Did politician at center of anti-Semitism hearing really need a 40-strong MP ‘human shield’?
Labour MP Ruth Smeeth was escorted by a ‘human shield’ of 40 MPs, as she gave evidence at a hearing into alleged anti-Semitism directed at her by party activist Marc Wadsworth during the launch of the Chakrabarti Report in 2016.
The majority of mainstream media outlets framed the event as Smeeth battling with a vast amount of protesters as she ran “a gauntlet” to appear at the disciplinary hearing. However, video footage of the protesters would suggest that number was around 10-15; holding banners and vocalizing their support for Wadsworth, who some on social media claim is the victim of a witch hunt.
What’s happening to Marc Wadsworth today is nothing short of a witch hunt. His point to Ruth Smeeth was specific & evidence-based, not anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. Shame on the 50 Labour MPs marching to metaphorically lynch this black anti-racism campaigner. pic.twitter.com/YaMeNkOu3o— Kerry-Anne Mendoza (@TheMendozaWoman) April 26, 2018
The MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, who is Jewish, said: “I was verbally attacked by a Momentum activist and Jeremy Corbyn supporter who used traditional anti-Semitic slurs to attack me for being part of a ‘media conspiracy.’”
So, what do we know about the facts of the case? Well, video recordings have circulated on social media documenting the alleged anti-Semitism directed at Smeeth by Wadsworth.
The controversy revolves around his following statement: "I saw that The Telegraph handed a copy of a press release to Ruth Smeeth MP, we can see who's working hand in hand."
Some, including certain supporters of Corbyn, may feel Wadsworth has indulged in an age-old anti-Semitic troupe, that of Jews being in cahoots with the media, as Smeeth appears to have concluded.
However, others may take the view that Wadsworth was insensitive in what he said, but was not anti-Semitic, as Open Democracy columnist Hicham Yezza suggested. “Based on this video, Marc Wadsworth was insensitive and rude and unpleasant to/about Ruth Smeeth, but not anti-Semitic,” he stated. “To suggest a politician is working with sympathetic journos towards shared political ends may be unfair or inaccurate or even libelous, but it is not anti-Semitic.”
Based on this video, Marc Wadsworth was insensitive & rude & unpleasant to/about Ruth Smeeth, but not antisemitic. To suggest a politician is working with sympathetic journos towards shared political ends may be unfair or inaccurate or even libellous, but it is not antisemitic.— Hicham Yezza (@HichamYezza) April 25, 2018
Speaking outside his hearing, Wadsworth said that he was feeling "very confident" that he would be exonerated. “I've endured almost two years of trial by media where I've had to correct a lot of incorrect reporting and, as a journalist of more than 40 years, I'm astounded that some colleagues have reported this as they have.”
There have been suggestions from some Jeremy Corbyn supporters that a select number of Labour MPs, seen as being on the right of the party, have been all too happy to go and brief or write columns for right-wing newspapers such as The Sun and Daily Mail to undermine the Labour leader, papers that have faced their own accusations of anti-Semitism and racism.
Neil Coyle makes unfounded criticism of Labour staff and attacks the Shadow Cabinet in the Sun and he is the one upset on TV...— Jeremy Corbyn for PM (@JeremyCorbyn4PM) April 17, 2017
the right-wing press is actively encouraging violence against Labour and Corbyn in particular. They know this is the case because recently a far right Sun/Daily Mail reading terrorist said he planned to murder CorbynWoodcock and other alt-centrist are aiding and abetting them— ☀️👀 (@zei_nabq) February 20, 2018
The BBC reports that Wadsworth will find out on Thursday whether he is to be expelled from the Labour Party.
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