Last night, Labour suffered a council by-election defeat in Kersal, Salford, with what at first glance looks like a huge -21.5% swing:
The Labour right, as ever more than happy to embrace defeat to undermine Jeremy Corbyn, has lost no time in talking up the defeat and what it supposedly says about Corbyn’s leadership.
As ever, it’s complete nonsense.
Luke Akehurst, the unpleasant cheerleader for the Labour arch-right, was quick to link the loss in Kersal – which has a 41% Jewish population – to Labour’s ‘infestation’ by antisemites:
No surprise there, especially as Mr Akehurst was caught embarrassingly on camera during Al Jazeera‘s undercover operation into Israeli infiltration of the Labour Party. But his claim a stretch even by his low standards, as it has to ignore not one, but two very obvious actual facts that completely undermine his ‘alternative’ ones.
Labour lost in Kersall by fewer than 300 votes. 354 went to an independent candidate who was not a factor in the last election there – and who was campaigning on a single, but to the residents of Kersall extremely important issue.
As the local Salford Star reports, the community in Kersall is up in arms about the development of a local stadium by Salford City FC – and eager to punish local councillors for what they consider a betrayal:
So the result had everything to do with a local issue for which a lot of locals wanted to spank the council – not with supposed ‘antisemitism’ in the Labour Party. The independent candidate campaigned on that issue and took a significant share of the vote.
Social media users, happily, weren’t slow to point out Akehurst’s glaring misrepresentation, not to mention his hypocrisy:
Akehurst’s readiness to exploit and misrepresent a defeat to attack Corbyn will surprise no one. But he also cynically ignores a fact that even his own side – when they’re in a situation where they can’t help it – admits that there is no ‘antisemitism problem’ in the Labour Party.
Last year, newspaper headlines were full of supposed antisemitism in the Labour Party. A report by the excellent Shami Chakrabarti was praised and welcomed by Jewish groups and others, in spite of concluding that there was no particular issue in the party – until it became politically convenient for right-wing Labour to smear her.
Later in the year, a report by the CHAC (Commons Home Affairs Committee) was touted by the same, cynical media – and of course by Akehurst and co – as ‘revealing’ Labour’s ‘antisemitism problem’.
But in reality, the report’s own conclusions – ignored but absolutely clear – were unequivocal:
Mr Akehurst knows this, of course. But he’s not prepared to let mere facts get in the way of a ‘good’ Corbyn smear.
In other news…
Akehurst and the right are also happy to ignore what else is happening in other council elections around the country.
Last month, Labour took the Tory council seat of Winklebury in Basingstoke, with a huge swing of 46.6%:
Of course, this was conspicuous by its absence from right-wing timelines.
The Tories have also been hammered over the last week or so in seats where Labour either didn’t stand or has never been a serious contender, such as this one in Barton, where the LibDems, who didn’t stand last time, jumped from zero to 57%, while the Tories slumped by over 19%:
Curiously again, the media and Labour right have failed to mention these drastic Tory set-backs and massive wins for Labour and others.
You’d almost think it didn’t fit a pre-planned narrative or something.
Did Labour lose any Jewish votes in Kersal? Probably – if saboteurs cynically tar their brush with lies, some people won’t know any better than to believe the completely baseless antisemitism smears – but given the context seemingly not that many.
So, we have a situation in which an election decided by a local issue is portrayed as being caused by an issue that doesn’t exist, spread by a group of people that know it doesn’t exist – all to attack a party leader – while results that damage the Tories and/or support Corbyn – are ignored not only by Tory-owned/-controlled media but by members of the Labour Party who are supposed to want it to succeed for the good of the people of this country
If we didn’t have Akehurst and co, with their media cheerleaders, to put us right, you’d think the latest by-election results and the ensuing comments actually damn Labour’s crypto-Tory ‘right-whingers’ rather than Jeremy Corbyn.
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