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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  • Resident Dissident

    “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, ”

    Quite – but I suspect we have a different view as to what minority we are talking about.

  • RobG

    The 100th anniversary of the Somme; part of the ‘final great war’; until the next great war.

    Exactly the same psychos are still running things. Exactly the same barrage of propaganda (you’re being prepared for war with Russia). In our modern age, would the plebs still queue up for mass slaughter..?

    I’m afraid the answer to that is probably ‘yes’.

  • Clark

    I’m suspecting more and more that a group within BBC News are associated with these apparently concerted attempts to smear Corbyn. After Dr David Kelly’s odd death and the subsequent seventy year cover-up, the BBC suffered multiple sackings, the replacements presumably chosen for their acceptability to Blair. I think that BBC News effectively lost its independence at that point. Not so long ago a BAE Systems bigwig was put forward for the BBC Trust, I think I remember, BAE Systems link to Jack Straw via Lord Taylor of Blackburn being documented elsewhere.

    Conservative complaints of pro-Labour bias within the BBC may be justified – the part of Labour being the Blairites, of course, who are currently trying to discredit Corbyn.

    Does the BBC act as a news agency such as Reuters does, gathering reports and passing them on to other media organisations? If so, that could be how these incidents end up being published in other news media.

  • K Crosby

    Health warning, COMbbc desecrating the memory of Great War soldiers on a telly near you.

    1. Coffee table standard of historical insight

    2. Juxtaposition of the citizen army with the modern mercenary rabble, who the Pals would have gobbed on

    3. Windsor brood copping the limelight, stealing the thunder of working class people.

  • nevermind

    Israeli ambassador, prompted by an apology by Mrs. Thornberry regards JC’s comments yesterday said ‘that he had no problem with his comments at all.

    Is BICOM out-bicoming the hand that feeds them? and who said that its members, Hallo Mr. Mann, have to take part i this smear campaign.

    60.000 new members during the last two weeks of barrage. All I can say is, the MSM is doing a marvellous job with their vitriol.

    @ Clark, well said, its disseminating made up news that is fooling many. The only remedy is to read between the lines and compare to same reports elsewhere.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain

      Regev is too cunning to be drawn into the fray, and make the conspirators in removing Corbyn too flaming blatantly obvious.

      • Hazel

        There must be a conspiracy, and if there is contrary evidence then it must be a cunning conspiracy?

  • Dave

    Do Germans control Germany or at least do Germans have influence in Germany or how do we know Germans are really Germans or is it anti-German to ask these questions and are Germans entitled to be offended and protected by Hate Speech legislation if the questions are asked?

    • nevermind

      Dave, and the question was?

      Germans still have a guilt complex and have paid reparations for crimes committed, they even enabled Israel to operate a ICBM capability via doplhin submarines, i.e buy now and pay later. They also developed a thick skin with regards to ‘Hun and Krauts’ headlines during the last few decades, but essentially there is a new generation that has grown up to realise that Europe had peace for a long time now and that it is preferable to wars and strife.

      The best advise I can give is to have a holiday there and make up your own mind by talking to people, most of them learn english at school and like to practise it on tourists. Enjoy.

  • Bert.

    There is an interesting point, I think, about the memes Craig refers to.

    A short while ago Trevor Philips presented a television programme in which he investigated a number of these traditional assumptions about people: assumptions based on race, for example.

    What Philips found was that these assumptions – or memes – have some statistical credibility.

    In particular the the banking system has a disproportionate number of jews in significant positions – it seems – is true.

    Max Keiser recently indicated that only two countries do not have banking systems dominated by the Rothschilds.

    Of course, the statistical fact does not confirm/or deny any sinister motive that might be implied.

    Bert.

  • Anti-semantic

    OT – it appears Liam Fox was shown some hidden camera “pics” of Adam Werrity,to quickly withdraw from the cons leadership contest, by the dark forces. The Boris departure truth will also out as Gove is now on record as having said a decision invoking Article 50 for inclusion in the Cons Party manifesto for the NEXT general election in 2020, will need to be made??!! Or even longer elephant grass.

  • K Crosby

    https://inews.co.uk/essentials/news/uk/angela-eagle-leadership-website-registered-days-resigned/

    Website registration data appears to show that the domain “angela4leader.org” was set up two days before she resigned

    It also came before Hilary Benn was sacked by Jeremy Corbyn early Sunday morning – the spark that set off a major rebellion in the Labour shadow cabinet.

    Angela Eagle is expected to announce a run for the leadership of the Labour Party in the coming days.

    Well, fancy that!

  • Ba'al's Spamfiltered Sock

    And, unsurprisingly, this developed into another issue to bash Corbyn with. This report is typical –

    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/corbyn-accused-of-comparing-israel-to-islamic-state-a3284931.html

    But what Corbyn actually said, pretty clearly, was “”our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu Government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organisations”. Chakrabarti was duly summoned to be given a beasting by the Toady (sic) programme on R4 this morning, where she clearly explained that Corbyn had been referring directly to her own report, and that she took full responsibility. She was undeflected by the interviewer’s persistent badgering and stuck to her guns. I like Chakrabarty.

    In other news, the decidedly weird Emily Thornberry* (Lab, Islington, I had to look it up too) apologised to Ambassador Regev for what Corbyn said:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/emily-thornberry-apologises-to-israeli-ambassador-after-jeremy-corbyn-accused-of-comparing-israel-to-isis_uk_57761b3be4b0c94608006e68

    This received the response:

    .@AmbMarkRegev welcomed @EmilyThornberry’s unequivocal apology following @jeremycorbyn’s unacceptable remarks
    — Yiftah Curiel (@yiftahc) July 1, 2016

    And, following reports that Regev had uncharacteristically been unbothered by the incident:

    Reports that @AmbMarkRegev ‘had no problem’ with @jeremycorbyn’s speech are erroneous ->
    — Yiftah Curiel (@yiftahc) July 1, 2016

    *Is Thornberry angling for the leadership now? Despite this?
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/labour-leadership-crisis-emily-thornberry-insists-jeremy-corbyn-can-be-next-prime-minister-1568367

    Evidently she realises the importance of cuddling Israel, which is a prerequisite.

    • DomesticExtremist

      Evidently she realises the importance of cuddling Israel, which is a prerequisite.

      Or sometimes it’s just easier to let them have their wretched apology.
      “I’m soo sorry that comma was in the wrong place…” etc.

      • Ba'al's Spamfiltered Sock

        She should have asked the movers and shakers what precisely was wrong with the statement. It appears to have been that Israel was specifically mentioned, but that the many Islamist outfits Corbyn (and anyone else) must have had in mind, from Saudi and Bahrain to IS and Boko Haram, weren’t. What if he’d said something like:

        “our J**ish friends are no more responsible for the actions of the self-styled J**ish state or its government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organisations”?

        Would that have been any less offensive to tender I*sr**li sensibilities, despite the scrupulous balancing of the factually accurate statement? Of course not. This sort of thing needs to be challenged at every turn.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain

      I thought that Regev not jumping in was cunning, but he can’t help himself. I wonder who has killed more innocent civilians-Daash or Israel.

  • Ba'al's Spamfiltered Sock

    I really would have thought that moderation could be lifted on a topic so clearly involving I*r**l and so inevitably leading to mention of the J**s. See mine above when it appears…

    • Tony_0pmoc

      I don’t understand why anyone is the slightest bit interested in the spoilt whinging brats. Why don’t we all just tell em to Shut Up and Fuck Off…we would anyone else…what is so bloody special about them. Most of them don’t even come from Lancashire.

      • Ba'al's Spamfiltered Sock

        Last I heard, Manchester was part of that proud county (of which I too am a descendant) and it’s never been short of a few.

    • Macky

      It’s just a bonkers idea to pre-mod common words; it doesn’t work & just frustrates ordinary commentators.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    At the rate these “politicians” are doing each other in, the rest of us can just watch, as they clear themselves out. Then we can start again. Any volunteers?

    • Ba'al's Spamfiltered Sock

      I imagine Gove’s intervention was specifically designed to get Johnson out of the way and give May a free run. Things are not always ever what they seem in the backstabbing world of politics. Mrs’ Gove’s ‘leaked’ email was part of the ruse. Gove is less electable than Johnson, and the Tories know it. While May will be a safer pair of hands. It may well be that Johnson privately approved this, for all his public indignation.

      • Tony_0pmoc

        I know a bloke who works with her. I hope she ain’t as thick as him.

  • Macky

    Here is Smeeth’s Statement that Craig referred to in his Post;

    http://www.ruthsmeeth.org.uk/statement_on_the_launch_of_the_chakrabarti_report

    As Craig noted “working hand in hand” becomes “‘media conspiracy’, but also she states that “I was verbally attacked by a Momentum activist”; 1) how does she know this 2) it is not even true 3) where is the retraction now that it’s known not to be true ?

    Seems far too eager to smear Corbyn, rather than be truthful.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain

        But saying she, or any of her ilk, are ‘off their heads, is ‘antiyouknowwhatism’.

    • MJ

      “I was verbally attacked by a Momentum activist”

      Yeah right. She reminds me of a particular check-out girl at my local supermarket. It’s very important to her that everyone is full-on smiley nice with her. If I’m a bit distracted or grumpy (not uncommon) she goes all sniffy and her eyes seem to well up a bit. I think she still lives at home with mum and dad. I always avoid her till these days and have been known to use the self-service check-out instead. I don’t think she’d last five minutes in politics.

  • Dave

    My message was not intended as a criticism of Germans and could have referenced any nationality or ethnic/faith group, including those mentioned in the article. My intended point was simply that it would be odd if any mention or real/imagined criticism of Germans et al, was denounced by Germans et al, as insulting and likely to cause a rise in anti-German et al, hate crime, requiring a ban on free speech!

      • nevermind

        I have seen him live twice and he’s is hilariously close to red lines, and sooo funny. thanks for the clip Ba’al.

    • nevermind

      they are not as far down the road yet to anti this and that, despite Pegida, but I’m sure that some right wing groups are thinking about it.
      I think that we have a task at hand to stop anti immigrant vioplence here, what do you think Dave?

  • Dave

    Brexit is an effective way to stop a rise in anti-immigrant violence and the far more prevalent immigrant violence too.

  • Graham

    I disagree.

    i) you cannot hear all that Marc Wadsworth says as the microphone picks up the initial reactions to his comment ‘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.’ He continues, but we can’t hear him, until he reaches the second sentence of your quote. So you cannot be certain what he said.

    ii) Marc Wadsworth may not (or he may have – see above) used the phrase ‘Media conspiracy’ but it is incorrect of you to state that Ms Smeeth has dishonestly misquoted Mr Wadsworth. I did not read her statement as meaning ‘this is a direct quote of what he said’ but simply that what Mr Wadsworth was implying was that she was indeed part of the “media conspiracy.” The use of quote marks doesn’t mean a direct quote but the use of a much bandied-about phrase in the current political storms. And Mr Corbyn himself used the phrase just a few minutes beforehand when referring to a popular anti-semitic slur. To call this a ‘stark dishonesty’ of Ms Smeeth’s is wrong.

    iii) It is perfectly possible that Mr Wadsworth did not know Ms Smeeth was Jewish. But even when he was told she was, after the meeting, he refused to apologise ‘I have nothing to apologise for’. I am sorry, but even if he was attacking her on the basis that she may not be a Corbyn supporter, and that the media conspiracy he was referring to was the anti-Corbyn-ites in bed with right wing press, once he did find out, then…’ah, I accused a Jew of being hand in hand with the media at a meeting about anti-semitism’….kinda deserves a step back, a deep breath…and an apology.

    Jews have been made to feel so sensitive about speaking about this for decades. Yesterday’s meeting was another backward step, not so much for Wadsworth’s nonsense, but more for Corbyn’s extraordinary link – Jews not responsible for Israel just as much as Muslims not responsible for (and here I DO quote verbatim) “self-styled Islamic States or organisations.” he didn’t just say Islamic States. the connection to ISIS is clear.

    • John Spencer-Davis

      Would a reasonable person conclude that Smeeth’s meaning was that Wadsworth had used the phrase “media conspiracy”, and that it was her intention to convey that? Yes. She should not have placed the phrase in inverted commas. Ambiguity is not good enough – and it is very likely deliberate. I also understand that Wadsworth has denied being a member of Momentum. If true, then there is a glaring falsehood in Smeeth’s account which you do not see fit to comment upon.

      The connection to ISIS is far from clear, otherwise people would not be arguing about the matter. Your placing of a capital “S” in Islamic states gives a false impression, unless you have seen the phrase written down in Corbyn’s speech notes. Corbyn clarified that he meant Saudi Arabia and Hamas, among others, and did not mean ISIS. His phrasing was clumsy and unfortunate, but then it’s obvious that every single person opposed to him is going to nit pick over every single word he says in order to pull something out and damage him. He’s not going to be able to be phrase-perfect one hundred per cent of the time. Nobody could be.

    • K Crosby

      Sanctimonious codswallop, her professing Judaism and zionism makes her a hypocrite not a victim; they are antitheses not analogues.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain

      Absolute garbage, Graham. It is Smeeth who ought to apologise, and as for the lunatic assertion that they are ‘sensitive about speaking about this..’-who are you trying to kid? It has been used incessantly as a weapon to vilify and intimidate for decades, all across the Western world, and as for Corbyn’s allweged crime-who has killed more innocent people? Israel or Daash?

  • Marshall Colman

    I am not convinced that Wadsworth does not know that Smeeth is Jewish. She has been opposed by the hard left on account of her Zionism and lack of left-wing credentials since she was nominated for the Stoke seat in 2014. As a long-standing left-wing activist, who boasted to Corbyn after the event how he “outed” Smeeth, Wadsworth must have had her in his sights and known all about her.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    For what it’s worth, I put this up from Left Unity Wigan on Facebook. It seems to fit remarkably well.

    “It now emerges that Hilary Benn and Angela Eagle have been secretly briefing against Jeremy Corbyn for the last 9 months. They have constantly fed information to Laura Kuenssberg and the Murdoch press about pending coups and dissatisfaction in the Parliamentary Party. Apparently, they were planning to move against him on several occasions and ‘chickened out’.

    The debate on the RAF bombing intervention on Syria on the 2.12.15 was to be the preliminary opportunity for Benn to strike by speaking out against the Labour line (which he did to much Tory applause). This was to be followed up by a no confidence motion after the loss of the Oldham by-election which was confidently predicted by the Murdoch press. The plot fell apart when the Oldham by-election was won by Labour, with UKIP in second place and the Tories beaten into third.

    Their next attempt was when Shadow Foreign Minister, Stephen Doughty, resigned on air during the BBC’s Daily Politics programme on 7.1.16, just before Prime Ministers Questions. Kuenssberg had been briefed by the plotters beforehand and she had fed this information to David Cameron who announced it during PM’s Questions to the surprise of the Labour benches. This plot to usurp Jeremy also fell apart.

    All of Laura Kuenssberg’s reports which began with ‘a senior Labour spokesman told me….etc.’ came from the offices of Benn and Eagle.

    Kuenssberg was also informed about the present debacle. The conspirators had received news that Corbyn would suggest the impeachment of Tony Blair if the soon to be published Chilcot[t] report on the Iraq war showed any basis of ‘war crimes’. The conspirators decided they had to pre-empt this attack on Blair. It was agreed that Benn would initiate the attack on Corbyn. He awoke Corbyn in the early hours of Sunday morning 26.6.16 with a phone call to inform him of his intention to attack him publicly with a statement of his lack of confidence in his leadership. Corbyn had no option but to remove him from post.

    The plan was then to organise a series of resignations with one being announced roughly every 2 hours to give the impression of a growing revolt. This was designed to keep it in the public eye and they would hopefully then encourage others not involved in the plot to join the bandwagon if they thought the ship was sinking.

    Initially there were 10 Shadow cabinet members recruited, and Eagles was to be the last one to declare in order to separate any association between Benn and herself. She would make a tearful, on-line resignation speech underlining Jeremy’s honesty and goodness but saying he had no leadership skills.”

  • Randall Northam

    I read Wadsowrth’s remarks as suggesting that a right wing Labour MP was working hand in hand with the right wing media. I don’t see how any other interpretation can be put on it.

  • Chris

    Chakrabati is a scab and establishment stooge for even participating in this wholly unnecessary inquiry, which was created purely as a result of a smear campaign by anti-Labour forces.

    There was definitely a conspiracy, though it had nothing to do with Jewish people beyond pretending to defend them against utterly nonexistent antisemitism in the Labour Party.

  • Judy Weleminsky

    At the very least Wadsworth has hijacked an event trying to tackle the issue of antisemitism by naming and blaming one MP for taking a handout from the ‘Torygraph’ press. Corbyn surely knew she was Jewish and saw her leave upset, with antisemitism being talked about in the audience and yet he said nothing and then left appearing in friendly cahoots with Wadsworth. What are we to think?

  • VALERIE RETTIE

    I had to put headphones on to hear what he said as there was a phone ringing over it. I could not understand her reaction either! However, the media headline about her leaving in tears embarrassed me as a woman – did not see her in tears just upset. What if it she were a man who reacted same way, would he have been described as running out in tears? Then for her to have a strop because Corbyn did not stand up for her and go viral with it. In the name woman you are a grown up..stand upf or yourself…but make sure you heard right!

  • farquar hynds

    The accusation of anti semitism carries with it the property of adherence.
    Other than the allegation of child molesting no charge has as much resonance or condemnation.
    I cannot think of anyone who has successfully defended themselves in the court of the mainstream media against the allegation. People are branded for life. Even when an apology is demanded it is never really accepted. What can be said about jewishness or israel ? we dont know. Every word on the subject is scrutinised with such suspicion no comment receives fair hearing.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain

      farqar, nothing can be said in Western states about those entities but groveling sycophancy, even when children are being murdered in their hundreds in Gaza. It brings to mind Voltaire’s observation that you can tell who has the real power in a society by seeing just who it is that all criticism of is banned. And banned, with criminal sanctions, is just what France and the EU, at the least, are planning to do.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    The whole thing seems to have been a crass attempt to subvert the content of Chakrabarti’s report and Corbyn’s endorsement of it. The way these people – neoliberal ‘New Labour’ cadres, neoliberal media – have gone after Corbyn is shocking, but is entirely consistent with both their modus operandum and their ideology. And in fact, when you look at the policies, all Corbyn and the Labour party members who voted for him are suggesting is a return to middle-of-the-road social democracy. incidentally, I think Corbyn ought to have proposed a federal solution for the UK, but that is not Labour Party policy, he has never agreed with it and he cannot fight on all fronts at once.

  • Thomas Hulls

    Did you notice that John Pienaar followed Ruth Smeeth by walking out shortly afterwards in the video because I tried Googling both their names and the only link that came up was the Jewish Chronicle and his name was on it although he did not get mentioned in the article itself but I think by the time I saw it, it could have been edited from a more inaccurate version, although it did mention Journalists thinking originally that Corbyn had compared Israel with the Islamic State. I just thought it strange there was no other report by him when he had taken the trouble to attend and was a direct witness to all that had happened. I also saw that previously he had given Angela Eagle her tearful interview, at least I am fairly sure it was that one but have not been able to find it at the time of writing this and also his twitter feed makes no mention of anything. Just wondering if anyone else had found this odd.

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