Robert Saunders Profile picture
Jul 19, 2018 4 tweets 3 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
As Labour prepares to discipline @margarethodge, here's a post I wrote in April on the culture of complacency, victim-blaming and self-congratulation that has marked the party's response to #Antisemitism.…
Too often, Labour has tried to silence those who complain rather than challenge the existence of abuse.
Too many on the Left see prejudice as a right-wing problem, of which the Left is incapable. The result is a culture of complacency that allows abuse to flourish.
In disciplining @margarethodge, the leadership has chosen to target the victim rather than the problem. A sad day for the Left, for progressive politics and for a politics of equality and respect.…

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More from @redhistorian

Sep 30, 2018
An interesting thread from @election_data, which poses an important question: is Labour wrong to believe that it can bank the Remain vote while switching its attention to Tory Leavers? The figures here suggest that it is. I’m not so sure. 1/7
There's no doubt that Labour's willingness to sit on its hands over Brexit has seen it bleed support among Remainers. According to Opinium, its anaemic polling performance is "primarily a result of losing favour amongst Remainers". But would this hold in a general election? 2/7
In 2017, Labour hoovered up Remain votes despite a pro-Leave manifesto, by positioning itself as the lesser of two evils. In the absence of a viable alternative, Remainers rallied around Labour as the best way to deny the Tories a blank cheque for whatever Brexit they pleased.3/7
Read 7 tweets
Sep 22, 2018
"Better to lose a little national sovereignty than a son or a daughter" (1975). Worth remembering, amidst all the bloviating about Brexit, WW2 and the Blitz Spirit in today's papers.
Margaret Thatcher put it aptly in 1975: peace means "being prepared to live our lives together, in becoming so enmeshed through trade and co-operation that to turn on one another would be unthinkable and impossible".
And here's Ted Heath in 1971, a man who had travelled through Nazi Germany in the 1930s, witnessed the bombing of Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War, fought in the D-Day landings and ended the war in the ruins of Hanover.
Read 4 tweets
Sep 17, 2018
Leaders' debates are a bad idea & encourage all the worst trends in UK politics: presidentialisation, the cult of personality ("Cleggmania"?), the reduction of parliamentary parties to fandoms for their leaders and the mistaking of fluency/"authenticity" for statecraft. #NoThanks
These presidential-style debates also raise yet another barrier to new entrants/smaller parties, at a time of widespread disillusionment with the Big Two. You either shut out the Greens/LDs/UKIP/SNP/Plaid Cymru etc, or the format becomes hopelessly unwieldy.
There's also a constitutional issue. Leaders' debates make elections more explicitly about a personal mandate for a potential prime minister. That creates a legitimacy problem if the PM changes mid-term - yet the Fixed Term Parliament Act makes it harder to seek a fresh mandate.
Read 5 tweets
Sep 11, 2018
Just read yet another appalling academic article on Brexit, blaming every possible form of bigotry without ever descending to the realm of evidence. With honourable exceptions, academia has spectacularly failed to meet the intellectual challenge of the Leave vote. [THREAD] 1/7
Like most academics, I strongly backed Remain & would do so again in a heartbeat. That's not a problem, so long as we are intellectually curious about people who think differently. We do this routinely in all kinds of other fields. 2/7
In my own subject, history, we're constantly confronted with ideas & practices of which we disapprove. We work hard to understand why people who were not vicious or stupid burned witches, backed fascist parties, built empires & enforced systems of racial & sexual oppression. 3/7
Read 7 tweets
Sep 10, 2018
It is a dangerous moment for any institution - whether a church, a political party or a country - when it decides that its proud history lifts it above criticism. [Short thread] 1/4
Is Labour "institutionally racist"? I'm hardly qualified to judge. But the charge comes from an alarmingly wide range of voices, & a progressive party should want to debate this urgently & think about how to do better. Instead, Lab is dishing out the usual punishment beating. 2/4
Too often, Labour treats complaints about its conduct not as an issue to be debated, but as an attack to be crushed. It invokes Labour's history of anti-racism (which is more mixed than it likes to admit) as a free pass for the present, rather than as a standard to live up to.3/4
Read 4 tweets
Sep 4, 2018
Of the various journalists who back the Corbyn project, @paulmasonnews is much the most interesting and substantial. But I was struck by two passages in his recent @NewStatesman piece, which speak to some of the concerns many of us feel about Labour's new direction. 1/12
First up: this is what Mason had to say about “Wreathgate”, which “Corbyn and his team have handled .. with aplomb”. 2/12
We can debate the rights & wrongs of "Wreathgate", but since when did a progressive party measure morality by its "cut-through" in the polls? It's hardly news that picking fights with minorities can be popular – so let's take Boris Johnson as an example. 3/12
Read 12 tweets

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