It looks like we are through the looking glass. The Guardian‘s coverage is now suggesting that criticising Tom Watson is antisemitic.
Criticising the Labour Right is now racist?
Covering a new report from the Community Security Trust (CST), the Guardian echoed the report’s suggestion that criticising certain celebrities and MPs, including Watson, could be antisemitic. The Guardian writes that the pro-Labour Twitter accounts within the report:
were connected to Twitter networks that have used hashtag campaigns to attack MPs or public figures who have raised concerns about antisemitism and Labour. These include #BoycottRachelRiley, which targeted the Countdown presenter who has spoken out on the issue, and #SackTomWatson, which focuses on the party’s deputy leader.
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For reasons such as these, the Twitter accounts are apparently “behind the Labour party’s antisemitism crisis”, according to the CST.
The latest article is a continuation of a trend in the Guardian‘s coverage of Labour and antisemitism. Academics at the Media Reform Coalition (MRC) previously found the Guardian giving “an entirely unchallenged platform” to those attacking Corbyn on the topic of antisemitism to be a consistent problem. The Guardian‘s reporting on the matter has also seen:
- The paper refuse to publish a letter from over 200 Jewish women disputing the narrative that Labour is antisemitic.
- Six Jewish Labour members accuse the Guardian of ‘selectively editing’ antisemitism allegations.
- The outlet censor cartoons poking fun at Tom Watson from its resident illustrator Steve Bell.
This represents a tiny minority, but one antisemite is one too many, and we will continue to act against this repugnant form of racism.
Members question Watson’s agenda
Watson constantly attacks the Labour leadership over issues including antisemitism in a way that makes many Labour members question his motives. Darren Williams, a member of Labour’s ruling body, said in July:
What is particularly frustrating, I think, is the way that certain key figures in the party – including obviously Tom Watson – have undermined, in my view, the way the party has tried to deal with the issue in a serious and consistent fashion.
He is not the only person to speak frankly on the matter. When Watson was hosting his LBC show in March, a Labour supporter phoned in to give his views:
You are, right now, sitting… on a revolution that could transform this country for the better. And people like yourself all you do is spend your time killing the Labour party from within. How dare you?
Referring to academic reports is now racist?
The CST is a charity which aims to protect British Jews. Its report, titled Engine of Hate: the online networks behind Labour’s antisemitism crisis, blames an array of pro-Labour Twitter accounts for what it called “antisemitic narratives”. These seem to include:
- Criticising MPs and public figures through Twitter hashtags such as “#BoycottRachelRiley, #SackTomWatson and #ResignTomWatson”.
- Referring to corporate media coverage of Labour and antisemitism as a “smear campaign”.
Following extensive case study research, we identified myriad inaccuracies and distortions in online and television news including marked skews in sourcing, omission of essential context or right of reply, misquotation, and false assertions made either by journalists themselves or sources whose contentious claims were neither challenged nor countered.
The report found that the Guardian, BBC TV, the Daily Mail, and the Sun had the “least balanced sourcing” and “highest proportion of reporting failures”.
Yet, according to the Guardian and CST, referring to such academic reports seems to count as fuelling antisemitism; as does criticising deputy leader Watson. This type of nonsense only obscures the struggle against racism.
The Guardian declined The Canary‘s offer to comment and the CST did not respond.
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