It is slightly unclear why the latest round of furore over Labour and anti-Semitism has begun.
However, it coincides with the efforts of Labour MPs to obviate the party’s belated Democracy Review.
It also dovetails with the Tory leadership contest, having entered its final stage .
What served as the pretext this time was the brief reinstatement, and resuspension, of Chris Williamson MP – a noted advocate of the Democracy Review.
Much to the chagrin of an inevitably anonymous series of his peers, Williamson had joked that he wanted to see a number of them being de-selected; which, unsurprisingly, did not prove endearing.
However, Williamson had initially been suspended from the party in February 2019; after reportedly saying “Labour has been ‘too apologetic’ about antisemitism”, as the Guardian’s headline puts it.
That is not a fair reflection of Williamson’s remarks, as can be seen from watching the Guardian’s own video. What he had said is that:
“The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party.
I’ve got to say I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that, you know. Because in my opinion…I’ve got to say, we’ve backed off far too much, we’ve given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic…
And we’ve done more to actually address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other political party” .
Needless to say, referring to anti-Semitism as a “scourge” hardly indicates sympathy for the prejudice.
It is also pretty clear that Williamson was not suggesting Labour had been too apologetic about anti-Semitism – but that it had been too willing to accept accusations of being a racist party.
That is perhaps a matter of opinion.
Nonetheless, the issue evidently has been used to try and undermine Jeremy Corbyn personally, and Labour more generally, by their political opponents.
This is a point Williamson can be heard making in the more expansive video of his speech, uploaded by the Daily Mail – which, oddly enough, was more accurate with its headline than the Guardian had been.
Although its accompanying article was somewhat less exact.
It may be tempting, then, to be supportive of Williamson – but I don’t agree that this is merited. It is important to watch the video of Williamson speaking.
It is fair to say that the media’s coverage of these matters is unhelpful, and frequently wide of the mark. Or something far worse, at times. Likewise, that people involved in Labour’s leadership, including Corbyn, have often made life needlessly difficult for themselves.
But then, that is all anyone needs to say. It does not necessitate rabble-rousing, or histrionics. Williamson’s tone is way over the top, and beyond insensitive. That’s not good enough as conduct to begin with – particularly given the circumstances.
Neither is it an anomaly for Williamson; who has repeatedly made ill-considered gestures, and thoughtless remarks – indifferent to any wider personal impact, or political repercussions, these might have. Often being very blithe in the process .
He is not alone in that respect among Labour politicians. Nor is it difficult to demonstrate that the behaviour of Williamson and similar personalities has proven damaging to themselves, as well as to Corbyn – and Labour – in a way that mudslinging has not.
There has been a very obvious campaign of denunciation run against Jeremy Corbyn; which began once it became apparent that he might win the Labour leadership contest of 2015.
According to one commentator alone, Corbyn is variously implicated in anti-Semitism, while being an intolerant populist, a purveyor of Stalinesque elitism, and a hard-left conservative .
Elsewhere, Corbyn has been accused of overseeing a Trotskyite uprising, being a secret supporter of Brexit, and personally responsible for Brexit, an apologist for the IRA, an apologist for Islamist terrorism; and even the informant for a Czech spy.
No doubt, all from the confines of his allotment .
In fact, disparaging claims against Corbyn have centered on a remarkably wide variety of issues.
When he opposed the continued underpayment of European agency workers, Labour politicians likened him to Nigel Farage.
When he spoke up in defence of migrants at his party’s conference, Labour politicians complained that he was not listening to the public’s supposed concerns about immigration.
He’s wrong to prioritise Labour Party members over the public, said the Observer newspaper in September 2016.
He’s wrong to prioritise the public over Labour Party members, said the same paper two years later.
He’s not appealing enough to the middle class.
He’s appealing too much to the middle class.
Corbyn is a red Tory. A right-wing sell-out (a Blairite, it notes in the URL); who doesn’t care about the problems faced by people on low wages, says the journalist John Rentoul.
Corbyn is an anti-Capitalist, who is insufficiently grovelling towards companies which employ people on low wages, says the same John Rentoul.
He’s too radical, according to Observer columnist Andrew Rawnsley (note the URL).
He’s not radical at all, according to the same Andrew Rawnsley, in the same paper.
And too radically left-wing, says Nick Cohen in the Observer.
And not radically left-wing enough, says Nick Cohen in The Spectator – a famous hot-bed of radical left-wing thought.
Corbyn is too elitist, says the Times.
Too populist, says the BBC.
Too nostalgic, bemoans John Harris in the Guardian.
Not nostalgic enough, bemoans Harris in the New Statesman.
Corbyn is like Donald Trump, suggests James O’Brien.
He almost makes Trump look like a genius, in fact, O’Brien adds on LBC radio.
He’s not like Donald Trump after all, O’Brien explains.
He’s worse than Donald Trump, O’Brien concludes.
Corbyn’s problem is that he’s too principled – suggests one pundit in The New Statesman.
Corbyn’s problem is that he’s not principled at all – suggests another pundit in The New Statesman.
Too milquetoast, says Brendan O’Neill in The Spectator.
Too terrifying, says O’Neill in the same publication.
Too sensitive, O’Neill opines in The Sun.
Too insensitive, he suggests back in The Spectator.
And a threat to life as we know it.
Too mundane to be a threat to life as we know it.
Not a communist.
Definitely a communist.
He’s not interested in power, says Nick Cohen in The Spectator.
He’s too interested in power, says Nick Cohen in Standpoint Magazine.
He’s unelectable, says Nick Cohen in the Observer.
He’s too electable, says Nick Cohen again in the Observer.
Too keen on Brexit, complains Dan Hodges.
Not keen enough on Brexit, complains Dan Hodges – covering both bases, there.
He’s wrong not to oppose Theresa May’s plans for Brexit, says Phillip Collins in The Times.
He’s wrong not to support Theresa May’s plans for Brexit, says Phillip Collins in The Times.
By failing to oppose Tory Brexit, he’s acting against the national interest, says an angry Peter Mandelson in the New Statesman.
By failing to support Tory Brexit, he’s acting against the national interest, says a no less angry Peter Mandelson in the Daily Mail.
He’s wrong for not wanting a general election.
He’s wrong for wanting a general election.
Corbyn makes Labour’s electoral oblivion inevitable.
He should easily have won the General Election of 2017, with a landslide victory.
In sum, whatever Corbyn says or does, his critics will denounce – no matter how much they contradict themselves in the process.
This evidently has not prevented him being elected to lead the party; or retaining his position, in a second leadership vote. Nor did it prevent the surge of support for Labour in the 2017 General Election; despite all efforts to the contrary.
Likewise, a commotion over anti-Semitism was contrived by Labour MPs hostile towards Corbyn, to coincide with the onset of Labour’s NEC votes in July-August 2018 .
Yet the nine pro-Corbyn candidates were all elected to the NEC. Eight of them comfortably.
Languishing last among them, however, was Peter Willsman; who had thrown a temper tantrum in response to the allegations of anti-Semitism. Failing to learn his lesson, he would be suspended from the party in May 2019; after equally ill-considered comments came to light.
In February 2019, similar accusations about Corbyn and anti-Semitism were made to serve as one pretext for launching The Independent Group – later renamed Change UK; thereafter the Independent Group For Change .
Amidst a blaze of media hype, Change UK entered the European elections of May 2019 with zero MEPs – and left the elections with none. The party disintegrated immediately afterwards.
So, all of the nonsense directed at Corbyn has achieved precisely nothing in four years. Beyond the personal embarrassment of those concerned, at any rate.
By contrast, the behaviour of Ken Livingstone, Peter Willsman, and Chris Williamson, has resulted in their own respective downfalls.
Handing easy gifts to their political foes. Creating needless problems for others to contend with; while undermining Corbyn, and Labour, in the process.
More to the point, somebody’s conduct does not need to have the worst of motives, in order to be unacceptable.
I don’t think Chris Williamson is anti-Semitic, or that he has any sympathy for anti-Semitism. But I think he is irresponsible. That he very consciously plays to the gallery – in a deeply divisive and inconsiderate fashion; purposely courts controversy, no matter the cost to others; and that his judgment is severely flawed.
These are serious failings in their own right. They do not help anyone, or benefit any cause. Instead, they only serve to damage them.
Regardless of any wider context, or anybody else’s shortcomings, Williamson’s personal conduct is troubling; and ultimately indicates that he cannot be regarded as fit or proper to hold an office of high trust and responsibility.
They are sufficient reasons to say he needs to step down as a Member of Parliament. For everyone’s sake; including his own.
 At the time of writing, Jeremy Hunt remains the one Tory leadership candidate who can still potentially beat Boris Johnson, in a race to the bottom.
This was made plain when Hunt recently suggested that Jeremy Corbyn might create another Auschwitz, in Britain. Suffice to say, Hunt’s comments are more than a bit unhinged.
Hunt attempted to justify his presentiment, however:
“I think some of his comments, for example about Jewish people not understanding English irony, betray some deeply-held prejudices which ought to worry people.”
Corbyn had not said this, of course.
As Jewish News go on to almost clarify themselves, he had instead described “a group of British Zionists of lacking any ‘sense of irony’ despite having lived in this country ‘for a very long time’” (link in the original).
This is not quite accurate either. Nor is it the whole story.
In 2013, Corbyn had given a short speech at a conference called ‘Britain’s Legacy in Palestine’.
During the course of this, Corbyn alluded to several pro-Israel activists, who attended a previous lecture made by the Palestinian Ambassador Manuel Hassassian, at a Palestine Solidarity event, in January 2013; and were seemingly oblivious to the drollery of a remark he had made.
One of the activists in question was Richard Millett – who, in 2018, complained about Corbyn’s speech, to the Daily Mail.
That Millett very clearly had not understood Hassassian’s joke is demonstrated in his blogpost; under which a number of similar personalities had posted comments. Seemingly no more alert to sarcasm than Millett himself.
There is no independent transcript of either Hassassian’s words, or the comments made to him; and journalistic coverage would seem to have merely duplicated material directly from Millett’s blog, despite his unreliability.
Nonetheless, even going by Millett’s write-up, it is clear that Hassassian had made a dry joke about his own despondency at the diminishing prospect of a two-state solution, for the Israel-Palestine conflict.
It was this which Corbyn had been referring to; as Millett and his peers would seem to have reproached Hassassian aggressively in response.
Several attempts at tortuously extrapolating a prejudicial inference from Corbyn’s words ensued, in August 2018; along with various misrepresentations of what he had actually said.
Needless to say, alluding to one group of Zionists is not the same as referring to Zionists – let alone Jewish people – en masse.
It is also clearly a nonsense to suggest that Zionism and Jewish identity are coterminous; while implying that Corbyn can be faulted for supposedly doing the exact same thing. Which he had not done, anyway.
Quite the opposite, as it happens; before devoting the rest of his speech to criticism of Britain and British colonialism. Not that either of these aspects received much notice.
More could be said here – but people can watch the video of Corbyn’s speech for themselves; and make their own minds up about whether he had meant anything untoward, or was simply poking fun at several individuals.
 My transcript – the ellipses denote unintelligible/inaudible parts spoken by Williamson. Other peoples’ hearing may be better than mine, I will concede, however.
 Chris Williamson has been criticised for a number of incidents, in addition to the speech which led to his suspension.
Some of the allegations against Williamson are not accurate, while several are badly distorted; and none of these cases resulted in disciplinary procedures.
However, others exemplify the reasons why his conduct is both a problem, and cause for concern – sufficient to warrant his replacement as an MP.
One of these involved Williamson signing and promoting a petition, in defence of the musician Gilad Atzmon.
Atzmon is a disquieting personality, by all accounts.
He is himself Jewish and Israeli, yet has repeatedly made anti-Semitic statements; and was barred from performing at a venue in Islington, by the Labour council, ultimately on account of this.
A petition was created on Atzmon’s behalf; which Williamson then endorsed on Twitter.
There perhaps is an uncomfortable question to be asked about the rights and wrongs of banning a musician from performing, on account of their obnoxious views. But there is no reason to believe that this was Williamson’s motivation.
In fact, Williamson professed to have been unaware of Atzmon’s past comments. Stating “I wasn’t aware of this until after I tweeted the petition”.
There is room for doubt, but this is at least plausible for Williamson’s part. Atzmon is quite notorious, and openly repudiated, by many Palestine-rights activists; but he remains an obscure figure in general.
Moreover, anyone familiar with Atzmon’s past history must surely have foreseen how much controversy would ensue. Particularly in the current political environment.
Equally, it is maybe not surprising that anyone unfamiliar with Atzmon’s anti-Semitic statements could be misled by the petition, as it omits any reference to them.
It begs the question, however, why Williamson did sign and publicise the petition in the first place. This can perhaps be answered by the petition itself (I’m not linking to it directly here, as it is still active).
It states that the Council had banned Atzmon “in response to pressure from a single ardent pro-Israel campaigner”.
In his apology on Twitter, Williamson attested that he signed the petition, after being told Atzmon had “been banned by Islington council merely because of his pro-Palestinian views”.
This was not true – but nonetheless, incidents of that kind have occurred in the past, on grounds which were unjustified (although the circumstances were not always straightforward).
So, it is not inconceivable somebody could read the petition, and believe it was accurate. However, the language of the petition itself should have given anyone cause for serious doubt.
Not least of all its quite ridiculous complaint that “Britain is now a tyrannical Orwellian state” and “we are witnessing an end to a free society, as we know it”. The remainder of its wording was hardly more temperate.
So, Williamson may not have known very much about Atzmon; but he can be faulted for signing such an obviously tendentious petition to begin with.
It is also fair to be concerned about any MP supporting an initiative, when they knew nothing of substance about it. Especially when, potentially at least, it could prove harmful.
Likewise, Williamson has retweeted posts by a Twitter user, who had previously made anti-Semitic remarks.
Williamson was seemingly unaware of this – and it would not be fair to assume that retweeting somebody’s recent comments means endorsing anything they have ever said or done in the past.
However, when it was brought to Williamson’s attention, and was plainly true, he dismissed the concerns very nonchalantly.
There have been commentaries defending Williamson, and calling for his reinstatement; on the grounds that the speech which resulted in his suspension was misrepresented. It undoubtedly has been.
Likewise, a number of his critics are extremely hypocritical.
Ultimately, it makes no odds.
There is no concrete reason to doubt that Williamson is sincere when he states his opposition to all forms of racism – but clearly, actively mitigating prejudices, of any kind, requires more than platitudes.
Williamson’s decidedly glib sentiments are not matched by his conduct. Instead, there have been repeated instances where he was demonstrably unconcerned; even when something untoward had been in evidence. This is clearly a significant failing.
So, the initial reason for Williamson’s suspension may not have been valid; but I think his overall behaviour necessitates his resignation, or replacement.
 As it happens, Bloodworth was bemoaning Corbyn’s opposition to regime change – of the kind which proved such a noted success in Chile during 1973. Or more recently, in Iraq, and Libya.
It is a mystery why Corbyn does not welcome the prospect of something similar occurring in Venezuela.
 Corbyn supposedly informed the Czechoslovakian agent, at regular intervals, about Margaret Thatcher’s choice of breakfast.
Just the kind of thing you might expect from a Trotskyite, of the Stalinist variety. And if what I hear is correct, some Trotskyite Stalinists might even be communists.
The Czech agent was a busy man, it would seem. How he found space in his schedule to collaborate with Corbyn, at the same time as founding the Live Aid concert, was not explained by any of the newspapers which reported his claims verbatim.
 To cut a very long story short, during the Summer of 2018, Labour’s leadership engaged in several weeks of pointless bickering with colleagues, over four examples in the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism relating to the State of Israel; only to adopt them anyway, once the elections had concluded.
A combination of calculated political cynicism, indifference towards accuracy, boorish antics, invective, mudslinging, ineptitude, and disregard for freedom of expression – or pluralism – made the surrounding upset one of the most farcical, but troubling, episodes in recent political and journalistic history.
To no avail, all round.
 Other pretexts for Labour MPs resigning, and creating the Independent Group/Change UK, were Jeremy Corbyn’s supposedly insouciant attitude towards Venezuela’s government; and his “handling” of Brexit.
The latter is perhaps plausible. After all, even a Labour MP who had lobbied for the first EU referendum – called for it a second time – voted to conduct it, and derided others for not accepting its result, has faulted Corbyn for respecting the outcome.
However, the impetus was largely the upshot of a US-UK lobbying network.
This is made plain by Chuka Umunna’s involvement. Umunna being an advisor to the Progressive Centre think tank – which includes a number of politicians, entrepreneurs, journalists, and lobbyists.
It was derived from the Global Progress nexus – itself set up by the Centre for American Progress; staffed by former aides of Barack Obama, and Bill/Hillary Clinton, amongst others.
Change UK bore all the hallmarks of these peoples’ combined talents, strategic mastery, and personal foresight; in as much as it failed abysmally.
Suffice to say, for present purposes, three MPs had also quit the Conservative Party to join this endeavour; and cannot plausibly have done so in order to protest against Jeremy Corbyn, on any grounds.