IMAGINE how the media and the Labour Party bureaucracy would have reacted if supporters of Jeremy Corbyn had demeaned those opposing him as nazi stormtroopers.
Yet former Labour parliamentary candidate and prominent donor Michael Foster, who took the party to the High Court in a bid to keep Corbyn off the ballot paper, does so with impunity.
He refers in an article in the Mail on Sunday to “Corbyn and his Sturmabteilung (stormtroopers),” which takes inner-party debate to a new low.
In the course of his piece he maligns the integrity of Shami Chakrabarti, claiming that her “detailed report into anti-semitism in the Labour Party was anything but independent.”
Foster also seeks to tar Corbyn’s communications executive Seumas Milne as an anti-semite, accusing him of invoking “the ancient racist rhetoric … that Jews don’t act alone, the malevolent Jew always conspires” when he criticises the very real right-wing conspiracy against Corbyn.
He refers to himself twice in the Mail article as a “Jewish donor” to Labour.
Since when were there separate categories for donors? His substantial donations to Labour carried no identification by religion, ethnicity or cultural origins.
Foster’s self-description, allied with utterly ahistorical cross-references, is designed to portray his opponents as not simply wrong but motivated by anti-semitism.
This is not just shoddy reasoning but a vile calumny against decent Labour Party members.
Yet there is no word of criticism for this conduct from Labour general secretary Ian McNicol, the national executive committee or the compliance unit.
When it comes to mud-slinging against Corbyn, anything goes.
Foster’s self-awareness as a Jew and his tendency to see Labour Party current developments through the prism of 1930s nazi Germany might have been taken more seriously had he chosen another vehicle than Viscount Rothermere’s Mail.
Rothermere’s great-grandfather wrote the infamous Hurrah for the Blackshirts article in January 1934, urging Mail readers to join Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists.
While the Mail later dropped its overt backing for Mosley, the Tory rag still proclaimed in August 1938: “The way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port of this country is becoming an outrage.”
Foster may also remind himself that it is just three years since the Mail damned Ralph Miliband, a Belgian Jew who fled the nazis and served in the Royal Navy in the second world war, as a man who hated Britain.
If he is making common cause with the Rothermere stable against Corbyn, he should stop and think what direction he is taking.
Labour’s party machinery must ask itself the same question. Is a blind eye turned to Foster’s despicable rant because of the amount of money he donates?
Tom Watson might ponder why Max Mosley, son of Oswald, coughed up £200,000 to run his private office.
Mosley is no longer the fascist he was in his younger days, but nor has he presented himself as someone who stands four-square with the social justice agenda of the Labour Party.
Why do rich individuals and businesses make donations to the party?
Their tendency to stop giving or to channel gifts to particular individuals as a means of expressing displeasure with such events as Corbyn’s election as leader indicate that donations and policies are linked.
The Bernie Sanders campaign in the US and the crowd-funding initiative to support the disenfranchised Labour members’ campaign for a leadership vote illustrate a far more democratic alternative.
Basing a general election campaign on the mass activity of hundreds of thousands of members, as Corbyn proposes, is surely the way forward for Labour.