4th May 2016
Avoidance, Blame, Conspiracy and Deflection. The start of the anti-Semite alphabet!
By Tim Carter
I never thought I would have to write anything like this and to be honest it is breaking my political heart.
Many of my friends are angry. People I have never met are angry too. It seems a day doesn’t pass without another person telling me how angry they are. The problem is they have every right to be angry.
For as long as I care to remember I have always been proud to say that I’m Labour, and a big part of my being Labour has been about values. I always knew what Labour values were, or at least I thought I did.
I have lived through some difficult times with Labour, including the SDP split, Militant, Clause 4, Iraq – the list is long but I always knew that Labour values would win through and generally they have.
But this time it is different. My belief isn’t as strong. I am starting to doubt that the current values as presented by some senior Labour people are Labour values at all.
I never thought I would see a time when we would have senior Labour people express and make excuses for views that are so utterly repugnant they would be more at home in the BNP. But perhaps the most upsetting thing is the number of people ready to jump to their defence or to downplay the seriousness of the issue.
Back in the day I was called a number of names in my local pub to distinguish me from the other Tim; more often than not it was Labour Tim. It wasn’t something I encouraged but it stuck and has since followed me around. But for the first time in my life I feel uncomfortable with that label and it hurts. It hurts like hell.
For anyone reading this who knows me, I realise on occasions I am called other things but that is different story for another time.
And yes it makes me angry too. I want the Labour Party back. And for me part of getting it back means making it clear that there is no place in our party for anti-Semites of any description be they hard left, hard right or people at the extreme fringes of other religious groups.
And if the Party leadership can’t say that, without any caveats, then they should go. Not just from the leadership but from the Party. If they are happy to have anti-Semitism at the heart of our Party or refuse to tackle it then they must be told. Go and go now!
Having said that I need to make something clear. The Labour Party has always and should always be a broad church but every church has its boundaries and anti-Semitism however it is expressed is way outside of our boundaries.
That we have announced an enquiry is a good thing. The fact that we need one is shameful.
But there are also other issues: avoidance, blame, conspiracy and deflection.
- Avoidance: It is too close to an election to discuss this as it will damage the Party chances of victory.
- Blame: I have always held these views – if people stopped moaning about anti-Semitism up no one would be interested. So don’t blame me, blame them.
- Conspiracy: It is a set-up – look who publicised what they/we said – the Tory media!
- Deflection: Look at what the Tories are proposing for schools – moan about that!
There you have it – ABCD – the start of the anti-Semites alphabet.
Tomorrow we face important elections in the UK and many Labour activists have spent every evening and weekend over recent months campaigning for Labour. They have been on the doorstep; talking about housing, about poverty, about NHS cuts, about low wages, most of all they are talking about real Labour issues and representing real Labour values and showing real leadership.
This is just a small blog and this is one of many posts on the subject but I want to say sorry.
I want to say sorry to the Jewish community that my Party has allowed such repugnant, evil views to become entrenched within parts of our membership.
I want to say sorry to the fantastic activists who are facing hostility on the doorstep – this has made a tough job even tougher and I know the majority of you are as angry as I am.
But it shouldn’t be me saying sorry – it should be our leadership. Not just Corbyn but leadership at every level of the Party. Many of the views being expressed pre-date Corbyn’s leadership but the apologists and ABCD merchants don’t. There appears to be a climate within the Party at the moment where such views are becoming acceptable and this needs to be stamped out.
On a personal note I want to go back to the days when Labour Tim was a friendly term and not something attached to dirty, grubby anti-Semitism.
In my neck of the woods I hope that Sadiq Khan wins on Thursday. I hope Labour candidates win as many seats as possible and remind people that Labour values are good values. They are values that speak for everyone, for the whole of the country, they are values we can and should be proud of.
For avoidance of doubt I want everyone who supports real Labour values to go out and vote for those values on Thursday. I hope Labour win big.
But most of all I hope that the avoidance, blame, conspiracies and deflection stop. Only when that happens and we accept that we are in a very bad place can we start to rebuild as a political party and when we start to do that we will realise it’s a long road back to gaining people’s trust. Elections tomorrow, whatever the result, won’t alter that.
If we can’t do that we might as well pack and go home.
By Tim Carter (@forwardnotback)