The senior British lawyer whose inquiry into Labour Party racism concluded that anti-Semitism allegations had been “weaponized” against former left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn has finally spoken to the media.
“Anti-Black racism, Islamophobia isn’t taken as seriously as anti-Semitism” in Labour, Martin Forde told Al Jazeera on Thursday.
The interview has prompted increased criticism of Labour from some of the small cohort of liberals passing for “leftists” permitted to have a mainstream profile in British media – such as Owen Jones and Aaron Bastani.But grassroots former Labour activists have been criticizing the liberals for their belated response to the issue when it is too late to make a difference to Corbyn’s electoral chances.
Back when Corbyn was still Labour leader and had a shot at becoming prime minister, these same people were actively promoting the fabricated “anti-Semitism crisis.”
As The Electronic Intifada has reported for years, during his time as leader Corbyn was subjected to an unprecedented disinformation campaign – often led by Israel and its lobby – falsely painting the party as having a massive and unique “anti-Semitism problem.”
In reality, the problem from the pro-Israel perspective was the party grassroots’ strong solidarity with Palestine.
In the interview Forde said he had heard almost nothing from Labour since his inquiry published its findings and a detailed series of recommendations in July last year.
New leader Keir Starmer even promised to take steps to tackle racism in Labour following the report.
Forde told the Qatar-based channel that this was “not in my view a sufficient response” to his inquiry, which detailed serious allegations of racism among senior party staff targeting Black pro-Corbyn MPs like Diane Abbott.
Forde also revealed that not a single media outlet has interviewed him since his inquiry concluded. “I think I was approached by one on the day of publication, but they … hadn’t actually read the report. And I suggested they might want to do that first and they didn’t come back to me.”
The media blackout on the Forde report was in stark contrast to the five years of incessant coverage of “anti-Semitism” allegations in the Labour Party when it was led by Jeremy Corbyn.
Such allegations were more often than not concocted by pro-Israel lobbyists to attack Corbyn – a Palestine solidarity activist – and his left-wing supporters.
Not only did the mainstream media completely blank the Forde report, but the BBC actively attempted to censor it.
The report concluded that one part of the BBC’s 2019 Panorama program about the supposed Labour anti-Semitism crisis had been “entirely misleading.”
Forde revealed on Thursday that, soon after the publication of his findings, both Panorama’s editor and its lead reporter John Ware wrote letters asking him to change his report to remove this conclusion.
Forde appears to have declined or ignored these requests – as of this writing the conclusion remains in the report still on the Labour Party’s website.
Panorama editor Karen Wightman wrote to Forde in September asking him to “consider amending your report” and contesting its characterization of her program as misleading.
Ware wrote to Forde insisting that: “Your report has done significant damage to my reputation and to that of the Corporation [BBC] for journalistic integrity.” He wrote a series of questions to Forde and asked him “to respond by 4pm tomorrow 11 October.”
Forde’s Al Jazeera interview this week prompted renewed interest in the Panorama episode, which has come under increased criticism from left-wing activists in recent months – the same people who were so often falsely smeared as anti-Semitic due to their support for Corbyn.
But renewed attention on the Forde report and criticism of the Panorama episode has also included those few supposed “leftists” who are regularly given platforms in the mainstream UK media, or were during the Corbyn years – the same people who ended up attacking or turning against the Corbyn leadership, often over the false “anti-Semitism crisis.”This week those included Guardian columnists Owen Jones and George Monbiot, as well as Novara Media co-founder Aaron Bastani.
But now all three appear to want to win back lost credibility among their audiences by finally questioning the Panorama narrative – four years on – and calling for something to be done by Labour on the Forde report.
Meanwhile they fail to accept responsibility for promoting the false anti-Semitism narrative in the first place.
Left-wing activists and commentators this week castigated Jones, Monbiot and Bastani:Owen Jones has been notoriously opportunistic and has regularly flip-flopped on issues related to Israel, alleged anti-Semitism and Corbyn.
Although Jones was promoted by British mainstream media as a supporter of Corbyn, his support was always half-hearted at best. Jones ditched Corbyn during the 2016 coup attempt by the Labour Party establishment – a position he later admitted was “wrong.”
In his 2020 book This Land, Jones admitted to participating in various coup attempts against Corbyn, writing that he wanted to have him replaced with soft-left MP and former soldier Clive Lewis, later pushing for his former boss and pro-NATO lawmaker John McDonnell to take over.
Meanwhile George Monbiot abandoned any pretense of support for Corbyn back in 2017, joining in with the “anti-Semitism” witch-hunters at the height of the manufactured crisis in 2018.For his part, Bastani and the rest of his Novara colleagues constantly threw the victims of the “anti-Semitism” witch hunt under the bus, including former London mayor Ken Livingstone, Black Jewish anti-racism activist Jackie Walker and former lawmaker Chris Williamson – even this reporter has been falsely smeared, without evidence, as “anti-Semitic” by Novara’s Michael Walker.
Appearing on the BBC’s This Week program in 2018, Bastani vigorously agreed with presenter Andrew Neil and fellow guest Robert Winston – a celebrity TV doctor and anti-Palestinian activist – that “anti-Semitism” was “endemic” in Corbyn’s Labour.This was at the height of the fabricated “anti-Semitism crisis” in Labour in 2018. But instead of pushing back Bastani used a major mainstream media appearance to promote the “crisis.”
Bastani and the rest of the anarchists at Novara in large part launched their high-profile media careers off the back of their ostensible support for the mass movement that brought Corbyn to the Labour leadership – only to stab it in the back when it counted.
With friends like these, who needs enemies?