On 29 October 2020, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party from September 2015 to April 2020, was suspended from membership of the Labour party and had the whip withdrawn from him. This followed in response to the publication of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission’s October 2020 report into the Labour party’s handling of allegations of antisemitism during the time that Mr Corbyn was leader of the party.
The EHRC Report found the Labour party guilty on three counts, also holding Jeremy Corbyn responsible for failings on this question. In a press release following the report’s publication, Mr Corbyn stated that the question of antisemitism had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”. Sir Keir Starmer, Corbyn’s successor, has stated that Corbyn was suspended for his press release and his “failure to retract his words”, which failure, according to Starmer, amounted to Corbyn becoming a denier of antisemitism.
Whatever the excuse, it is perfectly clear even to the most dull-witted that there is a witch hunt under way to weed out those closely associated with Mr Corbyn. Earlier, in June, Rebecca Long-Bailey, an associate of Mr Corbyn’s and a leadership contender against Sir Keir, was sacked from the shadow cabinet for retweeting Maxine Peake when she said that the US police tactic of kneeling on someone’s neck had been taught to them by the Israeli secret service.
While the American police need no training from anyone in practising brutality, the assertion that they learnt it from the Israelis could hardly be described as an example of antisemitism.
Whatever people’s views of Mr Corbyn, nobody with the slightest degree of honesty and objectivity can accuse him of being a racist, in particular of being an antisemite. Throughout his life he has fought against racial bigotry.
Why was Corbyn targeted? Lies, damned lies and hypocrisy
The real reasons for Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension from Labour are two-fold:
First is his antiwar stance. He has opposed imperialist wars waged by Britain and the US. On becoming the leader of the Labour party, he apologised in Parliament to the Iraqi people for the criminal war waged against them by Tony Blair and George W Bush, to the shouts of “Shut up, man” from his Labour party colleagues in the House of Commons.
Second is his consistent support for the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people and his criticisms of the Israeli state’s atrocities against the occupied Palestinian people.
While the British media and prominent zionists and organisations have been busy trumpeting Corbyn’s alleged ‘tolerance of antisemitism’ in the Labour party (it being ‘antisemitism’ in their view to deny the existence of the non-existent Labour party antisemitism problem), they are all criminally silent about the occupation of Palestine, the stealing of Palestinian people’s homes and hearths, and the daily repression and atrocities perpetrated by the Israeli state on millions of people in Palestine. Such people are not even democrats; they are scoundrels of the worst type.
While giving extensive publicity to the statements of every right-wing bigot, jewish or non-jewish, who accuses the Labour party of harbouring antisemitism and Jeremy Corbyn of tolerating it, the imperialist media totally ignore the voices of a significant number of jewish members of the Labour party who have stood by Jeremy Corbyn and have refuted the charges of antisemitism levelled against both him and the party. Here is just one of the many examples:
Andrew Feinstein, a jewish former African National Congress (ANC) member of parliament in South Africa, has gone on record accusing the opponents of Jeremy Corbyn of “abusing the notion of antisemitism” to attack him. Speaking to Channel 4, Mr Feinstein, who has lectured at Auschwitz on genocide, and whose family lost 39 members in the jewish holocaust, emphatically declared that Jeremy Corbyn is not remotely antisemitic; that Keir Starmer has no grounds for suspending him; and that the EHRC report explicitly supports Corbyn’s right to make the comments for which he was suspended.
Asked if he himself feared being threatened with suspension from the Labour party, he vehemently stated that people should know that he was the first person to introduce a motion on the holocaust in the history of the South African parliament. We may add, for the benefit of the reader, that Mr Feinstein has waged a lifelong struggle against antisemitism and would certainly never tolerate antisemitism in the Labour party he belongs to if this existed to any meaningful extent. He said that if an attempt were to be made to suspend him from membership he would fight it vigorously.
The truth is, among other things, the hoax of antisemitism in the Labour party is being used as a cover-up for attacking those who object to the occupation of Palestine and the repression of the Palestinian people, let alone those who question the very basis of the existence of the Israeli settler-colonial state, which for its own reasons imperialism brought into existence and continues to support financially, militarily, diplomatically and politically.
All the same, as a settler-colonial state, it is bound to collapse. The laws of history are far stronger than the laws of artillery.
A five-year campaign
The attempts to get rid of Mr Corbyn have been underway ever since he was elected the leader of the Labour party in September 2015. He found himself on the ballot paper for its leadership only because quite a few of those who never wanted to vote for him lent their signatures to enable him to contest the election in order to liven up an otherwise dull contest.
Because of his past association with various progressive causes, his very presence in the electoral slate enthused literally several hundred thousand people to join the party. As a result, the Labour party’s membership shot up from 180,000 to 610,000. Corbyn was also able to secure support from the biggest trade union in the country, Unite the union, along with several others.
During his leadership campaign, Mr Corbyn addressed packed rallies all over the country, including at the Glastonbury festival, at all of which he was greeted with great enthusiasm. Notwithstanding the hostile reception he received from the media, the establishment and the Labour party grandees, Corbyn won on the first ballot by a thumping 59.9 percent of the vote.
His victory stunned and shocked the British establishment and the Labour party alike. At the same time, there was euphoria among a significant minority of the population who suffered from the illusion that Corbyn’s victory was a passport to socialism; that socialism could be achieved in Britain on the cheap through parliamentary means.
No sooner had Corbyn become the leader of the Labour party than the establishment prepared plans to neutralise him. A very big part in this plan was played by war criminals of the Blair-Brown vintage.
Labour’s former leaders attacked Corbyn claiming that under him the Labour party would become a permanent protest movement, unelectable – in fact, “a Marxist throwback”. Speaking in the Royal Festival Hall, former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown said that under Corbyn’s leadership the Labour party would implement (would that it were true!) a “Soviet-style command economy and our allies would be Hizbollah, Hamas, Hugo Chávez and Vladimir Putin”.
Labour under Corbyn, said Mr Brown, would become “unelectable”. He failed to realise the irony that he himself had hardly proved to be a very electable leader! Jack Straw, another war criminal, and several similar creatures, weighed in with comments of the same nature.
Yvette Cooper, one of the leadership contenders who lost to Corbyn, stated that Jeremy Corbyn offered old solutions to old problems, not new answers to the problems of today. Ms Cooper may not have realised that the old problems of hunger, destitution, homelessness, unemployment, racism, war and the superexploitation of the oppressed nations, continue to be plague us today, and that the old solution for getting rid of all these problems through the abolition of capitalism and the overthrow of the capitalist class are as valid today as they ever were.
Not wishing to lag behind, the Jewish Chronicle, a zionist rag, joined the foray in undermining Mr Corbyn.
Corbyn never had the support of more than 15 out of the 232 of his parliamentary colleagues. The remaining 217 were either opposed to him or quite unenthusiastic about his being their leader. Not surprisingly, then, the majority of Labour MPs waged open warfare against him, with the result that he had great difficulty in putting together a shadow cabinet.
Unable to stand Corbyn any more, Labour party parliamentarians in June 2016 passed a motion of no confidence in him, forcing another leadership election. The candidate of the Labour party establishment in this election was the unpleasant Mr Owen Smith, who had a record of support for the establishment’s criminal ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya, for British air strikes on Iraq, and for renewing Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons programme. Smith tried to present himself as a left-winger but it didn’t work and Jeremy was once more elected.
As a result, Labour went into the 2017 general election under the leadership of Corbyn, to the accompaniment of a ferocious campaign by the media, the Tory party and a lot of Labour worthies aimed at making sure Labour would lose miserably, thus providing an opportunity to get rid of Mr Corbyn.
In the event, however, the election proved an utter disappointment to Corbyn’s opponents. The Labour party secured 40 percent of the vote and 40 percent of the seats, while the Tory majority was much reduced as a result of losing several seats to Labour. This had the effect of subduing, albeit temporarily, the opponents of Corbyn generally, in particular in the Labour party.
All the same, the attack on Corbyn was relentlessly maintained. Under attack, Corbyn proved not to be up to the task of defending his position. One by one he jettisoned his hitherto cherished beliefs. From the question of support for Venezuela and air strikes in Syria to the renewal of Trident, support for the Palestinians, upholding the Brexit referendum result and several other issues, Jeremy caved in.
The establishment even wheeled out serving senior military officers, including a general, to say that Corbyn constituted a security risk, stating further that if he became prime minister, the armed forces would not obey him. This was nothing short of a threatened coup against an elected prime minister. So much for the much-vaunted British democracy and the ‘Mother of Parliaments’!
There is no question that, had there not been internal Labour party subversion against him, Labour would have won the 2017 general election and Jeremy Corbyn would have been the prime minister. However, the Labour establishment and the majority of its parliamentary representatives gladly handed victory to the Tories rather than allowing Mr Corbyn into No 10.
Then came the general election of 2019. The main issue this time was that of Britain leaving the European Union. It was indeed a Brexit election. Again, under pressure from the ruling class, its press, its electronic media, and sizeable sections of the Labour party membership, Corbyn deserted the Brexit camp, thereby betraying the trust of 17.5 million people who in the Brexit referendum in 2016 had voted to leave the EU.
In doing so, he sealed his party’s electoral fate. Lots of those who voted to leave the EU were Labour supporters, especially in northern parliamentary constituencies that regularly voted in Labour MPs. The result was a Conservative victory in the 2019 election and the resignation of Corbyn as leader of the Labour party.
Keir Starmer was elected the new leader in April 2020 and has since then taken several steps to reassure the ruling class that Labour is in safe hands, and that British imperialist interests, at home and abroad, would be well guarded if he were elected. (In fact, they would have been even under a Corbyn administration – but that was not the perception of much of the ruling class.)
Lessons for our movement summed up
The whole saga of the rise of Corbyn to the Labour leadership and his subsequent suspension from it, has important consequences.
First, and most important, it is a lesson for the British working class about the true nature of the Labour party. Far from being an instrument for the achievement of socialism, it is a party that always has been, now is, and always will be, a party of imperialism. It will defend to the last the interests of imperialism in general, and those of British imperialism in particular.
This is a lesson that has been offered to the British working class several times before. It is very much to be hoped that the latest instalment of this lesson will sink in on the principle that repetition is the key to learning.
Second, it is bound to lead to the acceleration of the disintegration of the Troto-revisionist rump, which has been for so long peddling the illusion that the Labour party is a socialist party and an instrument for bringing socialism through Parliament.
Third, class-conscious workers, disgusted with the politics of the Labour party and its hangers-on – the Trotskyites and revisionists – must join the ranks of a truly revolutionary Marxist-Leninist party that fights resolutely against imperialism and capitalism.