Owen Smith’s ignorant and slanderous allegation of “anti-semitism” against the AWL

September 12, 2016 at 4:59 pm (Andrew Coates, anti-semitism, AWL, Jim D, labour party, mccarthyism, trotskyism, truth, zionism)


Owen Smith’s comments about anti-semitism and the AWL are at about 48.00

Hapless challenger for Labour leadership, Owen Smith, in the course of the BBC Question Time debate last week, mentioned the Alliance for Workers Liberty in the context of “anti-semitic attitudes” within the Labour Party. Anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of the AWL will know that it is the one group on the left with a consistent record of opposing all forms of anti-semitism, including “left” anti-semitism and “absolute” anti-Zionism.

In the course of a longer article posted at Tendence Coatesy, Andrew Coates commented:

A  few days ago there was this, from Owen Smith, candidate to lead the Labour Party, during the debate with Jeremy Corbyn on Question Time:

Mr Smith said: “Under Jeremy’s leadership, we’ve seen people coming into the Labour party from the hard-left of politics people who are bringing into our party anti-Semitic attitudes and that cannot be acceptable,

“There are people on the far left of the Labour party who are flooding in to our party and that’s their word, not mine.The Alliance of Workers Liberty only a couple of weeks ago said ‘let’s flood into the Labour party’.

“Just the other day I saw a tweet purporting to be from Jeremy’s team to members of a hard-left group saying ‘you’re welcome to come to Jeremy’s rallies, just leave the flags and banners at home’. And the reason for that is we’ve seen some of those flags and banners at some of Jeremy’s rallies and unfortunately some of those people are bringing in attitudes to our party from the hard-left that I don’t think is welcome.”

“There are people who have come from the AWL and the SWP (Socialist Workers Party) and some of the other left-wing groups which have either not been part of the Labour party or have been proscribed by the Labour party and some of those people are advocating joining the Labour party in order to support Jeremy and in order to control the Labour party. Some of the people around Jeremy are absolutely encouraging it, of that there is no doubt.”

Politics Home.

The AWL replied (in our view, in measured terms),

On BBC Question Time (Labour leadership debate, 8 September) Owen Smith, in the stream-of-consciousness style that has come to typify Smith’s approach to political debate, links the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (as part of the “hard left in our Party” “flooding into the Party”) to those on the left who “associate anti-Zionism, anti-imperialism”, “anti-Israel” perspectives (sic). That is, he implicitly called us anti-semitic.

This incoherent tirade against the “hard left” was a disgraceful intervention into an important issue that deserves serious, well-informed debate.

Smith’s comments referred back to an earlier exchange with Jeremy Corbyn in the programme in which he accused Corbyn of not doing enough to make the Party a safe place for Jewish members; and the hard left (which would, he implied include the AWL, were causing this problem). There were other accusations streamed into Smith’s tirade, but let’s focus on the accusation of anti-semitism.

You don’t have to know very much about what the AWL stands for, agree with the AWL’s two-state position on Israel-Palestine, or even be very left-wing to be aware that any accusation of “left anti-semitism” against us, however half-stated, is ludicrous. We have spent many years exposing, analysing and fighting this phenomena and it has not won us many friends on the organised hard left!

Exactly.

Below: comment from Jewish Voice spokesperson on LBC:

10 Comments

  1. @pplswar said,

    Did he get AWL and STWC mixed up, perhaps? I’ve heard AWL’s politics attacked as many things (Islamophobic, pro-imperialist) but never anti-Semetic.

    • Badger said,

      Anti-Semitism does exist and it must be fought. But some of the recent anti-anti-Semitism has the purpose of attacking the left in general and Corbyn and his supporters in particular. So lumping the AWL into the mix is not a sloppy mistake. They are part of the pro-Corbyn enemy and there will be an attempt to purge them from the LP, however spurious the reasons..

      • @pplswar said,

        I follow a lot of the three-letter ‘left’ groups closely and even I get them mixed up on occasion.

      • Jim Denham said,

        Fair enough, but the AWL is well known on the left (and disliked in some circles) for having made an issue of “left” anti-Semitism …

  2. Glasgow Working Class said,

    Owen is yesterday’s man along with Corbyn. Just ignore them. Labour needs a real leader that can get votes from a cross section of all the British people. Step forward Dan Jarvis.

  3. matthewblott said,

    Smith’s been pretty clumsy but I think you’re over egging it. And listening to Yoni Higgsmith’s plummy voice saying he’s more concerned about far right anti-Semitism I found it hard to take him seriously.

  4. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    Far worse is that Socialist Organiser / AWL may have sent Owen Jones on his political trajectory. See https://twitter.com/Southpawpunch/status/775900690891804672

    When Owen Jones PM flies over the irradiated ruins of Shanghai, threatening to nuke Delhi next and so help establish the full global control of the new US Empire – which is pretty much were he will be in 20 years at his current rate of rightward political advance – I hope I’m around to point out that the inevitably not Trot enough politics of an AWL member from Stockport talking to him about the Spanish Civil War may have led to all this.

    I hope Dixon didn’t introduce him to Bradley (then in Manchester) or this timeline will be speeded up.

    The AWL – the Right of the Left.

    • Jim Denham said,

      I’ve left your stupid comments to be read here punchy, in the interests of demonstrating to readers just what an ignorant, dishonest arsehole you are.

  5. Ben said,

    A careful parsing of Smith’s words shows that he did not accuse AWL of antisemitism. Only of entryism, far-leftism and supporting Corbyn, which is very fair comment. He could have mentioned that AWL is not uncritically pro-Corbyn, I suppose.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Taken in context, his words clearly link the AWL with anti-Semitism:

      “Mr Smith said: “Under Jeremy’s leadership, we’ve seen people coming into the Labour party from the hard-left of politics people who are bringing into our party anti-Semitic attitudes and that cannot be acceptable,

      “There are people on the far left of the Labour party who are flooding in to our party and that’s their word, not mine.The Alliance of Workers Liberty only a couple of weeks ago said ‘let’s flood into the Labour party’.”

      If he didn’t intend to link the AWL with anti-Semitism, he should clarify matters (and, perhaps, even apologise). But I suspect he simply doesn’t care.

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