Ken Livingstone: It seems Baroness Chakrabarti would dismiss him from Labour because it’s the easy thing to do – not because it’s right.
I didn’t see the BBC’s Sunday Politics interview with Baroness Chakrabarti, but the Guardian report on it, below, is deeply disturbing.
Ken Livingstone was accused of bringing the Labour Party into disrepute after he made a series of accurate comments about the relationship between the German Federation of Zionists and the Nazi government of that country in the 1930s.
It seems certain people did not approve of those facts being aired, so they tried to smear Mr Livingstone as an anti-Semite. They are the villains of this story.
The attack on Mr Livingstone is just part of a wider assault on the Labour Party, based on entirely false claims that anti-Semitism is running rife since Jeremy Corbyn became leader. In fact, there are fewer anti-Semites in the party since he took over.
As a lawyer (she’s the Shadow Attorney-General), Baroness Chakrabarti should know that an accused person is innocent unless they are proven guilty. No such proof has been provided to establish any guilt by Mr Livingstone.
It is true that he has questions to answer, relating to statements he made during and immediately after his disciplinary hearing at the end of March last year.
But Baroness Chakrabarti does not seem to have been referring to that.
Instead, she spoke of “what has happened in the last two years”.
I take that as meaning she thinks it would not be expedient for Mr Livingstone to be allowed to remain a member, because it would attract too much criticism to the party from those who have stirred up what is, basically, a storm in a teacup.
Instead of trying to appease the aggressors, she should be advocating a thorough investigation of them – their methods, their motives, what they stand to gain.
If she would rather take the easy option – if she doesn’t have the guts to do the right thing – then perhaps she should step aside in favour of someone who does.
Shami Chakrabarti has hinted she may quit the Labour frontbench if Ken Livingstone is not expelled from the party at his next disciplinary hearing.
The shadow attorney general, who authored a report on dealing with antisemitism and racism in the party, said she did not believe there were circumstances where the party’s disciplinary panel could decide not to expel Livingstone.
The former mayor of London, who is suspended from the party after comments he made about Adolf Hitler’s support for Zionism, is expected to face his latest disciplinary hearing within three months.
“I’m sorry to say it but I don’t believe that Ken Livingstone can any longer be in the Labour party,” Chakrabarti said when asked about Livingstone’s case on the BBC’s Sunday Politics.
She said she would have to “look at the rationale” before deciding how to respond, when asked if she would step down from the frontbench, but said she found it “very difficult to see that any rational decision-maker in the light of what has happened in the last two years could find a place for Mr Livingstone in our party at this moment”.
Some might say he should have known better than to give the interview at all.
But in fact, Ken Livingstone told Adam Boulton he has been turning down invitations to be interviewed on the subject of Jewish voters and the anti-Semitism claims that led to his suspension as a member of the Labour Party.
And he only spoke the following words on Sky News after Mr Boulton said, “Speaking to some of your former Labour colleagues in Barnet, they were specifically blaming you for the loss.” That’s a tacit reference to the row sparked by Mr Livingstone’s words in 2016.
But he acquitted himself very well:
Ken Livingstone has no regrets over his comments on "Hitler and the Zionists" – which led to him being suspended from the Labour Party pic.twitter.com/H1rAvDYObQ
But it seems certain people did not like it at all.
Chloe Chaplain and Martin Coulter at the Evening Standard disliked it so much, they wrote an article about it and headlined it Ken Livingstone sparks outrage after repeatedly bringing up Hitler in yet another live TV interview.
Did they not realise that he had been asked?
The article featured tweets from people who had been similarly incensed, including Adam Langleben, who was ousted from his Barnet council seat but remains a member of the Jewish Labour Movement’s national executive. He wrote: “Why the hell is Ken Livingstone on @SkyNews trying to explain the Barnet result????
Chuck him out.”
I can answer that very easily: He was on Sky News because that programme’s editors asked him. As for the demand to “chuck him out” – why? What has he said that is inaccurate?
I notice that Mr Langleben said nothing about the content of the interview – or of Mr Livingstone’s previous comments. It would be interesting to know what historical inaccuracy he has uncovered that would justify Mr Livingstone’s expulsion from the Labour Party.
Or doesn’t Labour do accuracy these days, when considering allegations of anti-Semitism? After the verdict on Marc Wadsworth, I could easily believe that!
Tulip Siddiq was also quoted: “Please please get this irrelevant man off my TV screen.” Why is he irrelevant? No reason. Why does she want him silenced? No reason.
Former LabourList editor, now largely irrelevant himself, Mark Ferguson tweeted: “6 (six) years ago I campaigned in Barnet and saw Jews and non-Jews alike turn away from Ken Livingstone because of his behaviour (whilst voting for other Labour candidates).”
Visit his Twitter page and you’ll see someone has asked: “what behaviour of Ken’s was this, specifically?”
And this is the problem with all the censure of Mr Livingstone, in a nutshell. That’s why, to Mr Livingstone’s critics, I say:
It’s no good saying his words are unacceptable if you can’t tell us why.
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(Incidentally, this is the only definition of anti-Semitism anybody needs.)
Yes: This Writer agrees with the Jewish Labour Movement about something.
Of course, we split again over the details. Let’s look at the issue, as reported in The Observer:
The bitter Labour party controversy over antisemitism erupted again on Saturday night, as the main organisation representing its Jewish members accused the leadership of failing to deal with a “vast backlog” of complaints and of allowing a second inquiry into Ken Livingstone to get “stuck in limbo”.
The accusations from the national chair of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), Jeremy Newmark, came as party sources told the Observer that a group of members, including activists and councillors, was preparing legal action against the party for failing to act on complaints about antisemitic incidents, some of which date back more than six months.
Newmark said the delays in dealing with many cases raised serious questions about whether the party had learnt lessons after an inquiry last year by Labour peer and former head of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti.
Newmark said: “We remain seriously concerned about what is now a vast backlog of cases involving alleged antisemitism that appear to be stuck in the system, in some cases for over a year. That is not a good indicator of the party having embraced Shami Chakrabarti’s imperative to adopt a gold standard in dealing with antisemitism.”
Readers of This Site will be aware that I was suspended by the Labour Party at the beginning of May last year, based on a vexatious complaint of anti-Semitism that seems to have come from a so-called charity known as the Campaign Against Antisemitism.
It took a staggering eight months for this open-and-shut case to be heard by Labour’s disputes panel. We shall discuss the failings of the report to that panel momentarily. Let’s get back to Mr Newmark and some of the allegations to which he refers:
“We will be closely monitoring the outcomes of a number of high-profile cases due to be determined by the national constitutional committee over the weeks ahead. These include former Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker and [activist] Marc Wadsworth [who are to contest the accusations].
“The second investigation into Ken Livingstone appears to be stuck in limbo.”
Last April, Livingstone avoided expulsion from the party after an NCC disciplinary panel ruled he should be suspended for another year for bringing the party into disrepute over comments about antisemitism, Hitler and Zionism. He was censured after having suggested that Hitler at one point supported Zionism, and for defending the Labour MP Naz Shah over an antisemitic Facebook post for which she subsequently apologised.
Livingstone’s defiant reaction to the suspension caused further outrage among Labour MPs, many of whom were already dismayed at what they saw as a far too lenient ruling. Corbyn said that the former mayor’s comments after the ruling would be the subject of further investigations by the NEC after representations from party members.
Several Labour MPs and senior officials have also expressed private concerns that – despite promises by the leadership to show “zero tolerance” in cases where antisemitism had been alleged – the party had been slow to investigate. In some cases where complaints had been found to have had substance, the party had recommended surprisingly lenient punishment.
It should be pointed out that anything Jeremy Newmark says should be taken with a pinch of salt. He was found to have lied while giving evidence at an employment tribunal in 2013, and it seems he is too keen to see anti-Semitism where it isn’t actually present.
Okay – there’s a lot to address here.
The case of Jackie Walker will be interesting because it arises from a so-called ‘safe space’ session of ‘training’ run by – guess who? – the Jewish Labour Movement. The organisation had claimed that attendees would be able to discuss their concerns about issues related to Judaism without fear of being attacked for it – then either allowed Ms Walker’s words to be recorded, or the organisation itself recorded her and released her words to the news media in order to present her as an anti-Semite.
That is not reasonable behaviour. It is deceitful to take words that are presented as discussion points and use them out-of-context to support a false claim about a person’s character.
Mr Wadsworth’s case arises from the launch of Shami Chakrabarti’s report into alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, in June, 2016. Mr Wadsworth, a member of Jeremy Corbyn supporting organisation Momentum, attended and was handing out press releases from the organisation when he saw a reporter from the Daily Telegraph – a Conservative-supporting newspaper – handing a copy to Ruth Smeeth – a Labour MP who had resigned her position as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow Scotland and Northern Ireland teams three days previously, in protest at Mr Corbyn’s leadership of the party, and who may therefore be said to have been an opponent of Mr Corbyn at the time.
He is quoted as having said: “I saw the Telegraph handed a copy of a press release to Ruth Smeeth MP; you can see who is working hand-in-hand.”
It seems clear that he was suggesting anti-Corbyn Labour MPs were working with the anti-Corbyn press to criticise him. Right?
In a statement released after the incident, Ms Smeeth tried to claim that: “I was verbally attacked by a Momentum activist and Jeremy Corbyn supporter who used traditional anti-Semitic slurs to attack me for being part of a ‘media conspiracy’. It is beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories against Jewish people.”
“Media conspiracy”? When did Mr Wadsworth make that claim? He didn’t.
So her claim that Mr Wadsworth was making an accusation that Jewish people control the media – which is certainly an anti-Semitic trope – is, as journalist Craig Murray described it, “untenable”. He added that, considering the subject matter of the meeting and her own Jewish ethnicity, Ms Smeeth’s reaction may have been genuine, and “she read into the remark something not intended”.
Ken Livingstone’s words have been discussed exhaustively on This Site. His Labour Party membership was suspended by the party’s National Constitutional Committee on grounds that the controversy over his defence of Labour MP Naz Shah had brought the party into dispute. He had been accused of anti-Semitism, but it had been proved that he had not said anything anti-Semitic. The Guardian‘s report, that he was “censured after having suggested that Hitler at one point supported Zionism” tells only part of the story. The claim against him was initially that he was an anti-Semite because he had claimed Hitler was a Zionist – something he never did. Labour MP John Mann, oddly accompanied by a TV camera crew, claimed he said it in an incendiary confrontation on a stairwell but the facts proved otherwise. The grounds for his suspension were that he had upset the UK’s Jewish population – and this, too, is questionable as many British Jews came forward to support him.
The Guardian states that Mr Livingstone was also censured “for defending the Labour MP Naz Shah over an antisemitic Facebook post for which she subsequently apologised”. In fact, it was a tweet, stating that “The Jews are rallying” to vote in an online poll by John Prescott on the appropriateness of Israeli military action against Palestinians in 2014. The message was indeed anti-Semitic and Ms Shah was right to apologise for it. If she had said “supporters of Israel are rallying”, she would have been in the clear. According to legal opinion, criticism of Israel that alleges ill treatment of Palestinians (the subject of the discussion at the time) cannot be taken as evidence of anti-Semitism.
Mr Livingstone also defended Ms Shah for retweeting two images. One was controversial as it was a response to a plan propossed to the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, to forcibly move Palestinians from the land that has been theirs for centuries, relocating them in neighbouring countries. The image proposed moving Israel – the whole country, physically – to within the borders of the United States (on the assumption that the US was Israel’s greatest ally). The idea is of course ridiculous and it would be inappropriate to take it seriously. The accompanying text drew flak for referring to the “Jews-only state”, but consider this: certain so-called representatives of Jewish people (including current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, come to think of it) like to conflate Israel with Judaism. It seems strange that certain organisations that demand the two should be intermingled should then complain about it.
The other image was of a man posing for a police ‘mug’ shot, above the words, “Everything Hitler did in Germany was legal”. Mr Livingstone was taken to task by Vanessa Feltz on her radio show over this image, which she claimed was an attempt to justify Hitler’s anti-Semitism. This was a huge mistake: The man in the image was Martin Luther King, and the point he was making was that actions that are entirely legal can still be entirely wrong.
Isn’t it curious that nobody has tackled Ms Feltz over her gross misinterpretation of the image? Has anybody even bothered to ask her, or is it only permitted to question the accused, and not the accusers?
The Guardian goes on to report Labour MPs and officials’ concerns that “despite promises by the leadership to show ‘zero tolerance’ in cases where antisemitism had been alleged – the party had been slow to investigate. In some cases where complaints had been found to have had substance, the party had recommended surprisingly lenient punishment.”
“Zero tolerance” with allegations? This implies that guilt is assumed, no matter what the evidence may be – which brings me to my own case.
Here‘s a site called The Red Roar, reporting my refusal to accept the disputes panel’s decision to give me a warning and send me for “training” with the JLM. It is inaccurate, or at least misleading by omission, in several places:
A Labour member accused of anti-semitism could face expulsion from the party after publicly refusing to take part in a training programme because it is run by the Jewish Labour Movement.
Party officials had recommended Sivier should be referred to the National Constitutional Committee, which has the final say on disciplinary matters. But several NEC members argued on Tuesday he should be given a second chance if he agreed to take part in training. It is unusual for the Disputes Panel to ignore the advice of Party officials, but it voted by 12 votes to 10 in favour of the compromise agreement.
Readers of This Site will know that I am not an anti-Semite. The allegations against me were entirely false.
If you’ve come late to the debate, or have only seen the other side of it, I recommend a quick trip here and here.
I’ve already mentioned the fact that it has taken Labour eight months to bring my case before the NEC’s disputes panel.
For nearly five of those months, I heard nothing from Labour at all. Then I was invited to an interview, to discuss the matter, and encouraged to bring evidence supporting my side of the issue, details of other people who could be contacted for supporting evidence, and a witness – who may not speak but may ensure that proceedings take place equitably.
In hindsight, I have no idea why I was invited to that interview; I might as well have stayed at home. My evidence was ignored; my documents went unexamined; my supporters uncontacted. And what’s the point of having a witness if she isn’t allowed to review the report to dispute panel members for accuracy?
The report delivered to the panel, as I understand it, dismissed nearly two hours worth of verbal evidence as “unclear”, and claimed that I did not understand why Jewish people might take offence at what I had said.
The reason they chose to take offence is perfectly clear: For political gain. My accusers did not want me to do well in the local government elections last May, so they released the article making their claim about me in the week before – to ruin my chances. This is against the law.
None of this information was provided to the disputes panel – and it seems that some of its members seem to assume guilt, simply from the fact that a complaint has been made. It can hardly be a surprise that they were not prepared to accept Mr Lansman’s argument – and that of others who were there – that I am innocent.
Indeed, it seems that some of the panel even took offence at attempts to introduce evidence I had given at my interview into their deliberations, as it had not been mentioned in the one-sided report they’d had from the officer.
Oh, and Mr Lansman didn’t put forward the proposal to give me a warning and send me for training – that was someone else.
No, it’s a reference to the evidence that JLM uses its “training” events to smear innocent people with fake anti-Semitism accusations (as Jackie Walker discovered).
Also, it is surprising that whoever wrote the Red Roar article apparently hasn’t read the allegations against me. That’s poor journalism. My statements about the JLM cannot be described as anti-Semitism as they do not fit any of the definitions; they are criticism of the JLM as an organisation, not Jews.
Sivier now faces being referred to the NCC, as recommended by party officials.
Yes indeed. Hopefully I’ll be able to inject some much-needed factual accuracy into this sorry saga. I am already calling for reform of the disciplinary procedure as it clearly causes injustice.
Those who spoke in my favour “understand” my decision and “applaud” my “strong principles”.
As for Mr Lansman’s agreement that Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism – he said it is on the rise nationally, and “it would be extremely surprising if it wasn’t also present in the Labour Party”. He didn’t say Labour had failed to address the problem, but did say “it has to be dealt with”.
He’s right – but not by automatically penalising anybody who has been accused. That merely encourages mischief-makers to make vexatious complaints in order to discredit people they don’t like – and that’s not acceptable.
Don’t forget that cases of apparently genuine anti-Semitism were discussed by the disputes panel and sent on to the Natonal Constitutional Committee last week. Where the party’s rules are clearly breached, it acts appropriately.
It is only in cases where the innocent are accused that Labour seems to tie itself in knots.
So, yes, I agree that Labour takes far too long dealing with these complaints. But Labour needs to reform its procedures to ensure that everybody who is accused can ensure that their case is heard fairly and that justice is served. That is not happening at the moment.
And that’s why I’m telling the disputes panel to think again.
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Momentum’s former vice-chair, Jackie Walker: Does she look like an anti-Semite now? [Image: Andy Hall for the Observer].
Isn’t it funny how these people are starting to be pulled into the light, when they thought they could play their dirty little accusation games from the shadows.
It’s like a game of aggressive-Zionist join-the-dots now; Shai Masot leads to Labour Friends of Israel, and from there on to the Jewish Labour Movement and who knows where.
This Writer has to wonder whether this conspiracy – and it is a conspiracy, have no doubt about that – would have been rumbled if, for example, people like myself hadn’t objected to the claims of anti-Semitism when they were levelled at Naz Shah, Ken Livingstone and Jeremy Corbyn last summer.
I was warned off, you know. Good friends told me to be very careful of what I was saying, because the people I was accusing are “very dangerous indeed”.
Maybe they are, but facts have a habit of getting out. And while my articles back then produced a strong opposing – verbal – reaction from certain of our favourite figures and organisations (including a few of the kind of ad hominem claims mentioned below) there have been no bullets or bombs (yet).
They also seem to have got people thinking.
When Jackie Walker (mentioned in the Mondoweiss article quoted below) was accused at the Labour Party Conference, it seems more alarm bells started ringing.
And now we have the Al-Jazeera investigation (why not BBC? Why not ITV? Why not Channel 4 or the British mainstream print media?) that revealed Shai Masot and his little network of … I think they’re being called “infiltrators”.
It is time to root out every last one of these operators.
Anybody who has been involved in the anti-Semitism witch-hunt within the Labour Party last summer needs to be pulled in and checked out. That includes Paul Staines of the Guido Fawkes blog. It includes John Mann, who accused Ken Livingstone. Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who gave evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee when it was accusing Mr Corbyn, would be worth questioning – as would every member of the committee itself, as their performances in the evidence sessions made it clear that they had already made up their minds before asking a single question.
Some of them might have nothing to do with it – perhaps all of them. But that has yet to be demonstrated.
What about Jackie Walker’s accusers in the Jewish Labour Movement – and, for that matter, in Momentum?
What about the national newspaper writers and editors who reported each story?
The list of possible suspects gets ever-larger, and is likely to grow even further, if these people are contacted and questioned in a thorough manner.
The issues here are serious. We are being told that agents of a foreign country have infiltrated our institutions and undermined our foreign policy with false accusations against our politicians and political figures.
As the extract below shows, the trail leads back at least as far as Mark Regev – and he is Israel’s ambassador to the UK.
At the very least, this is a major diplomatic incident.
So why is the Conservative Government refusing to take the necessary investigative steps?
While an Israeli operative’s efforts to “take down” Britain’s Deputy Foreign Minister, may appear to be the biggest scandal to arise out of Al Jazeera’s investigative documentary The Lobby, what became clear to me throughout the four-part series was that the primary function of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) and other pro Israel groups in the UK working with the Israeli embassy was smearing Palestinians and their supporters with charges of anti Semitism and other nefarious ad hominem claims.
Jackie Walker, former vice-chair of Momentum, the left wing of the Labour party, called this “a constructed crisis for political ends”.
Evidence of this runs throughout the four-part series. Mark Regev, Israel’s ambassador to the UK, at a private meeting held during the annual Labour Party Conference in Liverpool last September, advises key activist leaders of Labour’s pro-Israel contingent on strategy and talking points:
“Why are people who consider themselves progressive in Britain, supporting reactionaries like Hamas and Hezbollah? We’ve gotta say in the language of social democracy, I think, these people are misogynistic, they are homophobic, they are racist, they are anti-Semitic, they are reactionary. I think that’s what we need to say, it’s an important message.”
Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, is captured saying in conversation at Labour’s annual conference that anti-Semitism is “the defining narrative actually now”. Defining narrative of what? The Labour party? Or the LFI’s strategy of taking down the leftwing branch of the party?
[Ella Rose] reveals a trajectory of what could be perceived as a strategy of accusation (of anti semitism), a gotcha focus with the objective of trapping people, as a means of one-upsmanship so as to advance the profile of the Jewish Labour Movement on the right flank of Labour, aligned with the faction of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
The suggestion by critics that anything untoward is taking place is angrily rebuffed. Labour’s right flank postures itself as the real victims– for being accused of falsely accusing! For example, Michael Foster, a generous Jewish donor (£700,000) to Labour, last summer accused Corbyn supporters of behaving like “Nazi stormtroopers”, and was suspended by the party for the abuse, leading to yet more glaring Blame-Corbyn headlines in the British press.
As for those targeted, the bigger fish the better, beginning with Jeremy Corbin, of course, and his supporters in Momentum, like Walker. Labour party members are targeted for re-education programs through Labour Party trainings on anti-Semitism, and if you slip up you’re subject to an inquisition with the threat of being thrown out of the party, loudly and publicly with the press cheering it on.
Ken Livingstone on the BBC’s Sunday Politics, December 11, 2016 [Image: BBC].
Suspended Labour grandee Ken Livingstone appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Politics today (December 11, 2016), to defend the party’s recent by-election losses under crossfire from host Andrew Neil and Chris Leslie, representing the party’s right wing.
Of course, Twitter’s collective knee was jerking spasmodically throughout, and afterwards.
First up with the stupid was Ian Austin, another Labour MP, who earned notoriety when he tried to shout down Jeremy Corbyn while the Labour leader was criticising Tony Blair in response to the Chilcot Inquiry report:
What are the odds on Ken Livingstone getting through an interview on @daily_politics without mentioning Hitler? Shall I open a book?
Mr Austin’s political leanings mean he helpfully voted with the Conservatives on George Osborne’s silly fiscal rules (remember them?) – a Labour MP who voted for austerity. Meanwhile, his expenses claims have been astronomical.
And Mr Livingstone, of course, didn’t mention Hitler once.
Instead he pointed out, reasonably, that Richmond and Sleaford were not Tory-Labour marginals, and where by-elections have been held in such places, the results indicate a Labour victory.
Chris Leslie was quick to support the candidates, even though both have been criticised as right-wingers who do not support Jeremy Corbyn. Could that have been a reason for their unpopularity?
Moving on to Labour’s economic credibility, Mr Livingstone said the UK economy would “limp along” for the next few years, which is pretty much the opinion of any reputable economist.
Yes indeed, Narinder Singh – and underemployment is at a record high as well. People have jobs, but they don’t pay well enough, and the UK’s productivity is no better for the extra members of the workforce. So the economy is limping, and Brexit will only make that worse.
On that subject, Mr Livingstone said he doubted the UK would be able to get a good deal from the European Union. Andrew Neil countered by pointing out that Jeremy Corbyn has said Labour is committed to getting the best possible deal. The two positions are not mutually exclusive; it’s simply that the best possible deal isn’t likely to be good. But Mr Livingstone allowed himself to be distracted by the line of questioning and said he did not believe that was possible – a confusing statement that may be used against him.
Mr Livingstone supported Labour’s plan for huge investment in the economy, saying it could be funded: “If we cracked down on what some believe to be £150 billion of tax avoidance… We can say to Starbucks… we’ll tax every cup of coffee you sell.”
This produced a cracking response from Zorba Eisenhower:
Ken Livingstone on Starbucks: we'll tax every cup of coffee they sell! Me: we already do, it's called VAT! #bbcsp
On Labour’s current standing in public opinion – as defined by the polls which, as everybody reading This Blog knows, are not a reliable indicator – Mr Livingstone said: “If in a year’s time it was still as bad as this, we’d all be worried. I don’t think it will be.”
This was welcomed by the Twitter critics. It was as if their previous negativity towards him had never existed:
Ken Livingstone puts Jeremy Corbyn on 12 months' notice: "If in a year's time it's still as bad, we'd all be worried."
Andrew Neil, in a last-gasp bid to breach Mr Livingstone’s self-confidence, pointed out that Labour has lost Scotland, and its support in the North of England seemed to be wavering.
But he replied: “It’s in the north, in the areas that have been neglected, that Jeremy’s strategy has the most relevance.” He went on to discuss the rebuilding of British industry that is part of Labour’s current economic strategy.
In contrast, Chris Leslie hardly got a look-in. He had a few moments but they were mostly flops, despite the interest they generated on Twitter. For example:
Well said @ChrisLeslieMP, pointing out that Ken Livingstone is no longer a commentator but part of the leadership "so it's over to you"
See? Tom Newton Dunn (who?) agrees. And it’s true that Mr Livingstone is a divisive figure. But he spoke coherently in this interview and Mr Neil was unable to dent his logic, even if he (and, clearly, many members of the public) didn’t agree with it.
Mr Leslie, on the other hand, was dismissed with a sideswipe when Mr Neil poured ridicule on his claim that his side of Labour would hold the leadership to account. Labour’s right wing had lost and was deeply unpopular with the party membership, Mr Neil reckoned, and I reckon he’s right.
Oh, and here’s just one more (intelligent) comment about the main focus of discussion on Twitter:
You do realise Ken Livingstone was correct about Hitler and Zionism right?
If you’re fed up with Tom Watson and his silly campaigns, that aim to publicise divisions within the Labour Party and make it easier for the Conservatives to win again, read what follows and then visit Breaking Down The News for the rest of the open letter.
This Writer finds himself in agreement with much of what is written – although I would say Ken Livingstone wasn’t suspended solely for being supportive of the Palestineians but also for quoting historical fact correctly.
We read with interest yourspeech to guests at the Labour Friends of Israel luncheon recently and watched the video of you singing ‘Am Yisrael Chai’. Perhaps you are not aware that this is the favourite chant of West Bank settlers and the fascist/neo-Nazi Jewish Defence League whenattacking Palestinians and those they disagree with?
You began your speech by saying that you supported Israel because ‘our consciences dictate it’. If you had a conscience you would not have spoken of your ‘special pleasure’ at the presence of Mark Regev, Israel’s Ambassador who, as-Chief Spokesman for Benjamin Netanyahu, defended Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014 when 2,251 Palestinianswere killed, including 551 children.
You said that you were ‘ashamed’ at the ‘anti-Semitism in our midst’. Let us reassure you that although you have much to be ashamed of, anti-Semitism is not one of Labour’s sins. Anti-Semitism does not exist as a political force in the Labour Party. It never has and never will. Those who have been suspended for ‘anti-Semitism’, in particular, Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, and Tony Greenstein, have been suspended for supporting the Palestinians, not because of anti-Semitism. It is no coincidence that both the latter two are Jewish anti-Zionists.
You mentioned your recent, expenses paid trip to Israel recently, where you met the Chairman of the Israeli Labour Party Isaac Herzog. You spoke of his ‘determination to continue to push the path of peace’. Is this the same Herzog who,Ha’aretz reports, pushed for ‘Separation From Palestinians as (the) Party Platform’? In other words an apartheid solution with a Palestinian Bantustan?
I find it difficult to understand, in view of your purported opposition to anti-Jewish racism, why you turn a blind eye to Herzog’s virulent anti-Arab racism? Herzog recently spoke of his fear of waking up to a Palestinian Prime Minister in Israel. He said:
‘I want to separate from the Palestinians. I want to keep a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. I don’t want 61 Palestinian MKs in Israel’s Knesset. I don’t want a Palestinian prime minister in Israel.’
Here’s some bad news for John Mann and all his followers – Zionist or not – who have been saying Dr Sam Glatt’s letter attacking him was a forgery: It wasn’t.
The first I heard about the latest false claim was in a comment to This Blog by a person called David Collier, who describes himself on his own website as “100% a Zionist”.
It referred to my previous publication of Dr Glatt’s open letter in which he said John Mann MP’s claims of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party were attention-seeking and politically-motivated.
Mr Collier wrote: “oh dear. It is a forgery. A con. Written it seems by a non Jewish Momentum activist. People on the radical left forging ‘Jewish documents’ that are used to spread the disease of antisemitism.Where have we seen this before?
“One would hope at some point you realise how far down the slippery slope some have fallen.”
Right back at you, Mr Collier!
I did a little checking of my own, with the online sources I used for my article, and am grateful to Tony Greenstein for doing all the work.
It seems that Dr Glatt’s invitation to Mr Mann – “So, please feel free to denounce me, though, I suspect, that you lack the moral and political courage to do so” – has been taken up by the MP, who wrote the following on his Facebook page:
Mr Greenstein was preparing to write a public acceptance that he had made a mistake when “I was made aware of a tweet from a Dr Alan Maddison, a friend of Dr Glatt, who insisted that the letter was genuine.
“After corresponding with Dr Maddison it was clear that there were grounds for questioning whether the the letter was a forgery. Alan gave me the phone number of Dr Glatt and I spoke to both him and Graham Martin. It became clear to me very quickly that the original letter was not a forgery.”
He went on to copy both a typed draft of a second letter by Dr Glatt and the letter itself, which is handwritten “in best doctor’s handwriting”. Here it is (I have obscured his address for reasons I hope are obvious):
Here’s a typed version which may be easier to read:
“Dear Mr Mann,
“Thank you for your letter.
“Let me say immediately that it was a joint effort with Graham Martin and I acknowledge full responsibility for the contents.
“If the language appears to you to be robust in places I can only reply that the incidents you were involved seriously undermine the character of at least two persons and reduce the chances of victory in the forthcoming general election.
“Graham Martin shared my concern and was a great help in assembling the facts in each case.
“It is physically difficult for me to visit people but I am in full possession of my mental faculties and certainly not a puppet of Graham’s. Although I am 90 years old I must repeat that I am not demented and in no way a puppet of Graham’s.
“There is one word in your letter which is sheer invention on your part. I have never said or written that I despise you or hate you. I want to make that absolutely clear.
“Your expressed view that Jackie Walker and those who support her should be expelled from the party, I find abhorrent.
“In my opinion this undermining of Corbyn and supporters by weaponising anti-Semitism repeatedly has to stop. It damages the Labour Party and offends many of its members.
“If a forthright letter from me can stop that, then I will have achieved my object.
Mr Greenstein also posts the text of this article by Dr Maddison in support of Dr Glatt, which may also provide illumination for those who wish to be enlightened.
Finally, Mr Greenstein made an excellent point, which may be applied to many Zionist attacks on their opponents: They rely on ad hominem responses, attacking the man in order to undermine the message.
He wrote: “Even John Mann is going to have difficulty alleging that the second letter is a forgery since it is written, in best doctor’s handwriting (!) by Dr Glatt himself. I just hope that Mr Mann is hungry as he has an awful lot of humble pie to consume.
“John Mann’s allegations of a forgery are classic Zionist tactics. It’s all an anti-Zionist conspiracy! Attack the messenger and avoid the message. Instead of coming to terms with what Dr Glatt was saying, that he was falsely accusing people like Jackie Walker and Ken Livingstone of anti-Semitism and also destroying the chances of Labour electorally, Mann did what we have come to expect from him. He sought to evade the message by attacking the man.”
That applies also to supporters of John Mann like Mr Collier.
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