This campaign quickly snowballed out of all control – every time the Corbyn leadership took a step back and agreed to a demand raised by the saboteurs, his opponents demanded more. Thousands of members, often key activists in Labour Party branches up and down the country, have been thrown to the wolves in the process. The ’10 pledges’ put forward by the pro-Tory Board of Deputies encapsulate how successful this campaign managed to become in a few short years: Keir Starmer and even ‘Corbyn successor’ Rebecca Long-Bailey signed up and promised to implement lifetime bans for victims of the witch-hunt, while pledging to suspend all Labour Party members who dare to support or even just share a platform with those falsely accused of antisemitism.
Corbyn’s decision to try to appease the witch-hunters made him into a sitting duck for the right inside and outside the party. The establishment media gleefully got in on the action. And if a lie is repeated often enough, it becomes the truth. This is, in our view, the chief reason why many working class voters turned away from the Labour Party at the general election of 2019.
Predictably, the witch-hunt has not stopped with Corbyn’s defeat. It appears that the opportunity is being used to try and get rid of the entire left in the party. The recent suspension of the Wavertree 4 has to be seen firmly in this context (our petition is here).
This witch-hunt afflicts the whole of society: workers have been dismissed for speaking against Zionism; academics are being bullied into self-censorship. The antisemitism smear is its main weapon, but it is not about eradicating antisemitism. It is about opposing socialist ideas, undermining opposition to imperialist war, inhibiting a resurgence of the anti-war movement and ensuring that the UK remains loyal to the US and its ally Israel in their next military adventures.
The Labour Left Alliance believes it is therefore of utmost importance that we learn the lessons from this massive defeat. Appeasement never works. We continue to support and stand up for victims of the witch-hunt. We reject attempts to create ‘unpersons’ who we are not allowed to admit to our meetings. We will continue to oppose attempts to undermine party democracy, censor debate and to equate anti-Zionism with antisemitism. And we will continue to demand a disciplinary process that is fair, transparent and just.