I got an email this week, from a chap called Harry, which began as follows: ‘I am writing to inform you that I will be carrying out the investigation on behalf of the Labour party into the circumstances that resulted in your suspension from the party.’ Harry went on to say that he will be ‘conducting interviews with witnesses’ and added: ‘I will also need a time when you are available for an interview.’ This last presumably as an afterthought: I suppose we need to hear from him. Anyway, at this interview (to be conducted in London, natch) I am allowed to bring along a ‘silent witness’ —someone who is not permitted to intervene on my behalf but can sit beside me with a consolatory expression on their face and perhaps hold my hand. Thinking about this later, I wondered if engaging a mime artiste might be the way forward. He could do his sad ‘I can’t get over this wall’ act as the cross-examination reached its furious crescendo and somewhere, offstage, a smirking OGPU thug loaded the bullets into a pistol. But now I have decided to bring my lovely cross-breed dog, Jessie, instead. I won’t describe her as cross-breed to Harry. I will say she is of mixed race, diverse and viable. Or just black, whichever is the most politically expedient. All of those descriptions are true.
I immediately told Harry I wasn’t aware I had been suspended from the party. This, I kind of knew, wasn’t Harry’s fault. I get lots of emails from the Labour party, along with hundreds of missives advising me how I can extend my penis length, stuff about signing petitions to stop the Tories murdering infants in their cradles, offers on brass saucepans from French cookware companies and a regular injunction to meet up with a lady in my area who is really anxious to have sex with me. Of all the spammed rubbish I get sent this last is the most depressing: the lady in question lives in Basingstoke, more than a hundred miles from my home. So she is the nearest living person to me who would accede to a sexual relationship.
The Labour stuff is also depressing — usually round robins from Corbyn telling me how well the party is doing, when we all know otherwise. That’s what I get for my £13 per month membership: a regular recital from the terminally deluded. Anyway, I missed the email — from a bloke called ‘Stolliday’, a great name for a Labour apparatchik. A day of stolidity. It told me I was being suspended for a blogpost I’d written for the Spectator website.
The email from Mr Stolidity cited the ‘language’ I had used in my blogpost, but did not specify which bit they objected to. I mentioned this to Harry in my next email.
I received a fraternal and illiterate response very quickly. ‘The investigation stage is the initial fact-finding section [sic] where I will interview you and any other witnesses (if appropriate) about the article it’s [sic] contents and any other documents that may come to light…’
So, I pointed out to Harry, I have been suspended before the ‘initial fact-finding section [sic]’. Guilty until proved innocent, then. Harry told me that being suspended from the party of which I have been a member for 37 years (with, admittedly, a brief abandonment when we invaded Iraq, a questionable foreign policy option in my opinion) was a ‘neutral act’ and did not ‘imply guilt’. I am not sure how my suspension could be seen as a neutral act. A neutral act, surely, would be to not suspend me. Suspending me, I reckon, is a partisan act.
I looked Harry up on Google. He is a Labour organiser in Oxford, where they’ve had a lot of trouble in the party with anti-Semitism. He runs; he is a runner. In marathons and half-marathons etc. He has a beard. He is in his early thirties, I would guess.
The blog to which Mr Stolidity took exception was about anti-Semitism in the Labour party. I had suggested that it was indeed rife among sections of the infantile white middle-class liberals and also among the increasing number of Labour Muslim activists and councillors. Perhaps it is my suggestion that many Muslims are not favourably inclined towards Jews that provoked my suspension from the party — certainly it provoked a furious diatribe from the congenital idiot and Guardian journalist Owen Jones, who described it, with his usual semantic flair, as ‘rampant racism’. Or perhaps it was my assertion that if the Palestinians were given Israel they would turn it very quickly into Somalia that enraged these new commissars. If so, then they themselves are guilty of racism and cultural imperialism. Obviously I meant that this would be a good thing, Somalia being an exciting and vibrant state with ever so much to commend it. I would live there tomorrow, given the opportunity. As would we all.
Listen: I see this interview as an opportunity. An opportunity to meet Shami Chakrabarti, who, having joined Labour a couple of days ago, is now leading its investigation into ‘racism and Islamophobia’ within the party while also trying to run the UK through her various other posts. And also a chance to apologise for having dared to suggest that any Muslim anywhere could ever be accused of anti-Semitism and to insist that my reference to Somalia was a dreadful mistake, for which I am terribly, grovell-ingly, sorry — I meant that they would turn it into Switzerland. I sometimes get countries beginning with ‘S’ confused.
I just hope that during this interview with Harry and the boys, which reminds me a little of the British Communist party’s disciplinary sessions in the mid-1950s — nobody mentions the word ‘Corbyn’. If they do, my silent friend — Jessie the Dog — will leap up and begin snarling and barking and may bite someone. It’s just how she is. Anyway, I will let you know how I get on.