It was Rebecca Long-Bailey’s turn. The hapless shadow BEIS secretary (just typing that now gave me a shudder) was the latest to be wheeled out to make some grandiose yet ultimately content free statement on behalf of the Labour Party on the subject du jour, namely how a). anti-Semitism was no longer going to be tolerated within the Labour Party and b). quite how this was going to happen being as vague as the government’s Brexit negotiation strategy. She unintentionally summarised Labour’s whole current problem with anti-Semitism with this “Thick of It” worthy statement: “We do take a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitism but that hasn’t always been enforced as effectively as it should have been.” Rebecca, here’s the thing: if a rule isn’t enforced effectively, then you can’t count your approach to it as zero tolerance. That’s where the “zero” in this equation fits in.
Although I sort of hate to admit it, Brendan O’Neill got to the heart of the matter perfectly in the Spectator the other day: Corbyn’s excuse that he didn’t notice the anti-Semitism in the mural exposes more than the leader’s office considered when they released it. Had that been any other religious or racial group being defamed on a mural, it would have taken Jeremy Corbyn all of six milliseconds to have registered every conceivable slander in the picture. But looking at a painting containing what can only be described as text book, stereotypical anti-Semitism, according to his own admission the whole thing passed him by. It didn’t register with him whatsoever. Again, this all to be directly inferred from Corbyn’s own words on the matter.
The real question here is why the whole of the Labour frontbench have such a massive problem in dealing with this issue when tackling racism is a core tenet of their belief system. Even if they aren’t that sensitive to anti-Semitism, can’t they just imagine it was a mural depicting stereotypical racist slurs against black people and then just apply the same feeling? What I’m asking here is, why can’t they even fake feeling bad or at least semi-sensitive about this topic in any remotely buyable way?
There are loads of things I disagree with the Labour frontbench about. Which is why I find it so odd that something I agree with them on, that racism is something we should continue working to eliminate from society as diligently as possible, is being transgressed by them and thus grinding the whole thing to a halt and could even be the catalyst for a spilt in the party. Even I would find something sad about that being the case, even if it created a change I thought was long overdue.