It seems like only yesterday that some Islamic-related terrorist atrocity or other saw the media frantically warning us of the imminent backlash against the Muslim community.
Was there such a backlash? Not in the way the media predicted, but there is an undeniable slow-burn backlash-of-attrition grumbling away. I should know, being one of the ones doing the grumbling.
Now, after the very public, election-propelled antisemitism row, a topsy-turvy backlash is raising its head. This backlash is against “the Jews” for “Running the world, “skewing the foreign policy of the West in favour of Israel” and generally being the new Nazis. It’s the same old stuff but brought to boiling point by the general election and our polarised politics.
Melanie Phillips is worried that: “The Conservative Party has weaponised antisemitism.” Well, when there’s a war, it certainly helps if you’re equipped with weapons, and if you’re handed them on a plate by the Labour Party’s perceived institutional antisemitism, surely there’s no alternative but to pick them up and use them.
If people think ‘it’s the Jews” that have prevented their beloved Jeremy from becoming PM, or if their abhorrence of racism “in all its forms” forces people to vote tactically and against their political or tribal instincts, then so be it. But then you have to weather the backlash. It’s the same old backlash that it always has been, and now that it’s a matter of open warfare it’s accelerating, as it’s bound to.
Ian Austin and Tom Watson have made their moves; Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman have been virtually hounded out of the Party, followed by John Woodcock, and people are wondering how ‘moderate’ Labour MPs can truly be at peace with themselves campaigning for a man who may not himself be an antisemite, but has stood by while those who certainly are continue to 'do their thing'. Fighting it from the inside looks like a losing game.
I haven’t watched enough ‘pure BBC’ to conclude which channel is worse, but I have certainly seen some strange things on TV. Kay Burley was unusually quiet in her Interview with Ian Austin.
The Labour Party’s co-ordinated response to this crisis looks calculated. John McDonnell’s and Rebecca Long-Bailey’s “so sad” approach came over as damage limitation rather than sincerity in the face of their party’s serial inaction. Someone who hasn’t got the memo is the Guardian’s Dawn Foster whose defiant unpleasantness grows and grows.
On the other side of the coin, some of us are on mass tenterhooks in case someone somewhere commits an awkward Jacob Rees-Mogg style ‘misspeak’ and topples us off the shaky moral high ground we so very temporarily occupy.
Along comes Tanya Gold who besmirches a moving article by insulting Jacob Rees-Mogg’s face. Of all the unnecessary own-goals, this is one of the most unnecessary and self-inflicted. The antisemites are drawn to this kind of thing and it’s expedient not to provoke it.