Manufactured anti-Semitism row shows lack of respect for devolution
The infighting in Labour in the last few weeks has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. It’s about ousting Corbyn, that much is clear. It’s a calculated attempt by the Blairites to wrest back control of the party. They and the rest of the British establishment fear nothing more than politics being dragged democratically to the left. And the perceived extremism of the left is the best weapon they have. That’s why we have throngs of right wing New Labour types hand wringing on national TV about the problem of Labour anti-Semitism but not one of them able to offer a real example of the phenomena. Like any organisation, New Labour will have some bigoted people within their ranks but just once I would like to see a news anchor asking one of these Blairites for some evidence of the scale of the issue. Or just one quote that is actually anti-Semitic.
That’s not to say that what Livingston said this week was in any way sensible. He is a blustering bumbling relic of the past. Suggesting that Hitler was a Zionist is completely stupid and insensitive. He may well have for a brief period supported the Haavara Agreement, a controversial Nazi initiative to help German Jews emigrate to Palestine, which was in turn supported by some German Zionist organisations. But most of the time he hated the idea. And for the brief period he did support it he was not doing so in order to create a Jewish homeland. He was trying to rid Germany of a people he hated.
But as much as it pains me to defend Livingston, the comments he made although offensive, are in no way anti-Semitic. They don’t display a hostility and prejudice towards Jews. They show a willingness to speak without thinking, an ignorance of history and a crass insensitivity. However, as we have discussed before I would rather live in a world where offence was taken on the chin than one where there is a storm of fake outrage anytime anyone says anything stupid. No matter how bad Livingston is at articulating his thoughts, he is clearly anti Israeli policy not anti Jew.
And those within Labour kicking up a big stink know this only too well. They just hate the idea of the party being led by those with views that deviate from what the main political consensus has been for the last 30 years. Which is fair enough, a battle probably needs to take place at the heart of Labour. They probably need to split. But it really wrangles that they are doing it one week before really important regional elections elsewhere in the UK. Don’t get me wrong, in one respect it is good that it helps the Nationalist cause by further heaping hardship on Kezia Dugdale. Labour in Scotland are already flagging in the polls. They have a Scottish leader with an massive negative approval rating. But aside from it being expedient for the SNP/Greens who I will be backing, it is sad because it confirms what many of us already know.
There is no way that Labour would be airing this manufactured carnage one week before a UK general election. They are just not serious about devolution. They think that the London Mayor, Stormont, Holyrood and the Welsh Assembly are wee pretend politics, which is sad, because they still fail to grasp the writing on the wall: that these assemblies are becoming more important and relevant to the regions than the big out of touch parliament.
The same disrespect is shown by the Conservatives by calling an EU referendum so close to the date of the regional elections. This has meant that regional politics has been overshadowed by the fear and infighting over Europe. By holding the EU referendum in June not only have the Conservatives not given enough time for people to get their heads round what is a very complex question about a very complex institution, but like Labour, they are undermining the democratic process in the regions.
What should be frightening is that they are trying to subvert regional politics shortly after one of those regions only narrowly voted to remain in the UK. Where there is likely to be a second nationalist government just about to sweep a second majority in a parliament designed to prevent majorities. An establishment that took us seriously would be trying to show or even pretending for a few weeks that Westminster is a mature professional legislature. That political parties were united on the key issues. That they can have adult conversations about adult subjects without freaking out. They are accelerating the cause of Independence by behaving like immature, vexatious, bickering children.
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