In the past week Labour MP for Bradford Naz Shah and former Ken Livingstone were suspended by the Labour party for anti-semitic comments in a continuation of Labour’s anti-Semitism scandal on the eve of local elections in the United Kingdom.
The parties associated with the left of politics be it in Australia, Germany or the United States are ideologically close to the ideas of minority rights and anti-racist policies, however in the United Kingdom the British Labour party, which has a proud history of anti-racism and policies that protect minorities has come under scrutiny for anti-Semitic remarks coming from its members and elected officials.
Many critics of the party argue that this recent scandal is in part the fault of Jeremy Corbyn, the labour leader who was elected in a shock victory against more traditional candidates last year. He has been accused of being soft on anti-semitism in the past and for being too close with islamist groups.
Corbyn’s election has given more space for individuals associated with the very hard left of British politics with anti-imperialist stances that tend to ally themselves ideologically with radical groups such as Hezbollah or the IRA.
While anti-Semitism emerging from this side of the left is nothing new it’s reached unprecedented new heights last week when an elected Labour Member of Parliament Naz Shah and former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone were implicated in the affair.
On April 27th it came to light that the MP for Bradford Naz Shah had shared images on her personal Facebook account calling for the deportation of all Jews in Israel to North America, while she was suspended by the party for those views several key members still rose to defend her.
Ken Livingstone former Mayor of London from 2000 to 2008 gave an interview on BBC Radio London where he defended Shah’s tweets by stating “well-orchestrated campaign by the Israeli lobby to smear anybody who criticises Israeli policy as anti-Semitic” and at the same time equating Zionism with Nazi ideology. “He was supporting Zionism – this was before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews”.
While both Shah and Livingstone were suspended from the party due to their comments Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn continues to deny that there is any sort of crisis in the UK Labour Party despite the fact that MPs from the same party are denouncing another as racists and a handful of members have been suspended for anti-Semitic remarks.
“The party is the biggest it has been in my lifetime… I suspect that much of this criticism about a crisis in the party actually comes from those who are nervous of the strength of the Labour Party at a local level.”
Polls for Thursday’s elections look bad for the Labour party, and comments from his close political allies that equate to veiled racism certainly haven’t helped. Corbyn suspending his close political allies Livingstone and Shah for their comments within hours of them being made public shows how dangerous this controversy is for both Labour in the local elections and for Corbyn politically as calls for a new election on Labour leadership have been made in recent days.