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Labour and AntiSemitism

In view of accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party. I thought it appropriate to draw attention to a finding of the 10th report (HC136) of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Published on 13 October 2016, on ‘Antisemitism in the UK’. available at:
In the detail of the report the committee had to acknowledge that there is no evidence that Labout is any more antisemitic than any other party – see below for detail.
“Other political activity
Despite significant press and public attention on the Labour Party, and a number of
revelations regarding inappropriate social media content, there exists no reliable, empirical
evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes
within the Labour Party than any other political party. We are unaware whether efforts
to identify antisemitic social media content within the Labour Party were applied equally
to members and activists from other political parties, and we are not aware of any polls
exploring antisemitic attitudes among political party members, either within or outside
the Labour Party. The current impression of a heightened prevalence of antisemitism
within in the Labour Party is clearly a serious problem, but we would wish to emphasise
that this is also a challenge for other parties.
A representative YouGov poll carried out in May 2016 found that Labour voters were
no more likely than voters from other parties to express antisemitic attitudes, with UKIP
voters demonstrating the highest levels of antisemitism.
As outlined earlier in this
report, a survey of British Jewish people found that almost half of respondents felt that the
Green Party is too tolerant of antisemitism (compared with 87% in relation to the Labour
Party), 43% think the same of UKIP, 40% of the SNP, and over a third in relation to the
Liberal Democrats.
Other political parties have not been immune to accusations of antisemitism, albeit
apparently with a smaller number of reported incidents, and with a lower profile. In April
2015, a Conservative candidate for Derby Council was expelled from her Party after she
said she would never support “the Jew” Ed Miliband.
In August 2014, the University
College London (UCL) Union investigated the university’s Conservative Society after it was
accused of creating a “toxic environment”, with one member reported to have said “Jews
own everything, we all know it’s true. I wish I was Jewish, but my nose isn’t long enough”.
Media reports suggest that the incident was never investigated by the Conservative Party,
but it is unclear whether it was ever referred to the Party, and questions have subsequently
been raised about the veracity of the complaint.
A former Conservative Councillor who defected to the Liberal Democrats after losing
his seat, Matthew Gordon Banks, was suspended from his new Party in September after
writing on Twitter that “[Tim] Farron’s leadership campaign was organised and funded by
London Jews”, adding in a second tweet: “I tried to work with them. Very difficult.”


There is a very powerful Jewish lobby that insists that any criticism of Israel is antisemitic, although this lobby does not represent all Jews either inside or outside Israel.

Antisemitism in the UK

In view of accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party. I thought it appropriate to draw attention to a key finding of the 10th report (HC136) of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Published on 13 October 2016, on ‘Antisemitism in the UK’. available at:

I quote the first part of the conclusions below but note para 3:

  • It is not antisemitic to criticise the Government of Israel, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.
  • It is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent. (Paragraph 24)

This is vitally important because of those ‘Political Jews’ who claim that all criticism of the government of Israel is antisemitism. Readers are recommended to read Gilad Atzmon’s book, ‘The Wandering Who’. Gilad comes from a Jewish family who have been living in Israel/Palestine for generations (since before the Balfour Declaration I think).

“Conclusions and recommendations

Defining antisemitism

1.The Macpherson definition that, for recording purposes, a racist incident is one “perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person” is a good working definition, which provides a strong basis for investigation. As such, the perceptions of Jewish people—both collectively and individually, as an alleged victim—should be the starting point of any investigation into antisemitism. However, for an incident to be found to be antisemitic, or for a perpetrator to be prosecuted for a criminal offence that was motivated or aggravated by antisemitism, requires more than just the victim’s perception that it was antisemitic. It also requires evidence, and it requires that someone other than the victim makes an objective interpretation of that evidence. The difficulty of making such a determination in the face of conflicting interpretations underlines the importance of establishing an agreed definition of antisemitism. (Paragraph 22)

2.It is clear that where criticism of the Israeli Government is concerned, context is vital. Israel is an ally of the UK Government and is generally regarded as a liberal democracy, in which the actions of the Government are openly debated and critiqued by its citizens. Campaigners for Palestinian rights have informed us that they would expect similar standards of conduct from the Israeli Government as they would demand from the UK Government. It is important that non-Israelis with knowledge and understanding of the region should not be excluded from criticising the Israeli Government, in common with the many citizens of Israel who are amongst its strongest critics, including human rights organisations in that country. (Paragraph 23)

3.We broadly accept the IHRA definition, but propose two additional clarifications to ensure that freedom of speech is maintained in the context of discourse about Israel and Palestine, without allowing antisemitism to permeate any debate. The definition should include the following statements:

  • It is not antisemitic to criticise the Government of Israel, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.
  • It is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent. (Paragraph 24)

4.We recommend that the IHRA definition, with our additional caveats, should be formally adopted by the UK Government, law enforcement agencies and all political parties, to assist them in determining whether or not an incident or discourse can be regarded as antisemitic. (Paragraph 25)

5.‘Zionism’ as a concept remains a valid topic for academic and political debate, both within and outside Israel. The word ‘Zionist’ (or worse, ‘Zio’) as a term of abuse, however, has no place in a civilised society. It has been tarnished by its repeated use in antisemitic and aggressive contexts. Antisemites frequently use the word ‘Zionist’ when they are in fact referring to Jews, whether in Israel or elsewhere. Those claiming to be “anti-Zionist, not antisemitic”, should do so in the knowledge that 59% of British Jewish people consider themselves to be Zionists. If these individuals genuinely mean only to criticise the policies of the Government of Israel, and have no intention to offend British Jewish people, they should criticise “the Israeli Government”, and not “Zionists”. For the purposes of criminal or disciplinary investigations, use of the words ‘Zionist’ or ‘Zio’ in an accusatory or abusive context should be considered inflammatory and potentially antisemitic. This should be communicated by the Government and political parties to those responsible for determining whether or not an incident should be regarded as antisemitic. (Paragraph 32)”

Towards the One Party State: Where Orwell Got it Wrong

We are in a situation where a Conservative majority in 2020, and perhaps thereafter, seems inevitable  This is ably argued by retired bishop Colin Buchanan in the Church Times, October 7th, but also reproduced at According to his analysis this is down to the  Conservatives’ reliance on, and ruthless exploitation of, the defects in our first past the post voting system. Even if Corbyn unites the Labour Party, no feasible increase in the Labour vote could change the result. Labour cannot wholly escape blame for this; up to now most Labour MPs have supported first past the post because it helped to get them elected.

So we are to be ruled by a party who attracted just 37% of the popular vote in 2015 (and a much smaller % of those who could have voted), which has so far hopelessly mismanaged the Brexit issue, and whose attachment to fracking threatens massive environmental degradation.

If this situation persists what can we expect? Continued ‘austerity’, steadily increasing hardship for the poor and disadvantaged, steady erosion of the NHS, steady erosion of pensions, continued housing shortage leading to continued unaffordability of decent housing, steadily increasing personal debt, steady erosion of middle class life style…, and to dwarf all these the effects of runaway climate change.

In some ways this parallels the socialist dystopia portrayed in Orwell’s, ‘1984’:

  • The attachment of the elite to power for its own sake,
  • The control by the elite of the perception of reality,
  • The steadily worsening situation of the vast majority of the people,
  • The deliberate waste of resources through endless war,
  • The replacement of a system of justice by the arbitrary use of state power, and
  • Fostering of hate as a means of subjection.

Orwell imagined a world system that originated in cataclysmic events including nuclear war (though the details are not spelt out). Reality was controlled by the vast bureaucracy of ‘minitruth’, which constantly revised history and refined ‘newspeak’ (which made many concepts impossible to communicate). Independent thought (‘Crimethink’) led to you being ‘disappeared’.

He ignored two things (perhaps deliberately for dramatic effect):

  • The way that unrestrained capitalism concentrates wealth and hence power. Something which was clearly spelt out in 1917 (way before Thomas Picketty), by G.K.Chesterton in his book, ‘Utopia of Usurers’ [note 1], and
  • How propaganda can ‘tame’ democracy, not by censorship, but simply burying the truth in lies, omissions and trivia. This had been clearly spelt out by Edward Bernays in (for example) his book ‘Propaganda’, 1928.

The capitalist dystopia has evolved largely unnoticed until recently. It could be countered by a strong democracy which truly represented an informed population. Two of the necessary conditions for this are:

  • A voting system which not only gives fair shares to parties but also represents the various interests and concerns of voters, and
  • A free and diverse media, independent of wealthy proprietors and advertisers.

In Britain today there seems little hope of achieving either. Sadly the BBC is one of the culprits. It does not have to lie; merely selects what is reported and fails to challenge what the powerful say. There is a faint glimmer of hope in that elites sometimes make mistakes. If the government tinkers with the BBC it could destroy all trust and get people to explore alternatives.


Note 1: “Now I have said again and again (and I shall continue to say again and again on all the most inappropriate occasions) that we must hit Capitalism, and hit it hard, for the plain and definite reason that it is growing stronger. Most of the excuses which serve the capitalists as masks are, of course, the excuses of hypocrites. They lie when they claim philanthropy; they no more feel any particular love of men than Albu felt an affection for Chinamen. They lie when they say they have reached their position through their own organising ability. They generally have to pay men to organise the mine, exactly as they pay men to go down it. They often lie about the present wealth, as they generally lie about their past poverty. But when they say that they are going in for a “constructive social policy,” they do not lie. They really are going in for a constructive social policy. And we must go in for an equally destructive social policy; and destroy, while it is still half-constructed, the accursed thing which they construct.” (Summary from Gilbert Keith Chesterton, d. 1936)

Will the next President be Impeached? The case for Instant Run Off Voting

Assuming Brexit happens, Britain really needs to worry about its relationship with the USA. Neither of the presidential candidates inspires confidence.

On the one hand we have Donald Trump who says what he thinks voters want to hear, (see ). He has criminal associates and is a  P T Barnum. He has some crazy (somewhat isolationist) ideas, but would have no real prospect of realising any of them. He has no clue about how government works.

On the other hand we have Clinton who thinks about nothing but Clinton. To maintain the support of the arms lobby she is a war monger, and is also a general sleazeball. She understands the system and could lead us into WW3.

It seems to me that the Republicans have plenty of motive to impeach whichever of them becomes president – Clinton because she is dangerous and is a Democrat – Trump because he would be a lame duck president and would bring the Grand Old Party into disrepute. As for the grounds for impeachment, they both have skeletons in their cupboard.

Either way we cannot expect much positive leadership from the USA in the next four years.

As in Britain our first past the post voting system does not work for the people. If there had been Instant Run Off Voting, Bernie Sanders could have stood as an independent rather than feeling he had to support Clinton. On the Republican side too there would surely have been better candidates. Even Green candidate  Jill Stein would have attracted the support she deserves.

Please comment on the Boundaries Commission Report

Please comment on the report of the Boundaries Commission for England initial proposals. You have until 5th December. They are clearly asking for you to comment on how their proposals affect your local area but you can make a general comment. I have said:

“The parameters set for you by the government make it virtually impossible to overturn the Conservative majority in 2020, see for example So I find it pointless to comment on the detail. If the Commission had any sense of honour you would resign en bloc. Britain can no longer pretend it is a democracy.”

I should have put in an explicit plug for voting reform.

Be wary of buying a financial product from the Post Office

It is very easy for the financially unsophisticated, or the slightly careless, to think that the Post Office is safe. You would not get cheated or misled. Not so in my opinion.

Products offered by the Post Office are provided by someone else – normally a bank. Post Office Counter staff can not be expected to advise you whether a product is right for you.

An example is the Post Office Travel Money card which is a prepaid debit card denominated in the currency of the country you are visiting. As such it is not accepted by everyone who would accept a normal debit or credit card – airlines and passport offices are examples of organisation who will not accept payment by the Travel Money Card. It has some advantages over taking a lot of foreign cash with you, but shares some of the same risks. The circumstances under which it is better than simply using your normal debit and/or credit cards are extremely limited.

Another example concerns a savings account which, according to the terms and conditions, could not be operated by an attorney under and Lasting Power of Attorney. Fortunately I spotted this in time and we did not open such an account. In fact it was due to the bank’s ignorance of the difference between lasting Powers of Attorney and Enduring powers. I like to think that they have since resolved the problem, but that would have been of little consolation to a carer finding that her mother’s (say) funds are locked up for maybe six months.

Never buy such a product over the counter; take away the leaflets and get advice.

Voting Reform IS Possible

Many of those who would like to reform our ‘first past the post’ voting system will not fight for it because they think that it simply will not happen. They see that most MPs who have benefited from the existing system will not entertainment the ideas of reform. They despair of any real change in the way politics is done in this country. Consciously or unconsciously they accept that rising inequality, ‘austerity’, and environmental degradation are irreversible.

They forget however that both major parties are in disarray. Taking Labour first, although Jeremy Corbyn has been reelected and he stands for a better future, many in the party will not believe that voters can be convinced. Moreover the mainstream media (including the BBC) will simply not take the possibility of change for the better seriously. They will not see that ‘business as usual’ is simply not an option going forward.

At the moment Theresa May is holding the government together. In doing so she is having to pursue Brexit, something she does not believe in, and she is constantly having to slap down those who are supposed to be in charge of the preparations. In a sense, until Article 50 is invoked we are in a ‘phony war’. When that happens things are likely to fall apart. Many Conservative voters will at last realise that their loyalty is misplaced. They will defect to UKIP and perhaps other parties.

It should be remembered that modest swings in votes can sometimes produce dramatic changes in the make up of the Commons. If a party whose support is evenly spread goegraphically attracts less than 30% of the popular vote, first past the post treats such a party very badly as happened to the SDP/Liberal Alliance in 1983. If however the Alliance had retained the vote share it had before the Falklands campaign, simulations indicate it would have won an absolute majority. If the Conservatives cock up Brexit, who knows what will happen.

This is a time of great uncertainty; there is no guarantee we will win voting reform, but we should try.