the nazi groan is total shit anyway

Guardian censors Jeremy Corbyn cartoon
Asa Winstanley, Electronic Intifada, Nov 26 2020

The Guardian has censored Steve Bell, one of the UK’s leading political cartoonists. The long-running “If…” strip did not appear in the paper on Wednesday. Bell provided this copy to The Electronic Intifada. It is a commentary on Labour’s ongoing campaign to purge its former left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran Palestine solidarity campaigner. In the strip Corbyn is coerced into apologizing “for not being a right wing Zionist.” Bell confirmed to The Electronic Intifada that the paper had refused to publish, saying:

They seem to have wanted to suppress something simply because they disagree with my point of view. It could be construed as censorship. The only reason I was given was that they felt ‘uncomfortable’ with running it.

“If…” has been published by the paper for almost 40 years. It offers a surreal and funny running commentary on British political affairs. The Guardian did not reply to a request for comment on Thursday morning. The censored strip would have been the third in a series published by The Guardian this week showing current Labour leader Keir Starmer as a dominatrix threatening not to whip Corbyn. Here are the first two:

It’s a send-up of the UK Parliament’s ridiculous jargon: the parliamentary parties’ disciplinary leaders are termed “whips” and imposing a party line is called “whipping.” It also lampoons Corbyn’s apparent willingness to capitulate to pressure and apologize. The former leader has been subjected to years of smears about “Labour anti-Semitism.” The paper has censored the cartoonist at least twice in the past, both times over Israel.

Earlier this month Starmer announced that he had “taken the decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn,” meaning he cannot be part of the Labour group in the House of Commons. The whip was initially withdrawn from Corbyn as part of his suspension as a party member in October. But last week a Labour disciplinary panel readmitted Corbyn to the party. That would normally mean he’d automatically return as a Labour MP too, but Starmer blocked it. The row began on Oct 29, the day before Corbyn’s suspension. The former leader had responded to the launch of a long-awaited report into supposed “institutional anti-Semitism” in Labour by accurately stating that the scale of anti-Semitism had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons.” The report itself did not find Labour guilty of “institutional anti-Semitism.” Labour’s chief whip Nick Brown wrote to Corbyn this week demanding that he “unequivocally, unambiguously and without reservation apologize” and that he should delete or edit his cautious October statement. It seems unlikely that Corbyn’s “whip suspension” will be ended without such an apology. Brown is depicted in Bell’s strip in a black hood and red shorts, demanding Corbyn “apologize properly … for everything! For being an old lefty git and for not being a right wing Zionist!” When cartoon-Corbyn gives the apology, Brown responds “It’s not enough!” Should the real-life Corbyn apologize too, it seems likely that Labour will just find another pretext to get rid of him anyway.

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