Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, July, 2016
Jeremy Corbyn and his UK Labor Party:
Clowns to the Left and Jokers to the Right
By Stuart Littlewood
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 4, 2016
A political beacon is about to be extinguished unless he breaks with the doomed Labour Party and sets up on his own.
Only last December I was writing a piece titled “Message to Corbyn: dump the baggage, build from new”.
That message said:
In that debate on bombing Syria senior Labour MPs and shadow ministers supported the Tory warmongers. In particular, Hilary Benn (son of the illustrious Tony) played on human fears, ignored operational shortcomings and discounted the risk of reprisals against “soft” targets on our streets. His scare tactics were exactly what the warmongers wanted to hear and his speech was triumphantly applauded by Tory government benches and praised in the media. The party’s Blairite rump, who had shamed the nation by blindly voting for the Iraq war 12 years earlier, trooped into the lobbies to vote for war in Syria.
In a recent speech to Labour Friends of Israel Benn, the shadow foreign secretary, dishonestly called the rogue state “a vibrant democracy”, talked of shared values and claimed the bonds between it and the Labour Party were “strong and run deep”. The puzzle was how Jeremy Corbyn could have appointed such a person to that key post. Earlier this week Corbyn finally sacked him, a move that set off a vengeful chain reaction.
Only 10 months ago Corbyn came from nowhere and panicked the Westminster establishment by winning the Labour leadership with nearly 60 per cent of first-choice votes. His nearest rival mustered only 19 per cent, so he had a sufficient mandate to silence plotters who threatened a coup if he won. They have smouldered ever since.
The Conservatives reacted by broadcasting that Corbyn and Labour were
So slender was his support in the Parliamentary Labour Party (as opposed to the party membership) that his shadow team inevitably included many critics. Mounting an effective opposition has thus been near impossible with so many colleagues willing him to fail, although he has chalked up a number of successes. Of course, the effectiveness of a leader depends in large measure on the performance of his senior colleagues.
Just lately the pressure on Corbyn to step down has been ratcheted-up, with accusations that he didn’t try hard enough to galvanise the Remain vote in the European Union referendum. The official party line is pro-EU but “Old Labour” Corbyn has been opposed to the EU for decades and knew perfectly well that at least one-third of Labour supporters would vote Leave.
This week there were mass resignations from his shadow team, at such regular intervals that they were clearly orchestrated for maximum effect. Replacements were hurriedly appointed. In the House of Commons David Cameron made an unusually good joke of it. Welcoming the newly elected Labour MP for Tooting, he advised her to “keep her mobile switched on – you might be in the shadow cabinet by the end of the day”.
On Corbyn’s referendum effort Cameron quipped: “I know he says he put his back into it. All I’d say is, I’d hate to see him when he’s not trying.” That might have been funny except that Cameron, when setting up the referendum, couldn’t be bothered to appoint a team to examine the way forward in the event of a Brexit, or Leave, win. Hence the damaging post-Brexit confusion that will probably go on for months.
Then, very rudely, Cameron turned on Corbyn, telling the House: “It might be in my party’s interest for him to sit there, it’s not in the national interest and I would say, for heaven’s sake man, go!”
Plotters’ “anti-Semitism” ruse
To illustrate the depths of silliness to which the campaign to oust Corbyn has sunk, the Labour Party today released a report on anti-Semitism. In a speech introducing it Corbyn said:
Fair comment, you might think. But it was eagerly seized on for wild accusations that he was making direct comparison between the Israeli government and the group which calls itself the Islamic State [and which formerly called itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS]. A Labour councillor said on Twitter: “For that alone, he should resign. I am red with fury.”
The Telegraph quoted a statement by Jonathan Sacks in which the former chief rabbi accused the Labour leader of comparing the State of Israel to the Islamic State group and “demonisation of the highest order, an outrage and unacceptable”. He added: “Israel is a democratic state with an independent judiciary, a free press and a diverse population of many cultures, religions and creeds. ISIS is a terrorist entity whose barbarities have been condemned by all those who value our common humanity.”
No, you couldn’t make it up.
And the current chief rabbi is reported calling Corbyn’s comments “offensive, and rather than rebuilding trust among the Jewish community, are likely to cause even greater concern”.
On top of everything Ruth Smeeth, a Labour MP, stormed out of the press conference, complaining she was verbally abused by a Corbyn supporter who accused her of being part of a “media conspiracy”, and Corbyn failed to intervene. “I call on Jeremy Corbyn to resign immediately and make way for someone with the backbone to confront racism and anti-Semitism in our party and in the country,” she announced. Reports omit to mention that Smeeth is a former director of BICOM, a pro-Israel propaganda organisation.
So the picture is bleak for Jeremy.
Clowns to the left of me,
That song is possibly running through his mind repeatedly, and won’t go away.
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