As a Jew in the Labour party I find times to be both disorientating and confusing. This is , exemplified by the latest turn of events: Len McCluskey apparently insistent on reiterating that the raising of voices about antisemitism constitutes a “smear”, while Kier Starmer correctly rejects this by suggesting that denial of antisemitism is “part of the problem” (Report, 27 April). It is clear that Jeremy Corbyn and the leadership now recognise this is a problem of both considerable vintage and intractability.
In the meantime we await the outcome of efforts by the recently appointed general secretary, who will hopefully recognise how the articulation of current concerns about this form of racism in the party is not an attempt to destabilise progressive socialism, but the result of real and legitimate apprehensions that go to the heart of individual and collective identities and, significantly, that these are identities that progressive socialists have always fought to protect and cherish. The problem is the interregnum: we have an effective leader, but no clear timeline for when convincing leadership to deal with antisemitism will be forthcoming.
In this hiatus, CLPs reflect and rehearse the McCluskey/Starmer dichotomy, often with pain and angst. Criticism of the leadership is seen as an inevitable erosion of Corbyn’s post-general election hagiography, while to say nothing results in personal and political entropy. For those of us who are desperate to see a Labour government in power, the party now has to act with speed and clarity on antisemitism so that we can move on.
Professor David Balsamo
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