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Trevor Phillips should have been expelled well before now – but his case illuminates centrist double-standard

Opinion: former EHRC chair has merited expulsion for some time – but reaction to his suspension by Labour sheds light on media and centrist hypocrisy

Former EHRC chair Trevor Phillips has been suspended by the Labour Party following complaints of Islamophobia. The party will investigate and act as it believes its investigation merits. Phillips’ comments include the blanket statement that Muslims “see the word differently from the rest of us” in Rupert Murdoch’s Times:

But the reaction to the suspension among the media and Labour right has shed an unflattering light on the way in which Labour’s disciplinary actions are treated by the party’s critics.

The antisemitism comparison

Suspensions of members in the very small number of cases of alleged antisemitism have not been welcomed by the media or by so-called ‘centrists’ – but only in order to criticise the party for not doing more, or sooner, or more and sooner, with the more usually involving summary expulsion.

Similarly, a list of ten demands issued to Labour leadership candidates by the Board of Deputies (BOD) includes requirements not only ‘swift resolution’ of outstanding cases – there can be little realistic doubt that ‘resolution’ means ‘expel’ – but the summary suspension of anyone who appears with suspended members or says anything supporting them:

No exception is made for supporting or campaigning for members who have been suspended over what their supporters may feel are false or flimsy allegations.

Other demands in the list of ten include the ostracising of Jewish groups who do not agree with what the BOD considers ‘main’ groups and the public condemnation of named individuals by the party – again, with no proviso that this only applies to people already found guilty.

Yet the response to Mr Phillips’ suspension has been one of horrified astonishment that the party should act ‘swiftly’ to suspend him while it investigates the complaints against him.

Grounds for expulsion

It is the view of the SKWAWKBOX that Trevor Phillips has merited expulsion from the Labour Party for some time – and that under Labour’s rules it could have done so without suspension and investigation.

Last year, Phillips publicly announced that he would not vote for the party, which would appear a clear breach of the party’s rules on members campaigning against it – which those rules say will incur ‘auto-exclusion’ of the type imposed on former Blair adviser Alastair Campbell after he said on radio that he had voted LibDem.

In addition, Labour’s disciplinary procedures warn members of potential consequences if they breach confidentiality – and yet Trevor Phillips has gone to the Murdoch press to attack his suspension:

Phillips has also spoken at Tory-sponsored events as a critic of the Labour Party.

Centrist reaction

But more importantly, the reaction of the centrist/right media and the Labour right to news of his suspension has been rife with hypocrisy.

Some Labour members suspended over antisemitism complaints have attempted to defend themselves on the grounds that not all Jewish people are zionists and not all zionists are Jewish, or that Jewish people are not a monolith – and that it is antisemitic to suggest that all their criticisms have been of the actions of Israel, or of proponents of zionism, have pointed out that .

Such defences have been attacked, dismissed and vilified – and even used as evidence of antisemitism in themselves – yet in his Times article today, Phillips defended his comments by using the near-identical argument that not all Muslims think alike.

Phillips quotes a pamphlet he wrote – ironically for a right-wing think-tank:

In a pamphlet for the Policy Exchange think tank, I responded that… the undefined concept “Muslimness” implies that all adherents agree on doctrine, dress and behaviours: it’s the far-left equivalent of the racist cliché “they all look the same to me”.

Similarly, the media and Labour right have been quick to condemn Jeremy Corbyn by association, including any citation of Corbyn’s words or policies by antisemites. Yet Phillips has been quoted by far-right criminal Tommy Robinson:

Nonetheless, the Labour right – in many cases the same people who have attacked Labour for supposedly not suspending alleged antisemites quickly enough – has reacted with outrage to the suspension of Phillips. Former Labour MP John Mann, one of the most vocal in calling for summary expulsions of those he considered antisemitic and who is now a Tory-made peer, described Phillips’ suspension as ‘Orwellian’:

The media have also jumped in to claim that Labour’s action against Phillips – over complaints of alleged racism, remember – is some form of madness or a demonstration that Labour is disappearing down some kind of rabbit hole, along the lines of ‘But, but he’s an antiracist campaigner!’

But those same media, together with their friends on the Labour right, saw no conflict in their ever-escalating descriptions of lifelong antiracist campaigner Jeremy Corbyn as antisemitic.

As so often, author Michael Rosen – who has written movingly of his family’s losses during the Holocaust – has been one of the best commentators on the situation:

Trevor Phillips should not be in the Labour Party, according to the party’s own rules. At the very least, there is nothing remotely controversial about his suspension while complaints about his comments are investigated.

But the same media commentators and politicians who have castigated Labour for not summarily expelling members about whom antisemitism complaints have been made – many of which have subsequently been found to be groundless and even vexatious – are sharpening their pitchforks over Trevor Phillips’ administrative suspension by the party while it investigates racism complaints against him.

That situation, ludicrous as it is, is at least useful in shedding light on the conduct of the media and right-wing politicians of various rosette-colours.

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30 comments

    1. SH, they did not think of it possibly because they are reading lots of books, attending lots of protests, writing lots of symbolic statements about every niche subject…. in short their heads are in the clouds, their hands in the yoghurt. A long long time ago, they forgot what they were for. They are obsessed with things like “safe” language. Translate VAPID MEANINGLESS WET TOSH. Our groups have morphed into middle class talking moaning shops. They talk of transformation but really, only of the clouds they inhabit, because it is impossible, so they have a purpose until eternity. They wish only to transform clouds, because that will not upset their masters the right wing. All their obsessions are what will not stand in the way of the Coyled Khans and Lansmans.

      Ask them about the problems in Kashmir and they will wax lyrical. Ask about being effective at home and they are reduced to stupefied molluscs. That will change. There is no alternative. No doubt you face the same in your CLPs. If we act together, coordinated and with decisiveness, we can bypass the energy draining pathetic damp soiled flannels and the virus that infects them.

      1. And YOU are just spouting negative B/S falsehoods signpost, as you so often DO. You pretend you’re a Corbyn supporter, but endlessly criticise him, albeit mostly indirectly. Here’s an example from a few days ago folks:

        ‘The IHRA definition is NOT universally accepted. That is another lie that was allowed to take root all because of timidity and jellied weakness.’

        Signpost says this knowing full well that Jeremy and his allies have no control whatsoever over what the corporate media and the semi-corporate BBC disseminate, and given that they were disseminating a falsehood, they are hardly going to allow anyone to correct them AND publish it as such.

        And here’s another example….. I wonder who he’s referring to:

        ‘That is what’s lacking too often in those with noble aims. Their niceness snuffs out the drive to win. Me thinks it best to take no prisoners. Excessive caution and misdirected “kindness”, are actually derelictions of duty and responsibility to those who pin their hopes for change in one. It is a detached interpretation of “kindness”. It is a blind cruelty to those most in need of change. It unwittingly treats an unconsidered drifting foggy stagnant misconception of what it means to be gentle way over and above the real, immediate, tangible urgent needs of the most vulnerable.’

        He is of course referring to Jeremy (although he doesn’t spell it out of course), a man who has done more than the vast majority of MPs to stand up for the voiceless and oppose the war-mongers etc, etc, etc. And signpost has spouted his ‘jellied weakness’ garbage over and over and over again on skwawkbox, what with Repetition being a subtle form of brainwashing.

  1. The main reason the LP has expelled the odious Trevor Phillips, who has been a darling of the right wing media for years, is virtue signalling to try and establish their phony neutrality. There can’t be anyone in the LP with any semblance of intelligence who doesn’t recognise that the Party is now an arm of the Israeli government, manipulated by the Zionist JLM.

    Otherwise why is it that weak kneed RLB has said a) she is a Zionist and b) she would allow Zionists such as Berger back into the Party? In that respect, she is no different to any of the other candidates.

    Would any of them allow Socialists such as Chris Williamson back? Not on your life, Israel and the Zionists would soon put paid to that notion.

    1. Can you supply any evidence the party is being manipulated by the Zionist JLM and is now an arm of the Israeli government as you state above? Did Jeremy whisper it in your ear today or Len phone you to tell you last night?
      Or was it the CIA and the Durham Girl Guides who sent you a letter in code? Please let us know.

  2. I think it’s perfectly reasonable that Labour Party members should be allowed express views such as “Israel is a racist state.” “Islamism is a threat to enlightenment values” and such. I’m fortunate to live in a secular state (France) where religious symbols, be they hijabs, crucifixes or kippahs are forbidden in our schools and children are, to a large degree, protected from superstitious brainwashing. Frankly I find most things that Phillips has ever said offensive in one way or another but I can stomach it just as long as he supports a Labour government dedicated to socialism. Phillips crossed that line (along with Campbell and others) when he urged people not to vote Labour. What the current brouhaha reveals is that racism is fine and will go unchallenged where it does not threaten bourgeois rule but that the kitchen sink will be thrown at anyone who seriously threatens continued bourgeois domination, including making accusations of racism, even when they are are patently false. Labour has a problem here in that it should have chucked Phillips out for his treachery; now it has entered the morass of Idpol debates and suspensions etc. An own-goal if ever there was one, and just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse.

  3. Double standards, Philips is as guilty as sin. Many who have been condemned of antisemitism did nothing of the sort, Chris Williamson to mention but one. The right of the party the MSM and the Tory party were politicising the scale of a minuscule problem, when one of there own gets called out they cry foul, for Gods sake Labour “you fail to see the wood for the trees”

  4. The ‘Muslims are not like us’ episode is from January 2016, so if THAT is the reason – or one of the reasons – why he’s been suspended, why on earth would anyone wait four years before doing so. It just doesn’t make sense. Unless of course one looks at it from the perspective of Cui Bono. And I would have thought it would be glaringly obvious how the Blairites et al would react, if not the actual details. Funny thing is – unlike just about ALL the high profile cases of alleged A/S – we don’t actually know anything. BUT, when Phillips comes out with complete and utter B/S about party ‘gangsters’ and says that he’s been targeted to scare off the EHRC, you can be absolutely certain the whole thing has been contrived to do maximum damage to JC and party staff and the left membership prior to Jeremy standing down in a few weeks. A parting gift, so to speak!

    The sociopaths literally thrive on it – ie their machinations, the intrigue and plotting, the subterfuge and the dirty tricks. It’s their drug.

    1. Oh, and they get off on making many on the left angry and frustrated that someone on the right of the party is being defended, whilst they happily vilify and demonise life-long anti-racists on the left for nothing, literally conjuring A/S up out of thin air in most cases.

      They just lurve it all, and it’s an endless source of amusement to them.

  5. Skwawky please tell me which of these descriptions qualifies as “centrist” in your book?

    1) A right winger who supported Leave.
    2) A right winger who supported Remain.
    3) A left winger who supported Leave.
    4) A left winger who supported Remain.
    5) A left winger who voted with Farage
    6) A right winger who voted with Farage

    For argument’s sake, let’s say a right winger doesn’t support Corbyn but a left winger does.

    1. Not that many working class people voted actively with Farage, or Johnson for that matter, millions more voted against Starmer, Watson,Thornberry, Idpol and the total fucking mess that the Labour Party has become in the absence of political theory/education amongst cadres and the total lack of solidarity/street level action in working class communities. The 2-3 million votes that went missing are down to the Brexit betrayal: most Labour communities don’t give a flying fuck about the 0.25% of the 0.5% of the British population that are fanatical zionists, and whose political leverage is out of all proportion to their numbers.

      1. “The 2-3 million votes that went missing are down to the Brexit betrayal:”

        ‘Betrayal’ – the litmus indicator of fringe pseudo-left bollockspeak from supporters of Tory policy.

  6. SteveH. Thanks for the clip.

    So there you have it from Mervis, it wasn’t Brexit which defeated Corbyn and the Labour Party it was the Zionists, especially those in the Party, with their constant smears which did the damage. Their aim – vilify and undermine Corbyn and by doing so, cripple and tear down his policies in the eyes of the electorate and guess what? It worked!

    1. Well it certainly sounds like he is bragging that he was responsible for Corbyn’s defeat and he also appears to be recommending that the US follow the same strategy to bring down Bernie.

      1. Yes, and he has plenty to brag about. He coordinated the right wing/Zionist attacks on Labour and Corbyn.

        Who on the left did we have in a similar role? The left were too busy playing each other off over Brexit and took their eye off the ball, slinging insults such as ‘centrist’ around at anyone who disagreed with them … and Skwawky is still doing it!

      2. Don’t forget the Arch of Cant backing up Mervis. This isn’t just an issue about Judaism – as we know.

  7. In his interview on Radio 4 Phillips stated he had received an eleven page document from Labour telling him why action was being taken against him but he couldn’t reveal the content as that would result in further action against him. Nick Robinson said to him “let’s be clear you told your newspaper about the allegations and that’s why we are here “. Phillips didn’t deny this so presumably he will now face further action for breaching confidentiality as I believe this has happened to others.

  8. I am very interested in free speech and was in consultation with the home Secretary of the time David blunkett.Incitment to religious Hatred was the theme at that time.( Myself and many others a victim)The new law at that time was specific in allowing criticism of Religion as it was considered a cornerstone of freedom..Incitement to religious Hatred and violence cannot be used,against Philips.I agree that Philips needs to be dealt with,but not by the same trumped up charges leveled against the victims of the NEC on AS..This shody bunch of clowns do nothing but descredit the Labour party and the membership by their approach to justice.

    1. Joseph – at least we can agree wholeheartedly on this.

      I get no satisfaction from people being shafted by the same flawed procedures as Chris Williamson etc. – no matter how much I dislike their politics.

      This issue isn’t *just* about the way good Party members were deal with, or the way in which accusations were used to get Corbyn. It’s about basic principles of free speech – and its also about a problem that goes far further than the UK.

      To contradict Jim – I’m not pleased at the prospect of Phillips getting done for talking to the press, even if he has done so – it’s a phony allegation that is frequently used to prevent transparency.

      And why is transparency anathema to this bent system? – because it would mean exposure of a bent system that has no credibility in terms of the basics of natural justice – or even basic facts. The record is shaming for the Party at the very deepest level of its purported politics.

      As I’ve said before – there are limits to ‘free speech’ that should be as clearly defined as possible by hatred and incitement, not ‘offense’ and self-definition of victimhood. I’ve dealt with these issues face-to-face in a very mixed community (c.25 languages spoken at the local primary school, which had a predominance of pupils from Muslim families), and that’s why the sort of fake posturing encouraged by the Israel Lobby fills me with disgust. It has precisely the opposite effect of what is pretended.

      Community relationships are not served by those on a sectarian political mission.

  9. Very good article in today’s Times by a sports journalist on this subject and how all this type of allegation needs to dealt with by ‘due process’. Alleged offender has charges and evidence put to them they are given the opportunity to answer them before an independent tribunal which having examined the evidence makes a decision.
    Not hysterical mob rule and jumping to conclusions, blaming Israel, the CIA or BoJo the clown.
    Get a grip people.

    1. There’s no ‘jumping to conclusions’ over Israel – the judgment comes exactly from accumulated and indisputable evidence.

      … which is why the criticism of Party procedures that are *shown* to be entirely opaque and biased. Again it’s an evidence-based judgment.

      That should be plainly obvious to any objective citizen.

  10. At the recent AIPAC Convention, Ephraim Mirvis bragged about how ‘Jewish Leaders’ (including himself) prevented Jeremy Corbyn from becoming Prime Minister & issued a call to prevent Bernie (wrong Jew) Sanders becoming President. I wonder when he says Jewish he means Israeli?
    An admission that the ‘Israeli Lobby’ knifed Jeremy Corbyn front & back in an incessant smear campaign appears to be accepted by our 3 candidates for leadership. The end of Socialism; the end of the Labour Party as we know it.
    Remember Trevor Phillips was appointed to lead the EHRC by Tony Blair, now the ‘thought police’ search for evidence.

  11. Phillips is another man promoted well beyond his ability. He has shown to be partisan and not fit to have held the position he did. I don’t trust the EHRC he has had so much power in re-shaping.

    Why do they not define the parameters of their current investigation and state which laws might have been broken? Vague goals, vague rules, how can we know if they achieved what they set out to? We have no detailed information on what their purpose is in doing this.

    It all stinks of a showcase “trial” with a predetermined outcome.

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