Darling you got to let me know
Should I stay or should I go?
If you say that you are mine
I’ll be here ’til the end of time…
Normally when I come out of the theatre (Don Juan in Soho, if you must know) I write a short critique, mainly for friends, giving my opinion of the play. Tonight, all thoughts of the play, terrific though it was, are swept aside by the almost incomprehensible news that Labour’s elected National Constitutional Committee has decided that Ken Livingstone’s unforgivable and unapologised for behaviour and comments merit a mere administrative suspension from holding office or representing the Labour Party. For 12 months.
And, of course, the decision of the NCC will remain incomprehensible since they do not publish their reasons. Nor are they required to do so under the rules of the Labour Party.
But all right minded observers and commentators, Party members and no, who have read the charges and defence and who have followed the case as it wound its way to today’s conclusion will be aghast. All charges brought against the odious Livingstone were found proven. And yet, unaccountably, the punishment didn’t even fit the least of these charges.
Or is it accountable? How is it that there is a climate within the Labour Party which allows ordinary, decent, elected members of a committee charged with upholding the moral compass of the Labour Party to think they should merely give Livingstone a slap on the wrist.
When Seumas Milne came to me for advice on how to close down the erupting row about anti-Semitism in university Labour Clubs and amongst the left of the Labour Party, I said it was simple. Get Corbyn to make a speech condemning anti-Semitism of the left and right and stating unequivocally that anti-Semites would not be tolerated in the Party. My advice was not sought on the issue again.
The failure of leadership over anti-Semitism – it took five hours and three tortuous phone calls to persuade the Leader’s office that Livingstone should be suspended in the first place – means that anti-Semitism has air to breathe in the Labour Party. And the Jew-haters and Jew-baters pretending that they are merely criticising the actions of the Israeli government have gained ground today. Not only is this an abject failure of justice in this case, but it gives carte blanche to the anti-Semites of the left and right – and mainly the Trotskyite left – to raise their evil standards on the parapets of the Labour Party. Apparently with Jeremy Corbyn’s calm indifference.
The question was posed today by Dan Hodges that:
It’s now morally indefensible to be a member of the Labour Party.
I responded, saying it was difficult to disagree. And it is difficult. I am so ashamed of my Party today that that it would be easy to log-on to the Labour Party web-site and cancel my membership. I know friends and former colleagues who are doing that right now.
Shall I stay or shall I go?
Well, no-one said being in the Labour Party was easy. And it’s my Party and the Party of the many millions desperate for a Labour Government. Not a Labour Party of street corner irrelevant protest. But a Party of power that can change people’s lives for better.
And that means two things. The ordinary decent Party members have got to make themselves heard. And Corbyn has to go. Now. Not to be replaced by John McDonnell’s next puppet, but by a Leader who will not tolerate the racists of the left any more than we should tolerate racists of the right.
Jeremy, last time I saw you I told you I could really recommend retirement. Then I was talking about myself. Now I mean you.