There are two aspects to the Labour leadership’s handling of Chris Williamson’s unpleasant comments .
The first is moral and the second political.
By far the most distressing aspect of the video in which Williamson claimed Labour had been too apologetic on anti-semitism was not that he said these words, we have come to expect that from him, but that the audience at the Momentum meeting applauded the comments.
The failure to tackle anti-semitism has bred a permissiveness in the Labour ranks where the unacceptable has become acceptable.
If you want further proof go on Twitter and look at the comments under the “IstandwithChrisWilliamson” hashtag.
Corbyn may be sincere about wanting to tackle racism in all its forms and he may have a long history of campaigning against abuse and intolerance but he risks giving the impression that he is prepared to indulge abhorrent behaviour if it is committed by someone loyal to his cause.
This is a way of thinking from a tradition which can be traced back to the way the hard left excused Stalinism long after the emergence of the show trials and had its latest manifestation in the way some on the left have defended Maduro even though his policies have left the people of Venezuela starved of food and medicines .
Some will argue that it is laudable for the Labour leader to remain true to his friends and he is acting in a more honourable left tradition of solidarity.
Alternatively, you could argue it is possible to uphold the values of the left and condemn any sins committed in its name.
Indeed, if you want to uphold the values of the left then the first step should be to condemn any evils committed in its name.
The Williamson affair is now far wider than Corbyn’s failure to tackle anti-semitism.
It has become the proxy for the ongoing debate about the future of the Labour Party under his leadership.
If Williamson had not been suspended, Corbyn risked further defections and, possibly, the splintering of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Deputy Leader Tom Watson told GMB this morning that many MPs are “perilously close” to leaving the party.
When asked if Corbyn was fit to be Prime Minister, Watson replied: “He could easily be Prime Minister… but we could do without the anti-semitism.”
You are left asking the question: how serious is Corbyn about achieving power?
A leader who was ruthless in wanting to win the next election would have distanced themselves from Williamson without hesitation, called out supporters who defend him and reached out to MPs on the brink of leaving the party.
A final point: yes, there are examples of anti-semitism and Islamophobia in the Tory ranks which are not getting the same attention.
Firstly, an institutional failure in one party does not excuse one in another and, secondly, if Labour wants to stop the reputational damage of being seen as a home to anti-semites there is a simple answer: deal with it.
9.30am – Steve Barclay takes Brexit questions in the Commons.
10am – Sir Mark Sedwill, the head of the civil service, gives evidence to the Public Administration committee.
10.30am – Andrea Leadsom gives her regular update on House of Commons business.
11.30am – Defence minister Tobias Ellwood statement on the MoD’s estate.
12.30am (approx) – Tonia Antoniazzi MP leads a general debate to mark St David’s Day. (Probably not one for English rugby fans).
What I am reading: