Tracey Ullman's Corbyn Sketch Attracts Antisemitic Slurs

  • A Tracey Ullman sketch about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has attracted a fierce backlash
  • Broadcast on Friday night, supporters of the Labour leader have responded with racist claims
  • Jewish comic David Baddiel has been accused of writing the sketch, despite having no involvement in the show

A sketch about Jeremy Corbyn has gone viral, attracting an antisemitic backlash on social media.

Broadcast on Friday night in the first episode of topical comedy Tracey Breaks The News Series 2, the sketch (below) stars Ullman in character as the Labour Party leader.

Drawing on criticism of Corbyn's handling of a series of antisemitic scandals within his party, a vocal section of his supporters have taken against the sketch and accused Jewish comedian David Baddiel as having written it, in a "Zionist conspiracy" against the party.

British Comedy Guide has discovered that the author of the sketch was in fact Laurence Howarth, who has also penned a run of sketches for the new series mocking prominent Conservative backbench MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, and script-edits radio satire Dead Ringers.

The Labour leader has been faced with criticism since he was first elected to lead the left-wing political party at the end of Summer 2015. The most substantial of these relate to links he has forged and causes he has supported during his now 35-year career as a professional politician, including accusations of support for the IRA and its military activity during Northern Ireland's Troubles.

More recently, Corbyn's leadership has come under repeated fire in the media and from Jewish groups across Britain for its apparent toleration of antisemitism within the party. The sketch opens with a topical reference to the imminent Labour LIVE festival event, struggling with low ticket sales, before satirising the links and alleged less-tasteful opinions of the Labour leader.

It sees him confronted by a series of potentially embarrassing figures whilst in the company of ordinary members of the public and would-be Labour voters at an airport terminal.

Despite the programme also featuring biting sketches featuring new characters of Conservative politicians Michael Gove (pictured) and Jacob Rees-Mogg, plus the return of Prime Minister Theresa May, all of whom were heavily promoted as appearing in the new series, the Corbyn sketch has caused the programme and the BBC to come under heavy fire from Corbyn's supporters.

Amidst accusations of "BBC bias" and the sketch of being "propaganda masquerading as satire", antisemitic rumours have been spread as fact that Ullman is Jewish and that Jewish comedian David Baddiel, who recently appeared on Frankie Boyle's New World Order discussing antisemitism in the Labour Party, authored the sketch. Over the weekend, politicians including George Galloway have also been involved in spreading the claims.

Many of the tweets criticising the sketch and attacking Baddiel have been heavily laced with racist codes and terminology, posing it as a "Zionist conspiracy" against Mr Corbyn and his leadership of the Labour Party.

In fact, Ullman comes from a Roman-Catholic Polish background, whilst Baddiel, an outspoken atheist, has no association with Tracey Breaks The News whatsoever. He tweeted: "I've met Tracey Ullman once 20 years ago when she came on Fantasy Football."

Producer of the series, Caroline Norris, added: "I have no idea where [this idea] came from. He'd be on the credits if he'd written a sketch for the show."

Baddiel later added: "FFS. This is the literally the weirdest conspiracy theory I've ever seen. I've now seen it stated as fact that I wrote that sketch. Maybe I should ask for royalties. Or will that confirm the stereotype for the anti-semites?"

BBC Comedy's own Twitter account weighed in to point out they had shared the anti-Conservative sketches, and quipped: "We're equal opportunity piss-takers. There's also a debate on whether it's pronounced 'scon' or 'scone'. Here, we shamefully didn't fulfil our impartiality remit. It's scone."

Many other comics have also jumped in to defend David Baddiel and the sketch. Mitch Benn responded to one vocal Corbynite critic: "It's SATIRE, dear. Its remit is to take the rise out of politicians. If you're content to see the piss being ripped out of the Tories, you have to accept Our Jeremy Who Art In Islington copping for some shit occasionally. Can't have it all one way."

Others commenting in disgust at the antisemitic smears included David Schneider, Al Murray, Emma Kennedy, and a number of journalists.

Jewish comic actor Tracy Ann Oberman, who has appeared in previous episodes of the comedy, tweeted: "I know from all the DMs I get from very high profile tweeters that you abhor this creeping racism too. We are all torn by our desire to support Labour but repulsed by many of Corbyn's ardent supporters. But more of you that speak out against these tropes, it will help. For all."

All - including Ullman and Baddiel - are long-time, vocal Labour Party supporters.

Meanwhile, the sketch has proved popular with commentators on the right - who also regularly criticise the BBC as propagandist for its treatment of right-wing politicians and viewpoints.

The sketch stars Ullman as Corbyn, with Jason Forbes and Ben Ashenden as the two members of the public. Liam Hourican plays Gerry Adams, Steve Furst the Jew, and Chris Ryman plays the taxi driver. Here it is in full:

Tracey Breaks The News Series 2 continues with the second of three episodes on Friday night at 9:30pm on BBC One.

British Comedy Guide