I’ve been a member of numerous Corbyn supporting Facebook groups for several years. In all that time I have not seen one threatening, anti-semitic or racist remark. So how have I missed all the virulent, vile abuse making the headlines at the moment? I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, and I condemn it where it does, but it’s definitely no where near as prevalent as is being implied by a media hell bent on beating Corbyn with any sticks they can lay their hands on, even if the stick is really just a twig. The reason their anti-Corbyn agenda is never called into question is because they all share it. Even the so called left wing papers are no fans of Corbyn. But as a Corbyn supporter it’s transparent. Why else do they shine a whopping great spotlight on left wing abuse whilst turning a completely blind eye to any abuse that stems from the right of politics, even when it stems ftom Conservative Party supporters? To help prize open their squeezed shut eyes, I have compiled a selection of online hate for them, most of which I gathered in less than an hour by searching Conservative affiliated pages, and putting out a call on twitter. I’m no investigative journalist, but I didn’t need to be for this piece. The online hate, ranging between Islamophobia, anti-semitism, misogyny, racism, transphobia, homophobia and sheer hatred toward Corbyn, was very easy to find. And it would be easy for the media to find too, if they cared to look. But sadly they don’t.
Is the Mear One Mural, at the centre of the recent controversy, anti-semitic? This is the question being debated on twitter and Facebook at the moment. I’ve read several perspectives on it, ranging from, ‘it screams anti-semitic’ to ‘there is nothing anti-semitic about it whatsoever.’ Whenever I read such opposing views I always tend to shrink back from the whole subject, but this time I have dived in, reading tweets, FB posts and articles which have all helped me reach a settled view which I will try to explain. If you examine the mural from a dispassionate perspective, breaking it up into its constituent parts, you can make the argument against it being anti-semitic. This is a summary of the arguments I have heard to date: the artist strongly denies it is, the eye of providence features on the back of the dollar bill and stems from christianity, it is simply a critique of capitalism, the new world order most likely represents a sweeping away of the capitalist system, the six bankers represented were based on real bankers, two of whom just happen to be Jewish therefore it is not singling out Jews, if it’s anti-semitic to depict a negative character with a large nose are they going to ban Oliver Twist? I’ve probably missed something here, but this is the gist of the challenge to the anti-semitic charge made against the mural.
However there is something important missing amidst this analysis; empathy and understanding toward Jewish people who have a history so unique, so horrendous, their perspective should always be taken very seriously indeed.
I want to add a caveat here. Not all Jewish people see the Mural as anti-semitic, but that does not mean it isn’t for the vast majority. When we look at art, do we all see it the same? Of course not. We all look at art through the filter of our own emotions, lives, experiences, culture, race, gender, age, religion. That is the magic of art. And that is what is happening here. We are all looking at the same Mural and seeing something different. There is nothing wrong with that. And that means the people who don’t see it as anti-semitic are not anti-semitic, and the people who do, are not lying, or milking it to denigrate Jeremy Corbyn, who himself didn’t see any anti-semitism at first glance.
We all need to start being kinder to each other, more empathic on both sides of the fence. Only then can we build a bridge between us. So if you are Jewish, or even a non Jew who sees this Mural as blatantly anti-semitic, please go easy on those that are not seeing it. Explain the emotions it triggers in you. Explain the history of Nazi art and the anti-semitic tropes within it. And if you are failing to see anything anti-semitic in the Mural, please listen to the Jewish people who are telling you they find it disturbing, unsettling and upsetting. Please let’s stop shaming each other and listen to each other. We are all born ignorant. We don’t possess innate knowledge on anything. We just need to open our minds and our hearts to each other, and that way we will learn from each other. We don’t need to be all right, or all wrong. We can just have different views, but all the time respecting that other people might see things differently because of their unique perspective.
I think one of the primary reasons people have grown so defensive on the left is because for the past almost three years we have had to defend, defend and defend, time and time again.
We are either defending Jeremy against false charges of being a terrorist sympathiser, anti-British, anti-semitic, incompetent, sexist (because he didn’t appoint any women in the ‘top’ jobs), a disaster for our electoral chances, arch Brexiteer, communist, a traitor and a Czech spy, or we are defending ourselves against accusations of bullying, sexism, anti-semitism, extremism, naivete, idealism, self indulgence and cult thinking. It is relentless.
Only yesterday, Government minister Sajid Javid, referred to Momentum as a Neo-fascist group (something he has been challenged to repeat beyond the protective forcefield of Parliament, and which to date he has failed to do). That is the level of extreme abuse and smears we face on an almost daily basis. Currently our party is purported to be a nest of anti-semites. It does not matter that this is not born out by the evidence. There are apparently 74 cases of suspected anti-semitism being investigated against party members, which is 0.01% out of a party of 600,000 members. Of course that is far too many, but when you compare it to a recent survey by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, which found that over a quarter of all British people harboured at least one anti-semitic belief, with just over 2% holding extreme anti-semitic views, it does not seem to hold water to imply that Labour is a hotbed of anti-semitism. We are a party with a proud history of fighting racism and anti-semitism and that is still true.
No wonder then we bat away any criticism as a smear, and question the motives of those who denigrate us. And we are right to question those motives, because we all know they are not always pure. We know there are some who will not be satisfied until Corbyn resigns, or is annihilated at a General Election. They will take an innocent mistake Jeremy made six years ago, and milk it for all they are worth. I would even go so far as to say it is anti-semitic to exploit very real concerns about anti-semitism to further a quite separate agenda. We all rightly hold Jeremy Corbyn in high regard, and know he is being unjustly accused and targeted, and feel angry and defensive on his behalf. But when it comes to the Mural, I believe we need to respect his efforts to learn from a past mistake, rather than insinuate that he didn’t make one.
So yes, it’s difficult for us on the left to be open hearted and open minded when so many are trying to engineer our downfall. But we must try to tease out the genuine expressions of concern or unhappiness from those with an anti-Corbyn agenda. We must guard against instinctively throwing up our arms to defend ourselves from the punches, and instead take a deep breath, stay calm and seek counsel from people who are neutral on the issue or maybe pro Corbyn, but who are known for their balance and fairness.
And always remember, the Blairites and their Tory friends want us to grow weary, angry and defensive. They want us to attack them, shout liar, bat away legitimate complaints, because that feeds into their narrative of a closed down cult, who worships their leader and can’t see any wrong in anything he has ever done. Let’s NEVER give them what they want.
When people ask me, why did you become involved in politics?That’s when I remind them that I am a mum…and my most basic instinct is to ensure I do everything possible to make sure that not only do my children grow up to become good citizens but that they can go on to have a bright future ahead of them.But everything I am doing as a mum, I feel is being undermined by my own government; and that’s a scary prospect.I’m raising my children so they work hard for what they want to achieve, that they abide laws and play fair so they have a bright future ahead of them…. but currently I’m watching them facing a worse outcome than I, or even my parents and grandparents had. That terrified me into action, and I started by expanding my reading habits. I read a book called The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist by Robert Tressell. It was written over 100 years ago, but as you read through the pages you find yourself drawing parallels between then and now, to the point where you can imagine the characters in modern society, as if the scenes of the book are playing out in 2018. When I’m looking at my children’s future health care prospects, I see the ever increasing possibility of them facing the same system as our American Cousins. Private Health Care providers and Insurance schemes taking over the system, looking towards the outcome being determined by the amount of cover you can afford or the financial prospects you have; the judge and jury for the treatment you receive. Our NHS won’t survive another 3 years of this current government, look around your GP surgeries and hospitals now (that’s if they haven’t been closed or centralised). So I know they won’t have the same opportunities we’ve enjoyed since 1948.What do we say to our children when they attend school? We tell them to “do their best, listen to the teachers and get a good education” but how on earth can we expect them to stand a chance, when they’re being pushed into ever larger classrooms, with less resources, less teaching staff and assistants available to help and encourage their progress? It’s like your fighting a losing battle; and it should never be a case of parents having to move to a new house because of ever decreasing numbers of “good and outstanding” school places for the best prospects, because all children should have the right to a decent education no matter who they are or where they live. And then what hope for their future housing? Where will they be able to live…will they be able to earn enough to rent or buy somewhere?Will they be able to stay local or be forced to move miles away from their family and community? What will the prospects for them be, when you look at the prospects for people now?I am a socialist……I always was, I just didn’t know it. Years of main stream media and print press conflating socialism with communism was enough for me in my former years never to bother looking it up or learning its true meaning. But when you come to realise the actual meaning, it smacks you in the face.It’s about sharing! You know that thing most parents teach their children to do from a young age. The idea that everyone, no matter who they are should have a decent house to live, somewhere they can call home, lay roots and build a community.The idea that everyone should have the right to good and decent education to maximise their potential.The idea that everyone should be paying taxes; if they have more, they pay a little more and if they have less they pay a little less. None of this cutting back on public spending, leaving the elderly and vulnerable in precarious states.No more allowing large corporations and businesses to avoid paying tax on earnings just because they’re registered offshore. You earn here, you pay here; We have to!No more working for a measly minimum wage and with Zero hour contracts, unable to budget for living expenses because you don’t know how many hours work you’ll get.No more homelessness rising at alarming rate and people dying on the streets. No changes in school funding, so that many face losing teachers, teaching assistants, bigger classrooms and less resources.What happened to us as a society to start normalising the existence of Food Banks? What next WORK HOUSES?? That’s just some of the reasons I’m now more than just “Chelle the Nail Lady.I was inspired to throw off my chains, wake from my slumber and rise.Not just for my children, but for yours too.Written by Michelle Dorrell
I think I’ve got it. Finally, after months of scratching my head over what the hell the Westminster bubble was on about, I’ve realised. It’s not Laura Pidcock they don’t understand, but the entire meaning of friendship. This epiphany has made me understand why Laura’s seemingly innocuous, ‘of course I’m not going to go for a pint with a Tory MP after a hard day’s work’ words were met with such outrage, confusion and even apoplectic rage in certain, high octane circles.
Because I’m telling you, those of us on the outside of those walls were genuinely shocked by the volcanic reaction to that simple concept: that I’m not going to sup with the people who are actively hurting my community, my friends, my family. To us, that seemed pure common sense, but what I’ve realised since, having viewed Westminster from an anthropological perspective (I still see myself as an…
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If you watched tonight’s BBC documentary ‘Labour, the Summer that changed everything’ you will understand exactly what I mean when I say it was sickening! Stephen Kinnock really did look like he wanted to be sick when he saw the GE exit poll. He himself had predicted (and clearly hoped for) a healthy 30 to 50 seat Tory majority. These right of Labour MPs love to claim to be Labour first and foremost but the truth was exposed for us all to see tonight. For MPs like Stephen it’s career first and Labour a poor second. It’s deeply distressing to know that Kinnock would have felt so much happier if Labour had been wiped out. Stuff his struggling constituents. Stuff the activists who gave up hours of their time to secure a Labour victory. What comes first is his career, which is struggling to get to the heady heights he clearly believes it should with Corbyn at the helm. Had he found it in himself to accept the will of the members back in 2015, he may well have been in the shadow cabinet now. But having thrown his weight behind ousting Corbyn and then failing in this sorry endeavour, he is stuck on the bench with small hope of playing in the first team any time soon. Well that’s just hard cheddar Stephen! Try to think less about yourself and your career and more about disabled people who have had their support cut to the bone, or the elderly and infirm who are lucky to get a rushed 15 minute care visit to put them on the loo, make them a meal and settle them in bed, or the young people up to their eyes in debt because they had the audacity to try to get a degree, and even with their hard earned degrees stand little chance of buying or even renting a decent home of their own. These are the people who desperately needed a big Tory victory like I need a hole in the head. But you saw that exit poll, and you thought ‘Shit. A hung parliament. Now we are stuck with Corbyn and he’s probably going to be PM in a few years.’ While you were trying not to cry, many of us cried tears of relief. That big Tory win you yourself predicted at the start of the programme had not materialised. The Tories position was eminently weaker than at the start of May while Labour’s was much stronger.
Corbyn became leader out of a sense of duty, after Labour members called for a left candidate to stand in the leadership election. He is the complete antithesis of a careerist politician like Kinnock; driven by a desire to change people’s lives for the better, and that’s all.
For all our sakes I hope these careerists never get to lead the party again.
As I reflect upon the Labour Party manifesto, I am struck by its breadth and scope. It is the most transformational programme offered by any political party, certainly in my lifetime and possibly since the post-war Attlee government. It offers real solutions to the problems faced by millions of people and it’s fully costed.
For students weighed down by loans and their parents worried about how they’ll pay them back, or afford a home of their own, there is hope. A promise of lifelong learning, within the grasp of all, offers a route out of poverty for many and, for business it holds out the prospect of a skilled and capable workforce, fully updated, motivated and productive.
For those unable to afford the rent or who have given up hope of ever owning a home, Labour’s housing policy offers a pathway to safe and secure housing. What’s more, the £10…
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I like to see good friends getting on as much as the next person. The sight of heads huddled in a cafe over a shared confidence, or peals of laughter ringing out on a train from a pair of besties on their way out for the day, does my heart good. But when those two close friends are BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, and right wing Labour MP Jess Phillips, and their friendly chat is being broadcast to millions of people during a crucial General Election campaign, it doesn’t have quite the same heart warming effect.
But that’s what I bore witness to on Newsnight last night. Best friends, Jess and Emily went for a nice stroll in the more affluent part of Jess’s constituency so Jess could knock on a few doors and be seen for the hardworking, down to earth but laugh-a-minute MP she purports to be. Then they returned to the TV studio, which may as well have been a local cafe where best friends often go for a nice chat over tea and cake, because all that was missing was the tea and cake.
They proceeded to have a cosy little chat about the leaked Labour manifesto and Jess, being the reasonable woman she is (rolls eyes), conceded it might prove a smidge helpful on the doorsteps, while I sat there seething and thinking, without Corbyn you’d be offering the electorate the same Tory Lite policies Labour have been offering them since the early 2000’s, driving them away in their droves. Emily gently asked her mate Jess, ‘So why is Jeremy Corbyn attracting such large crowds wherever he goes, but failing to attract voters around the country?’ This was a beautiful set up for bestie Jess to go for the goal. Salt of the earth Jess pulled the obligatory pained expression and replied something along the lines of, ‘well he’s always stuck in a positive feedback loop of people who support him,’ meaning he’s refusing to see the truth of how unpopular he really is. Then to try to inject some balance for show, Jess said the same was true of Theresa May.
This was the moment I knew for sure Jess and Emily were best friends with shared values and goals, not politican and interviewer, because at this point any interviewer with any professional integrity would have asked the following million dollar questions; questions I have yet to hear any interviewer on any tv channel or radio station ask any right wing Labour MP.
“Do you think the way you and your colleagues have spent the last 20 months openly and publicly denigrating Corbyn’s leadership at every available opportunity; writing about it in right wing newspapers, speaking of little else in TV and radio studios, tweeting about it, resigning over it, refusing to take up posts in his shadow cabinet because of it, forcing a second leadership contest to overthrow it, telling the public you can’t support it and can’t vote for it and want nothing whatsoever to do with it, is why you are hearing your own words about weak incompetent, hard-left leadership, mirrored back to you on the doorsteps? And when you do hear those words, do you get a warm fuzzy glow inside and think, wow haven’t I done well, or do you ever feel a pang of guilt knowing the biggest lag effect on Labour’s polling is Corbyn, and that’s largely because of your relentless and public acrimony? And if Labour do lose the General Election, will you and your colleagues take responsibility for the damage you did or will you pin the entire blame on Corbyn because it suits you to do so?”
But none of these questions were forthcoming just as they never are. I never got to see Jess made to squirm and no interviewer will ever make her or her faction squirm. That’s because they’re best friends, and they are ALL in it together!
When we elected Jeremy, in many ways we were handing him a poisoned chalice because he was always going to have to compromise sometimes, which had the potential of losing him support amongst the people who voted him in twice. Only on the back benches could he remain ever true to himself and his principles.
We need to make sure we only call it out when it genuinely is a case of him ‘selling out’ rather than those considered, and sometimes painful compromises he will inevitably have to make as leader of a broad church party. The PLP plotters are counting on us ‘deluded idealists’ to be too black and white in our views to deal with any compromise at all and will therefore try to continually push Corbyn into positions that will divide opinion amongst his core supporters. I personally will not fall into their trap and I hope my fellow socialists won’t either, because there will be many compromises down the line.
I’d rather support a principled socialist leader who reluctantly makes considered compromises, than a non socialist leader who was compromised from the start.