Sanity, Shami Chakrabarti and the Ruth Smeeth Affair 273


At the launch of the Shami Chakrabarti report into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, black activist Marc Wadsworth said:

“I saw that the Telegraph handed a copy of a press release to Ruth Smeeth MP so you can see who is working hand in hand. If you look around this room, how many African Caribbean and Asian people are there? We need to get our house in order.”

You can see the video of him saying it on the Independent website here.

Sky News has been reporting this, I think gleefully is the word, in its headlines all afternoon as an “anti-Semitic attack” on Ms Smeeth. Sky have not however shown what he actually said, although they had cameras at the event, and their journalist who was present described the comments without qualification as anti-Semitic without saying what the comment actually was.

Mr Wadsworth denies knowing Ms Smeeth is Jewish. I have no idea if that is true; I didn’t know myself, nor care. But neither what Wadsworth actually said, not his denial that he knew she is Jewish, is being reported by the broadcast media. What is being reported very widely is Ms Smeeth’s subsequent statement:

“I was verbally attacked by a Momentum activist and Jeremy Corbyn supporter who used traditional anti-Semitic slurs to attack me for being part of a “media conspiracy”. It is beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories against Jewish people.”

Ms Smeeth’s statement contains one stark dishonesty. She puts “media conspiracy” in inverted commas, when Mr Wadsworth did not use the phrase, or even either of those two words separately. Ms Smeeth appears to have deliberately misrepresented what Mr Wadsworth said, which I presume she checked.

I do accept that there is a pernicious anti-semitic meme about Jewish control of the media (plus the banking system, TV and Hollywood, Bilderberg etc etc). And I do accept that these memes are offensive and should be countered, just as the Chakrabarti report states. But it seems to me an untenable interpretation of what Mr Wadsworth said to characterise it as an accusation that Jewish people control the media, as opposed to an observation about a particular action of a particular MP with a particular journalist.

This however is where I may lose some of you. It seems to me not unnatural that, as the Chakrabarti report was the subject of the meeting, the idea of anti-semitic memes was at the front of Ms Smeeth’s mind. It therefore seems to me quite probable that her reaction was genuine, and she read into the remark something not intended.

Nonetheless, I really cannot see any way that Mr Wadsworth’s statement could bear the interpretation that Ms Smeeth put on it. Unless we take the position that nobody can ever be accused of doing anything wrong, lest it further “traditional slurs” against the ethnic group to which they belong.

There is a further point to be made. Given this was an important media event, the organisers really did not ought to have allowed a loose cannon like Mr Wadsworth to get a microphone in his hands, interesting character though he evidently is.

On the Chakrabarti report itself, it seems to me a model of good sense. It is interesting to note that her recommendations on what areas (including holocaust denial and the Nazis) and what language to ban from discourse, end up very closely mirroring the same rules we have adopted over the years on this blog, effectively to bar anti-Semitism.


273 thoughts on “Sanity, Shami Chakrabarti and the Ruth Smeeth Affair

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    • Brianfujisan

      Hab I thought you and i were getting on kinda ok…THEN…. ” that calm, deadpan look and approach! (while at the FCO, I mean. Hope his current close contact with the demon drink hasn’t changed that! He looked well, btw)..

      We Know What you mean

      Grow up eh

  • Googler

    I wonder if those who criticise Cameron and his English government should be seen as inciting racism.

    Are people really that stupid that they cannot see that a repudiation of Netanyahu and Israel has nothing to do with antisemitism.

    It seems that people like Smeeth were simply there to try and find something, anything, that might be fed to the rabid dog journalists. Really, how much money are the Blairites getting paid to behave like such abusive snots who then go and shed their crocodile tears for the camera. It is really pathetic.

    I used to think that some journalists were decent, but the last week has shown that mostly they are almost as sick minded as the politicians. And they insult intelligent members of the public so shamelessly.

    • K Crosby

      I wrote something similar but it seems that Craig didn’t dig what I had to say.

      • Macky

        Well if you used the “J” word, you shouldn’t expect your comment to appear for at least for a while, or maybe even not at all !

  • Kevin Ennis

    I laugh as in the video the man behind her says “that was so anti-Semitic”, somehow on full mic pick up and then she accuses (as I don’t think she was really listening to him).

  • Ian

    Too many memes floating aimlessly around. Does this term clarify or confuse? It is a lazy debating word because like we all know a meme is a very bad thing. Do when something gets called a meme we immediately know what we are supposed to think about it.

  • Summerhead

    Ruth Smeeth was not only a PR for BICOM but was also revealed as being a source the US Govt should strictly protect according to a 2009 cable leaked to Chelsea Manning and published by Wikileaks.

    • lysias

      One wonders how many of the people in Orlando were killed by police bullets.

      They must know, as they autopsied all the corpses.

      • Ben Monad

        Autopsies completed by June 15. Not a shred can be found after this on the innertoobs.

  • fedup

    Come on man there is symbolism and then there is finding connections that do not exist!!! Telegraph is a right wing paper, and the chap is pointing to that , but given the over sensitivity of the “chosen” whom take exception to all and anything anyone says that they don’t like!

    Nice way of suppressing the fact that a right wing tosser is handing a labour MP ammunition, and the said labour MP then screams how dare you and storms out of the room!!!

    How long are we to go on about imaginary anitsemi…. while the Muslims are getting attacked and no one cares and now the Polish are getting it the neck, and being called “Vermin”?

    PS to deny that banking and media are at the hands of certain Oligarchs whom happen to be of certain faith, is a silly notion, however to then accept that because the said oligarchs are pointed to is an antisemi…. is just plum act of oppression. Frankly the Jews are oppressed by these oligarchs* as well as gentiles, and this point is going missing in the arguments.

  • fedup

    I love it!!!!!

    Mention certain words and the comments goes into moderation, now how si that for oppression, even in a whistle blowers blog?

    Duncvh you love the smell of “freedom of expression” in the morning?

    • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella!)

      Surely you would agree that freedom of expression is not unlimited? In the widerl world it is constrained by law and in the private sphere of someone’s blog it is constrained in accordance with the rules the blog owner chooses to apply.

      Surely you are not demanding that the blog owner should be obliged to accept any comment without exception?

      • fedup

        Surely your unconscious drivel ought not be so copiously plastered around this joint. You know, and ought to know bu now, I don’t like talking/chatting/any interaction to/with you, I don’t like you and and what you stand for, and in fact I hate your guts, what is your compunction to engage with me in any given opportunity?

        In fact I should take it further, and point that most of blog don’t like you and your pointless inane and stupid interjections yet you seem to impose yourself on everyone and “reply” to their comments, why do you insist to hang around like a nasty fart in a church?

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella!)

    Macky

    Can you explain – succintly if possible – why you are in favour of the UK exiting the European Union?

    • Loony

      What a deeply strange question you pose.

      All people that believe in democracy are in favor of leaving the European Union. There was a referendum only last week which confirmed that the majority of the population (as measured by those both eligible and electing to vote) wished to exit the EU.

      • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella!)

        52% on a 75% turnout is not a majority of the eligible electorate, is it?

        My calculator makes it 39%.

        I shall not comment on your deeply strange assertion that the 48% who voted to stay in the Eurpean Union do not believe in democracy.

        I hope you’re on better form today, Loony.

        • Loony

          Your problems mount. Not only do you have a problem with reading and comprehension you now seem to have a math problem.

          As my comment made clear the relevant electorate is a product of those that were eligible to vote minus those that elected not to vote. Therefore a majority of the relevant electorate voted in favor of withdraw from the EU.

          I suspect that you feign stupidity for a twofold purpose (i) to provide cover for your bogus argument and (ii) to willfully misrepresent the opinions of others. I did NOT claim that people who voted to remain in the EU did not believe in democracy. That statement is yours, and yours alone.

          • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella!)

            From your first post:

            “All people that believe in democracy are in favor of leaving the European Union.”

          • Loony

            As I have already observed you have a comprehension problem.

            The majority vote was to leave, People that voted remain and who believe in democracy will now wish to leave the EU.
            If despite the majority vote in favor of leaving, people who voted remain still wish to remain in the EU then they manifestly do not believe in democracy.

            Therefore all people that believe in democracy are in favor of leaving the EU.

      • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella!)

        Sure, Alan – the behaviour of the crowd is to be deplored.

        Next question?

    • fedup

      That is the point Brian. We are stuck in a war of symbolism with a group who are tat is seeking to misinterpret every word, action, or gesture as antisemi… and kick up a fuss about it. While real people are dying, and getting kicked the seven bells out of or spat on and beer flicked on them and their scarves pulled off their head in the supermarkets and the world is sanguinely tolerant about it all!

  • lwtc247

    What monopoly or ‘special intelligence’ does Chakrabarti hold that makes her report “authoritative” on what is OK and what isn’t. Why should anyone grant her report with any degree of support? The ‘need’ for this report was BS anyway, stemming from an obvious stitch up which sadly JC didn’t shine to well in. If a 60 year old white Tory rather than a seemingly ever young person of colour made the report, would it have been given the same notice I wonder.

  • Hieroglyph

    I would never in my life think that’s an anti-semitic statement, even if I had known Ms Smeeth was Jewish. I find it rather hard to believe Ms Smeeth was genuinely upset as well, if she’s a protected source for the US. The comment was, it seems pretty clear to me, about racism, and I really can’t see why anyone would think otherwise. Interpretations can vary, I suppose, but this all seems a bit of nothing really.

    • lysias

      They’re just using phony charges that they think the left will be reluctant to challenge.

    • Hans Adler

      I am not used to interpreting the Cablegate database, but after reading the single paragraph in a cable that mentions her, I think it may be very unfair to call her “a protected source for the US”. Apparently she gave an American official information about secret Labour Party planning for making an announcement on 12 May 2009 for new elections. This was relevant background for understanding the effect, and possibly the causes, of Smeargate.

      One could even say that’s consistent with her having betrayed the Blairites in some sense. It’s obvious why a politician disseminating internal information about their party while running for an office needs extra protection if the US don’t want to risk that politicians internationally stop talking informally to US officials at all.

      Note that I am not saying she did betray her party or the Blairites. As a German I have some idea of how these things worked in the case of the Stasi. Informers are often not aware that they are informers, or that the information they are passing on is valuable and not generally known.

  • Edward Roxburgh

    Momentum are the new Militant. Corbyn should consider what JFK said in 1961 ” Ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country” Please resign immediately.

    • fedup

      You go resign yourself mate!

      Let the elected leader of labour party yo get on with his job, it is democracy baby, you best respect others’ rights/votes/desires if you’re expecting your rights to be respected!

    • RobG

      So if Corbyn resigns (which ain’t going to happen) perhaps you can tell us what the result will be?

    • lysias

      What he can do for his country is to stary right where he is. A true profile in courage.

    • Hans Adler

      As Labour MPs are evidently not happy with the party base for having elected and continuing to support a convincingly non-Blairite leader, why don’t they just dissolve the party base and elect a new one? Is there no provision for this in Labour’s statutes? I wonder why…

  • Becky Cohen

    Imho Labour reinstating a member (Jackie Walker) who blamed the Jews for the slave trade was a lot more of an example of condoning anti-Semitism than most of what various MPs have said about Israel. To my mind, that’s just the same as if they’d reinstating someone who blamed the Jews for other historical events such as the first world war, the Wall Street Crash and the economic problems of Weimar Germany. The one who came out with the ‘bright’ idea that Jews currently living in Israel should be given a part of the USA instead was actually being more offensive to native Americans if anything because she was effectively saying it’s wrong to take land off Palestinians so go over to the USA and take it off native Americans because it doesn’t matter about them(!)

  • Becky Cohen

    “I do accept that there is a pernicious anti-semitic meme about Jewish control of the media (plus the banking system”

    Actually, only one of the British banks has a Jewish CEO. All the rest are founded, owned and headed by males of white gentile origin – with an over-representation of those with Scottish heritage for some reason.

    • Chris Rogers

      Becky,

      For once in you life would you please speak honestly, rather than promote a meme that has been discredited, and yet you never mention the fact. You are aware that the two individuals at the heart of the Oxford University ‘anti-semitism scandal’ have been outed as liars, reprimanded by the University and one is under police investigation. Further, and after an enquiry, by the University authorities, no substance or foundation was discovered to uphold their claims – if these are the type of individuals you like to further your interests, fine by me, but stop parroting a meme that in reality has been proven both inaccurate and misleading. Di you acknowledge these actual facts, or do you continue in your protestations and allegedly live in fear in this country, our country I hasten to add where all are protected by the Rule of Law, we are in a nutshell all equal and stop bring religion into an argument where it has no place.

      • Hans Adler

        Unless by promoting a meme you mean trying to debunk it with facts, I don’t really understand what you are trying to say here. (Note I am not being sarcastic. Trying to debunk such things by pointing out facts that prove them wrong can actually be counterproductive. Even the slightest error or ambiguity in such an attempt can serve as ammunition to the maliciously confused.)

        (Also note that I am not saying anything about the factual content of either the meme or Becky’s debunking of it. I have no real knowledge about either. I just know that mediaeval Christians had an attitude towards banking that was similar to today’s Muslim attitudes, and that this is why *historically* a lot of important European bankers were not Christian – which at the time left only one alternative. Except in the context of discussing how best to address dangerous memes, I couldn’t care less whether this has any effect on the ethnic or religious distribution of bankers even today. And I feel that obsessing about this question is extremely disgusting.)

    • craig Post author

      Yes, I had previously written precisely that if anyone wants to look at control of the banks, it is us Scots they should suspect! We founded the English, French and US central banks, and many others.

  • Ben Monad

    Maybe you could create a thread for inconvenient subjects by topic;

    1.) Orlando and the myth of Lib-Dem sentience.

    2.) Is anti-semtisim the only truly septic racism?

    3.) Fielder’s Choice or suggestions?

  • A Perry

    Ms Smeeth was absolutely correct in thinking what she thought.
    Jeremy Corbyn is spineless, gutless and has not one ounce of personality or rhetoric.
    He must GO. He is pathetic.

    • Loony

      OK – since you present such a powerful, evidence based nuanced argument I guess you must know what you are talking about

    • charles drake

      a perry would you like corbers to go now or after the chilcott reportings.
      would you not like to here his view in the mother home of world democracy?
      what labour leader who would you like at the hanging or the absolution of the bloodied tory liar blair?

    • Miss Costello

      “ounce of personality”:
      Yours, conspicuous by its absence. As to ‘rhetoric’ full marks.

  • Tony Crean

    I read that Wadsworth pointedly didn’t give a copy of the Press Release to Ms Smeeth, which suggests that he “knew” about her…. A Telgraph journalist gave her a copy, which is what led to his absurd conspiracy remark. I saw newsreel footage of Corbyn laughing and smiling with Marc Wadsworth as they walked away — presumably after the meeting (though I suppose it could have been a film reversed of them walking towards the meeting). For Corbyn to be seen with Marc Wadsworth after this incident is pretty tactless. And for Corbyn not to comment on Wadsworth’s outburst is again an opportunity missed. You’d think he would be more media savvy, especially after seeing Smeeth left the room in tears. It’s possible the strain he is under is affecting his judgement

    • charles drake

      talking of impaired judgement tony crean as a doctor of the brain of world renown would you imply or suggest that corbyn is actually insane.?
      because if true i would suggest it could have an effect on his performing if he becomes yes prime ministers.
      i do hope he has not cracked well until after chilcott reportings.

  • Alan

    How long must the affairs of the world in any subject area, be subverted and diverted by this organised, orchestrated noisy and utterly insignificant minority, or by the wants of this miserable excuse for state that is a blot on civilization and humanity?

    It must continue until all the people wake up.

  • Tony M

    I can see why the Britnat Anglo-establishment needed a new holy terror to convulse the world, before Islamophobia became the state religion, prior to stolen-land’s evolution into something close to hell on earth, the UK was the object of much of the anger in the world instead, for behaving everywhere in much the same fashion as the Zionists do now. I accuse the UK state of institutionalised anti-semitism and scapegoating and what-aboutery by deliberately using this minority as cover for their own chronic and epic mis-deeds.

    • Tony M

      Anyone referring to ‘the bible’ or any of the other big magic holy books or other compendiums of fairy stories, to make a point, or who knows this stuff in the first place, is in my opinion, certifiable. They cannot use the excuse there was no other reading material or other possible activities available to them, than wallowing in such guff, unless incarcerated and given such as a form of torture or as an ad-hoc bog-roll.

      • Alan

        “or who knows this stuff in the first place”

        How can you argue with the Rector of the University of Dundee unless you know what you are talking about?

        Now like I said “Samael, the god of the blind.”

  • concernedcitizen

    Who was the person sitting behind Ms Smeeth that originally incorrectly suggested that it was anti semetic? He was to the right of the bbc reporter immediately behind Ms Smeeth so suspect he was also a reporter. But it was his suggestion at that point (conveniently on an open mike) when what Mr Watson actually said was drowned out by it and the associated gasps and accusations on the majority of mainstream media.

    • bleb

      concernedcitizen (July 1, 2016 at 00:45) said:
      “Who was the person sitting behind Ms Smeeth that originally incorrectly suggested that it was anti semetic? He was to the right of the bbc reporter immediately behind Ms Smeeth so suspect he was also a reporter. …”

      Or maybe he works for Portland Communications**?

      ** Portland Communications – the PR company behind the other recent anti-Corbyn stunts (at gay rally and red T-shirt photo)

      • concernedcitizen

        Emailed john pienaar at bbc to ask who was sitting next to him. Lets see if i get a response 😉

  • Tony M

    How can people wander about intoning all the time “Never again” like programmed half-wits, when it’s been happening again before their eyes over and over and often as not they’re profiting from it and complicit in it? However can one penetrate the addled minds of such dysfunctional persons and bring them back to a point they might be able to rejoin the human race?

    De-select and purge every last one of these New Labour entryists, let Labour constituencies pick new candidates and bring on the very necessary general election. And stop their HoC pensions too, as austerity should be for everyone, especially agents of foreign nations, who’ve been pocketing multiple paychecks.

  • ron

    Meanwhile, MPs paid out of the publc purse continue to put themselves and their parties first whilst the public can go hang … I am bloody sick of this and rapidly losing the will to live … this is NOT acceptable, is farcical, unprofessional and should see all of them SACKED!!!

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