THE term McCarthyism emerged in 1950 as part of the Red Scare in the United States based on the reactionary senator Joseph McCarthy who became renowned for his political repression of communists or anyone who had had any association with communism.

McCarthyism was a form of terror that used unsubstantiated evidence, fear and threats to destroy potentially anyone, especially those in the entertainment industry, who were seen as left wing. The inquisitorial question, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party”, has gone down in history as a chilling expression and reminder of the dangers of right-wing political panics.

Today, we find the so-called left, in the form of Rebecca Long Bailey, being sacked, McCarthy style, by Labour leader Keir Starmer, for daring to retweet a newspaper interview with the actor Maxine Peake that had in it a crass and inaccurate reference to Israeli security forces training US police to use the kneeling tactics which killed George Floyd.

The irony, of course, is that this sacking does not come with rants about communist atheism, a defence of Christian mortality, ideas of treachery or the lack of loyalty to the nation. It is not a right-wing sacking but an all too familiar “progressive” sacking.

It is unlikely that Starmer thinks Long Bailey is actually anti-Semitic and many have suggested this is an opportunistic move on the Labour leader’s behalf to clear out some of the Corbyn supporters in his shadow cabinet. The problem being, of course, that in so doing he is simply applying the modern McCarthyite approach that has been developed by the “left” when dealing with those with whom they disagree.

McCarthy and his ilk hated the liberal and left-wing progressives that they saw as dominating the entertainment industry, the luvvies who transgressed from American patriotism and Christian morality. Today, this too has changed, and it is often the cultural elite, the left-luvvies, who are the most “right-thinking”, censorious and keen to demand that people be “cancelled”.

Just ask Lawrence Fox, the actor who has been blacklisted for questioning the idea of “white privilege”. Fox fears he may never get another acting job; he may well be right.

Until relatively recently it was only the most small-minded of bigots who thought it acceptable to sack people because of their “immoral” opinions. Today it is becoming a norm.

McCarthyism is back in vogue, but it can and must be challenged.

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