Exposed: Jeremy Corbyn’s hate factory
Source: The Times
Jeremy Corbyn faces a damaging new antisemitism scandal as a bombshell dossier reveals the full extent of anti-Jewish, violent and abusive comments on Facebook groups mobilising his most fervent supporters.
Twelve senior staff working for the Labour leader and the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, are members of groups containing antisemitic and violent comments, including praise for Adolf Hitler and threats to kill Theresa May, the prime minister.
The most comprehensive investigation conducted into 20 of the biggest pro-Corbyn Facebook groups, numbering 400,000 members, found routine attacks on Jewish people, including Holocaust denial.
The dossier was compiled over two months by whistleblowers working with The Sunday Times in the groups, who gained access to restricted membership groups. They uncovered more than 2,000 racist, antisemitic, misogynistic, violent and abusive messages.
Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said the comments appeared to breach hate-crime laws.
The investigation found:
■ Posts including support for Adolf Hitler, with one saying the Nazi leader “should have finished off the job” and another claiming the deaths of 6m Jews in the Holocaust “was a big lie!”
■ A Labour supporter, Patrick Haseldine, who posted an image of the Israeli flag on one Labour group on Facebook, with the swastika replacing the Star of David
■ Ian Love, a Momentum organiser on one of the groups, who claimed the former prime minister Tony Blair was “Jewish to the core”, and told The Sunday Times last week he believed the Rothschild banking family controlled most of the world’s finances.
The Facebook groups, which include We Support Jeremy Corbyn, with 68,000 members, have played a key role in helping Corbyn win two leadership contests and boost his performance in the last general election. He is under strong pressure to confront the antisemitism in his party.
The abusive messages regularly targeted Jewish public figures, including the Labour MP Luciana Berger and Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. There are also many violent threats against politicians.
Berger said she and her staff had gone to police about the abuse they had received from left-wingers, including one email urging her to kill herself. In an article for The Sunday Times, Berger says: “Where people indulge in illegal racist activity I will always use the full force of the law to pursue a prosecution. I will continue to do that even when they are people from the left.”
Last night, Christine Shawcroft resigned from Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) following pressure from Tom Watson, the deputy leader. She had opposed the suspension of a Labour member accused of Holocaust denial. “It is clear that my continued membership of the NEC has become a distraction for the party,” said Shawcroft, who will be replaced by the comedian Eddie Izzard.
David Prescott, Corbyn’s senior political adviser, was a member of We Support Jeremy Corbyn, the biggest group, until last week; Laura Murray, a stakeholder manager in Corbyn’s office, is a member of Supporting Jeremy Corbyn & John McDonnell; and James Meadway, McDonnell’s economic adviser, is in the groups We Support Jeremy Corbyn and Supporting Jeremy Corbyn & John McDonnell. Labour said no one in Corbyn’s or McDonnell’s office had seen, posted or endorsed anti- semitic or abusive messages.
Some posts decry the lack of availability of “assassins” in Britain for “getting rid of politicians”, with a picture featuring May. Another post, about the former deputy prime minister Damian Green, says “why don’t we just don’t get on with it and lynch him”.
Robert Ford, professor of political science at Manchester University, said “online hate factories” of the type uncovered by the investigation could encourage violent or extreme reactions.
The revelations came as it emerged that MPs who were at a rally to oppose Labour antisemitism had been told to “explain” themselves to their constituency parties.
MPs who joined the rally say they have asked Corbyn to make clear he does not think those who attended were attacking him. He has not done so.
Labour said: “These groups are not officially connected to the party in any way. Labour is committed to challenging and campaigning against antisemitism.”
■ The women’s parliamentary Labour Party, made up of the party’s female MPs and peers, has demanded Jeremy Corbyn suspend a male MP accused of domestic violence while the allegations were investigated.