Party discipline

The Labour Party doesn’t want Naz Shah to go overboard in apologizing, according to BuzzFeed.

Labour MP Naz Shah’s apology was edited by the party’s HQ to remove all mentions of the term “anti-Semitic”, along with references to wider problems of anti-Semitism in left-wing politics, after it was submitted for approval, BuzzFeed News has learned.

On Wednesday, Shah released a statement billed as a “full apology” to Jewish News.

But BuzzFeed News has seen the draft of the statement written by Shah’s team and sent to the party for approval, in which she went much further than the version that eventually was released.

For instance, the original draft included this admission by Shah: “I helped promote anti-Semitic tropes. This was totally wrong.”

But the line was dropped for the version approved by the Labour press office, along with another mention of “anti-Semitism”.

Is that normal practice? To send statements to the party for approval? Is it required practice? Are MPs required to accept the party’s edits?

The original statement – in which Shah talked at length about her personal shame regarding the comments and pledged her full commitment to fighting prejudice – also included a passage in which she said she wanted to take part in “an intersectional struggle, one where the concerns of Jewish individuals and communities are taken seriously and anti-Semitism is not dismissed out of hand or ignored”. This did not appear in the final version.

Other sentences deleted from the draft after it was sent to Labour HQ include an apparent admission by Shah of a widespread problem of anti-Semitism among left-wing campaigners and deep concerns about the spread of “toxic conspiracy theories, group-blame and stereotyping”.

So the party changed the substance of what she said…and not for the better (except possibly from their point of view, narrowly conceived).

A reference to “Nazi Germany” was also changed to “Hitler”, prompting mockery from the editor of the Jewish Chronicle.

“I accept that referencing Israel in a comparison to Nazi Germany was not only wrong, but totally inaccurate,” said Shah in the original draft statement. “My other social media posts were also deeply offensive to Jewish people.”

In the final version this appeared as “I understand that referring to Israel and Hitler as I did is deeply offensive to Jewish people, for which I apologise.”

No wonder the editor mocked – the party changed a clear statement to a meaningless garble. “Referring to Israel and Hitler” is not at all the same as comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, now is it.

The Labour party stopped Shah from publishing a full apology on Tuesday night, according to sources with knowledge of the discussions, meaning she could not get her defence across in overnight editions of newspapers.

Also meaning the apology was delayed, which is not good.

What a dog’s breakfast.

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