The Observer, like most of the rest of the ‘MSM’ on Sunday, has joined in the mass delirium – or April Fool’s jape – of further attacks on Labour and its leader Jeremy Corbyn over, well, over almost anything you could think of.
The idea of a ‘Labour antisemitism problem’ has, of course, featured prominently – in spite of the revelation of the Campaign against Antisemitism’s own YouGov data showing that antisemitism among Labour supporters has fallen dramatically since Corbyn became leader.
The Observer’s article, whose headline is shown above, claims that ‘leading Jewish donor’ David Garrard – “who has donated about £1.5m since 2003” – has left the party in disgust over “the most blatant acts of antisemitism“.
But those descriptions are not quite exhaustively representative of Mr Garrard’s history with the Labour Party and its leader, as he has been a consistent opponent of Corbyn dating back to before even the first of the Islington man’s first leadership victory – and even offered to fund a breakaway ‘centrist’ party.
Mr Garrard had been a significant donor to the Labour Party under Ed Miliband, but in the leadership contest following Miliband’s resignation in 2015, he backed Andy Burnham – to the tune of £25,000: – Burnham’s biggest donor of his campaign.
Almost as soon as Corbyn won the 2015 leadership election – and before Corbyn had a chance to have an impact on anything, including antisemitism – Garrard ‘called in‘ a two million pound loan he had made to the Labour Party years earlier:
In 2016, even before the ‘chicken coup’ MPs had announced that Owen Smith would be their candidate to challenge Corbyn for the Labour leadership, the Huffington Post reported that Mr Garrard was
currently giving large sums of money to any Labour MP willing to criticise Corbyn. Presumably, with his foe ousted and the party shifted back towards the right, he would recommence pouring the contents of his voluminous pockets into the party.
When the leadership contest began, Garrard gave centrist challenger Owen Smith the same donation he had given to Burnham in 2015 – another £25,000:
Unsuccessful in his support for Smith, when the new year turned Garrard looked for other MPs to benefit from his largess. In March 2017, the S*n announced that Garrard had given £25,000 to former leadership challenger Yvette Cooper – who at the time was widely rumoured to be preparing another leadership challenge but was reported to have sacked campaign staff when Corbyn destroyed Theresa May’s majority.
But the same article also reported that Garrard had not given a penny to central Labour funds since Corbyn became leader:
Mr Garrard’s plans had also begun to move to other pastures. In May last year – as Labour started to devour the Tories’ electoral lead – Mr Garrard floated the idea of a breakaway party, stating that he would ‘willingly support’ a new party if a majority of ‘centrist’ Labour MPs would join it:
After the election, as the UK Establishment reeled in the wake of the ‘Corbyn surge’, Mr Garrard then repeated his offer:
While the desire for centrism features prominently in Mr Garrard’s announcements, at no point on previous occasions does he appear, at least publicly, to have mentioned antisemitism as a reason for his wish to stop funding Labour or to set up a new party.
This does not mean, of course, that Mr Garrard’s announced motives now are anything other than sincere.
However, it can safely be said that the the media’s portrayal of his decision to leave the Labour Party has failed to include the background of an opposition to Corbyn as party leader that began even before Corbyn was the leader.
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