Does ‘zero tolerance’ mean zero tolerance when it involves the Labour right?
Labour leader Keir Starmer is facing calls for him to act against one of his most senior front benchers after she made a radio comment that appeared to imply Jewish people are all wealthy and/or powerful.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy, in an interview on BBC Radio 4, said that antisemitism is ‘a form of racism that punches up’:
‘Punching up’ is shorthand for the less powerful criticising or attacking the more powerful, rather than ‘punching down’ on those less powerful than the attacker.
The significance of the comment seemed clear to those listening – and not just to Labour supporters:
But after Starmer’s haste to suspend Jeremy Corbyn today – for a comment the EHRC’s own report said he was perfectly entitled to make – many Labour members and supporters are demanding that Starmer apply the same ‘zero tolerance’ to Nandy.
One angry ‘Socialist Campaign Group’ MP told the SKWAWKBOX:
Keir’s action against Jeremy was clearly political and opportunistic, but if he doesn’t want to advertise that in big neon letters he’s got to sack Lisa and withdraw the whip. What she said seems to be actually antisemitic, while even the EHRC said Jeremy’s right to free speech means he could say what he was sacked for.
Is it zero tolerance or not?
A Labour councillor representing an area with a large Jewish population said:
A lot of Jewish people in my ward are poor and anything but powerful. There’s even destitution. Antisemitism is not ‘punching up’ and Lisa Nandy’s comment was appalling.
Jeremy Corbyn, along with Diane Abbott, recognised the reality that Jewish people are just as likely to be poor as anyone else in a motion they put to Parliament in 2007:
Ms Nandy was contacted for comment and also asked whether she wished to dispute the characterisation of her comment as antisemitic. She did not respond by the time of publication.
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