Labour's latest anti-Semitism row has gone from awful to even worse thanks to a recording leaking in which veteran left-winger and NEC member Peter Willsman dismisses some of Corbyn’s critics in the Jewish community as 'Trump fanatics', suggests critics could 'falsify social media' and questions whether his colleagues had actually seen anti-Semitism in the party.
While Labour grandees and young Corbynista pundits have been quick to condemn the comments, a number of Corbyn allies are staying schtum. The problem is that with fresh elections underway as of last week to decide who will be elevated to Labour’s governing body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), this comes at a bad time for the Corbynista wing of the party. Willsman had been on the Momentum slate and this morning a number of high profile Corbynistas have been keen to push the other candidates standing alongside him:
As the committee responsible for disputes, expulsions and Labour policy, it is these candidates who will decide how Her Majesty's Opposition will confront the growing allegations of discrimination in the party against Jewish people.
So, will the Momentum candidates be up to the task of rooting out and banishing anti-Semitism forever? Mr Steerpike casts his eye over five of the candidates to see where they stand.
The veteran left-winger Peter Willsman is – as of this morning – the most high profile of the Momentum candidates. Aside from dismissing some of Corbyn’s critics in the Jewish community as 'Trump fanatics', he is part of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy (CLPD) group which vowed this year to fight any attempt to expel Ken Livingstone from the party.
Will the member of the leading body be taking the concerns of the Jewish community seriously? At a recent NEC meeting, he said the letter from 68 Rabbis accusing Labour of having a widespread and severe problem was a ‘rather wild assertion.’ He has since had to apologise to the Jewish Labour Movement ‘for any offence caused to those present and those to whom my remarks were reported.’
Will he stay on the ballot following today's revelations? Stranger things have happened.
Former Manchester councillor Yasmine Dar was one of the first Momentumites to join the NEC, and is now looking to be re-elected to the body. Perhaps inspired by Corbyn’s many appearances on the Iranian channel Press TV, she spoke at an event celebrating the ‘38th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran’ in 2017.
Unclear whether these celebrations included any mention that this is a regime that still executes gay people, questions the holocaust, and sends women to prison for refusing to wear a headscarf.
At the event the following year, Dar attended again. Other speakers included a Professor Shakespeare, who has claimed in the past that the UK is controlled by Zionism.
Islington councillor Claudia Webbe is also set to return to the NEC, having been a member since 2016. Before moving up the Labour ranks, Webbe was a policy advisor to the London Mayor turned Hitler media pundit Ken Livingstone. Back in 2006, she rushed to Ken’s defence when he was suspended for one month for comparing a Jewish reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard. Writing to the Guardian, she said his suspension ‘smacks in the face of true democracy.’
Since then she has been appointed to Labour’s disputes panel which oversees cases of alleged anti-Semitism.
One of the new faces put forward this year is Huda Elmi, a former Labour Student officer and now a member of the Momentum national coordinating group (NCG).
While she is relatively new on the Labour scene, she has still found time to attack Israel. In November 2017 she wrote in a Facebook post that:
‘We must refuse to allow Israel to present itself as anything other than the truth - an ill-conceived imperial project in which generations of Palestinians have paid the price.'
In January this year, trade unionist and long-time Labour supporter Darren Williams came under fire for liking a tweet that said there was a Jewish conspiracy within the party.
It appears that Williams also does not believe that Marc Wadsworth, who was removed from Labour for saying a Jewish MP was working ‘hand in hand’ with the Daily Telegraph, should have been expelled in 2018.
With this rum bunch set to take charge, Mrs S wonders how anyone could possibly doubt that Jeremy Corbyn is ‘absolutely committed’ to tackling anti-Semitism within the party.