Smearing a movement is the oldest trick in the book….
I am distinctly unconvinced by the allegations that Aaron Porter was subjected to anti-Semitic abuse. Of course, you should always add the caveat that if it did happen its utterly contemptible but given the complete paucity of the evidence for the prosecution I am erring towards siding with the defence. Even if it were true the actions of a few have never justified the condemnation of the many.
Remember the movement against the Iraq War? Before it became accepted establishment wisdom that it was a horrific mistake it was routinely implied that those opposed to it were somehow deeply in love with Saddam Hussein and had a strange affinity for his regime. In the case of some this was undoubtedly true but I can’t imagine how you can bend the stick so far such an argument could apply to everybody in the movement and remain logically coherent.
This is the oldest trick in the book. Pick an extreme and therefore probably slightly distasteful point of view and liberally apply to the entire movement with a spray can of blatant untruths the size of which would make you average graffiti artist green with envy. If it has just enough tenuous basis in truth to stick, it will turn comrade on comrade. In this case ‘the anchor’ to reality is not that Aaron Porter is hated for being Jewish but actually is disliked for being perceived, largely correctly, as being a careerist and having sold out his own members. Instead of a frank discussion about this; the media finds it much more useful to its vested interests to invent a shadow truth to hide the real truth.
However, its a tactic that is only usually deployed in fear. Towards the end, the movement against the Iraq War got pretty damn big. It’s not the same this time; what scares the establishment was the militancy, not the size as things stand. Ever since Millbank a full spread of smear tactics have been deployed against the movement. Millbank was something of a failure in terms of a smear campaign, I distinctly remember a poll showing 65% odd support for the student position despite the violence.
Socially the movement is also comprised in a large part of what is actually a core constituency for the government – aspirational middle class families and their offspring. It simply wouldn’t do to have these people revolting against the government. Further down the class ladder the labour movement is in tatters and the poor have been successfully marginalised. The last thing that is therefore wanted is a revolt in the ‘backyard’ of the establishment. For the moment this has worked and for want of a clear and coherent alternative as well as some leadership the energies of the movement seem to be a little diffuse currently.
However, this won’t last…..it should be remembered that this tactic is a squeal of desperation, not a show of strength and that the movement can overcome these difficulties if it develops a coherent alternative to the status quo.