Britain

Jeremy Corbyn and the Politics of Conspiracy

April 04, 2018

This news has had a threefold effect. First, it caused a typically risk-averse Jewish community to come out and demonstrate, with many members of the Labour Party joining them. Second, it triggered a torrent of revelations about anti-Semitic activity at all levels of Corbyn’s supporter base. And third, of course, it has sent his tame conspiracy merchants into overdrive. Like Clinton before him, the “smears” are taken as evidence of a vast…right-wing…yawn. You get the point. A loyalist meme-designer even anatomized the conspiracy by outlining how a story spreads from a “website” to a “newspaper” to “columnists” to “Parliament”—before being taken up by anti-Corbyn plotters in the Labour Party! That’s right. Even yours truly has allowed my internalized Conservatism—assisted by a case of fine claret with an Israeli postmark—to blind me to how I’m being ((used)).

We waited with bated breath over the Easter weekend to see how Corbyn would respond. Surely he would dip into the Clinton-Blair playbook by posing in a kippah and delivering some empty words, before continuing as usual? But no. Sunday evening instead saw him marking the end of Passover with the wittily named group Jewdas. Claiming to represent the voice of an authentic Judaism untainted by Zionist conspiracy, these guys are dedicated to the destruction of Israel, capitalism, and, for good measure, Christianity. All the same things Jeremy wants. QED Jeremy is not just un-anti-Semitic; he is actually the new Moses! L’Chaim!

Trying to make sense of this twenty-megaton double-down, we are left with three options. One, his pathological self-regard has concluded that he is to be the arbiter of British Judaism, as well as everything else. Perhaps he can split it between his good Jews and the bad Tory Jews? With Labour already having lost 17,000 members over this issue, some spit that will be. Two, by aligning with a group that also promotes the politics of conspiracy, he can tighten the grip of these beliefs over his supporter base, and off to the gulag with everyone else (along with anyone who mentions his headwear). Three, he is so pickled in his own Kool-Aid that he actually believes his own Big Lies. There has long been a train of thought that he is the puppet of smarter and more cynical men like the militant shadow chancellor John McDonnell and the Steerpike-like propagandist Seumas Milne.

Now even the shadow organization they put together—a radioactive patch of Astroturf known as Momentum—is reacting against Corbyn over anti-Semitism. If they are leaving him out to dry in the hope of finding a new placeman, Labour’s suppressed civil war between Blairites and Trots will burst out into the open. Corbyn originally became leader because the party introduced open primaries. If the moderate wing shies away from a grassroots fight and secedes—for example, under the leadership of the restive David Miliband, currently lording it over the International Rescue Committee in New York—then it might look like the Tory conspiracy has finally triumphed. But a new pro-Remain grouping would bolster itself with orphaned Liberal Democrats, and likely leach support from the increasingly emotive Europhile wing of the Tory Party. And the Tories are already running a minority government. Shortsighted and cynical though Corbyn may be, his fall could still be the grenade that blows up British politics. Watch this space.


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