No, it intrigues me because there’s always something to complain about. Is Corbyn’s fudge on Brexit worse than Blair’s certainty about invading Iraq? If someone can vote and leaflet for a party that launched an illegal invasion that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and instability in the region for years to come because they felt that party had a broader purpose, then by what moral yardstick is the party’s position on Brexit too much to bear? Is it that this particular straw is too heavy or that the camel’s back has just become too frail?
The issue of antisemitism is more delicate. Nobody should feel badgered into staying in a party where they do not feel welcome. And when Jews do not feel welcome in the Labour party because they are Jews then that is a serious problem. This issue has been handled badly and at some point that shifts from a bureaucratic matter to an ethical one of institutional indifference. There are clear moral reasons why anyone, but particularly Jews, might abandon the party.
This mass-sensitisation to and mobilisation against prejudice both within the party and without is to be welcomed. I do, however, wonder where that sensitivity was when senior figures in the party were burqa-baiting, accusing the children of asylum seekers of “swamping” schools, celebrating the Empire and branding the Liberal Democrats as “on the side of failed asylum seekers” while Labour was on “your side” (a byelection campaign run by the deputy Labour leader, Tom Watson). The point here is not to change the subject but to contextualise it. Labour has a history of both fighting bigotry and harbouring and, at times, propagating it, precisely because it is embedded in the society it wishes to transform and contracts the very viruses it aims to eradicate. It is helpful to understand the issue of antisemitism in the party as part of a continuum because it can provide allies rather than set up communal rivalries.
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