By Sean Gabb
Seen from my point of view, on the libertarian right, there are at least three ways of looking at the alleged or real anti-semitism of Jeremy Corbyn. The first is that it is very, very funny. Since the 1970s, he and his friends have been whining about the horrors of racial prejudice. Now, every time he opens his mouth, he says something that upsets Jews – and that may legitimately be of concern to them. You tell me it is uncharitable if I fail to keep a straight face. The second is that the scandal is a distraction from the real issue in British politics. Next March, we are supposed to leave the European Union. Whether we shall or ought to leave with some kind of agreement is arguably more important than with whom Mr Corbyn shared a platform at the Conway Hall in 1987. These first two being noted, I will focus on the third, which is what impact he will have on the so far arrested realignment of English politics.
Part of Mr Corbyn’s general appeal lies in the belief that he is Old Labour. If we define this as the opinions and policies of Keir Hardie, of the Webbs, and of Clement Attlee and Aneurin Bevan – that is, as the consensus that described the Labour Party into the 1960s – he is not Old Labour. This was a movement probably sincere in its concern for the welfare of the British working classes, though mistaken in its chosen means for advancing that welfare. Mr Corbyn is a creature of the “rainbow coalition” – a coalition within which white heterosexual working class men have at best an auxiliary place. The points of difference between him and New Labour are important, but small. He has no objection to a politically correct police state, none to omnipresent surveillance and regulation, none to the war on both liberty and tradition waged by the Blair and Brown Governments. His dissent from New Labour lies in his desire for a greater direct economic management by the State, and his dislike of the military-economic complex and of the wars that legitimise and fund it. This latter seems to explain his alleged anti-semitism. When someone on the right denounces Zionism, he is almost certainly talking about Jews, but worried about our police state laws. When Mr Corbyn does, I have no doubt he is thinking about white colonialists who are giving a hard time to brown people. I say again – the look on his face when he is called another Hitler is very, very funny.