BBC REVEALS: HOLOCAUST PROMOTERS IN LABOUR PARTY
The BBC Panorama documentary on antisemitism within the British Labour party — broadcast on July 10 — had a number of major merits. It exposed many unknown details of Jew-hatred within the party. The documentary gave much new information about one of the important aspects of Labour antisemitism, “smokescreening.” It also revealed that some members of the Labour party are Holocaust promoters. One former staffer interviewed said that she was regularly told: “Hitler was right” and “Hitler did not go far enough.”1
Smokescreening methods include claiming that one takes determined action to solve a problem while doing so only partly. This characterizes a number of individuals who hold senior positions within the Labour party. They do not say: “We protect antisemites whom we consider valuable to the party.” In fact however that is what they do.
Jeremy Corbyn is a “super-smokescreener.” He has on many occasions said that his party will stamp out antisemitism. While criticizing the Panorama documentary he did so again, saying: “Antisemitism is a poison, it is vile, it is wrong… “It is a poison in our society and any other society … It is not acceptable in any form.”2
Labour Secretary general Jennie Formby titled a detailed article in February this year: “Eliminate the evil of antisemitism from our movement that is my mission.“3 One of the former Labour staffers said in the documentary that Formby’s claim of prioritizing the dealing with antisemitism was “a joke.“4 Another former staffer who dealt with complaints said that interference from Labour’s head office in the procedures was so major, that he considered committing suicide. He had planned to do so by jumping from Formby’s office balcony.5
Initially, this BBC documentary was officially available for worldwide viewership. However, a few days after airing, BBC limited viewership to the UK. The documentary is however available on-line, where it has been uploaded by an alternative source.6
It is important to realize that the Panorama documentary was not a full and concise exposè of the key aspects of antisemitism in the Labour party. Therefore, these are mentioned here. The main issue is the role of Corbyn, a terrorist sympathizer and selfdefined “antiracist.” He has called representatives of Hezbollah and Hamas his “brothers” and “friends.” Corbyn has also made donations to a Holocaust denier and welcomed another. He is a long-term anti-Israel inciter and a part-time antisemite.7 8
The documentary made it clear that Corbyn’s arrival as party leader in September 2015 greatly encouraged antisemites in Labour to go public. A staffer said that before the current leaders’ arrival, complaints about antisemitism were very limited. In a reaction to the program another former staffer, who did not appear on it, said that in an average week there were dozens if not hundreds of complaints.9
Analyzing the key elements of the explosion of the Labour antisemitism problem, attention should also be given to the indirect role of Corbyn’s predecessor. Ed Miliband made Corbyn’s ascension as leader possible. He instituted a policy that supporters paying only £3 (about USD$4) could vote in the Labour leadership contest.10 In the documentary, Corbyn is shown saying that 160 000 additional people received voting rights. 11 Many of these came from the extreme left.
Once antisemitic outbursts erupted, Corbyn and his inner circle could easily have stamped it out in the more than three years since the first significant indications of it: amongst Labour students at Oxford university. There is much evidence that the Labour leadership did not want to do so. In fact, it afforded protection to some of the worst offenders. All in all, since Corbyn became leader, only fifteen members have been expelled due to antisemitism.12 A few others, fearing that they would be expelled may have left of their own volition. The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee’s 2016 report said that Labour’s leadership lack of action “risks lending force to allegations that elements of the Labour movement are institutionally anti-Semitic.”13
This has been detailed by Alan Johnson, a scholar and member of Labour. He published a report titled Institutionally Antisemitic Contemporary Left Antisemitism and the Crisis in the British Labour Party.14
The possibility of a full-fledged investigation into antisemitism after the preliminary one by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) made no impression on Corbyn. This public body has now announced a full enquiry. Only one party has ever been subjected to such an investigation: the British National Party, a small extreme rightwing organization. More than 30 whistleblowers including current members of Labour staff have said that they will submit evidence to the EHRC.15
A crucial but underreported issue is the number of Labour members who make antisemitic remarks. Lord Falconer, a former high-ranking Labour minister has said there are thousands of antisemites.16 The aforementioned statement of the staffer about the average number of complaints per week backs this up.
Corbyn reacted to the Panoroma documentary saying “…It’s less than 0.1% of our membership that have ever been involved in any accusation, never mind any resolution of the issue.” 17 Simple mathematics confirm that if Falconer is correct, there should be at least 2000 – and probably many more — antisemites in the party. This represents more than 0.4% of the Labour membership which early in 2019 stood at around 512 000.18 These calculations however, greatly understate the reality. One hears mainly about antisemitic complaints concerning Labour party office holders and elected officials. In order to be more accurate, one might add a few activists to that category.
However, ordinary Labour members who make antisemitic remarks — for instance on Facebook — are not necessarily publicly identified as Labourites. It is thus a prudent estimate that at least several percent of office holders and elected officials have made antisemitic remarks.19
As a reaction to the Panorama documentary, the four most senior Labour leaders in the House of Lords, wrote to Corbyn offering to establish a panel to review the allegations of the former staffers on the documentary. They also offered advice and support on how to start a properly independent complaints process.20 As the “smokescreening’ is engrained in the current Labour leadership, this suggestion may be at least a partial solution to getting rid of many more antisemites in the Labour party.
There is one positive element in the Labour antisemitism battle. A number of MP’s including non-Jewish ones such as Deputy Leader Tom Watson, are actively fighting back against antisemitism in the party. So too is the Jewish Labour Movement, (JLM), which has been part of the Labour party for almost one hundred years.
In the reactions to the documentary much additional information on antisemitism in Labour has come to light. This however is a separate issue to be dealt with in more detail.
This is a greatly extended version of an earlier article published in Algemeiner
14 Alan Johnson. Institutionally Antisemitic: Contemporary Left Antisemitism and the Crisis in the British Labour Party, 2019.