Snap Expulsion of Key Tony Blair Aide Contrasted With British Labour Party’s Reluctance to Discipline Antisemites
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s most famous confidant was expelled from the opposition Labour Party on Tuesday — leading some observers to unfavorably contrast the rapid discipline imposed in this case with the hundreds of allegations of antisemitism in the party’s ranks yet to be investigated.
Alistair Campbell — who served as Blair’s spokesman during his ten-year premiership at the turn of the century — was kicked out of the party just four days after disclosing that he had voted for the Liberal Democrat Party in the European Parliament elections, because of Labour’s reluctance, under far-left party leader Jeremy Corbyn, to support a second referendum on the country’s “Brexit” from the European Union.
Labour parliamentarian Jess Phillips, who has vocally opposed the party’s handling of the antisemitism scandals under Corbyn’s leadership, pointed out on Twitter that Campbell had been expelled for far less egregious reasons than other offenders who were merely “suspended.”
Yep I do have thoughts, he was expelled quicker than a man who threatened to kill me, quicker than a man in my CLP who denied the Holocaust, both are only still suspended. https://t.co/8dRZxC3Hd5
— Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) May 28, 2019
Campbell was “expelled quicker than a man who threatened to kill me, quicker than a man in my CLP [Constituency Labour Party] who denied the Holocaust,” she wrote.
In a series of tweets, Campbell said he would not be making further statements in the light of his appeal against expulsion, but added “it was hard not to point out the difference” between his case and those involving antisemitism in the Labour Party.
3. I am and always will be Labour. I voted Lib Dem, without advance publicity, to try to persuade Labour to do right thing for country/party. In light of appeal, I won't be doing media on this. But hard not to point out difference in the way anti-Semitism cases have been handled.
— Alastair PEOPLE’S VOTE Campbell (@campbellclaret) May 28, 2019
In an editorial condemning the expulsion, the left-leaning Guardian newspaper denounced Labour’s “petty and vindictive act,” arguing that Campbell had been targeted because of his former role as Blair’s communications director.
“The speed with which Labour has moved against Mr Campbell is also revealing,” The Guardian continued. “The contrast with the cautious response in dealing with complaints against some of its other members, on issues including antisemitism, is glaring. That it happened on the very day that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) began an investigation into that issue leaves a bad taste.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the EHRC, the UK’s equality watchdog, announced a formal investigation to determine whether the Labour Party had discriminated against, harassed or victimized people because they were Jewish.
Dawn Butler, a staunch Corbyn ally on Labour’s front bench, defended the decision to expel Campbell. She said that any member who confessed to voting for another party would automatically be excluded. “It’s just part of the rule book,” Butler told the BBC. “Everyone knows that.”
Labour’s rule book states that member of the party “who supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate…shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a Party member.”