An Open Letter to Luciana Berger

Dear Luciana,

As someone who spent many years as an activist in the Labour and trade union movement I follow developments in your current party closely. From what I can see you are being constantly hounded by people who currently have control of the Labour machine.

You are being attacked both for your policy positions and your Jewish heritage. The recent attempt to put a motion of no confidence in you is as I am sure you realise is a vehicle to ensure that you cannot stand as the partys’ candidate at the next General Election.

I am afraid to say this kind of behaviour is not unusual in the world of the comrades.

In my time as part of that world I regularly experienced bullying and intimidation simply for holding a different point of view to the ‘majority’. Eventually I reached the conclusion that a kind of stalinism was widespread throught the Labour and trade union movement. Democracy when it was practised was deeply flawed.

In the trade unions in particular, internal elections were manipulated to ensure favoured candidates were elected. Those same unions that enjoy a very big say in Labour party policy. Under Corbyn things have got worse not least because he appers comfortable with a supporter base that includes left wing union bosses and Momentum activists many who don’t even believe in parliamentary democracy.

This situation is not likely to change.

I left Labour but I didn’t leave politics. I chose to switch my allegiance to a progressive party that values freedom of speech and tolerates minority opinions within its ranks.

That party is the Liberal Democrats.

Under the leadership of Sir Vince Cable, one of the most principled and decent people in UK politics we are offering strong opposition to Theresa Mays’ cruel Tory government. For me being in this party has been a truly liberating experience. I invite you to join me and the many others who have come to us from Labour.

I am confident that you would be very welcome.

Yours sincerely

David Warren

* David is a member of Horsham and Crawley Liberal Democrats

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55 Comments

  • The constant mocking of Labour and increasingly vicious attacks will not do the Lib Dems any favours .the party is in a tight race for fifth place in the polls across the UK.. nestling between 6-10% of polling and meagre coverage in the National media…maybe a new tactic is in order.

  • David Warren 11th Feb '19 - 11:23am

    @Silvio

    I simply tell the truth as I see it about Labour, having spent nearly thirty years in that party I know a bit about them.

  • @Silvio

    The comrades do seem to be doing a fairly good job of attacking each other! And Corbyn’s lack of leadership has seen his approval rating plummet.

    To correct you the Lib Dems are now in a clear THIRD place in the polls with UKIP and the Greens having fallen away. While no Lib Dem will be satisfied with less than 100% in the polls, the runes are encouraging with a strong start to 2019 in local by-elections and basically our best opinion poll ratings since the General Election – this may or may not just be “statistical” noise and may or may not continue – time will tell!

  • Nonconformistradical 11th Feb '19 - 11:48am

    @Silvio

    While I’ve never had any involvement with the Labour Party – and not knowing how old you are – personally I’ve been around on this planet long enough to believe what David Warren says on this matter.

    I’ll draw your attention to what Richard Kemp of Liverpool Libdems has to say about Labour and about Luciana Berger in this post https://richardkemp.wordpress.com/2019/02/03/if-labour-splits-what-do-the-lib-dems-do/

  • Luciana Berger is a fantastic MP, and I’d gladly have her.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 11th Feb '19 - 12:31pm

    David you come up here with the sort of thing more typical of you and the generosity of spirit I rate and see , in you and in all of us motivated thus, more than comments you made in a previous thread where you seemed unconvinced those on the moderate wing of Labour, are liberal.

    I feel Silvio, you are whistling in the dark if you think those of us who yearn for an alternative to this lousy government, are going to be praising the leadership pf the current or any , alas, now, Labour party. Like our excellent author of the article, was many years from a youth, in that party, but thankfully saw it as not my cup of tea, after some years, joined the Liberal Democrats after the Iraq war, since 2004 have supported it only.

    The centre left in this country has lacked what it needs, a broad US Democrats type party, taking in all of us as a liberal wing, all of moderate Labour as a progressive wing, some liberal Conservatives also. Or we need , electoral reform, small and plucky parties in regular coalitions.

    What we have is awful, those who want us to keep silent even where we see outrageous behaviour on the farther left, no, we shall not.

    I campaign online against antisemitism, have written much, included are articles on the Ustinov Prejudice Awareness Forum I am actively involved with as member , writer.

    It exists as much on the left in this country, as on the right, but is worse in they do not want to recognise it is destroying the credibility given that under Blair , New Labour, for all the mistakes, had two thirds nearly, of the Jewish vote.

    We know that changed under Milliband, but only on the leftward drift happening due to his rule change, which, having taken place, with supporters having a say, led to Corbyn and the open flood gates of the extremists influx.

    Anyone who thinks it is fine to have a party which has senior advisers who until recently, were in the SWP, Communist party or Stalin society can, as my kin across the pond say, start whistling Dixie!!!

  • Silvio, you clearly didn’t bother to read David’s letter . It is neither “mocking” Labour, nor a “vicious attack”.

  • Peter Martin 11th Feb '19 - 1:08pm

    Luciana Berger may well be a reasonably good, but by no means perfect, constituency MP. She’d have had to be to survive this long.

    She had no known connection to Liverpool or Wavertree before being their Parliamentary Candidate. She was born in London, privately educated in Hertfordhire, and attended Uni in B’ham, Madrid and London. She was ‘parachuted’ in under the tutelage of Tony Blair. Most people in the local party didn’t like that one bit.

    She was reportedly unaware, at her selection interview, of who Bill Shankly was. Some knowledge of football might have helped make such blunders as sharing a platform with Kelvin Mackensie of the Sun and who was prominent in the campaign of disinformation on the behaviour of Liverpool supporters at the Hillsborough tragedy in 1989.

    So there are two sides to the argument. It’s not all about anti-semitism. Or even mainly about that. You can always comb through the minutes to find someone who’s made an unwise choice of words. She’s really not a good fit with Wavertree and would have been better advised finding a London constituency to develop.

  • marcstevens 11th Feb '19 - 2:04pm

    So why didn’t your CLP put a motion of no confidence in before then or is the reason that it because it has recently been taken over by a group with its own agenda? Luciana Berger has nearly 80% of the vote in her own constituency and that has been increasing since 2010 so she must be doing something right with her constituents even if it’s not this new group of your party activists there.

    On the subject of Unions, I am a Unite member but was blanked by all the other members, all of them Corbyn supporters, for daring to speak out at a local branch meeting against anti Semitism. We live in a democracy and Unions should be representative of the members they serve that means including members who support other parties such as the Lib Dems and Greens or even none.

    People who are committed to workers rights and improved working conditions should not be frozen out for not being Labour party members or supporters; one party or even a wing of one party should not have a monopoly on all union positions and business.

  • Peter Martin 11th Feb '19 - 2:33pm

    @ marcstevens,

    Most Lab MPs have increased their majorities since 2010.

    Look, by all means invite Ms Berger into your party but you’d better smarten up your act too! This article would be considered anti-semitic for a start! You simply aren’t allowed to use the words ‘Israel’ and ‘Apartheid’ in the same sentence.

    https://www.libdemvoice.org/apartheid-in-israel-58168.html

    Ms Berger has benefitted from the very machinery in the Labour Party that many complain about. She’s never had a proper job and is classic case of student politician turned real politician. She’s managed to rub people up the wrong way in her student days too, and had a history there of finding anti-semitism in any critical remarks.

    We do have it on good authority though, that she never was at any time Euan Blair’s girlfriend. Who cares anyway? Why be at such pains to deny it?

  • Paul Barker 11th Feb '19 - 2:45pm

    The problem with the “its not all about” argument is that as soon as you attack opponents for things they can do nothing about like ethnicity or gender then it does become “all” about that. In fact Labour has a long tradition of using any handy prejudice against opponents, I am another refugee from that tradition.
    On Polling, V I Polls so far this Year have us between 7% & 12%, & averaging 9.5%. We are in clear third place in England but clearly we need allies among people like Berger.

  • nonconformistradical 11th Feb '19 - 5:41pm

    “They treat people who disagree with them as second class citizens.”

    Not so different from the tories

  • Peter Martin 11th Feb '19 - 7:04pm

    @ Paul Barker,

    Lets be clear about this. It’s not about anti-semitism at all. If you’re born Jewish and you’re criticised for that that’s clearly anti-semitism. It’s not acceptable. Period. If you’re a practicing Jew and worship at the local Synagogue and you’re criticised for that then it’s probably slightly more acceptable. Richard Dawkins does that all the time -but I wouldn’t do it myself.

    However, if you openly and uncritically support Israel then that’s Zionism. That’s where many in the Labour Party take issue with Luciana Berger.

    Look, Ed Miliband is Jewish. Hardly anyone cares. It’s not a problem for Ed Miliband or the Labour Party.

    PS What do you think of John Kelly’s article I linked to earlier. Is that anti-semitic too?

  • Peter Martin 11th Feb '19 - 7:27pm

    @ Ruth Bright,

    “Would either of us, just by accident of birth, be more suitable……”

    Possibly you would. It would be up to you to convince the local LibDem party to make you a candidate if you thought you were. If you were applying to Nick Clegg’s old seat it wouldn’t do you any harm to do a bit of homework to find out that Sheffield was famous as a steel making city and the names of the local football teams!

    Ultimately, the MP in any party has to maintain a good working relationship with the constituency party or they do run the risk of deselection. Will and should Stephen Lloyd be deselected in Eastbourne? Was it right that Mike Hancock was deselected in Portsmouth?

    That’s a matter for Lib Dems to decide in democratic manner. Providing the democratic process prevails I don’t have problem. MPs cannot consider they have a life long right to assume they will be always be reselected by their party.

  • Of course, no MP should be exempt from challenge. Any of our MPs can be challenged when selection time comes round, but usually only one or two are. It is the basis of challenge that matters. To challenge someone because they are Jewish, or Muslim or pro or anti the policies of the state of Israel is not justified. Challenge should be on the basis of whether the MP is doing their job of representing the constituency in Parliament. If they are doing it badly it is right to replace them. If they are bringing the party into disrepute (the Mike Hancock case) then it is right that they are deselected. Of course in our party , because of our reliance on the person rather than the party it’s not a sure thing. Many seats have been lost when the MP steps down or is deselected..
    From what I have read Luciana Berger is a good constituency MP. Those challenging her claim she is pro the state of Israel and not pro Palestinian. It is however worth pointing out that the Lib Dems have had their own problems as a party with careless talk about the state of Israel and the Palestinians, so the usual caveat about moats and beams applies very much here.
    However, once MPs start being deselected for their views rather than their performance, we start to move towards a denial of free speech.
    Our country is sadly becoming much less tolerant and the hate and threats that appear on line are simply intolerable, and inimical to the sort of free society we want to promote. I fear greatly for freedom of speech after Brexit. Luciana Berger’s problems will seem small beer to what is to come when the likes of ERG rule the roost.

  • Richard Easter 12th Feb '19 - 7:32am

    I see nothing wrong with deselecting someone based on their views. Would we tolerate a Lib Dem MP who is pro Saudi, pro Tommy Robinson and anti-immigrant?

    What if the views of the MP are so out of step with the party as to be fundamentally incompatible – for example pro police privatisation in Labour or in favour of nationalisation of the top 100 companies in the Tories?

    Berger has suggested that she could leave Labour and join another party. That is fine and her right and if her constituents choose to elect her as an Independent / Lib Dem / Renew or whatever then that’s also fine. But if she does not want to represent Labour then it is fair she is deselected. Would we have tolerated a Lib Dem MP who said they were unhappy with Clegg’s neoliberalism and were thinking of jumping ship to Labour, or were unhappy with the party’s Brexit stance and were thinking of doing a Carswell?

  • David Warren……………..I left Labour but I didn’t leave politics. I chose to switch my allegiance to a progressive party that values freedom of speech and tolerates minority opinions within its ranks…………….

    Well, tolerance of MY views seem rather thin on the ground here.

    Sprinkling your letter with ‘Comrades’ and ‘Stalinism’ shows your feelings are far more anti-Labour (which IMO is a broad church) rather than pro-Berger.

  • Peter Martin 12th Feb '19 - 9:34am

    @ Ruth Bright,

    The Labour party cannot ‘sack’ Luciana Berger. or any other MP, from their paid job in Parliament. Only the electors can do that in a lawfully held election.

    Neither can the Labour Party prevent Ms Berger standing for election again, at that election, in whatever seat she chooses.

    The question being discussed is whether the Labour Party should support her candidacy in that election.

  • Peter Martin 12th Feb '19 - 10:29am

    When I hear the term anti-semitism I think of swastikas, racial profiling, the holocaust, the use of unacceptable words and terms etc. I’m sure that’s what nearly everyone else thinks too.

    But is what the Labour Party is being accused of? Of course not. The problems arise from the uncritical acceptance of the IHRA definition of anti-semitism.

    Particularly this clause :

    “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

    So therefore it must follow, if you totally accept the IHRA definition, that any comparison of Israel to the old South Africa is being antisemitic.

    Which means that John Kelly, and whoever in LDV approved his article of July 29th 2018, already linked to above, was being antisemitic too.

    Of course I don’t think he was. Or maybe you now disagree and regret the article? It was a perfectly reasonable and well argued article. So how about making the point that there are two sides to argument, re Israel and Palestine, and to accept that doesn’t imply antisemitism.

    In other words say that JC might have a point. There should be more to politics than wanting to inflict maximum discomfort on a political opponent.

  • Nonconformistradical 12th Feb '19 - 10:59am

    @Richard Easter

    “What if the views of the MP are so out of step with the party as to be fundamentally incompatible”

    If that is demonstrated by their conduct – quoting from the federal constitution:
    “material disagreement, evidenced by conduct, with the fundamental
    values and objectives of the Party” – that would render the MP liable to having their party membership revoked (through the laid-down procedures).

  • @Richard Easter. The only way someone can be expelled from the Lib Dems is by bringing the party into disrepute. This is normally equated with standing against an official candidate in an election, or by behaviour such as sexual harassment.
    The Lib Dems have a candidate approval procedure designed to weed out people whose views are not in line with Liberal Democrat philosophy and policy. It therefore follows that it is unlikely that MPs will have views diametrically opposed to those of the wider party. On specific issues it is not unknown that individuals may and have disagreed with party policy. Indeed this is tested as part of the approval process. On the specific area of the Middle East the party has a group that supports Israel and a group that espouses the Palestinian cause. There are fierce disagreements on what is the right policy. However, it is not and should not be grounds for deselection to be on one side and not the other.
    So, Richard, it is highly unlikely that we would ever have an MP with the sort of views you suggest. It is almost certain that they would ever be approved to be a parliamentary candidate in the first place.
    But back to Luciana Berger. I don’t think she has ever made a secret of her views on the Middle East. She almost certainly has not changed them since she was selected/elected. So the moves to deselect her are driven by anti-semitism or to put it bluntly, because she is Jewish.

  • Peter Martin 12th Feb '19 - 11:45am

    @ Mick Taylor

    “…..because she is Jewish.”

    So why did the party elect Ed Miliband?

    Ed didn’t do a particularly good job in the opinion of many members and that’s why he’s not leader any longer. But, his ethnic background has never been an issue. Margaret Hodge is Jewish too. Who cares?

    Being Jewish in the Labour Party is not an issue. However, I would suggest Ms Berger wants to make it an issue. Effectively she’s saying you’re only picking on me because I’m Jewish. That’s a tactic that most teachers would be familiar with if they try to discipline a non-white child. It can be very effective. It ties us white ‘liberals’ up in knots!

  • David Warren 12th Feb '19 - 12:08pm

    @expats

    I simply talk about Labour based on my experiences within that movement.

    From what I hear since Corbyn got elected things have got worse.

    Stalinists without the politics have been replaced by Stalinists who very definitely worship at the tomb of uncle Joe. Trotskyist groups who had been pushed out are back.

    Historically Labour had both a left and a right that believed in parliamentary democracy. Not sure about that these days.

  • Ed Miliband, like me, is ethnically Jewish. He’s never been religious and he’s never made being Jewish an issue. Neither do I. I am religious, but I’m a Quaker.
    So my take on this is that it’s OK to be Jewish in the Labour Party, but not OK to be Jewish and side with Israel. This spat is all about the issue of the Palestinians and Lucian Berger is being singled out because, in the view of Momentum and its ilk, she is on the wrong side of the argument AND she is actively Jewish. Sorry Mr Martin, that is anti-semitic and no amount of flim flamming on your part will change that.
    I have had the misfortune to see a big city Labour Party up close and it’s not pretty. This behaviour towards Ms Berger is sadly very typical of the intolerance of parts of the Labour Party. This, for me, is crystallised by the comments of a Labour councillor I once met on a joint committee of local authorities against apartheid. He expressed his difficulty in working with non Labour Party people. So I said “What if a Liberal on your council proposed something, which was Labour Party policy” His response? “If it were proposed by a Liberal, I’d vote against it”. I have since discovered that this attitude is common.

  • Peter Martin 12th Feb '19 - 1:13pm

    @ David Warren,

    We’ve all often heard how marvellous the Labour Party used to be 30 or 40 years ago. The thing is that if you look at what went on at the time, the accusations and bun fights were pretty much the same as they are now. The Labour Party have always had reds-under-the-bed accusations. Labour politicians have always been regarded as dangerous creatures by the establishment. That is until they can be bought off with cushy tax free EU jobs, or they’re dead and everyone discovers that they were really statesmen and women, and so people the present generation can be compared unfavourably too.

    @ Mick Taylor,

    You’ve still not answered by point about possible antisemitism in the Lib Dems re the John Kelly article. Is it or isn’t it?

    I seem to remember Peter Hain was an anti-apartheid South African who was, at one time, welcomed in the Lib Dems. Would he have been welcome if he was pro-regime and pro-apartheid? I don’t think so. You wouldn’t have said that you couldn’t exclude him because you couldn’t be seen to be anti South African people.

  • Mick Taylor 12th Feb ’19 – 12:37pm………………Ed Miliband, like me, is ethnically Jewish. He’s never been religious and he’s never made being Jewish an issue. Neither do I. I am religious, but I’m a Quaker.
    So my take on this is that it’s OK to be Jewish in the Labour Party, but not OK to be Jewish and side with Israel………………….

    I’d say the opposite. Have we all forgotten Maureen Lipman’s tirade (very personal; very nasty) against Ed Milliband. His offence? daring to suggest recognising Palestine as a nation.
    Mrs Lipman said his support for a motion recognising the state of Palestine “sucks” at a time of rising anti-Semitism in Europe.Should we consider that, in view of the fact that Palestine is almost exclusively Islamic, her statement was anti Moslem?
    There is a deliberate and well orchestrated policy of blurring the lines between anti-Semitism ( which in my opinion should start, and stop, at hating a person for the sole reason of being Jewish) and being critical of Israel’s policies.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Feb '19 - 2:36pm

    Above is a level of ignorance and guesswork from those not experienced in or aware of a very insidious problem.

    To start, the comments of Peter Martin are based on a view of the left set in a bygone era.

    The antisemitism that is seen now is firstly due to obsession by the farther let, with Israel.

    Mick Taylor, as usual, is shedding light. If you go too far with anti Israel, you get to anti Zionism, go too far , you get to anti semitism.

    We see much comment in language , combining all of these on the farther left that is awful.

    To single out he only Jewish based state , above all others, to do so with language used today, is in itself antisemitic often in tone and expression.

    I disagree often with the tone and viewpoint of John Kelly, and the Friends of Palestine in this party. To even imply that any of his articles here are antisemitic is a non starter, they are not. He does not stray into language that refers to Jews, but to Israel. So many do not have that nuance and approach.

    Berger is the victim of targeted abuse, some of it is based on her being Jewish.

    Do the research into these issues. The language on the far left is equating Jewishness with banking, money, capitalism, power, it is actually the very beginning stage of the very antisemitic attitudes Peter Martin above says are not there now.

    If you put in the hours and cared to , as have I and as do many, what you find is troubling.

  • David Warren 12th Feb '19 - 2:40pm

    @PeterMartin

    I don’t believe that Labour was ever marvellous. I do however know that the tolerance of far left elements who do not believe in parliamentary democracy is a relatively recent phenomenon.

    In the 1960s when their youth section was taken over by the Trotskyist Socialist Labour League action was taken to kick them out overseen by a certain Tony Benn.

    In the 1980s when Militant had performed a similar feat it was Michael Foot who initiated action.

    The point being that Benn and Foot were democratic socialists.

    In contrast the current leader surrounds himself with Marxist advisers and tolerates the entryist groups that are once again active within Labour.

    Apparently the Militant leaderships nickname for Benn was Kerensky clearly a reference to his belief in parliamentary democracy.

    I wonder what they call Corbyn?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Feb '19 - 2:48pm

    expats, your complacency as ever on these issues, continues, with a daft allusion to that fabulous actress, Maureen Lipman.

    She did not use personal qualities against Arab or other ethnic Muslims, did not imply or criticise, Muslims, did not say one thing against the qualities or views of Palestinians, she did not put the view that Ed illiband should leave the leadership, or the party, did not accuse anyone, Jewish or Muslim, of any particular quality or view based on their religion, or lack of it, or their origin, she did nothing but say because she believes Israel to be under threat from all sides, despite her not liking Likud, that to give official reaction to the Palestinian cause , with recognition of Palestine as a state, while run by Hamas, is wrong. That she expressed it in language that was far from gracious, contained no racist or other stereotypical surs and is as not worth bothering as the many excuses some use for a problem that is causing some in the Jewish communities of Europe to fell real fear.

    Read the views of Melenchon in France, no less worrying than those of Marine Le Pen, sometimes.

    There is an issue, do not pretend there isn’t.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Feb ’19 – 2:48pm……………..expats, your complacency as ever on these issues, continues, with a daft allusion to that fabulous actress, Maureen Lipman……..
    If denying the right of Israel to exist is anti-semitic why is denying the same right to Palestine different? As for Maureen Lipman being a fabulous actress; what has that to do with anything?
    As for my being complacent, may I suggest you read my post on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Feb '19 - 3:57pm

    expats

    A very measured response

    Maureen Lipman made it clear in the statement, she wants a Palestinian state yet cannot, nor does she want us, as a country to, recognise one, as long as Hamas, with no defined requested borders but with a completely antisemitic attitude, prevail.

    Her being a fabulous actress, my adding that, was meant to be , as a description of her great strength, in a sense, not as someone whose position is of power or great weight in pubic policy.

    I do not imply you are complacent on antisemitism in wider society, merely very on the Labour party on that and more. I read your comments . I contributed at the start of the Holocaust thread. I liked your comments when I saw them on a return visit. They were very welcome and poignant.

  • marcstevens 12th Feb '19 - 5:12pm

    Gosh nearly 700 allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, it must be riddled with it. When I heard racist chanting at a football match, the club I support dealt with it and expelled those responsible. What does the Labour party do, these people still remain in situ on various committees up and down the country. Much of the abuse appears to be targeted on the individual’s faith and gender, stereotyping on money and comments like ‘Hitler should have finished the job off’ on social media. Margaret Hodge herself has no confidence in the way Corbyn is dealing with it as your party does not have robust and effective procedures. Just like those of us who vote for or support other centre left parties in the Union movement are being marginalised, so are people of Jewish faith in your Labour party.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Feb ’19 – 3:57pm…………expats…………..I do not imply you are complacent on antisemitism in wider society, merely very on the Labour party on that and more. I read your comments . I contributed at the start of the Holocaust thread. I liked your comments when I saw them on a return visit. They were very welcome and poignant……….

    Thank you for the opening part of your first sentence.

    On the second part, we differ because although statistics show that anti-semitism among Labour supporters is on a par with the LibDem party (and far less prevalent than among those who vote Tory) it seems from the media, and often on here, that ONLY Labour have a problem.

    I’m pleased to agree, unconditionally, with you on the horrors of the holocaust..

    Perhaps we should just agree to differ on this thread?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Feb '19 - 6:22pm

    expats

    We agree on much including how to disagree. You write in a very appropriate tone therefore on this here.

    I make this point regularly. The polls you allude to are old now and are about supporters merely, not members. They show the lowest antisemitism is amongst Liberal Democrat voters, just a few more antisemitic, Labour, a few more, Tory voters.

    This has nothing to do with members. The influx of such farther left members into the Labour membership has more than altered these as worth referring to as evidence.

    Anyone here , me, David in the article, yourself also, surely must realise, there is a type of odd and obsessed anti capitalism , and anti Israel amongst older ex Communist circa Stalin 1930s adherence, that looks for people to blame.

    Look at the twitter site Labour against anti semitism, or Jewish voice for Labour watch, read Rachel Riley too, or what is felt by the Haaretz paper, they , all not biased against the centre left, but aware of the horrible attitudes amongst some far left.

  • Mick Taylor 12th Feb '19 - 7:44pm

    Just for the record, I do not believe John Kelly is anti-semitic There is an unwelcome trend to attack anyone in disagreement with the state of Israel and its Likud-led government as anti-semitic and the Lib Dems are not exempt from this criticism.
    The one thing I know for certain in the unhappy Middle East saga is that words matter and poor use of language esp on twitter, causes offence and leads to misunderstanding. We have seen what happens when people use ‘Jews’ as shorthand for the state of Israel and that is not a precedent we Lib Dems should follow.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 12th Feb ’19 – 6:22pm…….expats………I make this point regularly. The polls you allude to are old now and are about supporters merely, not members. They show the lowest antisemitism is amongst Liberal Democrat voters, just a few more antisemitic, Labour, a few more, Tory voters……………………

    Bit they are not old polls. I refer you to the 2017 anti-semitic barometer blog.

    ……This has nothing to do with members. The influx of such farther left members into the Labour membership has more than altered these as worth referring to as evidence……

    So,you are stating that farther left members were not Labour supporters prior to Corbyn who was elected in 2015 so these hard lefties would have joined before 2017; rather a flawed argument don’t you think?

    BTW…Even if the 675? complaints about anti-semitism were all correct that would still be about 0.1% of the membership. Any such case is one too many but hardly an indication of a party “riddled with it”

  • expats Peter Martin also

    That is my point, read that poll, fair enough, by old I refer to , not the latest information as nearly a couple of years ago when they did it, it was supporters not members.

    Expats, you are entirely on the right track, many of the antisemitic members are not recent Labour voters, indeed much is written, that shows many voted for parties to the left, SWP, Communist, Left Unity, Respect, even Green, rather than the Blairite party of twenty years previous.

    We cannot say a tiny percent is little, as there may be hundreds more, if you notice there investigations are not well staffed, numbers are not the factor to worry on, the fact it happens and this is heard at all is terrible.

  • Peter Martin 13th Feb '19 - 8:20am

    I’d agree with Paul Taylor that we should distinguish between anti- jewishness and anti-Zionism. However a strict interpretation of the IHRA can make that difficult.

    No-one saying that the Labour Party, as defined by every single one of its 500k + individual members, has ever strayed over the boundary. If they do they should be dealt with. However there are lots of false allegations about. I haven’t seen anyone say John Kelly is anti-semitic on this blog, but I’m pretty sure Luciana Berger, herself, wouldn’t hesitate to use that description. This is a problem for anyone wanting to make a valid criticism of the Israeli state.

    Jeremy Corbyn himself has often been accused of anti-semitism? But what has he actually said? Can anyone give an example of just what is being complained about?

  • Peter Martin 13th Feb '19 - 8:33am

    @ David Warren,

    “The point being that Benn and Foot were democratic socialists.”

    Yes that’s what people say now! Even those on the right who would, at one time, probably have had them shot for treason, have started to copy their arguments about the lack of democracy in the EU and say kind things about them!

  • Jayne Mansfield 13th Feb '19 - 12:17pm

    I believe that individuals who are subject to racist or anti-semitic abuse know when they are being targeted with this form of abuse.

    In the past, the abuse was overt, now it is more subtle, and doubly damaging to the person. The old ways of dismissing the victim as over-sensitive or just plain wrong were couched in arguments about ‘it’s just banter’, ‘it’s a term of endearment’, it’s not your race etc.etc.

    There are now new ways of codifying racism, and one is the use ( by some individuals, not all) of anti-Zionism as cover for race hatred.

    I believe that the victim knows the difference between Jew hatred and anti-Zionism and when the perpetrators then try to undermine the victim’s awareness of what they are experiencing, it adds another layer of cruelty.

    I don’t think individual Jews who are subject to one or the other, need any lessons in how to distinguish between the two.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 13th Feb '19 - 12:43pm

    Jayne

    This is the most eloquent and appropriate comment I have read here in a while.

    It is why, unlike the direction you have travelled in your vote or views, I cannot support the Labour party I was in as a youth and younger man.

    I believe from much research and experience, there are some there, on the farther left, who do exactly what your fine piece speaks very importantly against.

  • David Warren 13th Feb '19 - 2:16pm

    @PeterMartin

    I think you are missing the point I was making which is that Foot and Benn were distinctly different from Corbyn et al.

    Foot as Labour leader was someone who sought to lead his party by consensus and had a shadow cabinet which included a lot of people from the right of the party. Something Comrade Jeremy has so far failed to achieve.

  • Peter Martin 14th Feb '19 - 9:26am

    @ Jayne,

    I think its fair to say we’ve all struggled with knowing where to draw the line between anti-Semitism, which we all agree is unacceptable, and anti Zionism which most of us think is acceptable providing it is expressed in the correct manner.

    So your solution, if I understand you correctly, is to say its always anti-semitism if the person concerned says it is. And that person is always a ‘victim’ if they say they are?

    Good Luck with welcoming Luciana Berger into your party then. She finds anti-semitism wherever she goes. If she says John Kelly is being anti-semitic, you’ll just have to accept he is. John won’t have a defence.

  • Neil Sandison 14th Feb '19 - 10:43am

    The real problem here is the politics of polarization .People misusing the freedom and right to or of free speech to convert it into a freedom to hate and destroy others civil liberties and freedoms through the intolerance and power of the mob .Liberalism should be about defending minority interests and ensuring you are not shouted down or silenced by fear or intimidated by that most dangerous tool against democracy ” group think without discourse” .Its not about curtailing robust debate but it must be done with respect for the individual or community .The right wing are equally as bad as the hard left so lets challenge the intolerant and the those who justify their hatred by use of a “catch all “like religion or culture ,social classor gender .

  • Neil Sandison 14th Feb '19 - 10:44am

    The real problem here is the politics of polarization .People misusing the freedom and right to or of free speech to convert it into a freedom to hate and destroy others civil liberties and freedoms through the intolerance and power of the mob .Liberalism should be about defending minority interests and ensuring you are not shouted down or silenced by fear or intimidated by that most dangerous tool against democracy ” group think without discourse” .Its not about curtailing robust debate but it must be done with respect for the individual or community .The right wing are equally as bad as the hard left so lets challenge the intolerant and the those who justify their hatred by use of a “catch all “like religion or culture ,social class or gender .

  • Jayne Mansfield 14th Feb '19 - 6:26pm

    @ Peter Martin,

    I have supported the Labour Party since the 2015 election and have no plans, from what I have read on here, to become a Liberal Democrat supporter in the near future.

    Yes I do believe that a person knows when the reason that they are being undermined is because of their ‘race’.

    What I don’t agree, is that the Labour Party is likely to have more racists than other parties, and I believe it probably has considerably less, which is why I am still prepared to support it.

    This is a frightening time for Jewish people, as it is for any other demographic group that feels insecure in the face of a rise of the populist Right, and I find the attempt to smear the Labour Party as riddled with antisemitism , and those who have fought racism all their lives and would do so again, contemptible for that reason.

    If I was writing to to support Luciana Berger, I would do so in a private letter, not an open one on a rival political website.

  • Mick Taylor 16th Feb '19 - 9:57pm

    I do really tire of Peter Martin’s continuing attempts to insist we must do this or that. As a Liberal I could never define someone as anti-semitic on someone else’s say so. Furthermore, I understand clearly the difference between being against the actions of the government of Israel and being anti Jewish. To be against the current Israeli government is not anti-semitic. I can support the continued existence of the state of Israel whilst opposing many of the policies of its current government. I can also support the existence of a Palestinian State, deplore the actions of the Israeli government in attacking and undermining that state and equally deplore the actions of the government of Palestine in firing rockets into Israel regardless of the consequences. None of that makes me anti-semitic because I am opposing certain policies, not attacking Jews or the Jewish religion, nor indeed anti Islamic by the same logic.
    It really isn’t rocket science and many of the posters on this thread understand it clearly.

  • Peter Martin 17th Feb '19 - 8:44am

    @ Mick Taylor,

    I agree with your recent comment. Apart from the first sentence! I’m not quite sure how that fits in.

    “To be against the current Israeli government is not anti-semitic.”

    Spot on. The irony is that the very people David Warren is keen to smear with the broadbrush of anti-semitism will be, for all their supposed faults, the first to put their lives on the line if the real anti-semites, dressed in brown shirts, ever get into a position of wanting to round up the country’s Jewish population.

    I’m sure Luciana Berger must know that herself too.

  • Alex Macfie 17th Feb '19 - 2:38pm

    Peter Martin: I think Mick’s point when saying that “To be against the current Israeli government is not anti-semitic,” is that it’s *possible* to criticise the current Israeli government without being anti-semitic. And what this means is that the actions of the current Israeli government should not be used as an excuse to be anti-semitic or to tolerate anti-semitism. And it means that we should be able to call out anti-semitism without being accused of defending the current Israeli government. The corollary of “To be against the current Israeli government is not anti-semitic,” is “To be against anti-semitism is not to support the current Israeli government.”
    Also you say there are “two sides to argument, re Israel and Palestine.” I disagree. The reduction to a binary discussion in which you have to be either an uncritical supporter of whatever the Israeli government does, or an uncritical supporter of whatever the Palestinian government and Palestinian groups do, is itself part of the problem. And anyone who criticises one side is automatically assumed to be on the other. Well I reject that assumption, and I do not take either side. There is a third side, which is to reject the extremism and violence by both Israel and Palestine, and to support liberals and moderates in both camps — the people who just want to get on with their lives and stick two fingers up at the extremists.

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