The EHRC Report on Labour Antisemitism is a Mockery of Justice

Forget the unabating spike in Covid-19 infections, the pandemic’s crushing toll on Britain’s poor and middle classes, Boris Johnson’s continuing misrule coupled with a historically weak Labour Party, and, of course, all those pesky issues like climate change which existed before the pandemic but have since been relegated to the back burner.

Labour Leader Keir Starmer won’t be distracted by such petty matters when he has better ways to spend his limited supply of political capital—like suspending his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn from the party, reigniting Labour infighting, and sending a clear message of hostility to the new constituencies that Corbyn’s tenure brought to the party.

Corbyn has vowed to fight his suspension.

Corbyn’s crime? This sentence from his statement in response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s newly released report on antisemitism in the Labour Party: “One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”

The rest of the statement will sound familiar to anyone who has heard Corbyn’s dozens if not hundreds of public condemnations of antisemitism over the past few years alone.

Within hours, Starmer suspended Corbyn “for a failure to retract” his words. The suspension will remain in place while the former party leader is “investigated.”

Apparently, declining to accept every finding of the EHRC’s report, even while calling for all its recommendations to be swiftly implemented, is a transgression worthy of suspension and “investigation” (as if anything that can meaningfully be described as investigating will occur). That might seem like an overreaction until one reads the egregiously antisemitic words and actions by Labour elected officials documented in the report:

The Party Leader wrote “Judaism is the problem” and antisemitism is a “natural reaction”

An MP hosted an anti-Jewish extremist in parliament who called on the UN to “control the Jewish birth rate world over”

An MP shared a story headlined “Jewish sex gang say raping white British children ‘part of their culture’”

An MP claimed that orthodox Jewish women wear modest clothing to hide their bruises

An MP claimed without evidence that 100 hate crimes were carried out by “intolerant Jews”

An MP (while a PPC) called Jews “a large minority with such divided loyalties”

Wait a minute—sorry, my mistake. Those are all things that Tory politicians said or shared about Islam and Muslims—a topic that the EHRC has consistently refused to investigate.

In actuality, the EHRC’s 130-page report on Labour antisemitism is a travesty of the British legal profession, an unintentional satire of the UK’s political culture, and a massive gift to those in Britain’s ruling class who seek to weaponize antisemitism for political ends.

Most ironically of all, the report exemplifies the prejudicial double standards that are so pervasive in British politics, so foundational, as to be rendered invisible. By treating antisemitism as sui generis (in a class of its own, incomparable to other forms of bigotry), the EHRC becomes complicit in much more widely accepted forms of British racism, including acquiescence in Israeli apartheid.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a state-funded but nominally independent institution whose mission includes investigating and issuing notices of noncompliance with the Equality Act of 2010. Before getting too excited by the organization’s progressive-sounding name, note that this July, the Commission’s only Black member and only Muslim member both lost their posts because, according to them, they were “too loud and vocal” about racism.

The EHRC’s antisemitism report is not simply a third-party assessment that the Labour Party underwent voluntarily; the EHRC is accusing the Labour Party of committing “unlawful acts” (a nice euphemism for political crimes).

The EHRC makes three charges:

1. The Labour Party “harassed” its members on the basis of Jewish identity through public remarks by two of its “agents”: former London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Pam Bromley, a councillor in Rossendale.

(Yes, you read that correctly. The entire Labour Party is responsible for illegal harassment that consisted of public comments by a grand total of two of its members: one retired from public office, and one councillor in a district with a population of 70,000.)

2. The Labour Party’s practice of political interference in the resolution of internal antisemitism complaints constituted unlawful indirect discrimination against its Jewish members.

3. The Labour Party’s failure prior to August 2020 to provide adequate training to officials tasked with adjudicating antisemitism complaints constituted unlawful indirect discrimination against its Jewish members.

What’s remarkable about this story is that breakdowns of sanity occurred at so many distinct junctures:

  • The acceptance of the notion that a public institution should “investigate” political statements as potential violations of the law
  • The fallacious analyses of Bromley and Livingstone’s comments
  • The leap from public comments by two individuals to the charge of institutional “harassment” perpetrated by the party as a whole
  • The leap from the bureaucratic incompetencies underlying the latter two charges to institutional antisemitism
  • The eager embrace of these accusations by Starmer and his acolytes
  • And finally, the suspension and “investigation” of Corbyn for expressing the mildest of dissent.

Here, I will focus on the contents of the EHRC report. The following Facebook posts and comments by Councillor Pam Bromley are the evidence the Commission presents against her:

‘Some time back I got hammered for posting an anti-Rothschild meme. However here they are again. We must remember that the Rothschilds are a powerful financial family (like the Medicis) and represent capitalism and big business — even if the Nazis DID use the activities of the Rothschilds in their anti semitic [sic] propaganda. We must not obscure the truth with the need to be tactful’ (post, 8 April 2018)

Notably, the most antisemitic post on Bromley’s page very well could have been the one referenced in that post but not included in the report: the Rothschild meme.

Conspiracy theorists often use the Rothschilds, an ultra-rich Jewish family that amassed much of its fortune in banking, as a stand-in for all Jews in antisemitic narratives about Jewish power.

A Rothschild meme that isn’t at least implicitly antisemitic is quite difficult to imagine. Yet the irony here is that what Bromley actually says about the Rothschilds in the post cited above is a concerted effort to talk about the Rothschilds without being antisemitic. Bromley correctly observes that they are a relatively powerful family, compares them to the Medicis (who are not Jewish), and acknowledges the fact that the Nazis used the Rothschilds in their antisemitic propaganda.

I mildly disagree with Bromley’s opinion that criticizing specific families just for being rich and powerful is a helpful way to criticize capitalism itself, and I would argue that singling out the Rothschilds without feeding into antisemitic narratives is virtually impossible. The question of the appropriate response to Bromley’s post will be returned to below.

‘A huge sigh of relief echoes around Facebook’ (comment accompanying a shared BBC News story with the headline ‘Israeli spacecraft crashes on Moon’, 12 April 2019).

The report’s implication that Bromley’s joke about an (unmanned) Israeli spacecraft crashing shows that without acknowledging it, the report uses Israel as a stand-in for Jews. All one has to ask oneself is, would the British press, the British public, or the EHRC consider it a case of “unlawful harassment” if the same joke were made about the spacecraft of another country, such as Russia or China?

‘This is what’s behind all the false accusations of antisemitism. This is what, despite international condemnation, Israel does to its neighbour Palestine … All hidden behind a fog of fake accusations of antisemitism’ (comment alongside a post about injuries in Gaza, 12 April 2019).

‘Looks like fake accusations of AS [antisemitism] to undermine Labour just aren’t working, so let’s have Chris Williamson reinstated’ (post, 20 April 2019).

‘Are you losing the argument? Or is it that you have nothing of value to add? Why not call your opponent an… anti-semite! This will make you feel like you have won the argument and you wont [sic] need to provide any evidence’ (post, 15 May 2019).

‘My major criticism of him — his failure to repel the fake accusations of antisemitism in the LP [Labour Party] — may not be repeated as the accusations may probably now magically disappear, now capitalism has got what it wanted’ (post, 15 December 2019).

The fact that these four quotes from Bromley are implied to be antisemitic rests on what is perhaps the most Orwellian aspect of the whole report (and that’s saying something): the maxim that disputing the veracity of antisemitism complaints or arguing against the media orthodoxy that Labour faces antisemitism at crisis levels is itself antisemitic.

Rossendale Councillor Pam Bromley forms exactly half of the EHRC’s case that Labour “harassed” its Jewish members.

The report lists two categories of antisemitic conduct it found the Labour Party responsible for. The second category is:

2. Suggesting that complaints of antisemitism are fake or smears. Labour Party agents denied antisemitism in the Party and made comments dismissing complaints as ‘smears’ and ‘fake’.

In other words, allegations of antisemitism are essentially self-substantiating. If one is accused of antisemitism and accepts the accusation, the accusation is validated. If one disputes the allegation, one has then engaged in antisemitism simply by denying it. It was therefore logically impossible for there to be no Labour antisemitism crisis, according to the EHRC’s analytical framework.

The final post from Bromley forms the centerpiece of the EHRC’s argument against her:

‘Had Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party pulled up the drawbridge and nipped the bogus AS accusations in the bud in the first place we would not be where we are now and the fifth column in the LP would not have managed to get such a foothold … the Lobby has miscalculated … The witch hunt has created brand new fightback networks … The Lobby will then melt back into its own cesspit’ (post, date unknown).

The EHRC says the above post “refer[s] to Jewish people being a ‘fifth column’.” This is at best an amateurish misreading and at worst a malicious lie. Bromley quite simply did not say it.

The fact that a fifth column was present in the Labour Party under Corbyn’s leadership has been proven definitively. That fifth column consisted not of Jewish members, but of right-wing members who saw Tory governments as far preferable to their own party taking power with a radical platform.

An 860-page draft of an internal report leaked in April documented extensive efforts by Labour officials to sabotage their own party’s electoral outcomes with the goal of ending Corbyn’s leadership. The report included WhatsApp conversations in which senior officials actually rejoiced at drops in their own party’s poll numbers, joked about hanging and burning Corbyn, and derisively referred to members who didn’t ferociously oppose Corbyn as “trots” (as in “Trotskyites”).

The narrative that Labour faced crisis levels of antisemitism was not the motivation for the activities of Labour’s fifth column; it was merely an important weapon in their arsenal. For them, the antisemitism furor had nothing to do with the welfare of British Jews, nor the state of Israel; it was a means to the end of overthrowing the leadership.

So Bromley’s assessment wasn’t only not antisemitic, but actually more than plausible. The existence of historical tropes about Jews being a fifth column in Christian societies is not a justification for pretending Bromley said anything remotely close to the idea that Jews were a fifth column in Labour.

Her references to “the Lobby” are antisemitic only if one denies the objective fact that there is an Israel lobby in the UK and it played a central role in igniting the British media’s histrionics over Labour antisemitism.

The second “agent” of the Labour Party through which it is alleged to have unlawfully harassed its Jewish members is Ken Livingstone. In April 2016, Livingstone, by then eight years retired from public office, spoke about Facebook posts by Labour MP Naz Shah, which Shah apologized for.

Livingstone criticized Shah’s words as “completely over the top” but insisted they were not antisemitic.

The interesting thing here is that the actual antisemitic content here is nowhere mentioned in the EHRC report, and the report does not show pictures or quotations of Shah’s posts.

What does make Shah’s second post antisemitic is her claim that “The Jews” were “rallying to the poll at the bottom” of the article she linked to. She had no knowledge of whether those voting either way in the poll were Jewish, and in any case would have been wrong to frame it as an issue of Jewish identity.

The EHRC erroneously claims that Shah’s second post likens Israeli policies to those of Hitler; in reality, it merely uses the historical example of Nazism to draw a distinction between law and morality. The two claims made about Israeli state conduct, that the Israeli government is guilty of war crimes and practicing apartheid, are both accurate (and wouldn’t in themselves be proof of antisemitism even if they were inaccurate).

The first post is a joke that is anti-Israel but not clearly antisemitic, and the EHRC report makes no attempt to explain why it would be antisemitic. Shah’s caption refers to the over $3 billion dollars in annual US military aid to Israel (mistakenly representing the figure as pounds). It is fair, though, in light of the second post, to withhold the benefit of the doubt from Shah in asking whether the first had antisemitic motivations.

Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended over his defense of Naz Shah’s Facebook posts.

Yet the EHRC report did not assess Shah’s conduct directly, presumably because she made these posts in a personal rather than professional capacity. It is Livingstone who allegedly harassed Jews by saying Shah’s comments weren’t antisemitic.

Livingstone was incorrect in his assessment of at least Shah’s second post. He failed to recognize an instance of antisemitism as such. The main argument against him in the EHRC report, though, is that he framed the scrutiny of Shah within an alleged smear campaign orchestrated by the UK’s Israel lobby. This framing, according to the EHRC, plays into antisemitic tropes around Jewish power.

This brings up larger questions in contemporary debates on antisemitism, but the crux of the matter here becomes the question of whether the notion that there is an influential Israel lobby in UK politics is a reality or a figment of the antisemitic imagination.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, the Jewish Leadership Council, the Friends of Israel and its party-specific affiliates, the Israel Britain Alliance, StandWithUs, We Believe in Israel, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, and the All-Party Britain-Israel Parliamentary Group all boast that they effectively advocate for the state of Israel within British politics and society. Are those organizations playing into antisemitic tropes when they claim to exert influence on the UK government on behalf of Israeli interests? Or are they merely stating an obvious truth?

The second proposition would seem more sensible.

So whether this particular case of the scrutiny of Shah’s posts was or was not part of the UK Israel lobby’s efforts to shape UK policy in a manner favorable to Israel, it cannot reasonably be argued that any attribution of political influence to the Israel lobby is ipso facto antisemitic simply because it could conceivably be subsumed into antisemitic narratives about Jewish power.

Therefore, the only argument for Livingstone’s remarks being antisemitic (at least the only one the EHRC alludes to) is that they denied the antisemitic nature of Shah’s statement on “The Jews” flocking to an online poll.

So, let’s accept the following conclusions:

  1. One local councillor in the Labour Party used language that, while not explicitly antisemitic, lacked sensitivity and failed to account for how singling out the Rothschild family bolstered antisemitic narratives.
  2. A retired but well-known Labour official denied the antisemitic nature of an antisemitic statement someone else had made.

What is the appropriate response to these conclusions? Do the above speech acts constitute a party-wide crisis? Should they be considered “unlawful”? If so, who can be trusted to make those determinations, and how can they be applied equally across the board?

The traditional liberal view is that the appropriate response to ideas one disagrees with is to argue against them; that there is greater danger in vesting the state with powers to regulate speech than in allowing ideas to be debated freely.

Operating by these principles, the first remedy to Bromley’s insensitive language would be for constituents and perhaps even party officials to point out its insensitivity and try to convince her not to repeat it. Failing that, the second remedy would be for the voters in her district to elect a different councillor.

But let’s throw all of that out the window, for the sake of argument. Let’s accept that voters can’t be trusted, and that they need state bodies like the EHRC to regulate political speech. (There are indeed some rational arguments for this position.)

What would it look like, then, if the EHRC applied the same rigor to, for example, Islamophobia and anti-Black racism in the Conservative Party, as it does to antisemitism in the Labour Party? For that matter, what would in look like if the EHRC applied the same rigor to Islamophobia and anti-Black racism in the Labour Party?

These questions remain entirely hypothetical. The Muslim Council of Britain first submitted a dossier of allegations of Islamophobia on the part of 150 Conservative Party members to the EHRC in March 2019. The EHRC didn’t just decline to investigate; it didn’t even respond. The MCB sent an updated dossier with twice as many allegations in March of this year. It included all the incidents mentioned in the first section of this article, with “Jews” swapped out for “Muslims.” That time, the EHRC at least performed the courtesy of publicly stating that they still would not investigate.

Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson is accused of numerous acts of Islamophobia in the dossier that the Muslim Council of Britain submitted to the EHRC.

My argument here is not simple whataboutism. No amount of Islamophobia in one party excuses antisemitism in another. Yet by elevating one form of bigotry above others and applying special scrutiny to one party, the EHRC is both participating in the discrimination it’s supposed to prevent and putting its hand on the scale of British electoral politics.

Refusing to initiate similar investigations into other forms of discrimination is not the only way the EHRC sends the message that antisemitism is sui generis. A central thesis of its report is that the Labour Party discriminated against its Jewish members by failing to investigate antisemitism complaints in a manner entirely different than the one they use for other biases.

The report repeatedly urges the party to investigate antisemitism complaints using the quite different process it uses to investigate sexual harassment complaints.

It’s debatable whether those two types of complaints should be adjudicated similarly, but for the sake of argument, let’s accept the EHRC’s proposition. If the EHRC discriminated against Jews by investigating antisemitism using an inferior process to the sexual harassment process, shouldn’t it follow that it also discriminates against people of color by investigating racism through that inferior process?

For example, the report welcomes a change to the antisemitism investigation process that Labour introduced in August 2018. In order to make deliberations less “political,” the National Executive Committee began convening smaller panels of 3–5 people assisted by a barrister to decide antisemitism cases, as it does in sexual harassment cases. The EHRC welcomed this change.

So if that’s the right way to decide antisemitism cases, why would the same process not be applied to cases of racism, Islamophobia, or sexism? Antisemitism has its own unique history and tendencies, but so does every form of bigotry.

Obviously, the EHRC report addresses antisemitism specifically, which is why its authors saw fit to ignore comparisons to how other forms of bias were treated. But then, why would sexual harassment be an appropriate comparison?

If the EHRC had found that Labour implemented a process for investigating antisemitism that was significantly inferior to processes used for other biases, that very well could be evidence of institutional antisemitism. But the fact that Labour used a different, arguably inferior process for antisemitism than for sexual harassment is simply evidence that the designers of these processes held the view that those two phenomena are different enough to warrant different responses.

The EHRC’s second and third accusations of unlawful discrimination—that Labour discriminated against Jews by allowing political interference in deciding responses to antisemitism complaints, and that it discriminated against Jews by failing to provide adequate training before August 2020 for those deciding responses to antisemitism complaints—are at least systemic, rather than based on the words of two individuals. Yet there are gaping holes in the EHRC’s argument on both fronts.

The EHRC documents that even though Labour’s published process for addressing antisemitism complaints did not describe any role for the office of the Leader of the Opposition (LOTO) to play, LOTO staff often did intervene, resulting in a politicization of the process.

The EHRC laments elsewhere that suspensions and removal of suspensions were influenced by external pressure. But is it at all strange that a political party would react to public opinion on matters such as this? Surely the organizations who protested real or alleged Labour antisemitism saw it as a good thing when the party handed down sanctions in response to their criticisms.

There is a philosophical question raised here about the nature of politics—how could decisions of what constitutes antisemitism and how to remedy it possibly be apolitical, given that antisemitism has inextricable political content? And are the members of Labour’s NEC and National Constitutional Committee, the two bodies that deliberate antisemitism complaints, somehow apolitical?

Setting those questions aside, it’s perfectly reasonable to argue that Labour ought to obey its published process and keep the LOTO office out of such decision-making. It takes a further step, though, to demonstrate that the LOTO office’s interference constituted antisemitic discrimination. The EHRC utterly fails to do so.

The EHRC acknowledges and even cites examples showing that interventions by the LOTO office often had the intent and effect of encouraging the NEC to find antisemitism complaints were valid and/or apply harsher-than-otherwise sanctions to the members complained against. Why this occurred is no mystery—the supposed antisemitism crisis had become a scandal for the party, and displaying “zero tolerance” was at the core of its PR strategy.

The EHRC attempts to dismiss this counterargument by noting “the inappropriateness of political interference in antisemitism complaints is not necessarily about the particular outcomes that it led to, but rather the contamination (and/or the perception of contamination) of the fairness of the process.”

That logic supports a finding that Labour failed to follow its published process for antisemitism complaints, but does nothing whatsoever to refute the obvious observation that political interference in favor of sanctioning members for antisemitism is not evidence for discrimination against Jews.

The third charge of unlawful discrimination, relating to the previous lack of adequate training for those serving on the NEC and NCC panels that decided cases, is another instance of bureaucratic malfunction being twisted into supposed institutional antisemitism.

Again, no comparison is made to other forms of bias complaints. Were members trained in adjudicating complaints of every common type of bias except antisemitism? Or was the lack of training simply the sort of thing that happens constantly in the administrative functions of organizations like the Labour Party?

Furthermore, a similar problem arises as did in the last one. How do we know that the lack of training disadvantaged Jews who experienced antisemitism? The implied ineptitude of NEC and NCC panelists could have resulted in legitimate antisemitism complaints being dismissed, or it could just as easily have resulted in sanctions wrongly be applied to respondents who were falsely accused. So an accusation of institutional antisemitism is again unsupportable.

Outside of the three “unlawful act” accusations, the report consists of many more pages of shoddy argumentation and inconsistent application of principles. A brief overview of miscellaneous embarrassments:

  • The report seems at first to exclude from its purview assessing the conduct of ordinary members of the Labour Party, who hold no official titles. Yet the authors can’t resist a few paragraphs devoted to describing allegedly antisemitic social media posts by a tiny percentage of Labour’s membership of over half a million people. These vague accusations, tied to no named persons and accompanied by no data, include descriptions of obvious antisemitism in addition to the claim that an unspecified number of ordinary members “described a ‘witch hunt’ in the Labour Party, or said that complaints had been manufactured by the ‘Israel lobby’.” Again, the EHRC applies the Orwellian logic that denying the legitimacy of antisemitism complaints is itself antisemitic. If one wanted to assess whether a political party were responsible for antisemitism by researching the antisemitic beliefs of its ordinary members, it would be necessary to compare levels of antisemitic bias within the party membership to levels in the society overall. In fact, this has been done—incidentally, by the Campaign Against Antisemitism, one of the groups that participated in the EHRC’s inquiry. The CAA’s 2017 survey data found Labour supporters were less likely than respondents overall to endorse statements the CAA devised to be antisemitic.
  • Remarkably, the EHRC catalogs ample evidence suggesting the antisemitism complaint process was unfair to respondents, and even says they “found evidence of unfairness to the respondent in 42 out of 70 sample files.” Respondents were frequently not told specifically what they were accused of and by whom, and the system for allowing them to respond to allegations against them was “not always effective.” Yet somehow, even as the EHRC found evidence of unfairness to the respondent in the majority of cases, that evidence had zero bearing on the report’s overall conclusions.
  • The EHRC objects to members being suspended while investigated for antisemitism complaints then reinstated “with no explanation of why their behaviour was not considered to be antisemitic.” However, the burden of proof for antisemitism is on the accuser. How does one explain why an act or statement is not antisemitic, beyond saying that it doesn’t meet the criteria for being antisemitic? Can one coherently explain why riding a bicycle is not antisemitic?
  • Many more pages of the EHRC report are devoted to cases of bureaucratic incompetency, like poor record-keeping and discussing administrative matters through WhatsApp rather than formal channels. This is all implied to somehow be evidence of institutional antisemitism.
  • The EHRC notes that Labour didn’t publish statistical data on sanctions for antisemitic conduct until 2019. What it does not mention is that when Labour began publishing this data in 2019, it became the first political party in the UK to do so.

The EHRC report makes no attempt to explain the sharp spike in antisemitism sanctions that Labour handed down in 2019. The number of members suspended for antisemitism more than tripled from 98 in 2018 to 296 in 2019. Similar jumps occurred in the application of other sanctions for antisemitism. (Remember these figures consist almost entirely of the over half a million Labour members who hold no official positions, not Labour politicians.)

So apparently the level of antisemitism among Labour members suddenly skyrocketed, and/or the Labour Party received a deluge of antisemitism complaints that weren’t being submitted before, and/or the party made a calculation that it could double down on secondary-school-style discipline tactics in order to wriggle its way out of an unshakeable media obsession that said Labour harbored a unique tolerance for antisemitism.

A question far more crucial than the ones asked by the EHRC is, is this strategy working? Is it lessening the prevalence of antisemitism in the Labour Party or anywhere else?

Perhaps administrative sanctions like suspensions and expulsions send a helpful message that the party doesn’t tolerate antisemitism, or perhaps they reinforce the views of those who are sanctioned and raise concerns of censorship that ultimately inflame antisemitism. Effectively remedying biases that are in most cases subconscious is a difficult task for a political party to undertake, and few people seem to be asking how it can be done most effectively, if it all.

Even many in the party’s left wing seem to have resigned themselves to the notion that the path of least resistance is to accept the EHRC’s smears and let it blow over, rather than expose this document for the exercise in self-delusion that it is. The pro-Corbyn group Momentum released a statement that tacitly accepts the EHRC’s findings without a word of pushback.

One thing is for sure: the whole Labour antisemitism scandal has done nothing to make Britain a more equitable place. Debates over UK-Israel relations are now submerged into the discourse on British antisemitism, as if British Jews are the crucial stakeholders in a situation where millions of Palestinians are deprived of their most basic human rights. Even more ironically, concerns about genuine antisemitism, racism, and xenophobia in British politics, such as prominent Tories up to and including Johnson fraternizing with neo-fascist figures abroad, are now overshadowed by the sensation of Labour antisemitism.

Johnson meets Hungary’s neo-fascist prime minister Viktor Orbán.

Corbyn very well may be reinstated to the Labour Party soon, but to a certain degree, the damage is done. The Labour civil wars of Corbyn’s tenure have been willfully resurrected. Many Labour supporters who saw Corbyn as the British left’s best hope for the foreseeable future were already disillusioned with Labour’s new direction since its crushing defeat in December and Corbyn’s replacement. Starmer’s purge of the former leader will doubtless repel them even further.

Starmer’s strategy for repairing Labour’s reputation in the wake of the “antisemitism crisis” is in some ways similar to Corbyn’s, but with less equivocation. Corbyn walked a tightrope of acquiescing in many of the bogus antisemitism charges leveled against his party while also disputing the alleged endemic nature of Labour antisemitism.

Starmer, on the other hand, is fully prostrating himself before the party’s reactionary, hypocritical opponents. The more he says Labour was antisemitic, he figures, the less antisemitic people will think it is now. Hence his declaration that the release of the EHRC report was a “day of shame” for the Labour Party. Hence his injunction that anyone who believes the Labour antisemitism fiasco was “all exaggerated or a factional attack” should be “nowhere near the Labour Party.” Hence his nauseating pretense of being on the verge of tears as he made these statements.

Starmer’s groveling presser. Apparently, the sign on the podium was not enough to emphasize the fact that he is not Jeremy Corbyn; the slogan “A New Leadership” had to be duplicated over his shoulder.

Given that Corbyn’s acquiescence in much of the hysteria seems to have fed into the perception that he was a weak leader, it’s unclear whether Starmer’s doubling-down will have a similar effect, or if it will effectively return Labour to the politically worthless but sometimes electorally successful neoliberal consensus party it was before Corbyn.

Either way, Labour’s opponents can rest assured that many erstwhile party supporters who never bought into the mainstream media’s narrative on Labour antisemitism will take Starmer’s advice and stay away from the party for the foreseeable future.

I’m a writer, musician, and theatre artist from the US, currently located in Norway.