Video: Labour antisemitism existed under Blair – Luciana Berger said so

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Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has been doing the rounds this week to tell the media how serious the ‘Labour antisemitism’ problem is and how Labour’s leadership doesn’t properly understand it.

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Having told the BBC’s Week in Westminster radio programme that antisemitism was not a problem under his leadership, he went on to claim:

It’s a horrible thing. It’s an ugly and really quite disgusting thing…

It has become a problem because I’m afraid the people around Jeremy Corbyn, maybe even himself, don’t really think it’s a problem.

Blair told the Independent that this politics had only entered the Labour Party in ‘the last few years’ – but does that claim stand up?

Blair’s claim, that antisemitism in the Labour Party only began in the last few years – with the clear implication that it happened ‘on Corbyn’s watch’ – is emphatically disproven by three pieces of evidence dating back to his time in office.

In 2005, Blair’s Labour was attacked for the implied antisemitism of its campaign against Michael Howard’s Tories, in which Howard was portrayed as a flying pig:

In 2007, Jewish groups complained about alleged antisemitic aspects of an investigation into claims that Lord Levy was involved in a ‘cash for honours’ scandal – charges later dropped:

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Most significantly of all, in 2005 Luciana Berger – until then a member of the National Union of Students (NUS) National Executive Committee – resigned in protest at antisemitism that she attributed, in part to the above ‘flying pig’ campaign poster and another depicting Michael Howard as Dickens’ character Fagin – both put out by Blair’s Labour:

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Ms Berger told the Telegraph:

I think the insensitivity surrounding all parties’ approach to asylum and immigration has a lot to say for the rise in not only anti-Semitism but any form of racism directed at immigrants. All parties have been responsible for not dealing with the issue in an appropriate manner.

Asked about Labour’s stance on immigration she sighed and said: “I have to be very careful what I say here. I’m disappointed by the fact that they are playing to other parties’ policies in order to discuss it all. Whereas the Labour Party in the past have been so strong and so active in combating and standing up for themselves, I’m surprised that on this particular issue, it’s unfortunate that it’s been played into.”

Miss Berger, who is studying a masters in government, politics and policy at Birkbeck College, London, said that it had been “misguided” and “wrong” for Labour to portray Michael Howard as a flying pig and Fagin in posters.

Blair’s assertion that antisemitic attitudes only entered the party ‘in the last few years’ was patently wrong – his own party was subject to high-profile public criticism for antisemitic content.

And not merely among some members, or in ‘pockets’, but as part of the party’s official campaigning and investigations – both of which Blair personally would have signed off.

It also bears consideration that Ms Berger was at the centre of the furore over the past week or so about Corbyn’s mural comment and Monday’s ‘Enough is enough’ protest. She told protesters:

“Being a bystander who turns their head the other way is not an option – the time for action is now.”

Ms Berger has been a Labour MP since 2010.

Other participants in the protest and the media outcry have been more explicit in attributing the supposed increase in Labour antisemitism to Corbyn’s leadership, with the CAA (Campaign against Antisemitism) even releasing a video yesterday comparing the alleged rise under Corbyn with the period leading up to Hitler’s control of Germany.

The CAA’s video was issued in spite – or because – of the emergence, via a SKWAWKBOX exclusive, of the organisation’s own data showing a steep fall in antisemitic sentiment among Labour voters under Corbyn’s leadership.

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The idea that antisemitism is new to the party is demonstrably wrong – and the idea that it has increased under Corbyn’s leadership is also demonstrably wrong.

Last night, The Apprentice‘s Lord Sugar tweeted a picture of Jeremy Corbyn seated next to Adolf Hitler. He deleted the image after a huge backlash even among supporters of the ‘Enough is enough’ protest such as MP John Mann. But it served to crystallise the political nature of the campaign against Jeremy Corbyn that has exploited the legitimate concerns of Jewish communities after an increase in antisemitic incidents in the UK and an even worse rise in other parts of Europe.

Tony Blair’s attempted self-justification as part of that campaign may well turn out to have served the same purpose. By making provably false claims, he has drawn attention to the far from new nature of antisemitism in the Labour Party – and the fact that, under Corbyn, is has in fact declined sharply.

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    1. And for him & that ghastly, godawful thing of his being the joint biggest parasitical freeloaders on the planet…

      thatcher (And many a thatcherite vermin) reckoned them two were ‘the best legacy’ the arl bastard left to the country. Says it all for me.

  1. The desire to cause as much trouble for the May council elections beggars belief, if they get their way I wonder if the councilors who lose their positions will be happy with this destructive element of the party, we already know a huge majority of CLP’s backed Jeremy not once but twice, even more so the 2nd time in the leader election. But worse than all of this is the willingness to throw so many to the will of Tory councils to will push ahead with their massive cuts to the services the elderly and others rely on to live reasonable lives.
    Think the membership will let them know if they try to oust Jeremy in yet another leadership election after all their antics, the membership will return Jeremy to the leaders office again until such time as he either wins a GE or fails on HIS terms.

  2. Selective amnesia is a genuine disability, the WMDs are still hidden, the war was legal and the UN are a bunch of bastards for not just taking Dubya and Tony’s word for it.
    Tony would never lie about a thing like that.

    1. Actually those WMDs are not hidden they are on display at the Royal Armouries Museum it is correct that Iraq did not have them though why? because they were still being made by a UK company which asks the question why did Blair not just stop their production as that would have saved many lives

  3. Why do the majority of the Parliamentary Party not just take time off to wonder why so many voted for a 68 year old,instead of media packaged pro politicians,particularly the young.
    Richard Dennis

  4. Didn’t think I would agree fully with Luciana Berger but agree 100% here:

    “I think the insensitivity surrounding all parties’ approach to asylum and immigration has a lot to say for the rise in not only anti-Semitism but any form of racism directed at immigrants. All parties have been responsible for not dealing with the issue in an appropriate manner.”

  5. Tory Blair, what an excuse, FOR a X, SOCIALIST LABOUR
    He should stop his rantings and go back home to Saudi Arabia!
    Where he belongs.

    1. “Tory Blair, what an excuse, FOR a X, SOCIALIST LABOUR

      Blair never was and never will be a socialist… he is a rabid, uncompromising British/western imperialist and perhaps the most poisonous presence still haunting the Labour party, British political debate, MENA and much of the world where western led imperialism still reeks economic havoc, death, maiming, destruction and misery around the world, ensuring whole societies remain in chaos and divided for easy plunder by modern western financialised capitalism which still exploits the working classes of the world.

      Saudi is just a useful strategic and financial asset of western led imperialism. One only has to look at which regimes are UKs closest allies to see the true nature of the British establishment.
      The regimes of states created by UK et al still serve the western led empire faithfully because their domestic exploiting wealthy classes benefit. If western support was withdrawn most would be overthrown by their own people sooner or later.

      1. Maria, of course your right.
        But no matter, Tory Blair, got the top job, because “things were going to get better” and they did for a little while!
        Until he decided to work for the right and hold hands with Bush!
        By the time Brown became PM the damage was done!
        The people had had enough, a new class of voter came along who had nothing to do with the Thatcher and Major years and the mess they left for Blair and co to sort!
        Another right leaning Labour leader came along, hence the majority of voters telling each other “they’re all the same”!
        We find ourselves now undoing the wrongs the Blair and the Milliband fiasco created.
        We now have a leader who can and will make those wrongs go away.
        If only those right leaning thinkers from the past two Labour Parties get on board!
        Or form their own party and call themselves “The Broad Church” and be years in the Political Wilderness!
        If not consigned to a life on the dole or picking fruit!
        “If only”!

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