Sunday, 21 February 2016

Oxford Labour Students and anti-Semitism: a post script

A brief thought about this, having just read this piece by my good comrade Dan Fox:

At time of writing, six days on from the row described in my last post, what has Labour done about the rampant anti-Semitism happening in Oxford, which symbolises something terribly wrong amongst its membership?

Has it prompted a comment from the leadership on how such behaviour can never be tolerated in this party?

Has an investigation been announced by Labour's HQ staff, led by the party's General Secretary?

Even a statement on the party website, confirming how seriously this issue is taken?

No. To my knowledge, none of the above.

Labour Students - an organisation with a tiny full-time staff, usually people straight out of university themselves, is to launch its own investigation.

Nothing against Labour Students, of course, but this is hardly a way to show the world that you take the subject of anti-Semitism seriously.

And, I'm afraid, we all know why. Because Jeremy Corbyn's office almost certainly feels that this is probably a subject to make too much fuss about, because he will be forced into a public comment which will would end up being worse still than the row itself.

Or, worse: that he does not really consider that there really is anti-Semitism happening in Oxford. That it is merely anti-Zionism, which is completely different, right?

Friday, 19 February 2016

Anti-Semitism: head-in-the-sand Labour still does not see the danger

On Monday, the chair of Oxford University Labour Club, starting point for generations of Labour cabinet ministers, resigned, claiming a number of his fellow Labour Students were showing anti-Semitic behaviour.

Which begs a reasonable question: should the British left, and Labour in particular, be worried about the resurgence of anti-Semitism? Or is this all just an isolated incident, blown up by the nasty, right-wing press?

Let’s look at that for a minute.

First of all, this resurgence is a fact. Five years ago, I wrote in the New Statesman about its spread amongst the British far left, where it often masquerades under the name of legitimate political criticism of Israel: the left-wing BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel; most of the left-wing “free Palestine” organisations; and various Islamist extremist groups with links to the first two.

Since then, the phenomenon has since got visibly worse.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

The Tories are within 4 points of Scottish Labour. What a time to try to outflank the SNP from the left

The UK's national media, not to mention Labour Uncut and this bloghave not spoken much about Scotland recently but, as the gaze of Britain’s political machine turns briefly northwards, as it does every four years, that will change.

It is right that it will, and this time it should not be brief. This is not just because the Holyrood elections are almost upon us. It is because Labour’s short-to-medium-term success, and perhaps its very survival, depends on a Scottish turnaround.

Why? Let’s just look at the basic electoral arithmetic. As Lewis Baston pointed out in an outstanding analysis at LabourList, because of its wipeout in Scotland, Labour needs a bigger swing than it had in the 1997 general election to win in 2020.

That is, a bigger swing even than its best-ever post-war result.

It would be a tall order for a party even at the height of its popularity and which had not for the last five years neglected swing seats in the South East which it had won in 1997 and needed to win again.

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