Increasingly, I loathe General Elections. More and more, I notice even people I’d always seen as being fairly level-headed flip abruptly into abject tribalism once the campaign gets underway.
Depressingly common right now is the notable gear shift from Labour supporters, from “the antisemitism crisis is terrible and has to be tackled”, to “the antisemitism crisis is terrible and has to be tackled, but…”. Fingers are being pushed ever deeper into left-wing ears.
Although I fundamentally disagree with the sentiment, I can at least rationally understand the “least worst” argument. This says that, yes, antisemitism in Labour is awful, and is shaming for the party, but every election is a choice between imperfect candidates, the Conservatives have their own problems with racism, and taking everything into account, Labour are the least worst option. Now: I disagree here. I think the antisemitism is disqualifying. And I’d suggest that “least worst” argument looks rather different depending on who you are. But at least I can follow the logic.
What I can’t cope with, what I find so upsetting, is the idea that you’d make the least worst argument, acknowledge that both parties are in the grip of some significant issues with racism, and then go and enthusiastically campaign for one of those racist parties.
You can’t suck your teeth, sadly shake your head, wring your hands, and say how dreadful it all is, at the same time you’re knocking on doors trying to put this antisemitic movement into power. Or, you can’t and simultaneously expect to be taken seriously as an anti-racist.
Despite your claims, you don’t oppose Boris Johnson’s Conservatives on the grounds of racism, because you’ve demonstrated that you’ll continue to actively support what should be an intolerable level of antisemitism to further your economic politics. You’re knocking on doors to try and make an antisemite Prime Minister. This is a conscious action on your part. At least have the decency to accept that.
And it’s the antisemitism (along with the appalling foreign policy and disregard for our liberal institutions) that means that Labour deserves to fail in December. It goes without saying that the Conservatives do too. This election is a battle between Vote Leave and the Stop The War Coalition. Neither is remotely worthy of governing.
For everyone in between — from social democrats to one nation conservatives — the goal must be to refuse support for either; instead, all we can do is elect as many MPs as possible from other parties, aiming to produce as hung a parliament as is possible.
The best that can be hoped for now is that both Labour and the Tories lose seats; with any luck, this may lead to both toxic leaders being replaced, and both parties starting to consider whether they may consider engaging with reality rather than their own worst impulses.
But whatever happens next, we won’t forget those who decided that antisemitism is a price worth paying for a Labour government.