Tuesday, 27 March 2018

LEAVING LABOUR


I finally left the Labour Party, which I’d been kind of planning to do for a while, really mostly out of a sense of fraudulence. I signed up in a post-2015 election funk in order to participate in the leadership election (went for Jeremy Corbyn, natch) but beyond a couple of other votes I could do from the comfort of my own laptop I never pounded the streets etc or really contributed anything to the party beyond £8 a month. I signed up for quite shallow reasons and the constant stream of ignored emails from my local party was underscoring this and my departure will be, to all intents and purposes, unnoticed and irrelevant. 

But I was stirred from my apathy enough to at least quit because the antisemitism ‘thing’ kind of seemed like a solid moment to get out - Chuka Umunna tweeted that ‘every UK Labour Party member should be deeply ashamed that it has come to this’ and I just thought: fair point, not sure I really sure I can be arsed taking collective responsibility for something I don’t feel especially vested in as an institution'.

Anyway, while I was only ever really briefly enthusiastic about Corbyn, he isn't really my problem. It's his fans that have done my head in, the zealous ideological investment that means his mistakes can't be acknowledged, especially re: antisemitism.

I kind of get it: people who venerate him because of his opposition to racism cannot conceive that he would be party to anything even mildly racist, to the point that they see the suggestion as as a smear, and start telling people offended by - this time - the mural incident that they’re wrong, that they shouldn’t be offended, that they’re part of some conspiracy.

The main thing that bothers me about the mural incident is this: however disingenuous Corbyn was about saying he'd not noticed that it was an antisemitic image, however reluctant he is to take his comrades to task, he ihas actually apologised and denounced said image. Leaving aside the fact it's unlikely any other politician would get this much benefit of the doubt, Corbyn has (sort of) admitted he was wrong. He also finally came out with the statement that he recognises that there are ‘pockets’ of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party. 

But the thing about Jeremy Corbyn is that when Jeremy Corbyn suggests - however mildly - that Jeremy Corbyn might have been wrong about something, plenty of his fans disregard what he has to say. He is revered in certain respects, but patronised in others, by a fanbase that admires his ideological purity while also treating him like a slightly vulnerable saint who needs to be protected from the real world.

He's acknowledged that on some level both he and Labour have messed up. But constantly on social media or comments pages I see people calling this all a smear, saying it’s ludicrous to suggest Corbyn is in any way antisemitic, sharing a video of him condemning antisemitism as if that settles it, even a few - a few - suggesting that the mural wasn’t antisemitic. Some of the people saying this are pretty prominent figures, too.

Anyway, I wasn't being much of a party member before, and I feel like even less of a party member now, it's probably time to leave the party, so there it is.

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