Bad news for Ken Loach: You’ve Got the Wrong Book!

Bad News for Labour: Antisemitism, the Party and Public Belief  by Greg Philo, Mike Berry, Justin Schlosberg, Antony Lerman and David Miller…………..

This book was launched in Brighton last night, on the fringe of the Labour Conference. It is insubstantial and deceitful. You have better ways of spending £14.99 (the cover price for the paperback).  As for the hardback at £75 – words fail!

The tired theme of antisemitism denial is all too familiar from supporters of Corbyn: accusations of antisemitism in Labour are being made in bad faith in order to undermine Corbyn and the media is complicit by making people believe that it’s a far worse problem than it actually is. And the IHRA definition of antisemitism suppresses criticism of Israel / stifles free speech / excludes the examples / etcetera etcetera ad nauseam.

The only new material (in Chapter 1) is a Survation poll which asked people whether they were aware of accusations of antisemitism in Labour. The 62% who responded ‘yes’ were then asked ‘What percentage of Labour members have had accusations of antisemitism made against them?’  Philo and Berry write that the average response was 34% – implying around 165,000 people. On that figure is based the book’s thesis – that the media is hyping up the problem of Labour antisemitism.

But look at the distribution of responses:

table sept 19First 29% – nearly one-third – of respondents said that they didn’t know what percentage of Labour members had accusations of antisemitism made against them. Second, it is well known (Statistics #101) that outliers drive a wedge between the mean of a distribution and the mode. The mode of this distribution is just 0-9%, well below the mean of 33% (on my calculation).

In Chapter 3 Philo and Berry discuss the incidence of antisemitism in Labour. They support the ‘official’ figures given by Labour’s General Secretary Jenny Formby: that between April 2018 and January 2019 there were 673 complaints of which 453 were judged to warrant further investigation. The estimable organisation Labour Against Antisemitism (I am an adviser) said in February 2019 that it has reported 1200 cases since 2016, so almost double Ms Formby’s number. It also submitted a 15,000 page dossier to the EHRC.  Absurdly Philo and Berry dismiss these data as ‘vague and unsubstantiated claims’! Even more absurdly, they cite in support of their statement Emeritus Professor Harvey Goldstein. I fisked his antisemitism denial here back in February.

Philo and Berry give the game away at the end of Chapter 3. They quote this by an unsavoury character called David Rosenberg : the timing of the Jewish Community’s rally against antisemitism in Parliament Square (March 2018) ‘a few weeks before local government elections, was transparently about damaging Corbyn in particular and Labour in general just weeks before those local elections.’ Utter tosh. Then, discussing whether the antisemitism accusations will ever end, they say: “Possibly if the intention is to reduce antisemitism in the ‘traditional’ sense of an irrational hatred of Jews. But it will continue if the intention is to reshape the definition and understanding of antisemitism to argue that movements such as BDS and criticisms of Israel are illegitimate”

Schlosberg’s chapter 4 is similar to his piece (with Laura Laker) of September 2018 which I fisked here.  A blatant falsehood is added: the allegation that ‘the IHRA definition was rejected by dozens of Jewish organisations throughout the world’. David Collier put the lie to that a year ago. I don’t believe that Schlosberg hasn’t seen David’s piece. So why does he persist with a naked lie?

A similar question can be asked of Anthony Lerman who wrote Chapter 5.  Lerman queries whether the 11 examples are part of the IHRA Definition and denies that the UK adopted the examples. I slayed that trope months ago (see reference to Lerman) and he knows it. Yet again he cites the lawyers who have criticised IHRA. But he knows (same reference) that two of those lawyers were paid by Israel hate organisations and that the arguments of the other two were absurd. Geoffey Robertson’s Opinion was rapidly deleted. Its worth can be deduced from Robertson’s demonstrably false statement that Israel was created  ‘to compensate for the Holocaust’. Lerman also cites the 2017 JPR paper knowing full well that it was irredeemably flawedHe even compares IHRA to a  Ponzi scheme! – what has he been smoking – this is not a serious critique. He quotes Rebecca Gould who wrote that the European Parliament has not adopted IHRA in full. That’s nonsense, it has!

The book gets a puff from Ken Loach (who was down to speak at the launch last night): ‘At last there is a book that rigorously examines the facts behind the allegation of antisemitism in the Labour Party.

I don’t know which book he has in mind? – it certainly isn’t this one.

Addendum

Waterstones in Brighton cancelled the launch of this book. The accusation that this was due to pressure from anti-antisemitism activists is false ……..

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