Jeremy Corbyn has decided to nominate Martha Osamor to become a life peer, despite her vociferous defence of Labour figures suspended or expelled over antisemitism allegations, including Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein.
In one letter unearthed by political blog Guido Fawkes, Ms Osamor, 75, said that Naz Shah’s demand that Israelis be transported to the United States was “not so outrageous within the historical context and involvement of Zionists with Nazis”, despite Ms Shah herself admitting that the statement was antisemitic. Ms Osamor has also said that Ken Livingstone was “largely accurate” to say that Hitler “was supporting Zionism”, and she slammed the suspension of Jackie Walker, who claimed that Jews were the “chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade”, as having been “applied and publicised in haste, without due consideration”.
She added that suspensions over alleged antisemitism “undermine serious discussion and thinking” and “are also being made to silence criticisms of Israel, hamper the work of Momentum activists, and undermine Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn”. She also shared a letter in which it was claimed that allegations of antisemitism were being “weaponised”, which Mr Corbyn has been forced to denounce, though through his ennoblement of Ms Osamor it is hard to imagine that he meant it.
Gideon Falter, Chairman of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “Jeremy Corbyn has shown a particular taste in nominations to the House of Lords. First came Shami Chakrabarti who whitewashed Labour’s antisemitism crisis with her dismal report, and now he is sending Martha Osamor to join her. Ms Osamor is one of the foremost defenders of disgraced Labour figures suspended or expelled over antisemitism allegations, including Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein. She has compared the suspension of Labour members over alleged antisemitism to the McCarthy era and the Salem witch trials.
“Mr Corbyn has promised action, not just words, against antisemitism in the Labour Party. Today his actions speak louder than ever. By elevating Ms Osamor to the peerage, Mr Corbyn has sent an unmistakable signal to those in the Jewish community who still harboured some hope that he might change. Mr Corbyn is telling us not only that he sees her behaviour as unproblematic, but that he sees it as being worthy of the highest honour and a lifelong seat in the House of Lords. Yet again, Mr Corbyn has sent the Jewish community a two-fingered salute, and the Labour Party has looked on inertly.”
Ms Osamor has responded by predictably claiming to be a lifelong anti-racist: “I am and always have been implacably opposed to antisemitism and have spent my life as an anti-racist campaigner. As Jeremy has said clearly, raising concerns about antisemitism is not a smear. I welcome Jennie Formby’s recent actions as Labour’s new General Secretary to ensure there is no place for antisemitism in the Labour Party.”