Roger Silverman reports from Britain:
Jeremy Corbyn, left leader of the British Labour Party, recently announced that Labour was going to call for a new referendum on Britain leaving the European Union (“Brexit”). No sooner had the announcement been made than it was completely overshadowed by the intensification of the anti-semitism hysteria aimed at Corbyn. These two issues are clearly interlinked: they are the two prongs of the new offensive by the Blairites (supporters of the right wing policies of former Labour leader Tony Blair) to discredit and ultimately depose Corbyn.
“Anti-Semitism” in Labour Party
In the case of the anti-semitism campaign, the ruling class had already been desperately hunting around for smears against Corbyn ever since his election. He had already been branded a pacifist, and somehow simultaneously a terrorist sympathiser as well as a Czech spy, when the Israeli diplomatic/intelligence machine, fearful at the prospect of the election of a British prime minister sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, furnished it with this ingenious weapon. (This is emphatically not intended to feed into the genuinely anti-semitic myth of a special “Zionist conspiracy”; it is after all the job of the diplomatic and intelligence services of any state to promote whatever narratives it finds advantageous to its interests.)
The public lynching campaign against socialists in the Labour Party has now reached grotesque proportions. It’s a new variant of the Goebbels-style “big lie” – a classic witch hunt, whereby first a selected individual is branded a witch, and then those who defend that person are themselves in turn accused of witchcraft, and finally lucrative careers are built on further intensifying the witch-hunt. It started with Ken Livingstone; then they came for Jacqueline Walker; the latest target is Chris Williamson. They’re creeping closer every day to the leadership.
Corbyn and Split in Labour
Now Corbyn himself is accused of “interfering” in the inquisition, and it’s clear that the intention is to suspend his leadership “pending investigation”, thus at least temporarily handing over the leadership to his Iago-like deputy Tom Watson. Watson’s only comment on the recent defection of an over-hasty group of ultra-Blairites from the Labour Party was that their action had been “premature”. In this unguarded comment, was he blurting out the truth: that what he’s planning is a mass Blairite defection AFTER the election of a Corbyn government, to bring it down?
Incidentally, the latest outrageous comment has come from one previously obscure Labour MP that “you can’t be anti-capitalist without being anti-semitic” – a statement which manages within seven words to simultaneously defend capitalism, defame socialists and reinforce anti-semitic stereotypes. (By this logic Marx, Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg, as well as countless other Jewish socialists, were all anti-semitic.) Corbyn’s readiness to accept the legitimacy of these accusations (in contrast to Williamson’s dismissal of them, for which he has been duly punished) is deeply disappointing.
New Brexit Vote?
The issue of a new Brexit vote puts into context the other prong of the Blairite attack. Britain is just over two weeks away from its appointed Brexit Day, with no deal in sight and at the same time a dread of the consequences of leaving without a deal. As Theresa May writhes in excruciating contortions trying to reconcile the incompatible demands of the ultra-Brexiteers and the EU bureaucracy, the Blairites are staking their claim for leadership of that section of the ruling class that is seeking a way out of the impasse.
While for all its ugly overtones the Brexit vote did represent in a distorted form a mass uprising against austerity and the establishment, the demand for a second referendum also appeals to a large section of the working class, especially the youth, who are quite rationally apprehensive about what Brexit will mean – and what it has already meant in terms of the cut in Britain’s GDP, the devaluation of sterling, the factories that are being shut down and the foreign investors pulling out.
If Corbyn were to make a clear statement exposing the xenophobia and chauvinistic delusions of the Tory Brexiteers, while also equally denouncing the Eurocrats – who would inflict on a Corbyn government a regime no less brutal and draconic than the one they imposed on Greece’s SYRIZA government – then he could begin to unite working-class Leavers and Remainers around a programme for a socialist Europe. Instead, guided by the arguments of the left at the time of the last Europe referendum in 1975, when the issues were posed very differently from today, he is equivocating, anxious to avoid letting down working-class Leave voters in the deindustrialized Northern towns, hoping forlornly to negotiate an outcome that would satisfy everyone. As things stand, with the reappearance for the first time in decades of incipient fascist street gangs, and with practically the entire popular media screaming betrayal, it is doubtful or even plain unlikely that a second referendum would result in a different outcome from the first.