Martin Forde QC, image from Jewish Chronicle

On Hodge’s Fancy Foot-work and Forde’s ‘Even Hands’.

Simon Maginn
4 min readJul 24, 2022

A raging wildfire of activity in the Great Antisemitism Smearing War this week, as Keir Starmer incurs the wrath, not just of left-wing Jewish Voice for Labour, but also right-wing Campaign Against Antisemitism, for wandering moodily through the Berlin Holocaust memorial in a video as if it were a tourist backdrop, thus forging agreement between left and right about what an utter plank he is. Keir, thus, finally achieves his long-stated, though incessantly deferred, ‘unification’ of the party. Sir Keir, you have brought the party together in open-mouthed incredulity at your inerrant sense of the inappropriate. Your work is done.

Or is it? Enter Dame Margaret Hodge, the mad-woman-in-the-attic in Jane Eyre fused with an angry wasp. Possibly somehow forgetting everything she’s ever said before, Dame Hodge became the anti-Hodge and thundered against the Campaign Against Antisemitism (though, intriguingly, not against Jewish Voice for Labour), declaring herself ‘tired’ of them being ‘a front’ for attacking the Labour Party.

To comprehend the magnitude of this repositioning, imagine if Margaret Hodge suddenly declared that she was ‘tired’ of the CAA and thought they were ‘a front’ for attacking the Labour Party.

It’s a bit like that. Had a leftist said it, they would have been suspended.

CAA were the instigators of the infamous EHRC investigation, and they were just fine and dandy with Dame Hodge back then, when their entirely non-partisan ire was directed full throttle at the ‘fucking racist antisemite’ Jeremy Corbyn. But criticise Thatcher-As-A-Boy Starmer, and boom! they’re history, ground under her magisterial heel without compunction or hesitation. That’s some fancy footwork right there.

So all was confusion for a few hours. There was an almost audible creaking as repositionings of various kinds were attempted: pro-Hodge-pro-CAA, pro-Starmer-anti-CAA, anti-Hodge-anti-Starmer-pro-CAA, a furtive orgy of permutations in exuberant and promiscuous couplings, until someone decided it was all getting too complicated, and so they published the Forde Report.

What was immediately agreed by everyone was that Forde was even-handed. Forde was so even-handed, in fact, that one of the hands had taken two years, and, allegedly, some significant input from right-wing ‘political communications’ agencies, to construct. So even-handed that it makes absolutely no sense at all.

Forde maintains that, whilst yes, the right (amongst many other acts of sabotage) weaponised antisemitism to attack the left, the left used this weaponisation as a factional weapon to attack the right.

Forde basically says, Look, yes he had a broken bottle in that pub car park, and yes he was drunk, and yes he was coming at you, but you were also present, were you not, and thus you were also ‘involved’. There were two sides to that incident in which you ended up in hospital needing fifteen stitches on your forearm, and you were one of them. Both sides were ‘involved’. Both are guilty.

And who could argue with such subtle and beguiling logic? Henceforth, if charged with GBH because of slashing someone with a broken bottle in a pub car park, one can airily opine that ‘it was six of one and half a dozen of the other’, because, whilst yes I was drunk and yes I had a broken bottle and yes I slashed him with it, he was there too. Even-handed. Both sides.

At one point, Forde, having revealed some villainy or other on the right, simply ‘speculates’ that a corresponding villainy must have existed on the left. Well it stands to reason, doesn’t it. Can’t get more even-handed than ‘speculating’ phantom left misdeeds into existence.

Jewish Chronicle even complained it was too even-handed, and that blame for being assaulted with a broken bottle should lie squarely with the party with the gaping wound on their forearm, and I for one wish them every possible success with their interesting and innovative theory.

Forde is also at pains to confirm that he has seen ‘no evidence’ that accusations of antisemitism were ‘fabricated’, which comes of course as a huge relief to those of us who were labouring under the bizarre misapprehension that every single one of the ‘crisis’ accusations was, precisely, fabricated. But Mr Forde says no, and so we can all ‘move on’. Apparently.

A fast-moving week, then, full of the kind of sudden reversals and shock revelations that might generally be found in the series finale of a failing sci-fi franchise.

Will they commission another series?

Stay tuned…