None of these claims are believable, especially considering the fact that the Liberal Democrats spent five years fighting against equality and fairness and supporting austerity, division and persecution of the poor and vulnerable.
Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson’s antipathy toward Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour Party shows that her organisation remains opposed to equality and fairness.
Ms Berger is currently the MP for Liverpool Wavertree, a staunchly Labour constituency. As a member of Change UK (or whatever that group of independents is currently called), she had practically no chance of retaining that seat.
It seems likely that her move is the result of a calculation that she might stand a better chance of retaining the seat if she identifies with a better-known political party – the Liberal Democrats being the obvious choice.
Will voters see through this apparently cynical behaviour? With a general election on the way soon, we won’t have to wait long to find out.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
And then there was one: Anna Soubry, centre, is the new leader of Change UK, while former leader Heidi Allen (left) and Sarah Wollaston (right) have quit the party like rats leaving the proverbial sinking ship.
Six of Change UK’s MPs have quit the party after it failed to make an impression at the European Parliamentary elections.
It speaks volumes about the party that its principal defectors were its former leader, Heidi Allen, and spokesman Chuka Umunna.
Both have been talking up the prospect of an alliance with the Liberal Democrats – who, conversely, fared exceptionally well at the elections.
While they haven’t actually joined the Lib Dems yet, it seems a safe bet that they will.
Also out of CHUK are Gavin Shuker, Luciana Berger, Angela Smith and Sarah Wollaston.
You can smell the desperation, can’t you?
These people left their respective parties in the belief that their personal brands were more popular than those of the parties they were leaving.
They were wrong – even the three who left the Conservatives.
Now, it seems to This Writer, the six quitters – double-quitters, if you think about it – are looking for another way to keep themselves in Parliament.
With the Liberal Democrats apparently on the rise again thanks to their stance as the “Party of Remain”, it seems they look like good prospects.
I’d say “watch this space”, but in the case of Change UK it is only likely to grow more empty.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Bully: Luciana Berger is no longer a member of the Labour Party, but she intimidated it into forcing the cancellation of a film screening in order to silence dissent against her story about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.
Labour’s latest bid to smear and discredit people who speak against fake “anti-Semitism” accusations against party members is a disgrace that flies against a basic rule of British justice.
Of course the usual fellow-travellers in the mainstream media have kicked up a song and dance about it so you’ll know that Labour MP Chris Williamson was attacked yesterday (February 26) by his former party colleague Luciana Berger after it was revealed his office had booked a room in the House of Commons to host a screening of the film WitchHunt, about the accusations of anti-Semitism against Jackie Walker, who is herself Jewish but whose Labour Party membership has been suspended for a specious reason (you can read about that – and see why the allegation is false – here).
That’s right – Ms Berger was trying to silence an innocent woman, preventing her from stating her side of the story.
Now, why would she want to do that – especially when one realises that she hasn’t even seen the film herself?
It seems she succeeded, too – the screening has now been cancelled as a result of the adverse publicity Ms Berger created, even though it has nothing to do with her; she isn’t a member of the Labour Party any more.
It had been arranged with Mr Williamson’s office by Jewish Voice for Labour. In a press release, the organisation stated:
“Intimidation forces cancellation of WitchHunt film in Parliament
“A documentary film exploring the background to accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party, due to be screened in the House of Commons on Monday March 4, has been cancelled after an outcry from people who have not seen it.
“Within hours of an invitation being sent to Labour MPs and journalists, the Jewish News reported calls for expulsion from the Labour Party of Chris Williamson MP whose office had booked the room to show the 62-minute documentary, titled WitchHunt. Williamson had no other role in organising the event.
“Neve Gordon, Professor of international law at Queen Mary University of London, who was due to take part in a panel discussion after the screening next Monday, said: ‘This is outrageous. It certainly confirms the significance of the movie.’
“The documentary has been acclaimed by leading filmmakers Mike Leigh and Peter Kosminsky, both of whom are Jewish, and by Israeli historian Professor Avi Shlaim (Oxford University). His statement, which topped the invitation, says: ‘Anyone who speaks or writes in the public domain about antisemitism and the current state of the Labour Party has a duty to see this film and address the issues it raises.’
“The film is due for release online on March 17th following a tour with director Jon Pullman to a number of cities including Nottingham, Brighton, Edinburgh and Derry.
“Pullman said: ‘We hope that people concerned with the struggle against racism and antisemitism take the time to see the film, and then make their own mind up. To have it publicly denounced as ‘offensive’ by people who have not seen it raises question about what is happening to democracy in this country.'”
The testimonial from Mr Kosminsky is particularly pertinent as it states: “[WitchHunt] packs a powerful punch, telling a story we just aren’t hearing at the moment.”
The reason for that should be obvious from Ms Berger’s tweet.
She got exactly what she deserved, though. Let’s take a look at some of the comments her tweet, and my response, attracted:
Luciana – you frequently jump before you are hurt. You have done enough damage to @UKLabour and attempted too often to undermine the leadership of @jeremycorbyn while you were a member of the party. Now you have run off with your "chums" we had hoped the whining would stop.
The demand for the expulsion of @DerbyChrisW for hosting a Jewish group’s film show tonight in parliament is a clear sign that madness reigns in our politics. Appeasement of this madness has merely made it more acute. #Labour#Corbyn
“A message to anyone who dissents: ‘We can get you.'”
And that is exactly what we have seen in this heavy-handed intervention from Ms Berger.
AFTERWORD: It should be noted that Jewish News reported the screening of WitchHunt was due to take place shortly before the Jewish Labour Movement was due to debate its future with the Labour Party, with “some members pushing for disaffiliation”. Let us hope that this happens and Labour separates itself from this poisonous organisation which is far more interested in supporting the Zionist project in Israel than in standing up for Jewish people in the UK who may disagree with its political stance. Consider its own mission statements (as reported here) for evidence.
Ms Walker will face her Labour Party disciplinary hearing on March 26. Here’s a tweet about it that you might find interesting:
Challenge: Luciana Berger speaking at the launch of the Independent Group. Within hours the Labour Party in her Wavertree constituency had challenged her to prove she deserves to continue as MP for the constituency by taking part in a by-election.
February 18 was a big day for the “Maleficent Seven” Labour MPs who quit to form their own “Independent Group” in Parliament – and now they are facing demands for by-elections in their constituencies.
Local Labour members who helped Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey say they were elected into Parliament on a Labour manifesto but the people of those constituencies no longer have representatives who support that manifesto. They say voters are entitled to choose whether they want to keep the MPs they have, or elect someone who means it when they say they support Labour ideals.
All in all, it was hardly an auspicious start for the group, whose members intended to use their split from Labour to highlight alleged faults in the party they were leaving.
We very soon had ample evidence that the schism was hardly prompted by recent events – the group’s website was registered in 2015… in a tax haven abroad.
The headquarters of this Brexit-opposing organisation is above a Wetherspoons pub – an organisation that supports Brexit – called, appropriately, The Unicorn.
And it turns out that this political organisation is nothing of the sort – it is in fact a company called Gemini A Ltd. This allows it to take advantage of a legal loophole that means Gemini A Ltd does not have to declare the identity of its financial backers. We don’t know who is funding these MPs.
Within hours of the new group being announced, Ms Smith had plunged it into a racism row with ill-judged remarks on the BBC’s Politics Live.
And now all seven are facing challenges to justify their claims on their Parliamentary seats.
See for yourself:
The 'Independent Group' doesn't exist. You are sitting with Gemini A Ltd. A private company incorporated and owned by Gavin Shuker MP. https://t.co/FDDfJ1D3L6
If you want an example of UK electoral law loopholes: The Independent Group, which looks/swims/quacks a lot like a political party and is asking for donations, is actually a private company. So it isn't subject to electoral law rules requiring them to declare financial backers.
(For those who have trouble reading images, the tweet from Wavertree CLP says: “We are extremely disappointed that Luciana Berger has made the decision to resign from the Labour Party. 35,000 people in Wavertree voted for the Labour Manifesto in 2017, yet they are no longer represented by a Labour MP. We call on Luciana Berger to immediately resign the seat, to give the people of Wavertree the opportunity to decide who represents them in Parliament.”)
Any MP who won their electoral mandate under the banner of a particular party should stand down as an MP and run again as an independent if they leave that party.
A group of seven MPs has split off from the Labour Party – to gasps of relief across the United Kingdom.
The reaction is probably not what they wanted.
The group includes Chuka Umunna, Chris Leslie, Gavin Shuker and Angela Smith as expected.
Joining them are Luciana Berger – quitting before her Liverpool Wavertree CLP pushes through the “no confidence” vote that members have been readying? – along with Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey.
The group has released a statement but it seems its website is having teething problems – odd since it has been registered since 2015 – and I can’t really be bothered unless Vox Political readers are genuinely interested. Are you?
It’s much more fun to highlight the public response, which is primarily relief. The flood of comments yesterday (Sunday, February 18) when rumours spread that the split would happen today, speaks for itself. Some thought this was another publicity stunt and they would not go through with it:
Others pointed out the qualities of the expected splitters and the likely tensions between them:
Can't see it lasting long, think about the problem they all have: Not one potential member will be able to trust any of the other potential members because they already know how each one of them won't think twice about stepping on them in favour of their own egos/careers.😉
Mr Jeffery will be pleased to see Ms Berger and Mr Gapes among the splitters. Mr Gapes is also on Matt Zarb-Cousins’s list:
I’m not the only one totally fed up with these Labour MPs grandstanding for years about leaving, while members put in the hours campaigning to get them elected. If you’re a Labour MP but you don’t want a Labour government or to enact our agenda, leave & do so quickly ffs. Thanks
Speculation on what the “Independent Group” would represent has been overwhelmingly negative towards them:
What will this new "Centrist" party stand for? More Austerity? Rampant marketisation & uncontrolled capitalism? Neoconservative Thatcherism? I suspect all of the above under a pro EU banner. The policies are being rejected & thank Christ they are. We need a socialist LAB govt!
And the departure will provoke comparisons with the “Gang of Four” who formed the SDP in 1981. That decision led to the formation of the Liberal Democrats, a party that apparently killed itself off as a national political organisation by forming a coalition with the Conservatives between 2010 and 2015. Here’s Martin O’Neill:
But for both groups, it is hard to disagree with Tony Benn’s withering critique of Roy Jenkins here. They owe a huge amount to the Labour Party, without which they’d have no prominence or public standing at all. And Labour will be better off without them.https://t.co/rBlwvol5wC
As ever, Tony Benn called it correctly – 38 years ago.
Last word goes to Liam Young:
Since the day Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader they have been planning this split. They launched a failed coup in 2016 which they arrogantly believed they had sewn up. They’ve bungled the split numerous times since. They are incompetent and delusional. Good riddance.
Luciana Berger: “No confidence” motions against her were about her attempts to undermine the Labour leadership. Why is the Labour leadership trying to defend her?
Labour’s leadership shot itself in the foot yet again at the end of a disastrous week for relations between the executive and rank-and-file members.
Earlier in the week, general secretary Jennie Formby’s refusal to suspend Wes Streeting and investigate his behaviour after he launched a despicable attack on a 70-year-old female member, using faked evidence and publicising her true identity which she keeps hidden, put her in hot water – with members telling her in no uncertain terms that the complaints system was not fit for purpose, prioritising representatives over the people who put them there.
Then Wavertree CLP cancelled two ‘no confidence’ votes about the behaviour of that constituency’s MP, Luciana Berger. The first was withdrawn by its proposer, and the second by the CLP itself after it emerged that the member proposing the motion will be out of the UK on the day planned for the debate. This Writer’s understanding is that both motions referred to the actions of the MP, whose false claims of anti-Semitism within the party have caused deep offence.
Yet some within the party hierarchy have made reference to abuse that the MP receives (Ms Formby), to the fact that she is eight months pregnant (Harriet Harman – and what does that have to do with anything?)…
We criticise Berger for being anti-Labour. She's Jewish so we must all be antisemitic, she's a woman so we're all misogynists, now she's up the duff so we're all anti equality. What's she going to bring up next? Maybe she has a secret disability and we're all disablist too? YAWN https://t.co/YR1VhLlD0J
… and to racism/anti-Semitism within the CLP (Tom Watson – who should know that it has a large Jewish contingent and is chaired by a Jewish person; Wes Streeting (again) – who accused the people of Liverpool of being anti-Semitic en masse in yet another ill-advised tweet;
The attempted bullying by the members named above incensed party members across the UK – many of whom are now threatening to burn their membership cards in protest at what they see as clearly prejudicial behaviour – in favour of MPs who are spreading lies, and against members who are the victims of those lies.
Mr Watson’s comments in particular – as a non-Jew potentially implying the “wrong kind of Jew” argument against Jewish party members – disgraced the Labour Party. Wavertree CLP’s executive has released a statement to “strongly reject the media inaccuracies and the accusations of political bullying, for simply adhering to Party rules and doing our jobs” and asserting that “the suggestion that the CLP Executive is in any way a party to bullying and antisemitism is a false and slanderous accusation”.
Kate Hoey. Not Jewish. Chris Leslie. Not Jewish. Joan Ryan. Not Jewish.
It's disgraceful of Tom Watson to intervene in CLP business. I think all the treacherous Blairites can feel the cold wind of deselection coming so expect some more desperate measures as they try to bring back Toryism to @UKLabour Party.#iStandWithWavertree#JC4PM2019#Brexit
And Mr Streeting’s tweet – following Ms Formby’s call for no more “trial by Twitter”, this indicates he believes she was lecturing rank-and-file members, not him – will undoubtedly have led to more calls for his Labour membership to be suspended and an investigation into his behaviour held. See this article for further details.
Ordinary Labour Party members took offence at the glib way so-called leaders of the party tried to pretend that the “no confidence” motion was an attack on Ms Berger as a person, rather than as a representative of the party. Ms Formby came in for particularly strong criticism. See:
I agree with abuse & antisemitism being abhorrent but that’s not what the motions were about, it was on basis that she would do everything in her power to stop a Labour govt from delivering its manifesto. Which is why this disappoints me, but I’m glad you didn’t suspend CLP tho.
Donahue Rogers tweeted: “Gen Sec should not be voicing an opinion about this – especially as you’re asking members to show solidarity with someone who refuses to show support for a Labour government and also refuses to dismiss rumours that she is about to join another party #iStandWithWavertree”
Here’s the ever-controversial George Galloway – with an opinion that, for once, wasn’t:
It was an error of judgement, especially as it allowed party members to compare support for an MP who consistently undermines her party with the lack of it for the MP who has endured more abuse than all the others put together. As “Audrey” put it: “I didn’t see that many ppl falling over each other publicly to defend Diane when she is abused permanently even by tv journos. Guess some ppl are just not worth standing in solidarity with…Planning to do something about Watson or aren’t the members worthy of solidarity either?”
Albert Trigg also took issue with Ms Formby’s claim that party members should stand in solidarity with Ms Berger: “‘Solidarity’? The same kind of solidarity she shows Corbyn and the membership? She could not even bring herself to say she wanted a Corbyn Government. Abuse is wrong but it works both ways. False accusations of racism from Labour MPs is not on.”
It was withdrawn. Rightly or wrongly that’s the decision of the CLP. However, to suggest this is AS is crazy. She was Jewish when she was voted into office by her CLP who has a large Jewish representation. If Wavertree pushes a VONC then it would go ahead.
Totally agree, she not shown solidarity towards the party or @jeremycorbyn or the members. I give up. Np point in standing by them, when at first opportunity they won't stand up for us, in fact they attack us. Disgusting, thats not socialism.
Carla Marx added: “More disappointing responses from our leaders. This isn’t enough from Jennie. The online abuse has nothing to with Wavertree activists – they have a perfect right to hold their MP to account for her signal lack of respect to them and the Party she’s meant to represent.”
Some suggested that the Labour leadership had lost focus and needed to concentrate on the real troublemakers in the party:
I agree when good grassroots socialists are being labelled as AS with no evidence it's time to move and get rid of those MPs and others who use anything to further their own advantage They must be removed from the party so we can move on @JennieGenSec #IStandWithWavertree
Labour’s national leadership has already confirmed that there will be no action taken against Wavertree.
Then came the threats to quit:
I am definintely planning to quit my membership. If the Gen Sec is saying that Luciana Berger deserves solidarity, when she has shown none towards the party, the leader or the members, it's time I went. #Solidarity
Fortunately other members took a more rounded view: “There is a greater need than us,” tweeted Teri_Card007. “The 14 million in poverty, 1.5 million in destitution, 330,000 homeless and the disabled who are dying every month because of Tory policy. We stand together, support each other. Labour is Socialist and there are many of us and they’re the few.”
Here are a few more such opinions:
All those good folk in despair over events of the last 24 hours, stay strong.
The Blatcherites want you to give up. The tories want you to give up.
Invoke the spirit of Liverpool and stay strong. Now, more than ever we need you to believe. #iStandWithWavertree
It may feel like the attacks on our party have mounted again in the face of what seems a defeat for socialism in recent days. You may feel deflated, beaten, angry. That's how they want you to feel, That's how they regain control of our movement if we let them. Not on my watch. pic.twitter.com/PSHiObGCVF
Perhaps the best reflection of the way Labour members feel came from a former 2017 general election candidate going under the handle @DisIdealist, who wrote: “Where members tend to draw the line, in my experience, is when a representative is seen as both politically unsympathetic and not helping to obtain a Labour government. If an MP ever crosses a line to be seen as actively helping to prevent a Labour government, then members will almost always move against them. If one looks at those Labour MPs who have faced motions of no confidence – and it is a relatively small number – one finds that it is inevitably the case that they not only have serious political differences with the leadership, but they are seen by members as making a Labour government less likely through their public provision of ammunition to the hostile media and the Tories.”
That is the real spirit of Labour. Not the fake-Tory divide-and-rule we’re seeing from the likes of Berger, Harman, Watson, Streeting, Umunna (always the same names, aren’t they?) and (I’m sorry to say) Formby.
But those are just six voices – loud voices, maybe, but not many – among more than half a million. They want to deceive the rest into thinking that their few voices matter more than those of the rest of us – and they hope that their lies will convince people of good conscience to quit the party, so they can have their cosy little club back; never challenging the Tories enough to make a difference, just making sure they take their ministerial salaries home.
To the mass of Labour members: Don’t let them win. Force the issue. Make them defend themselves – and prove that they can’t.
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I see pro-Israel troll Luciana Berger has been accusing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of anti-Semitism again – and she is doing so by committing the cardinal sin of deliberately confusing Zionism with Judaism.
She was referring to details released by the Daily Mail of a London conference in 2013 – remember, anti-Corbyn trolls have been reduced to trawling through recent history to find anything they can use against him.
It seems Mr Corbyn referred to an altercation between a group of people self-identifying as Zionists and the Palestinian representative to the UK, Manuel Hassassian, following a speech Mr Hassassian had made in Parliament.
He said yesterday (August 24, 2018) that the Zionist group, for whom English is their first language, had made “deliberate misrepresentations” of what Mr Hassassian, for whom it is not, had said.
In his speech at the 2013 conference, Mr Corbyn, then a backbench MP, went on to claim that the people concerned “clearly have two problems.
“One is they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either.”
The irony being that the people with a firm grasp of English were deliberately misinterpreting statements by someone less well-schooled in it.
There is nothing wrong with that statement.
Indeed, those of us who have suffered Zionist bullying know very well that these people like to “doctor” our comments – they quote us out-of-context, and they quote us selectively in order to change the meaning of our words. Then they accuse us of anti-Semitism.
Another way these people like to accuse others is by deliberately co-mingling the meaning of the words “Zionist” (or “Zionism”), “Jew” and “Israeli”.
These are three different things, but note how Luciana Berger – who happens to be Jewish, pro-Israeli-government and Zionist – tries to pretend they are the same.
Mr Corbyn referred to “Zionists” who listened to Mr Hassassian – not Jews. It is unlikely he knew whether they were Jews or not because there are plenty of Gentile (non-Jewish) Zionists.
But Ms Berger said: “The video released today of the leader of @UKLabour making inexcusable comments – defended by a party spokesman – makes me as a proud British Jew feel unwelcome in my own party. I’ve lived in Britain all my life and I don’t need any lessons in history/irony.”
Here’s the tweet (although I cannot guarantee it will stay available once enough of us have shown that we have seen through her lie):
The video released today of the leader of @UKLabour making inexcusable comments – defended by a party spokesman – makes me as a proud British Jew feel unwelcome in my own party. I’ve lived in Britain all my life and I don’t need any lessons in history/irony.
“As a proud British Jew” she does not have any reason to feel unwelcome.
As a Zionist who supports the perversion of another person’s words because she sees them as hostile to her cause, she does.
Don’t get me wrong: My understanding is that there are Zionists (the term refers to people who want the restoration of the historic Jewish homeland in the Middle East) who want to achieve their aim by peaceful means and do not object to co-habitation with the Palestinian people. Ms Berger is not one of them.
She is an aggressive Zionist who, in her words and deeds, supports the mass-murder of Palestinians by the Israeli government and works hard to attack, undermine and discredit those who act as advocates for peace.
50 Palestinians shot by Israeli soldiers in Gaza today. A total of 189 injured, including 10 children, according to Health Ministry.
This should be a matter of serious concern to everybody with an interest in free speech and democracy.
The faked-up claims of anti-Semitism against Peter Willsman have led to him receiving death threats.
Don’t forget that This Writer has been falsely accused of anti-Semitism. I have to raise money to take my accusers to court. Please help by visiting my JustGiving page and pledging a contribution.
I would like to hear how Mr Willsman’s accusers justify what they have done, in the light of this threat.
What does Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, have to say for herself?
How about Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, who published the vile allegations without paying a scrap of attention to proper journalistic procedures like fact-checking?
Come to that, the recording was said to have been made by a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee who ‘phoned in’ their participation. How does this person feel about having possibly endangered Mr Willsman’s life for a lie?
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust? How does a person whose career is about educating people against behaviour that leads to mass murder feel about her own involvement in the potential endangerment of a single life?
And what about Labour MPs Tom Watson and Luciana Berger, who also passed censorious opinions? They are both right-wingers while Mr Willsman is a lefty – is retaking control of the party so important to them that they are willing to run a risk to life and limb?
Even fellow lefty Owen Jones has questions to answer, having accepted the allegation without question and then passing a prejudicial opinion about it on Twitter.
Careless talk still costs lives. The murder of Labour MP Jo Cox is still a recent memory, yet these ambitious political operators are perfectly happy to risk repeating that tragedy. They must be made to answer for their words.
Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) member Peter Willsman was at the centre of controversy after a recording of his comments during an NEC meeting was leaked to the media.
The comments were presented as antisemitic, but a proper examination of what was actually said, rather than the framing by media and ‘centrist’ MPs, showed that while crass they were not racist.
Such facts appear not to have troubled some, however – as Willsman has today received a death threat as a recorded message on his voicemail, saying:
You racist c**t. We know where you are. We’re coming to get you and spread your blood all over the pavement.
It’s to be hoped that this is a sick attempt to frighten, but the incident lays out very clearly the risks involved when one faction targets an opponent for political gain.
Luciana Berger misportrays Peter Willsman’s words and the position of the Board of Jewish Deputies, then presents two still-to-be-investigated party suspensions as definitely guilty, which may be indictable on grounds of prejudicing the inquiry.
This Site’s colleague over at The Critique Archives makes an important point about the behaviour of Labour MP Luciana Berger, who has been whipping up outrage by faking complaints of anti-Semitism.
Ms Berger was the most vocal critic of Peter Willsman’s recorded outburst against Trump-supporting members of the Jewish community who, he said, were “making up daft information without any evidence at all” – referring to accusations of anti-Semitism.
Ironically, he was then subjected to exactly the same treatment. As you can see from the extract below, Ms Berger’s complaint about Mr Willsman contains no evidence at all.
The point is that Ms Berger seems to subscribe to the false interpretation of what’s become known as the Macpherson principle – that an accusation of racist (in this case anti-Semitic) behaviour must be true if the person making it belongs to an ethnic minority.
It is a transparently false assumption. Suppose the police received such a complaint – do you honestly think they would take legal action against the alleged perpetrator without first having investigated the facts of the matter for themselves? They would be laughed out of court. In fact, the case would never even get that far.
But I reckon it is under that principle that Ms Berger made her big mistake – prejudicing the cases of two Labour councillors who have been accused of anti-Semitism.
My concern, as a person who is experiencing Labour’s prejudiced disputes system for himself, is that nobody investigating these cases will care. My own case indicates an automatic presumption of guilt, simply because I have been accused.
(If you doubt that, allow me to remind you of the paragraph on my charge sheet, urging Labour’s NCC to find me guilty, no matter what the evidence shows: “There are current and potential Labour voters of all backgrounds who are watching carefully what the Party does with cases like Mr Sivier’s. Taking definitive action in this case would send a clear and unambiguous message to all of them that Mr Sivier and the views he published extensively have absolutely no place in the party.”)
I agree that Ms Berger has brought the Labour Party into disrepute by publicly accusing other party members and by endangering the (claimed, if not actual) impartiality of the investigation process.
She should be punished for these offences – behaviour for which, let us remind ourselves, there is clear evidence, unlike her own claims about other people.
It will be interesting to see whether Labour’s disputes mechanism actually allows any action against her – or if its bosses wish to declare their own prejudice for all the world to see.
If you wish to report Berger’s appalling behaviour, please e-mail the Labour Party’s complaints office at [email protected]. The more reports the party receive about what Berger has done, the more pressure they will come under to bring her to book.
In her determination to prove that the ‘anti-Semitism-in-the-Labour-Party’ controversy is something more than a semi-fantasy, [Luciana Berger] has overstepped an important line.
Berger was interviewed on 31st July – much too gently as usual – by Shelagh Fogarty on LBC Radio about the deafening furore. In particular, Berger was asked about this week’s kerfuffle over Labour NEC member Peter Willsman‘offensively’ suggesting that some British Jews were disturbingly happy about Donald Trump becoming US President.
Fogarty rightly asked Berger to clarify precisely what was anti-Semitic about Willsman’s words. It was noticeable that Berger did not clarify, beyond waffling in a strident but roundabout way about Willsman’s statements being ‘unacceptable’, which really just put the implication of the question in different words. She also failed to explain why Willsman’s words were even untrue. Which of course they were not; the Board of Jewish Deputies, in particular, were tellingly eager to congratulate Trump on becoming President. Given Trump’s ignorant enthusiasm for Zionism, largely based around trying to please Christian fundamentalists in the USA, that is perhaps to be expected.
Fogarty – again as usual – managed to miss Berger’s evasion completely and moved on. To her credit, she soon asked Berger a question she does not get asked nearly often enough in the mainstream media; what evidence is there that anti-Semitism in the Labour Party really is as widespread as she claims? It was here that Berger overstepped from mere McCarthyite cynicism to a possibly indictable violation.
She then cited two Labourcouncillors who had been suspended during this week as supposedly definitive examples of anti-Semitism being out of control.
In so doing, Berger has risked prejudicing the investigations, while increasing public pressure on the party to find the two councillors guilty, irrespective of the investigations’ findings. She is also guilty of a lazy form of fallacious thinking that is as worrying to observe in a national legislator as is her poisonous maliciousness; by assuming that the accusation is evidence, instead of the accusation requiring evidence, she has lapsed into infantile circular reasoning. “I know they must be guilty because they’ve been accused, because if they’ve been accused they must be guilty.”
No, It does not work like that, it must never work like that. The accusation must be followed by evidence. When the accusation is the evidence, we enter a world in which anyone can be accused of anything, and they are automatically guilty. Chaos and endless injustice lie down that path.
It’s a classic anti-Semitic trope, or stereotype – and actually falls foul of Labour’s code of conduct: “Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group.” And it is being weaponised against the innocent by people claiming to be fighting anti-Semitism.
Look at the witch-hunt that has broken out against Labour NEC member Pete Willsman.
He was recorded at an NEC meeting – an unethical act as NEC meetings must be held in private – reacting to reports that 68 rabbis had written to a newspaper claiming that Labour had “chosen to ignore the Jewish community” by amending the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism to make it more suitable for use by the party in investigating allegations of anti-Semitism.
But Labour has not ignored “the Jewish community”. British Jews are a diverse body of people with wide-ranging opinions and not all of them support the IHRA definition.
As Professor Annabelle Sreberny said: “There is a public debate happening amongst Jews, about these issues – that’s important. There isn’t one Jewish community; there isn’t the Jewish community – there are many. And we all need our voice.”
It is a voice that is being denied to them by the 68 rabbis who claimed to speak for them all. This falls foul of Labour’s code of conduct because it denies Jews the right to self-determination and self-definition.
Let’s examine what Mr Willsman said. First, he said, “They can falsify social media very easily.” It is not clear who “they” are in this context but I think it would be reasonable to suggest that he meant people who want to spread fake claims of anti-Semitism, rather than those reporting it in good conscience. And there is evidence to suggest he is correct:
Lots of attack accounts appearing with low number of followers, incognito re pic & name. Goading members, be careful don't take the bait! pic.twitter.com/6UWA6tvLm6
Then he said: “And some of these people in the Jewish community support Trump. They’re Trump fanatics and all the rest of it. So I am not going to be lectured to by Trump fanatics making up daft information without any evidence at all. So I think we should ask the 70 rabbis, ‘Where is your evidence of severe and widespread anti-Semitism in this party?”
Labour MP Luciana Berger was quick to alter Mr Willsman’s words for him: “Anyone listening to this recording will be appalled to hear the venom and fury directed by Mr Willsman at the British Jewish community. That he accuses the Jewish community of falsifying social media and being ‘Trump fanatics’ in order to deny the serious concerns of 68 rabbis beggars belief.”
Venom and fury at the British Jewish community? Where?
He said nothing at all about the British Jewish community.
He said he would not be lectured by supporters of Donald Trump within that community who are spreading lies. I would like to see his evidence for that, but I would certainly not wish to accuse him of anti-Semitism – as Ms Berger is clearly doing – without having done so and she clearly has not.
If she wanted to find evidence of Trump fanaticism within the Jewish community, she really wouldn’t have to look any further than Jonathan Arkush, former president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, as this Skwawkbox article demonstrates. But no. Ms Berger wanted to make a fuss without any evidence.
Furthermore, her claim that he was attacking the whole of British Jewry when he was in fact singling out only a tiny minority of it is anti-Semitic: “Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group.”
And, like the 68 rabbis, she is trying to deny a significant proportion of the British Jewish community the right to have their voices heard – in violation of Labour’s code of conduct.
Distortions like these form the basis of a series of anti-Semitism charges against This Writer – and are the reason I am crowdfunding to pay for legal action against my accusers. Please visit my JustGiving page for more information and to donate.
As for the demand by the current president of the Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl, for Mr Willsman to be expelled… Well. Isn’t she a Conservative?
Mr Willsman is currently up for re-election to Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee.
Is it beyond the realms of possibility that this scandal-in-a-teacup has been manufactured by Ms Berger, the Jewish Chronicle and the Board of Deputies purely to manipulate democracy to remove a Jeremy Corbyn-supporting left-winger from that organisation?
I don’t think so – but I would certainly recommend that all Labour Party members reading this should do the exact opposite and make sure you vote for Mr Willsman. His words show that he, at least, wants to see genuine evidence of anti-Semitism, rather than taking the fakers at face value.
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