Analysis Breaking

BBC ‘corrects’ its failure to challenge yet another Anderson (Smeeth) smear against left-wing Jews

Newly-minted right-wing peer has long history of attacks on left

The BBC has – belatedly and inadequately – ‘corrected’ its abject failure to challenge a smear by Baroness Anderson, known to many as Ruth Smeeth, against left-wing Jews.

Anderson claimed last week on a live BBC News programme that Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) – the main grouping of Labour (or formerly Labour) Jews who support the human rights of Palestinians and stand against the oppression and apartheid of the Israeli regime – had ‘made her life a misery’. The smear was allowed to pass without challenge by the BBC presenter and the interview ended.

In fact, left-wing Jews have been overwhelmingly the victim of smears, threats and abuse – often, as in this case, without any challenge from media that have instead often amplified the disgraceful attacks – as well as being targeted massively disproportionately for suspension and expulsion by the Labour party.

Now – in mealy-mouthed phrasing and to a far tinier audience – the BBC has issued a statement on the corporation’s corrections web page, tucked away on its main site:

BBC News Channel, BBC Two

15 February 2023

In coverage of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) decision not to take further action against the Labour Party regarding its handling of antisemitism allegations, we discussed Labour’s handling of the issue with the Labour peer, Baroness Anderson.

She was asked about concerns expressed by the group Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), and its statement that: “In some Labour Party constituencies the situation has deteriorated to the point where Jews who do not support Israel or continue to support former Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, have become too frightened to attend party meetings for fear of intimidation or abuse.”

Baroness Anderson said that JVL has a tiny membership and that it had made her life a misery as an MP, before going onto question why members of an organisation ‘that is separate to Labour and thinks that antisemitism was overplayed’ would want to be in the Labour Party in the first place.

At this point the interview ended which meant that her points, particularly on the leadership of JVL and its views, were not directly challenged.

JVL has contacted us to make clear that its members have never expressed any hatred of Jews or supported any conspiracy theory and that none of its executive has been expelled from the Labour Party for antisemitism.

JVL says it is ‘alarmed’ that the EHRC considers Labour’s action plan on antisemitism to be satisfactorily delivered.

It says there has been a disproportionate targeting of its members for disciplinary action and that ‘Jews like us do not feel safe in Keir Starmer’s Labour Party’.


The peer went on to say in the interview that it was ‘tough’ if left-wing Jews felt ignored by the Labour party, because they are supposedly a minority.

Former MP Smeeth, as she then was, has been one of the most prominent figures in claims of antisemitism among the left – a tactic that even Starmer’s own barrister-led Forde Report concluded was a ‘weaponisation’ of antisemitism for political purposes. Forde’s conclusions – like the revelations of Al Jazeera’s documentary series on the Labour right’s disgraceful behaviour – have been assiduously ignored by the BBC and other so-called ‘mainstream’ media.

One of many tweets from activists furious about the party’s treatment of Marc Wadsworth

In 2016, Smeeth – as she then was – was also the MP who stormed out of a Labour press conference on antisemitism claiming that Black activist Marc Wadsworth had used antisemitism language against her. Video evidence subsequently showed this to be entirely untrue, but she was nonetheless at the centre of a march of right-wing MPs to the disciplinary hearing that saw Wadsworth wrongly expelled by Labour.

The BBC used the same route to ‘correct’ its grossly misleading editing of an interview with a right-wing former Labour staffer, just before the 2019 general election, to create the impression of left-wing antisemitic abuse. Too little, too late.

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