What the Labour Grandee said in defence of antisemitic leader Corbyn:
"Rachel Riley tweets that Corbyn deserves to be violently attacked because he is a Nazi. This woman is as dangerous as she is stupid. Nobody should engage with her. Ever.”
She was ordered to pay Riley £10,000 damages for defamation.
Congratulations and thanks are due to Ms Riley and her lawyer Mark Lewis. The TV presenter and Strictly celebrity could have had a much easier life if she had concentrated on her show business career instead of standing up for herself and the Jewish community so strongly over the last few years.
She bravely took on the anti-Jewish racists and refused to back down despite the abuse and threats she faced. She demonstrated much more bravery and principle in tackling racism in the Labour Party than many of the party’s most senior members, many of whom now in positions of leadership. Perhaps if they had fought more strongly, she and others would not have needed to. Frankly, they should be ashamed that a TV celebrity showed more political courage in tackling a problem in their party than they did.
It is extraordinary how Jewish women like Ms Riley, the actress Tracey-Ann Oberman or Members of Parliament like Luciana Berger, Margaret Hodge, Ruth Smeeth or Louise Ellman bore the brunt of the harassment and abuse meted out by the hard left during this terrible period. And let’s not forget how the BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg needed a bodyguard just for doing her job at the Labour conference, protection not required by any of her male colleagues.
Second, Ms Murray was not some insignificant Labour member with an over-active Twitter habit, but part of the hard left leadership, working in Corbyn’s office and as a senior official at the party’s head office.
Her family connections can’t have harmed her meteoric rise to these positions. Her father Andrew Murray is one of the most senior figures on the far left of British politics, chairing the so-called Stop the War Campaign which argues against Western governments, acting as Chief of Staff to Len McCluskey at Unite which bankrolled the party under Corbyn and even working as one of his closest aides as well. Her mother, Professor Susan Michie, famously sold a Picasso worth £50 million she and her siblings had inherited.
Ms Murray and her family are not just Labour aristocracy but come from the actual aristocracy too. Despite being a lifelong communist, her father is the son of stockbroker Peter Drummond-Murray, a descendant of the Earl of Perth who held the title Slains Pursuivant of Arms. His grandfather on his mother's side was Baron Rankeillour, the Governor of Madras and a Tory MP. Professor Michie’s family are just as grand. Her grandfather was the Eton-educated Baron Aberconway.
None of that prevented the hard-left Corbyn-supporting campaign Momentum from greeting the court’s verdict with the words: “The establishment always closes ranks. Solidarity with Laura Murray, a kind & principled socialist.” According to Momentum’s class-warriors, the establishment figure is not Ms Murray but the self-made Ms Riley whose talents and hard work have taken her from an ordinary background in Southend.
And isn’t it ironic that left-wing activists called on Ms Riley to donate her damages to a soup kitchen but don’t demand their comrades to donate the proceeds from the sale of the Picasso as well? The whole sorry story shows us so much of what happened to the Labour Party under the hard left: nepotism, entitlement, anti-Jewish racism and hypocrisy.
Well done to Ms Riley for having the courage to shine a spotlight on it all and exposing the toxic, morally vacuous far-left for exactly what they are.