As someone on the Left and a member of both the Labour Party and the Co-operative Party, I should be eager to see the Conservatives finally lose. Britain has seen rising numbers of food banks, homelessness is climbing each year, and we have seen the increasing normalisation of in-work poverty. On top of that the Tory party’s attitude towards Muslims has been troubling.
This should make it an easy choice to support Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. And yet it is precisely because of my identity as a Left-wing Muslim that I can’t support a party that has lost its reputation for fighting racism.
Though the roots of the party’s problem with anti-Semitism predate Corbyn’s leadership, it has certainly accelerated with his rise to power. Indeed, overnight everything changed: just as Brexit empowered some racists, a sense of emboldening euphoria gripped those once marginal Labour figures who held Jews as responsible for the evils of capitalism.
After all, if Corbyn himself is happy to share platforms with Holocaust deniers and anti-Israel conspiracy theorists, why wouldn’t such people feel that he would defend their right to espouse such views within what is now their party?
Polls show that 86% of British Jews have no trust in Corbyn and regard him as anti-Semitic. Their fears are hardly unreasonable when female Jewish MPs have been hounded and abused, the pregnant Luciana Burger so viciously bullied that she left the party.
Racism is no longer confined to a handful but has becoming increasingly overt among people elected to positions of influence both locally and nationally. At an institutional level, the party long ago failed to expel those who deserved it and then complained about a scathing BBC Panorama investigations into the party, rather than using it as a spur to clean up their act. Perhaps more saddening even than that, and showing the party’s moral decay, is the fact that a formal investigation into complaints of anti-Semitism had to be launched this year by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
And while it is important that moderate Labour MPs do not lose their seats, I would be acting against my conscience in still voting for Labour now. I wince at the prospect of another Tory government but the contemplation of seeing Labour in power while British Jews live in discomfort is worse. What is solidarity if it doesn’t demand sacrifice?
I cannot vote for a party that dismisses the concerns of an ethnic minority in pursuit of rail nationalisation. Neither can I accept the hypocrisy of a party that tells Tories to listen to Muslims while continuously ignoring Jews.
A certain zealotry has overcome some of the membership, in which criticisms are construed in bad faith and anything against Jeremy Corbyn is a smear. The soul of this party has been lost to a bunch of ideological fanatics leading astray some very decent-minded people.
There will be no successful fight against anti-Semitism under Corbyn. His supporters insist he is on the right side of history, but they’re wrong, and when it comes to racism, they couldn’t be more wrong.