Yesterday was hard for me. So is today. It’s extremely difficult to watch the party I support suspend a man I admire for, so far as I can tell, expressing his sincere belief that…
• The labour party has a problem with anti-Semitism.
• The problem requires further corrective work.
• The labour party has no place for anti-Semites or any form of racism.
• The problem (0.3% of the membership under suspicion) was exaggerated by some factions leading to a public perception of 34% of members under suspicion of anti-Semitism (according to a Populus poll in 2018).
My initial knee-jerk response was to cancel my membership of the party that could treat someone so obviously anti-racist in such an appalling way merely for saying what he believed to be true. Something which many others also believe to be true. He didn’t attempt to denigrate the evils of anti-Semitism, after all – he just stated that the extent of the problem within the party’s ranks had been overstated by some. I confess to feeling physically sick when I heard the news and it took me some little time to bring my thoughts back to my duties at work. I’m writing this during my break having regained my equilibrium overnight.
Fortunately I have learned over the years not to react immediately. Knee-jerk reactions are by definition unconsidered and rarely are they the best. My ill-considered thoughts yesterday centred upon notions of the enemy within, of emotively-charged feelings of betrayal and even political ambush, none of which can be helpful in the real task of combatting the enemy without.
The real task is to get the tories out. That’s why Jeremy Corbyn himself isn’t giving up on the Labour party. He’s appealing his suspension and remaining loyal to the party and to the due process that he seems confident will exonerate him. It seems unreasonable to me that I resign my membership of a party in support of a man who has chosen to remain. Like all principled activists Mr. Corbyn seems to have understood instinctively that the task of defeating neoliberalism and returning this country to a fair and equitable state is bigger than any one of us. It’s bigger than Jeremy and it’s bigger than any sense of outrage my bruised feelings might bring up.
If those of us who disagree with this suspension leave the Labour party we will weaken it. I even entertained fantasies of an alternative socialist party and tweeted Jeremy himself to offer my assistance should he choose to form one. I have since removed that tweet and here’s why.
If we form a splinter group we may feel better for a short time but we will also split the vote just at the time when the right has demonstrated the power of maintaining unity and the Tories will get another term. We owe it to that greater cause, to the people of this country not to undermine our greatest chance of electoral success.
Don’t get me wrong though. I am far from happy at this turn of events. I am no less convinced of Jeremy Corbyn’s integrity than I was yesterday or before. But I trust both his judgement and my own intuition that the enemy without, the Tories constitute a far greater threat to our nation than the labour party’s curent poor judgement.
Disappointed though I am at yesterday’s events, I will remain a member. I’ll keep paying my subs and I’ll continue to campaign for the Labour party. I urge you to do the same – not because you agree with the treatment of Jeremy Corbyn but because there is no other way to get the tories out of government in 2024.