our research, this tweetstorm involved 12,195 unique twitter accounts which seems… actually quite impressive. Though to be clear and tediously reiterate again, there are an absolute shedloads of health warning on comparing these two numbers: Namely that there’s no way to know how many people using the hashtag are members (Corbyn does appear to have significant support on even further left, among people who are members of the various Communist parties and the like). And of course, as previously noted, some tweets on the hashtag were supportive or neutral of Watson. So measuring the depth of feeling is pretty much impossible…”

This is how it broke down by the hour – chart from Gizmodo.

Inevitably, Russian bots became involved.

The fact that this can be achieved so quickly is now part of the social media world in which we live. So far Mr. Watson remains and as I pointed out yesterday he was elected in a members’ ballot and has a personal mandate. There is very little that Corbynistas can do about it.

The great thing is that it is possible to carry out analysis like this which allows us to put it into context.

Mike Smithson




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Signs that Team Corbyn is stepping back from the brink on antisemitism

Monday, August 6th, 2018

It was ridiculous that action was brought in the first place

Mike Smithson




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Sean Fear looks back to the Jewish boys during his school-days and wonders just what has happened to LABOUR

Saturday, August 4th, 2018

The row that just won’t go away

Between the ages of 11 and 18, I went to University College School in Hampstead. UCS was founded by Jeremy Bentham in the early nineteenth century. Jeremy Bentham is probably most famous today for having had his body embalmed and placed in a display cabinet at University College London. It used to be a tradition for students at other London colleges to steal the body and carry it off as a trophy.

Bentham was an agnostic. As a result, UCS was and remains non-religious in nature, unlike the large majority of private schools at the time. As a result, from the late nineteenth century onwards, it attracted a large Jewish intake, at a time when some other private schools either barred Jews completely, or else operated an informal quota system to limit their numbers. It remains the case today that many boys are Jews. When I was there, they probably made up about a third of the pupils.

Although some were religious, the majority were secular Jews. Their parents tended to be intellectuals, such as writers, artists, journalists, university lecturers, and they were predominantly Labour-supporting (Labour comfortably won UCS when we held a mock election in 1983). To them, supporting the British Labour Party was as natural as supporting its Israeli counterpart, and spending the Summer holidays at a kibbutz.

I often think of them, now, and wonder what they make of the modern Labour Party. One of them, Jonathan Freedland, has written at length of his despair at Labour’s behaviour and I’m sure he’s representative of the opinions of this group. What they must feel is not just anger at what is happening, but a real sense of betrayal that the party they strongly identified with now contains people who hate them, and whose behaviour is tolerated by the party leadership.

Ten years ago, if someone had told me that a political party contained activists who praised Hitler , accused Jews of drinking the blood of children , branded the holocaust a hoax, insisted that Hitler was a Zionist told Jews to get out of the country or claimed that it was up to the Jews to mend fences with such a party, I would have assumed that the party in question was the British National Party. Although I have never been a Labour supporter, it would never have crossed my mind that such views would be expressed by some of its members.

Many people on the left (including many of the people I was at school with) are very critical of the Israeli government, and sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians. But, it is surely not hard to express such criticism without having to resort to the sorts of arguments that are expressed on websites like Stormfront. In general, mainstream socialists have agreed with August Babel that “anti-semitism is the socialism of fools”, and for many years, Labour was the party of choice for British Jews.

Mainstream socialists and social democrats detest anti-semitism, but it is rife on the extreme left. Anti-semitism is an unusual form of racism in that is based on envy, rather than contempt. Jews tend to be successful, and the extreme left, by and large, hates successful people. Unfortunately, many of the people who have joined Labour since 2015 are on the extreme left, rather than being mainstream socialists.

Never having supported Labour, I don’t share the same sense of betrayal that many of my classmates must do. It’s more that I’m just baffled at seeing beliefs that were, until recently, limited to the lunatic fringe, now becoming almost mainstream.

Sean Fear



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A second Jewish LAB MP who has dared to criticise Team Corbyn on antisemitism faces party discipline

Sunday, July 29th, 2018

Meanwhile the latest Tweet that’s doing the rounds

This could play out very badly

After disciplinary steps were taken first LAB MP critic of the party’s antisemitism approach, Dame Margaret Hodge, there’s now news that another outspoken critic of the leadership, Ian Austin, is also to face action from the party.

What this does, of course, is keep the row in the public eye and create the impression of a divided party. It suggests that Team Corbyn’s answer to the crisis is get get tough on the internal critics in the party in the hope that this will eventually quieten down. Maybe it will but there’s a big chance that it won’t.

It is noticeable how at recent PMQs TMay has used the row to attack Corbyn and we should expect more of that. It gives the beleaguered Tory leader a peg to raise questions over Corbyn’s whole political background something that failed to resonate during the GE2017 campaign.

Clearly it is in TMay’s interest at this time to portray in Corbyn in the most negative light. The threat of him becoming PM is the main plank of her team’s efforts to maintain the semblance of party discipline during the Brexit split. You can expect a lot more of this in her conference speech.

    Uniting the blue team against the threat of a Corbyn government is made much easier if the actions of the LAB leadership itself provide the material.

It is noticeable that LAB’s lead in the polls has appeared to evaporate and the latest ones from YouGov and Ipsos in the past week both have CON and LAB level pegging on 38% each.

Mike Smithson




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Ultimately there has to be a compromise in LAB’s antisemitism row or else the party could split

Friday, July 27th, 2018

Neither side appears ready give way

It is now more than four months since Labour’s anti-semitism row hit the headlines following publication of a 2012 tweet from Mr Corbyn in which he seemed to be referring approvingly to what was clearly an anti-semitic mural.

That provoked the widely publicised demonstration of MPs opposed to the leadership’s handling of the situation, outside the Palace of Westminster.

Since then the divide has got deeper and deeper with the NEC wanting to narrow the definition of anti-semitism which provoked the main Jewish newspapers in the country to print a joint editorial attacking Labour. It was said that “A Corbyn government would be a threat to Jewish life”.

The situation has been exacerbated by the the confrontation between long-standing Labour MP, Dame Margaret Hodge, and Corbyn for which former is now facing disciplinary proceedings.

His party’s MPs are seeking to take a different stance on the definition from the leadership and this is set to come to a head in September.

    What makes this so problematical for LAB is that fighting anything linked to Israel goes to the very heart of Corbyn’s politics over many decades because it is seen as a creation of the hated United States.

So while there are human rights abuses in many parts of the world the one that disproportionately gets singled out is Israel and many on the left want the freedom to attack it.

So at a time when LAB should be able to exploit the huge splits within the Conservative Party on Brexit it finds itself having to deal with this one which is taking all the focus away.

Currently a number of leading figures around Corbyn appear to be seeking to get him to take a softer line. John McDonnell is in that camp as is the shadow minister Rebecca Long-Bailey but Corbyn and Seumus Milne are holding firm.

I thought this comment from ydoethur on a thread yesterday summed things up right.

“Whether Labour are just being incredibly careless and complacent or whether Corbyn really is a closet Nazi, it is quite clear that this goes way, way beyond Livingstone making stupid remarks on Zionism or a shadow equalities minister calling for ethnic cleansing. This is now a systemic issue that implicates the entire Labour movement.

And unfortunately for Labour it has come (1) at the moment people are fed up with Brexit and (2) at the start of the silly season when the papers are looking for stuff to fill column inches.

I’ve been told before that there are not many Jews in this country. That is of course true. But if people get it in their heads that Labour are racist (and potentially criminals in light of other events) it’s going to hurt them badly.

Lawyers are now getting involved and it is hard to see the Hodge faction giving ground. The question is whether Corbyn/Milne are ready to give ground. If they don’t the consequences could be real for not just the party but for the whole of British politics.

Mike Smithson




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While the Tories tear themselves apart on Brexit LAB’s new antisemitism policy threatens a divide between the NEC and the party at Westminster

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

There’s a new poll from YouGov out this morning which has Labour’s lead down to just 1% if BoJo was CON leader.

This coincides with the renewed row within Corbyn’s Labour over anti-semitism following the decision of the party’s national executive committee to trim down the widely regarded definition of what anti-semitism is.

This was brought to a head a couple of days ago in the Commons in a widely reported spat between the long-standing Labour MP, Margaret Hodge, and the leader in which four letter words were said to have been used. Mrs Hodge has been threatened with disciplinary action as a result.

Now this has taken on a new dimension according to reports in this mornings Observer which suggest that Labour MPs and Labour peers are planning to change the rules of their bodies at Westminster to specifically incorporate the wider definition of anti-Semitism.

If this went through it would mean a very formal and public split between the official party and the parliamentary parties which would very much be one in the eye for Mr Corbyn.

    It is hard to see how the NEC could stand by and allow such an act of public defiance from the party’s MPs and peers.

All this means is that this row is going to rumble on and the longer it is making the headlines the more it is going to hurt the party. As has been widely observed over the years voters do not like parties that are split.

At least the Conservative splits appear to have an end date – March 29 next year when the article 50 process terminates and Britain should officially be out of the EU.

While all of this is going on the Sunday Times is reporting this morning that the reason Lib Dem leader Vince Cable missed a crucial vote earlier in the week was because he was attending a meeting about setting up another centre party.

Watch this space.

Mike Smithson