I’m reading Asa Winstanley’s excellent book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby brought down Jeremy Corbyn. It is a thoroughly referenced account of the smear campaign which was pursued over several years up to 2019. For those of us who followed the twists and turns of this fractious period, it is a fascinating read even if much of it is familiar. Hopefully it will be a book that is referenced in the future by historians of the time when briefly the UK took a left turn—the sort of turn the establishment couldn’t permit. But one of the most egregious episodes of the Corbyn period is somewhat glossed over, which is the background to and legal actions arising from the Panorama programme, broadcast a few months before the general election of 2019, Is Labour Anti-Semitic? This was in many peoples’ opinion a not-so-subtly delivered hatchet job, fronted by Britain’s most respected, multi-award winning and totally impartial journalist John Ware. Ware is a litigious person, so perhaps that explains why Winstanley (or his lawyers) resisted digging too much into the creation and fallout of this programme. I do find it odd however that Winstanely didn’t comment on the fact (at least as reported in the Guardian) that Ware in 2020—less than a year after his programme was broadcast—had participated in a buyout consortium for the Jewish Chronicle, a paper which had vigorously taken up the cudgels against Corbyn (and which had suffered a number of defeats concerning the accuracy of its reportage.) The Guardian reported (23rd April 2020):
"The winning bid was led by Sir Robbie Gibb, a former BBC executive who worked in Downing Street throughout the Brexit negotiation process. It is also backed by a group including former charity commission chairman William Shawcross, ex-Labour MP John Woodcock, and journalist John Ware who made a recent Panorama investigation into allegations of antisemitism in the Labour party. Others whose names are attached to the consortium include broadcaster Jonathan Sacerdoti and Rabbi Jonathan Hughes of Radlett United Synagogue, along with a number of financiers and lawyers."
Who are these people that John Ware joined with? Clearly Robbie Gibb’s political leanings are clear, having worked for Theresa May. William Shawcross has drifted politically and is now firmly on the right, as Wikipedia reports:
"In a 2010 article for National Review Shawcross described Britain as a "mere piece of the bland but increasingly oppressive Bambiland of the E.U., promoting such PC global issues as gay rights (except in Muslim lands) and man-made climate change." He also criticised "postmodernism"; defining it as "disastrous creed that there is no objective truth and that everything is relative" and likened it to a form of appeasement. In the same article, Shawcross described Labour's " 'multicultural' ideology" as a "catastrophe" and implied that Labour's immigration policy was designed to "dilute Britishness.""
Ex-Labour MP John Woodcock, promoted to the Lords by the Tories (but who sits as a crossbencher), a former chair of Labour Friends of Israel, was an outspoken critic of Corbyn. Jonathan Sacerdoti, according to Wikipedia, was a founding trustee and former director of communications for the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, a body whose charitable status has been questioned given its overtly political critique of Corbyn.
One might feel entitled to question John Ware’s motives, given these associations. How did he become a member of the consortium that bought the Jewish Chronicle? Was he asked because of Is Labour Anti Semitic? Was he already ‘well in’ with these people, who could all be described as arch enemies of Corbyn? We’ll never know. Perhaps a future Panorama could look into the question.