Wednesday, 5 September 2018

NEC adopts IHRA examples

Yesterday the Labour Party's National Executive Committee adopted all the examples of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's working definition of anti-Semitism. This constitutes a major victory for the opposition to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party. The effect of the examples is to brand much criticism of the state of Israel as anti-Semitic, which paves the way for charging and proving, by Labour's own rules, that Jeremy Corbyn is guilty of anti-Semitism and potentially his expulsion from the party.

Ever since Jeremy Corbyn was elected to the position of leader of the party, he has been under constant attack. He has been attacked by most of the parliamentary Labour Party, who have staged attempted coups; they forced a second election contest, from which they even tried to deny him the right to appear on the ballot paper and they excluded tens of thousands of members from voting whom they suspected of supporting him. They have colluded with the corporate media in smear campaigns, designed to portray him as unelectable, a supporter of terrorism, an agent of foreign powers. However, the campaign that they have found to be most successful is the smearing him and his supporters as anti-Semites. The adoption by the NEC of the IHRA examples is the culmination of that campaign.

The reason why the neoliberal parliamentarians felt constrained to adopt the drastic measure of making freedom of speech incompatible with membership of the Labour Party was precisely because of their inability to make any progress in their attempts to undermine and overthrow his leadership of the party. All their previous attempts had proven to be ineffective. Indeed, his popularity has only increased. It is this latter point that makes their next move so fraught with danger - to themselves.

Jeremy Corbyn has the support of hundreds of thousands of Labour Party members. This is not something that can be said for the Labour Party parliamentarians who oppose his leadership. Should Corbyn be ousted from the leadership (withdrawal of the whip, suspension or even expulsion from the party - any of which could be done under the new rule), it is quite likely that many constituency parties will seek to hold their complicit members of parliament to account and deny them the opportunity to stand as Labour candidates at the next election. Fear of this outcome might well make some MPs think twice. The decisive factor here will be control of the NEC.

If those opposed to Corbyn can be sure of their ability to control the NEC, they will be emboldened to remove him, as they will be able to use their control of the NEC to shut down any constituency party that moved to remove a sitting member of parliament and engage in a purge of Corbyn supporters. This was a strategy employed by Kinnock and his supporters back in the eighties, ostensibly to remove members of Militant, but in fact to remove committed socialist, whether members of Militant or not, who were attempting to shape party policy in ways designed to promote economic equality and promote disarmament.

In a grossly unequal contest, Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters have made substantial gains. However, yesterday's rule change by the NEC, in the name of identity politics and anti-racism, has significantly shifted the balance of forces - for it is now no longer a matter of democracy, but a matter of bureaucratic procedures: this was precisely how Stalin took control of the Bolshevik party. Who controls the NEC will determine the future of British politics as we approach leaving the European Union and the next general election.

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