The opposition parties from both members of the special relationship across the Atlantic have scandals involving anti-Semitism, but it reaches up farther in the UK’s Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn has long fought allegations of hostility toward Jews by himself and his party, but e-mails leaked from his office to the Times of London show that his promises to crack down on it went unfulfilled in at least one instance. The exposure confirms allegations by Corbyn’s critics that his office interfered in attempts to crack down on bigotry within Labour:
A key ally of Jeremy Corbyn told Labour Party officials not to suspend a woman who had defended an antisemitic mural, leaked emails have revealed.
Labour MPs say the email exchange from March last year, obtained by The Times, contradicts what Mr Corbyn told them and Jewish community leaders last year and marks a further worsening in relations between some MPs and the party leadership.
It comes after Dame Margaret Hodge accused members of Mr Corbyn’s inner circle this morning of interfering in the outcome of antisemitism cases to reduce the sanction imposed.
The rest goes behind a paywall, but HuffPost UK picks up the story:
Laura Murray, who was in charge of links between the leader’s office and the Jewish community, recommended that the activist should be instead given a chance to answer further questions about her conduct.
Crucially, Murray repeatedly used the phrase “we”, an apparent reference to the Leader’s office, in her contact with the party’s head of disputes, the official who oversaw investigations of anti-Semitism. …
The email centres on the defence by an activist in Devon of an anti-Semitic mural in east London, which depicted Jewish bankers playing monopoly on the backs of the poor.
“I think it’s a great mural. No way should it be painted over, it should be preserved,” the member said.
The HuffPost article has a picture of the mural, and … yes, it’s pretty bad. It’s been up for a while, too, long enough that Corbyn had to apologize last year for remarks he made in 2012 that also questioned the need to get rid of the mural. One would think that episode would have taught Corbyn’s office a lesson, especially since the member in question apparently went further than Corbyn did in defending it. Instead, his office pushed back against a demand for suspension, arguing that the member only displayed an “ignorance and a lack of understanding/education” of anti-Semitic bigotry.
The e-mails hit the very top ranks of the Labour Party, according to The Guardian. That might be a problem in other ways:
Murray’s father, Andrew, who is chief of staff at the Unite trade union, and seconded to advise Corbyn part-time, is copied in to the email.
Corbyn’s director of strategy, Seumas Milne, his chief of staff, Karie Murphy, and Labour’s general secretary, Jennie Formby, as well as several other officials are also copied into the correspondence. …
But Andrew Murray is copied in to the email exchange about the mural using his union email address, which would also appear to raise concerns about the sharing of personal data.
That’s at best a secondary concern at the moment, of course. The bigger problem for Corbyn is that this episode makes his earlier commitment to crack down on anti-Semites within Labour look like lip service:
Last week Corbyn reassured me categorically that his office never intervened in antisemitism complaints. @ObserverUK whistleblower account clearly shows Corbyn’s office have intervened. Either Corbyn has intentionally misled me or his staff have misled him. Full letter below pic.twitter.com/gUR6LvJ3QW
— Margaret Hodge (@margarethodge) March 5, 2019
Hodge wrote to Corbyn, accusing him of misleading her about tackling antisemitism, or being misled himself, in a further escalation of party infighting on the issue, following the revelations in the Observer.
The MP for Barking and Dagenham wrote that the story contradicted assurances Corbyn gave to “my face last week”.
It certainly seems that way. Corbyn has already lost a handful of MPs over the continuing anti-Semitism scandal and this might cause a few more to peel away. The timing is hardly propitious, too; Labour would otherwise have a wide opening to reclaim Parliament as Theresa May continues to fumble on Brexit. Voters in the UK right now have a choice between incompetence and bigotry, certainly something to keep in mind when lamenting our own choices here in the US.