Thursday , April 22 2021

Andrew Sparrow's election briefing: Corbyn's day dominated by antisemitism row – The Guardian, Theguardian.com


Corbyn: a day dominated by antisemitism row

Jeremy Corbyn has refused to apologizeto the British Jewish community following aremarkable election interventionfrom the chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, who usedan article in the Timesto suggest that the “moral compass” of Britain would be awry if Labor won the election because of Corbyn’s failure to tackle antisemitism in his party. In his article Mirvis did not raise any new allegations about Corbyn or his party, but he said the Labor claim that it was doing everything it could to tackle antisemitism in the party was “a mendacious fiction”. He also claimed that Corbyn did not even understand the problem properly:

The party leadership have never understood that their failure is not just one of procedure, which can be remedied with additional staff or new processes. It is a failure to see this as a human problem rather than a political one. It is a failure of culture. It is a failure of leadership. A new poison – sanctioned from the top – has taken root in theLaborparty.

Many members of the Jewish community can hardly believe that this is the same party that they called their political home for more than a century. It can no longer claim to be the party of equality and anti-racism.

And he concluded his article:

It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote. I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country? When December 12 arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience.

This morning, at the launch of Labor’s race and faith manifesto,Corbyn said antisemitism was “vile and wrong ”and“ would not be tolerated in any form whatsoever ”. He also offered to meetMirvis to discuss this further. Many Corbyn supporters are exasperated by this line of attack, which they believe is being amplified by rightwing newspapers with no genuine anti-racist credentials, but Corbyn himself was careful to avoid criticizing Mirvis personally or denying the existence of a problem.

However, he did point out that the Conservative party said almost nothing on race and faith issues in its own manifesto. Inspired by the chief rabbi, the Muslim Council of Britain said it was important to speak up for the experience of Muslims in the Tory party too:

As a faith community, we commonly are threatened by Islamophobia. This an issue that is particularly acute in the Conservative party who have approached Islamophobia with denial, dismissal and deceit.

It is abundantly clear to many Muslims that the Conservative party tolerate Islamophobia, allow it to fester in society, and fail to put in place the measures necessary to root out this type of racism. It is as if the Conservative party has a blind spot for this type of racism.

Johnson: keen to move the subject on

Boris Johnson said the chief rabbi’s comments showedCorbyn had been guility of a “failure of leadership”on the issue of antisemitism. However – mindful no doubt of complaints about racist language he has used himself in the past – when Johnson was asked about this in Scotland, he seemed keen to move the subject on and he quickly made a wider point about Corbyn’s supposed lack of leadership on Brexit .

The Conservative vulnerability on this issue was on display later in the day when Sajid Javid, the chancellor,refused to endorse Johnson’s “letter box” articleabout Muslim women wearing burqas that was deemed responsible for a sharp rise in incidents of Islamophobia. Javid also claimed he was not disappointed that the inquiry into Islamophobia in the Conservative party he proposed has been converted by Johnson into an inquiry into racism in general in the party.

Tory-Labor tax row rumbles on

Javid published a Tory analysis of the Labor manifesto that he claimed proved that ordinary people would pay more in tax under Corbyn’s plans. Labor says only the richest 5% will pay more in tax. Butthe Tory documentidentified six “tax rises” (some of them were just financial penalties, not proper tax rises) that might affect non-wealthy taxpayers under Labor.

Javid also said that, following the publication of the Labor manifesto, the Conservatives have revised their calculations about how much extra spending they will entail, and what this will mean for taxpayers. By happy coincidence, the Tories have concluded that the overall cost, £ 1.2tr, and the cost to taxpayers, £ 2, 400 a year, are the same as they were when the party calculated them before the Labor manifesto was published. Both those figures werewidely seen as bogusbecause they were based on too many false or questionable assumptions.

Meanwhile


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