In what looks like another desperate attempt to tarnish supporters of Jeremy Corbyn as anti-Semites, a Labour MP who has already threatened to quit the party over its leader’s handling of the crises facing it has suggested that “to be anti-capitalism is to be anti-Semitic”. Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden Siobhain McDonagh made her bizarre claim in an interview on BBC Radio 4 this morning.
When asked by the presenter, John Humphrys, if she believed that the Labour Party is taking anti-Semitism “properly seriously”, McDonagh replied: “I’m not sure that some people in the Labour Party can. It’s very much part of their politics, of hard left politics, to be against capitalists and to see Jewish people as the financiers of capital. Ergo you are anti-Jewish people.”
Humphrys followed this up by asking, “In other words, to be anti-capitalist you have to be anti-Semitic?” The MP replied “Yes.” She then appeared to qualify her comment: “Not everybody, but there is a certain… there’s a certain strand of it. These people are not Labour, have never been Labour, but we now find them in our party.”
McDonagh had threatened to resign and join the Independent Group if Corbyn did not act to reassure MPs. Members of that group accuse Labour of “institutional racism”.
The party has strongly rejected the claim that it is uniquely anti-Semitic by explaining that with nearly 600,000 members, it is the largest political party in Europe and is therefore bound to reflect the level of anti-Semitism found in society at large. Party officials also point out that an internal investigation found that only a dozen or so members are known to have made anti-Semitic remarks for which they had all been expelled.
The endorsement of the idea that to be anti-capitalist is also anti-Semitic by one of Corbyn’s critics is likely to be seen by his supporters as yet another desperate slur intended to undermine his leadership. They have argued repeatedly that the “weaponisation” of anti-Semitism damages the efforts to fight the very real and dangerous threats against Jews, especially from those on the right wing of politics, which is believed to have been the main source of attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions.