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July 19, 2018

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Labour Party’s overt antisemitism on verge of trumping Brexit as main UK political issue

One issue in British politics that concerns us more than Brexit is the Labour Party’s anti-semitism, which is now on the verge of spinning out of control. While elections are not that easily brought about in a system that protects governments through a fixed-term parliaments act, nobody can rule out the possibility of a Brexit accident that might sweep Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street. At the moment Labour is leading the Tories in some of the polls. 

The latest outrage was a decision by the Labour Party to give itself its own definition of anti-semitism, and to drop the official definition of antisemitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which is used by the UK government and virtually every regional and local authority in the country. Under the official definition it is perfectly acceptable to criticise the politics of the Israeli government, but not as a proxy for a general condemnation of the Jewish people. Under the new Labour code it is ok to accuse Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel or to the jewry worldwide than to the interests of their own nations. David Rich writes in his article in the Guardian that 

“...this charge, that Jews cannot be trusted or must always be suspected of having a hidden agenda, is central to the old-fashioned, rightwing antisemitism that the Labour party claims to oppose.”

The IHRA code also declares Nazi comparisons as anti-semitic no matter what the specific motive, while the Labour Party qualifies that statement with the addendum that Nazi comparisons are in general fine unless anti-semitic intent is proven. 

We noted a tweet by Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, from yesterday:

“I'd be amazed if the discussion in most Jewish families this Friday night doesn't begin with whether we would be safe in the UK under a Corbyn government. This is what Corbyn's Labour has done. And don't for a moment tell me they don't know that.”

The Labour Party managed the unlikely feat to unite all the 68 rabbis in the UK from every religious stream, who co-signed a joint letter condemning the Labour Party’s decision to re-define anti-semitism. As Rich notes in his article many of the signatories are critics of the Israeli government, and do not easily make common causes. Many don’t even recognise each other as rabbis.

The reason for Labour’s redefinition of anti-semitism are clearly related to the party’s and Corbyn’s own anti-semitism. Among the hard left it has been commonplace to compare Israel to Nazi Germany. Margaret Hodge, a Jewish Labour MP, this week rose in the Commons to denounce Corbyn as a racist, and is now facing disciplinary action by the party. She wrote to the Guardian (the paper where most of the discussion on this issue is taking place) that Labour was

"so distrusted by the Jewish community, we are the last people on earth, at this time, who should think about amending a widely accepted definition of anti-Semitism."

Labour’s anti-semitism has been a lingering issue for some time, but this was mostly confined to Corbyn’s failure to discipline racist party activists and to allow an anti-semitic discourse to take hold.

We believe that Labour’s racism is likely to dominate Brexit as a discussion topic should there be an early election pitching Corbyn against Theresa May. It is also an issue that unites the Tory Party and that may make it hard, if not impossible, for the LibDems to form a coalition with Labour. If Labour were to lose an election, this is likely to be the most obvious reason.

Our other stories

We also have stories on Juncker's trip to the US and whether he will make any offers to Trump on trade; on Syriza's pre-electoral promises; on the French government's decision to suppress a public sector restructuring plan; on how intertwined the Sparkassen are with local German politics; on the new Hanseatic league as a driver for capital markets union; and on a truly mad ruling by the German constitutional court.

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