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If Labour wants to stamp out anti-Semitism, it should take a lesson from Naz Shah

The Bradford MP was clearly ignorant, but has admitted her comments were anti-Semitic and professes a willingness to change. There are plenty in the Labour Party who have made no such effort.

Here’s a funny thing. Naz Shah was caught out on Monday by Guido Fawkes for sharing and writing various anti-Semitic comments and memes on Twitter and Facebook. Before she became an MP, but not long before she became an MP. And yet, somehow, Naz Shah is one of the very few Labour MPs to have emerged from this week with any credit whatsoever.

Naz Shah is not representative of the Jew hatred that is rife throughout Labour. Her comments about the “Jews rallying” and their forced “transportation” – just think about that word transportation and its connotations for this particular community – were unequivocally anti-Semitic. If you don’t agree with that, I’m afraid you’re probably an anti-Semite too. But Shah had clearly already embarked on a journey – Bradford’s small synagogue, rescued from closure by the city’s Muslim community, tweeted its support for Shah. Her apologies, including an early draft that was not eventually delivered, showed a genuine engagement with the anti-Semitism that has found a happy home on parts of the left, and a desire to stamp it out.

I just wrote that if you don’t agree that Shah’s comments were anti-Semitic – something Naz Shah herself conceded instantly – then you’re probably an anti-Semite too. Which brings me to Rupa Huq, the MP for Ealing Central and Acton. In an extraordinary interview on the Today programme this morning, which I have had to listen to at least ten times to make sure that it’s not a satire dreamed up by her brother-in-law Charlie Brooker, she denied that Shah’s posts were anti-Semitic, and jokingly likened them to a funny photo she herself had once tweeted about Boris Johnson getting stuck on a zipwire.

I’ll remind you again: Naz Shah has not denied that her posts were anti-Semitic. Rupa Huq, however, just laughed that anyone can “share” a “silly picture”. Who represents Labour’s anti-Semitism problem? Naz Shah, who was clearly ignorant but professes a willingness to change? Or Rupa Huq, who spent the day watching an anti-Semite admitting to being an anti-Semite and thought: “Nope, that’s not anti-Semitism”?

Rupa Huq represents Labour’s anti-Semitism problem, not Naz Shah. She, and those who share her views, were there before Jeremy Corbyn and they’ll be there after. This is why Jews spurned Labour at the general election. This is why a man who “might have” donated to a holocaust denier is leader of the Labour Party rather than a subject for investigation by its compliance unit. Because Rupa Huq is not alone. She is one of many Labour MPs and Labour members and Labour supporters who give the impression they could walk into a room daubed with swastikas and say: “Well, that’s a bit far, but let’s be clear – it’s not anti-Semitic to criticise Israel.”

Sadiq Khan has done a commendable job rebuilding bridges with the Jewish community. He may be rewarded with many of their votes in the mayoral election. He deserves to be. But the long-term trend is clear, and probably now irreversible. Labour will not win Jewish votes again. It will never again be the natural party for people like Manny Shinwell, Margaret Hodge, Ian Mikardo, Joel Barnett, David Winnick, Alf Dubs. That’s not on Naz Shah. That’s on Rupa Huq. Does she care? Listen to her interview on the Today programme this morning. I don’t think she does.

Now, there is something Labour MPs could do about this. Yesterday, Lisa Nandy called for Naz Shah to be suspended. She was, but only after a fashion. There was a similar pattern with Ken Livingstone's belated suspension today. What if he had not been? Would Nandy have resigned, or preferred to shape an energy policy that Labour will never be in government to enact? Does she mind that it took Jeremy Corbyn hours to even comment, or that John Mann is apparently being reprimanded for denouncing Livingstone?

Labour MPs and shadow ministers face a choice. What do they want their epitaph to be? “She was there while the Labour Party laughed at anti-Semitism?” Or: “She did her bit to flush Jew-hatred out of the party?” I know which I’d prefer. But then I’m just another of those pesky Jews who joined the Labour Party at the age of 15 and will struggle ever to vote for it again. Rupa Huq would tell me laugh it off. She is the Labour Party now, not me. 

Henry Zeffman writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2015.

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Casting the Brexit movie that is definitely real and will totally happen

Details are yet unclear as to whether The Bad Boys of Brexit will be gracing our screens, or just Farage's vivid imagination.

Hollywood is planning to take on the farcical antics of Nigel Farage et al during the UK referendum, according to rumours (some suspect planted by a starstruck Brexiteer). 

Details are yet unclear as to whether The Bad Boys of Brexit will be gracing our big or small screens, a DVD, or just Farage's vivid imagination, but either way here are our picks for casting the Hollywood adaptation.

Nigel Farage: Jim Carrey

The 2018 return of Alan Partridge as "the voice of hard Brexit" makes Steve Coogan the obvious choice. Yet Carrey's portrayal of the laughable yet pure evil Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events makes him a serious contender for this role. 

Boris Johnson: Gerard Depardieu

Stick a blonde wig on him and the French acting royalty is almost the spitting image of our own European aristocrat. He has also evidently already mastered the look of pure shock necessary for the final scene of the movie - in which the Leave campaign is victorious.

Arron Banks: Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais not only resembles Ukip donor Arron Banks, but has a signature shifty face perfect for the scene where the other Brexiteers ask him what is the actual plan. 

Gerry Gunster: Anthony Lapaglia

The Bad Boys of Brexit will reportedly be told from the perspective of the US strategist turned Brexit referendum expert Gerry Gunster. Thanks to recurring roles in both the comedy stalwart Frasier, and the US crime drama Without a Trace, Anthony Lapaglia is versatile enough to do funny as well as serious, a perfect mix for a story that lurches from tragedy to farce. Also, they have the same cunning eyes.

Douglas Carswell: Mark Gatiss

The resemblance is uncanny.

David Cameron: Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott is widely known for his portrayal of Moriarty in Sherlock, where he indulges in elaborate, but nationally destructive strategy games. The actor also excels in a look of misplaced confidence that David Cameron wore all the way up to the referendum. Not to mention, his forehead is just as shiny. He'll have to drink a lot of Bollinger to gain that Cameron-esque puppy fat though. 

Kate Hoey: Judi Dench

Although this casting would ruin the image of the much beloved national treasure that is Judi Dench, if anyone can pull off being the face of Labour Leave, the incredible actress can.