Dr Alan Maddison 11th November 2016
Hate crimes affect the lives of many our UK citizens, creating fear and anxiety. They include victims for motives of Racism, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Religion, and Disability. Recently, EU immigrant workers have suffered increased attacks following the divisive EU referendum vote.
According to work carried by the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) group, there are around 220 000 hate crimes each year of which only about 30% are reported to the police.
Estimates for the hate crimes concerning this article, from the CSEW and from the Community Security Trust (a Jewish charity), are given below:
According to the CST data, which is considered to be reliable, anti-Semitic incidents actually fell in 2015 by 22%, but the police consider the 2014 incidents were high following the Israeli bombing of Gaza. In the first 6 months of 2016 there was an 11% increase in anti-Semitic incidents reported by the CST.
Of the hate crimes reported to the police, 33% per cent involved ‘violence against a person.’ For the latest anti-Semitic reports to the CST, 8% involved violence.
In October 2016 two government reports have been published, one on ‘Hate Crimes’ and a second on ‘Anti-Semitism.’
However both seem so distorted by political influence that their effectiveness is considered to be seriously compromised.
1. A flawed Government hate-crime plan
On the 12th October the Government published a policy paper entitled ‘Hate crime action plan 2016’ which provides useful statistics and some sensible outline recommendations.
However, two key areas described below have a significant negative impact in the risk for hate crimes and are totally missing from the report.
1.1 Right-wing media inflammation of racial and religious hatred
Apart from an element about ‘educating journalists, nothing is said in this Tory plan about correcting the failure of UK media ‘ self-regulation’ to control the relentless inflammatory coverage about immigrants and Muslims as shown below.
In April 2015 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, accused British tabloids of:
“ Decades of sustained and unrestrained anti-foreigner abuse, misinformation and distortion.”
Perhaps the lack of comment in this report has a political motivation, in that demonising immigrants was helpful to the Tory strategy to deflect criticism from the pain their austerity cuts were inflicting as described below.
1.2 Right-wing political rhetoric which demonizes hate crime victim groups
Around half of hate crimes have a racial or religious motivation, for one third of hate crimes the victims are disabled. Yet no mention is made in the Tory plan about how to stop right-wing politicians from regularly feeding the related negative attitudes and prejudices in society that can trigger such hate crimes.
1.2.1 Demonizing Immigrants and Muslims
This includes the divisive Tory blaming of immigrants for the hardships imposed by their failed political austerity programme, adding to the UKIP attacks
It also involved Islamophobic comments from leading Tory MP’s, including Zac Goldsmith during his campaign for London Mayor.
In 2016, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said that prominent political figures created prejudice during the EU referendum campaign and failed to condemn racist abuse. The committee felt the 41% spike in hate crimes around the vote was a result of the “anti-immigrant” rhetoric of certain British politicians.
1.2.2. Demonizing the Disabled
On 7 November, the UN Human Rights Committee published its report into the state of disabled people’s human rights.
Among other concerns, the committee said the UK government had helped to create a public perception where disabled people…
“…have been negatively portrayed as being dependent or making a living out of benefits; committing fraud as benefit claimants; being lazy and putting a burden on taxpayers, who are paying ‘money for nothing’. Persons with disabilities continue to experience increasing hostility, aggressive behaviour and sometimes attacks to their personal integrity.”
After reading the UN report Katherine Quarmby, (the Guardian 8th November 2016) wrote:
“This government has to break with the shameful legacy of the previous regime, which demonized disabled people in receipt of benefits, made life for many a misery, failed to find them work and may well have driven some towards depression and even suicide. Instead of rejecting a sensible, sober report from a key international body, it should own up to the mistakes of the past, consider the report fully, and act on it.”
Ken Loach’s recently acclaimed film, depicted above, highlights the institutionalised prejudice towards our disabled. As if the discrimination and hate crimes the disabled suffer were not enough the Government has to add their own dose of humiliation and cruelty.
The DWP also failed to investigate the deaths occurring after benefits were stopped, often after disabled people were declared ‘fit for work,’ these were estimated at 90 deaths each month.
Ken Loach is all too rare a voice, but the silence of this Government report on this key issue is deafening.
Despite such repeated and damning international criticism regarding media and political rhetoric, in their ‘Hate crime action plan 2016’ the Government proposes no actions on these critical elements concerning the recent rise in reported hate crimes. This suggests a serious political bias that could severely affect the potential impact of their plan.
2. A flawed HASC Report on Anti-Semitism in the UK
On the 13th October the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) published a report following their inquiry into anti-Semitism in the UK. There were 2 Labour MP and 5 Conservative MP signatories.
There has since been a complaint that the report fails to meet the basic standards required of select committees as to their inquiries and reports.
2.1 A failure of the HASC to meet basic standards
After reading this report David Plank, a former specialist adviser to the then House of Commons Social Services Committee (Chair, Renee Short MP), published a detailed and devastating criticism of the above report.
“This Report is a partisan party political polemic, which should not have been agreed and made public by a House of Commons select committee. It fails to meet the basic standards required of select committees as to their inquiries and reports. This is particularly distressing on so important and contentious a matter as antisemitism in our country.
The Report gives the impression that this Inquiry became a vehicle for taking the fight within the Labour Party out into the corridors of the Palace of Westminster and beyond – and for political advantage to the majority party represented on the Committee. Instead of a serious inquiry into antisemitism in the UK in accordance with the title of the Report, the Committee has published.”
The Committee’s conclusions on the Labour Party and its Leader are unsound.”
It is clear that the Committee was very biased in its selection of individuals and organisations to be auditioned. It chose not to hear evidence from certain Jewish groups supportive of Jeremy Corbyn, from key individuals criticised in the report, and from individual members of the Labour Party such as 43 Jewish Party members who wrote to Chuka Umunna asking him to stop weaponising false allegations of anti-Semitism as smears against Corbyn.
No mention is made of the fabrication of anti-Semitic allegations against Labour Party Members, such as those made by these two individuals below, allegedly involved in an Oxford University scam.
There were also examples of fake ‘Corbyn supporter’ social media accounts. Yet it seems that all allegations of anti-Semitism made against the Labour Party members and put before this committee were treated as ‘fact’ without any form of investigation or validation.
2.2 No justification for such disproportionate attention to the Labour Party
The authors of this obviously politically biased report do make the statement below:
Yet despite this above fact, about 80-90% of the significant volume of the report on political aspects is dedicated to the Labour Party. As David Plank observed this seems more to do with a fight against Jeremy Corbyn than against anti-Semitism. The problem is when the true objective of the inquiry is hijacked; the victims of anti-Semitism will be poorly served by such an important report.
The committee also failed to make two other key points:
- The Tory and UKIP parties have never been asked to scrutinise their own members and MP’s for anti-Semitic remarks in the same way as the Labour Party.
- There is no evidence for a prevalence of anti-Semitism in Labour that is higher than in the general UK society either.
The authors of this report also record that those in the far-right of politics are responsible for 70% of anti-Semitic incidents where a political motive was recorded. The far-right, including neo-Nazi organisations, is also responsible for most of the social media anti-Semitic abuse too.
Some MP’s have been subject to horrific anti-Semitic attacks on Social Media for years. Usually they involve the far-right as happened with Luciana Berger MP below in 2014, long before Jeremy Corbyn became Leader.
Since the campaign to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn started, with its relentless anti-Semitic smears, such horrific abuse has often been blamed on his supporters. But vicious anti-Semitic attacks on social media are usually anonymous and can be faked; there is no way to validate any claims the perpetrators may make about who they are. The committee did not make clear that there is no convincing factual evidence that genuine Labour Party members have been involved, nor how many if any have been arrested.
Of course with a party of 540 000 members there is always a risk of racism and anti-Semitism in a very small minority and this must be eliminated. So far all that has been uncovered are 18 allegations of anti-Semitic remarks or posts on social media over a three-year period, usually relating to the policies of the right-wing Israeli government regarding the Palestinians.
Labour Party members usually adhere to the anti-racist and anti-Semitic values of the Labour movement so the fact that it seems allegations concern mainly “rudeness” whilst discussing Israel/Palestine should not be surprising.
Supporters of Corbyn were also the unwitting subjects of a 6-month under-cover investigation by Channel 4 journalists, and not a whisper of anti-Semitism was reported.
These same Corbyn supporters are often the ones fighting racism and bravely confronting the nasty anti-Semitic elements of the far-right and the neo-Nazis.
Surely they deserve better treatment from those writing such an important report?
It is unfair to blame Corbyn even for the management of these 18 allegations; many predated his arrival as Leader, and are in any case the responsibility of the NEC.
2.3 Is this report more about ousting Corbyn and silencing critics of Israeli policies?
The late Shulamit Aloni, an ex-Israeli Government Minister had said:
There was a lot of criticism in the UK about Israel’s disproportionate bombings of Gaza in which over 2 251 Palestinians including 551 children perished in 2014. It would have been wrong to blame British Jews for the Gaza bombings, but also wrong to attribute legitimate criticism of Israeli policies to anti-Semitism, as also happened
According to the Jewish Chronicle, their survey indicated that 69% of Jews consulted said they would vote Tory in the future General Election in May 2015. This seemed primarily because Cameron had remained silent on the Gaza bombings and supported Israel. Ed Miliband, himself a Jew, had joined international condemnations of the Israeli bombings – and in the survey his approach to Israel was seen as being toxic by those Jews polled.
A subsequent survey by the Jewish Chronicle this year indicated that in fact 82% of Jews had voted Tory in the 2015 GE. There seems to be a close link between the UK Jewish vote and Israel, and Labour’s international stance in support of oppressed Palestinians.
Perhaps the two Labour MP’s in this committee, who do unfairly attack Corbyn and his supporters as being anti-Semitic, are just trying to win back the Jewish vote by silencing critics of Israeli policies. Is the desire to re-define anti-Semitism to include anti-Zionism just part of their misguided strategy to win Jewish votes or gain support from the ‘ Friends of Israel’ lobby? If so this is a dangerous and anti-democratic process, depriving Labour members of their freedom of speech on such an important issue.
We must not forget that if 82 % of Jews (of a 263 000 UK population) did not vote Labour, then around 60% of Muslims ( 2.97M UK population) did. So any Labour MP’s wishing to abandon moral issues for votes may be making a big electoral error. Remember Baroness Warsi (a Muslim) resigned her ministerial position over David Cameron’s ‘morally indefensible’ position on Gaza.
Or perhaps, as many suspect, like other Labour MP’s they are opportunists who are ‘weaponising’ anti-Semitism to get rid of Corbyn as Labour Party Leader – despite his being elected twice.
I just hope the two MP’s in this HASC are genuine in their fight against anti-Semitism, but then they must be very incompetent to focus so much time on the wrong target. Expulsion of Labour members who use the term ‘Zionist’ rudely is wrong, and will do little to stop the far-right activists committing most of these horrendous anti-Semitic attacks.
There are four main problems with this report and such politically inspired motivations.
- There is the issue of Freedom of Speech. This seems important to the Tory party when it comes to the xenophobic tabloids, but not for Labour Party members who express legitimate criticism of Israeli policies.
- Whilst using anti-Semitism as a political weapon to oust Corbyn, less attention is paid to the real inciters and perpetrators of violent anti-Semitic and racist hate crimes.
- Corbyn and the 540 000 members are being unfairly smeared for political gain. This is highly upsetting for them, and the image of the whole Labour movement is being damaged.
- The obvious and unjust manipulations discredit the Political class and those involved in the genuine fight against anti-Semitism.
So once more this report on anti-Semitism seems to have been distorted by a considerable political manipulation that causes a significant loss of its credibility and reduces the potential impact on hate crimes.
3. The message to take home about both these reports is a very serious one.
These two reports are supposed to help in the important fight against hate crimes motivated by various factors including race, sexual orientation, religion and disability. Their manifest political bias makes them unfit for purpose.
Whilst the Tories and the right-wing Jewish groups, aided by some of the right in Labour, may wish to oust Corbyn and silence critics of Israeli policies, their political manoeuvres damage the interests of those they were designed to protect.
The Tory party tolerance for the rhetoric of their MP’s and such tabloid coverage will certainly lead to increases in hate crimes in the UK as stated by the UN committees.
During the three-year period of the 18 allegations into rude anti-Semitic remarks by Labour Party members there were an estimated 640 000 hate crime attacks about a third of which were violent.
The UN consider in the one month after brexit the anti-immigrant political rhetoric and media coverage provoked an estimated 5650 additional hate crimes based upon the +41% increase in those reported to the police. Of these additional hate crimes about 1800 would have involved violence, just in one month. There were some deaths too in the subsequent months.
This, according to the UN, is the shocking impact of political bias, which now seems to have been fed into two very important documents.
The unacceptable bias in these two important reports, whilst serving the interest of the Tory party, certain right-wing Jewish groups and those in Labour opposed to Corbyn, will ensure that there are more, not fewer victims of hate crimes amongst Immigrants, the Disabled and Muslims.
Politicians are elected to serve the best interests of the people; those involved in writing these reports have failed all past and future victims of hate crimes, including those involving anti-Semitism.