The Labour 'Civil War'

Faye Navesey on Labour's internal conflict

Faye Navesey
17th November 2020

It seems that there cannot be a day in the Labour party where the party isn’t trying to tear itself apart. The suspension of Jeremy Corbyn came because he called accusations of antisemitism against him as leader ‘dramatically overstated for political reasons’.

Regardless of politics, this is an abhorrent reaction to any accusation of racism. The main focus now should be making sure everyone feels welcome in the party, not ridiculous factional arguing.

Neither side of the political spectrum is innocent in this debate. Much of the party was indeed hostile to Corbyn's leadership. He was perceived to be unelectable, and often came under fire for his previous controversial stances. This is not to say, however, that those accusations of antisemitism were not a real and urgent issue that needed to be dealt with. They should never have been used as a political football. The online harassment of Jewish female MPs like Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth should have been enough of a wake-up call to the entire party that there was a problem. However, it was left to fester - and the discourse surrounding it became toxic. How was Labour, a party that should stand for the majority, supposed to do so when Jewish people are being targeted and harassed by Labour members? Labour does not have an inalienable right to the votes of marginalised communities, and it must work harder to gain their trust.

Antisemitism should never have been used as a political football.

The painfulness of this debate makes you want to scream. There are two places the antisemitism debate ends up, the first being that the antisemitism accusations were an attempt to smear those on the left, and particularly Corbyn's leadership, which is patently ridiculous. Antisemitism has existed in Labour long before Jeremy Corbyn and even after him Labour still has work to do to combat it. The issue of Palestine also arises when antisemitism is brought up in Labour. Notwithstanding the sheer offensiveness of the Palestinian cause being used by some on the left to score political points. It's obvious that denying antisemitism in Labour and asking Jewish people to answer for a country they do not even live in is completely useless to those suffering in Palestine.

Labour's actions should focus on protecting the marginalised, and forming a government in 2024.

Truthfully, this should not be a civil war within the party. Every member of the Labour party should have the same goal: to represent marginalised people and form a government that can fix the desperate problems within this country. So the Labour party needs to end the factional nonsense and deal with the issues within the party so that they can be an effective opposition and an effective government in 2024.

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