Posts Tagged ‘Ken Livingstone’
This Blog has not so far commented on the Livingstone affair.
We stand by Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement.
Jeremy Corbyn statement on Ken Livingstone’s suspension
Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party said:
“Ken Livingstone’s comments have been grossly insensitive, and he has caused deep offence and hurt to the Jewish community.
“Labour’s independently elected National Constitutional Committee has found Ken guilty of bringing the party into disrepute and suspended him for two years.
“It is deeply disappointing that, despite his long record of standing up to racism, Ken has failed to acknowledge or apologise for the hurt he has caused. Many people are understandably upset that he has continued to make offensive remarks which could open him to further disciplinary action.
“Since initiating the disciplinary process, I have not interfered with it and respect the independence of the party’s disciplinary bodies. But Ken’s subsequent comments and actions will now be considered by the National Executive Committee after representations from party members.”
Others have expressed their views well and better than I could.
I do not believe Livingstone is antisemitic. Nor do I believe that right-wing Jews whom the media treats as spokespersons have any right to define what is offensive to all Jews. I respect the integrity of the longstanding socialist and Labour Jewish activists who gave supportive testimony at Livingstone’s hearing, several of whom I know personally. However I do believe that Livingstone deliberately invites controversy and notoriety, that his judgement on these issues is very poor, that he has set back the Palestinian cause by his utterances, and made life more difficult for the embattled left-wing Labour leadership.
I hope that those of us fighting for justice for the Palestinians, fighting racism in all its forms, including antisemitism, and fighting to strengthen Labour’s progressive leadership will reflect on this episode and ensure that we are directing our fire on our enemies in ways that are both principled and effective.
Phil is harder: Ken Livingstone and Anti-Semitism, Again.
Here lies Ken Livingstone. Yes, he has an excellent record as a campaigner against racism. Yes, five Jewish members of the party went to his hearing as character witnesses for the defence, including the sainted Walter Wolfgang. But time and again, when it comes to matters concerning Israel Ken goes straight up to the fine line and dances all along it. Why? The historical record doesn’t support his contention that Hitler supported Zionism before “he went mad”, and Ken knows full well that most Jewish people in Britain find the mentioning of Israel in one breath and the Nazis in the next upsetting and disrespectful. So, again, why? I don’t believe Ken is anti-semitic, but when you’re consistently provocative and unrepentant about it to the extent you damage yourself, the faction of the party you’re aligned with to the point of aiding the leadership’s opponents, and the standing of the Labour Party itself, it’s easy to see why many people aren’t so forgiving.
The National Constitutional Committee therefore were right to find Ken guilty of bringing the party into disrepute but wrong to to give him a slapped wrist. His behaviour should have made the ultimate sanction a foregone conclusion.
In this context,
Galloway’s Tweet is unforgivable.
Fortunately he has now for ever burnt his bridges with the Labour Party.
Livingstone: How Long, How Long, How Very Long He’s Gone.
This Blog has not gone into the details of the rows and distressing state of the Labour Party debate.
Nor has it made it more than generally clear that we support a vote for Jeremy Corbyn, though like many on the long-standing left we are not uncritical.
For the moment I will leave it that this, but something has now happened that calls for some comment.
We would wish that this individual is not a Corbyn supporter.
We would prefer to have nothing whatsoever to do with Livingstone.
We wish he would just shut his gob and go away.
The Daily Mirror has just reported this.
Ken Livingstone took to the airwaves this morning to defend former Labour colleague Keith Vaz today, but ended up in a lengthy defence of his own comments about Hitler.
The former Labour Mayor of London told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire he believed “someone’s private life should remain private.”
He said he didn’t think Mr Vaz paying for sex was a conflict of interest with his role on the Home Affairs select committee.
He said: “I don’t think the fact, if it turns out to be true, that he has paid for sex prevents him from conducting an inquiry into prostitution and the problems of prostitution.
“The problem with prostitution is what happens to the poor prostitutes and not so much their clients.”
Mr Livingstone said in the 40 years he’s been a colleague of Mr Vaz, he never recalled him mentioning sex or drugs.
He added: “Do you judge someone’s political career on the basis of one incident like this, or on the total of four decades. Everyone makes mistakes.”
Host Victoria Derbyshire asked Mr Livingstone about his suspension for “bringing the Labour Party into disrepute”, over comments he made linking Hitler with Zionism.
He replied: “I’m still waiting for the committee to sit down and decide whether what I said was true or not.
“I think they keep putting it off because the simple fact is I’ve got so much evidence that says what I’m saying is true.”
He went on to say that the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem sells pamphlets to tourists about the “deal” Hitler did with the Zionists.
“I’ve got so much evidence,” he insisted.
Mr Livingstone insisted he’d never said Hitler was a Zionist.
“To suggest Hitler was a Zionist is mad,” he said. “He loathed and feared Jews all his life.
But he did do a deal with the Zionist movement in the 1930s, and that led to 66,000 German Jews going to what is now Israel, and escaping the Holocaust.”
He said people should “go on websites”, and cited “dozens and dozens of books” which confirm that Hitler did a “deal” with the Zionist movement throughout the 1930s.
Asked if he was bothered about offending British Jews, he said: “If anyone has been offended by what I said, I’m truly sorry about that.
“But I’ve been struck by the number of people who’ve come up to me on the street and said “I’m Jewish, I know what you said is true. Don’t give in to this bullying.”
Ken Livingstone “really sorry” for “upsetting people” – but defends remarks about Hitler and Zionism. as a “statement of fact”.
Always Pleased with Himself.
Asked if he was sorry, Mr Livingstone said: “I’m sorry to Jeremy and to the Labour Party,” but followed it up with saying, “It wasn’t me that started this.”
Asked if he regretted his comments, he said: “How can I regret stating the truth.”
Offering a rather qualified apology for his remarks, he said: “I’m sorry that I’ve said that because I’ve wasted all this time.” He says he wants the focus to be on the upcoming elections.
Ken Livingstone remained defiant over the Labour anti-Semitism row he fuelled – and used a rape comparison when asked about his suspension from the party.
He said: “If a woman turns up at a police station and says, ‘I’ve been raped’, the police have to investigate that.
“And as I’m on the national executive that oversees those investigations, you understand that person should be suspended.
“Given a lot of Labour MPs are accusing me of being anti-Semitic, that’s really something the party has to investigate.”
Livingstone’s narcissistic ‘politics’ have now reached their terminus.
Anybody wishing to go further into this topic – there is also a rebuttal of Livingstone’s source Brenner on Facebook by Jewish Socialist leaders – should read begin with these contributions:
Timothy Snyder, Yale University history professor and author of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2015) BBC.
It is inconceivable that Hitler could have wanted to move Jews to Israel, because there was no such place in 1932.
Using the word “Israel” when what is meant was “the British mandate of Palestine” has the unfortunate consequence of stripping away the actual historical context and putting the words “Hitler” and “Israel” in the same sentence.
Hitler was not a supporter of Zionism.
He believed, on the contrary, that Zionism was one of many deliberately deceptive labels that Jews placed upon what he believed to be their endless striving for global power and the extermination of the human species.
From Hitler’s point of view, Jews were precisely not normal human beings because they did not care about territory, but cared only about global domination.
“He was supporting Zionism” is categorically false and reveals a total and fundamental misunderstanding of what Hitler’s anti-Semitism was all about.
Tens of thousands of German Jews did emigrate to Palestine before British policy made this all but impossible. And some German officials did take an interest in Zionism. But there was never a German policy to support Zionism or a future Israel.
On the contrary, the German orientation in the Middle East was to support Arab nationalism. The official German policy, enunciated clearly in 1937, was to oppose the creation of a State of Israel.
Before, during and after 1932, Hitler referred to the Jews as a problem for the entire world, not simply for Germany.
When the Holocaust took place, the vast majority of Jews killed were people who lived beyond Germany.
Both in theory and in practice, Hitler’s extermination of Jews was international, applied to millions of people. For this reason as well, it is logically inconceivable that his ideas could ever have been limited to sending German Jews to Palestine.
Well before 1932, in his book Mein Kampf, Hitler had made clear that the Jews were, in his view, a “spiritual pestilence” that had to be removed from the face of the earth in order to rescue the human species, the natural order of the planet, and God’s creation.
It was not clear just how this could be carried out; but there is no sense in which the idea of deporting Jews to Palestine is sufficient to this vision.
Just to cite one passage:
The picture painted by Brenner is one of reactionary Ukrainian pogromists gaining the full collaboration of the Zionists. But the facts are as follows: the Ukrainian nationalists came to power on a socialist and inclusive platform; but the Zionists anticipated pogroms and tried to prevent them, while boycotting the government blamed for the subsequent atrocities. Brenner’s brief treatment of these events is a tissue of distortions and falsehoods.
Brenner is a propagandist, not a historian, and only a fool or a knave would rely on his books.
Again to quote some passages,
The Nazis’ plans for “concentrating” Jews in specific territories, be they Palestine or Madagascar, had nothing whatsoever to do with self-determination. These were expressions of the complete opposite: the use of force to strip Jews of all their rights, property and dignity.
As was proved by the establishment of the General Government in central Poland in October 1939, the Nazis were not in the least concerned that the territories where they intended to “concentrate” Jews were in a position to help their populations sustain themselves. They were looking for dumping grounds for Jews and other “undesirables”. These people were at best treated as ‘assets’ to exploit or, later, a stock of slave labour, and at worst simply expected to die of disease and starvation.
Any claim that Nazis and Zionists ever shared a common goal is not only cynical and disingenuous, but a distortion of clearly established historical fact.
We wonder how Livingstone – not to mention others, such as George Galloway, square up to this (Wikipedia):
From late 1944, Joseph Stalin adopted a pro-Zionist foreign policy, apparently believing that the new country would be socialist and would speed the decline of British influence in the Middle East. Accordingly, in November 1947, the Soviet Union, together with the other Soviet bloc countries voted in favour of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine,[which paved the way for the creation of the State of Israel. On May 17, 1948, three days after Israel declared its independence, the Soviet Union officially granted de jure recognition of Israel, becoming only the second country to recognise the Jewish state (preceded only by the United States’ de facto recognition) and the first country to grant Israel de jure recognition.
Golda Meir was appointed Israel’s minister plenipotentiary to the Soviet Union, with her term beginning on 2 September 1948 and ending in March, 1949. During her brief stint in the USSR, Meir attended Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at the Moscow Choral Synagogue.
In addition to the diplomatic support, arms from Czechoslovakia, part of the Soviet bloc, were crucial to Israel in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. During the war, the Soviet Union supported Israel when it was attacked by Arab countries that opposed the 1947 United Nations General Assembly resolution for the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state.
Detailed articles. The forgotten alliance. The establishment of Israel owes much to the Soviet Union and the wide range of support — diplomatic, demographic and military — it offered the young state. Michel Réal. (Quand l’Union soviétique parrainait Israël. Michel Réal . Le Monde Diplomatique September 2014.) Aux origines du soutien soviétique à Israël. Gabriel Gorodetsky. le Monde Diplomatique February 2016.
Livingstone: “when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel.”
27 April 2016
Earlier today, JLM National Chair Jeremy Newmark made the following statement about events following the revelation that Naz Shah MP had posted antisemitic statements on Facebook some time before her election as an MP:
“Naz Shah is a politician who is clearly on a political journey, from a Respect firebrand in the choppy waters of local Bradford politics to the Labour Party. She courageously stood up to George Galloway’s bigotry at the General Election. However, her historic remarks and posting were repugnant and completely unacceptable.
Her contrition expressed over the past day seems to be genuine and sincere. This is part of that journey. We are optimistic that she will now take steps to deepen her understanding of Jewish identity. We do not ask or expect her to mute her criticism of the actions and policies of the Israeli government. We do ask and expect her to build upon her apology and contrition with a programme of education and action that includes standing up to anti-Semitism on the left and within the Palestine Solidarity Movement.”
Shortly after this statement was released it was announced that Shah had been suspended. Jeremy Newmark commented:
“The suspension of Naz Shah by the Labour Party is fair and consistent. I hope it will provide the context for a programme of education as we, at JLM, have set out.”
Jim comments on Shiraz Socialist.
It was right and also inevitable that Naz Shah was suspended from the Labour Party following the revelation of anti-Semitic Facebook posts suggesting that Israel should be “relocated to the US” and likening Zionism to al-Qaida (made, incidentally, before she was an MP).
In her defence it should be noted that (1) she made an immediate and unequivocal apology, with no attempt to claim that this was just “anti-Zionism” and (2) she has been brought up in a political culture in which saying offensive things about Jews, Israel and Zionism is considered acceptable and in which many people don’t even recognise that anti-Semitism is much of a problem: check out Ken Livingstone’s reaction, for instance.
(More on site…)
I note in passing that the Facebook post – which Shah did not create – was shared by many people, that it was one of many virulent posts circulating during the Israeli military actions against Gaza.
I, like many, opposed these armed repressive actions, and said so.
If some people got caught up in their emotions and have since, as Shah has, thought through her politics on a democratic basis then all credit to them, and to her.
This response does not help (Politics Home).
Speaking to BBC Radio London, Labour NEC member Ken Livingstone accused the “Israel lobby” of a campaign to smear its critics as anti-Semites, after Labour MP Naz Shah was suspended for sharing a post calling for Israel to be relocated to the United States.
“She’s a deep critic of Israel and its policies. Her remarks were over the top but she’s not anti-Semitic. I’ve been in the Labour party for 47 years; I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the state of Israel and its abuse of Palestinians but I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic…
“It’s completely over the top but it’s not anti-Semitic. Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews. The simple fact in all of this is that Naz made these comments at a time when there was another brutal Israeli attack on the Palestinians.
“And there’s one stark fact that virtually no one in the British media ever reports, in almost all these conflicts the death toll is usually between 60 and 100 Palestinians killed for every Israeli. Now, any other country doing that would be accused of war crimes but it’s like we have a double standard about the policies of the Israeli government.”
“As I’ve said, I’ve never heard anybody say anything anti-Semitic, but there’s been a very well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticises Israeli policy as anti-Semitic. I had to put up with 35 years of this…
“Let’s look at someone who’s Jewish who actually said something very similar to what Naz has just said. Albert Einstein, when the first leader of Likud, the governing party now in Israel, came to America, he warned American politicians: don’t talk to this man because he’s too similar to the fascists we fought in the Second World War.
“Now, if Naz or myself said that today we would be denounced as anti-Semitic, but that was Albert Einstein.”
He hit back at Lord Levy’s criticism of the leadership’s response to the anti-Semitism storms in Labour.
“After Jeremy became leader I was having a chat with Michael and he said he was very worried because one of his friends who was Jewish had come to him and said ‘the election of Jeremy Corbyn is exactly the same as the first step to the rise of Adolf Hitler to power’.
“Frankly, there’s been an attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his associates as anti-Semitic from the moment he became leader. The simple fact is we have the right to criticise what is one of the most brutal regimes going in the way it treats the Palestinians.”
There are many aspects to this controversy, which has been envenomed by Livingstone’s comments.
One is the claim that some people are deliberately making wild claims about antisemitism on the left which may, as Livingstone alleges, be connected to a broader attack on the socialist left.
This indeed happens and could be seen on Newsnight yesterday.
Lady Neuberger claimed the issue in Labour was “attached to Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader”, and “an issue within the hard left”.
A measure of how wide Neuberger was prepared to extend her net was that she included ‘Militant’, that is the Socialist Party in the charge.
This is a good illustration of just twisted the debate has become.
The Socialist Party has been both an opponent of boycotting Israel and a supporter of the right of the Jewish people to their own state (Boycotts of Israel: Will they help the Palestinians?)
Israeli Jewish workers are also inevitably alarmed when some of the staunchest advocates of boycott action in Britain and elsewhere, such as the SWP, have a record of opposing the right of the Jewish people to their own state. Whereas in the case of South Africa, a majority of black workers there supported international sanctions against the ruling white elite, Israeli workers are not in agreement with sanctions against Israel.
A boycott under these conditions is a mistake, and a gift to the Israeli right.
The Palestinians and the Israeli Jews have a right to their own separate states. But achieving such states, with lasting, peaceful co-existence and decent living standards, will be unviable on a capitalist basis.
The only way that will be possible, will be on the basis of Israeli workers building the workers’ movement in Israel to challenge the power, profit and prestige of the Israeli capitalist class, and of Palestinian workers also building their own united movement.
I would say that the Socialist Party reflects what is in fact the mainstream left position of the issue, although one can be, to say the least, sceptical about the possibility of socialist states in the region.
If many of us are opposed to the policies of the Israeli government, if we are critical and the structures it is built on, we continue to hold to this two-state position. Equally we have every sympathy for the Palestinians, their plight, and efforts to create their own independent state and society.
Another is the fact that in some quarters of the left, notably those influenced by the ‘anti imperialism of fools’, there is a strain of hatred against ‘Zionism’ which shades into antisemitism.
Livingstone’s remarks about Hitler’s support for Zionism indicates that his claim about never hearing anti-Semitic remarks in the Labour Party disproves the widely-held view that he loves the sound of his own voice.
But everybody else heard him.
In response all I can say is that if that if anybody thinks for one fucking minute that the majority of the left, and the part of it the Tendance belongs to, will ever stop fighting antisemitism and will cease from defending the right of the Jewish people to determine their own future and state, and that they have any sympathy for would-be genociders, they are fucking joking.
from the Jewish Socialists’ Group
Antisemitism exists and must be exposed and fought against in the same way as other forms of racism by all who are concerned with combating racism and fascism.
Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are not the same. Zionism is a political ideology which has always been contested within Jewish life since it emerged in 1897, and it is entirely legitimate for non-Jews as well as Jews to express opinions about it, whether positive or negative. Not all Jews are Zionists. Not all Zionists are Jews.
Criticism of Israeli government policy and Israeli state actions against the Palestinians is not antisemitism. Those who conflate criticism of Israeli policy with antisemitism, whether they are supporters or opponents of Israeli policy, are actually helping the antisemites. We reject any attempt, from whichever quarter, to place legitimate criticism of Israeli policy beyond the Pale.
Accusations of antisemitism are currently being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party with claims that Labour has a “problem” of antisemitism. This is despite Corbyn’s longstanding record of actively opposing fascism and all forms of racism, and being a firm a supporter of the rights of refugees and of human rights globally.
A very small number of such cases seem to be real instances of antisemitism. Others represent genuine criticism of Israeli policy and support for Palestinian rights, but expressed in clumsy and ambiguous language, which may unknowingly cross a line into antisemitism. Further cases are simply forthright expressions of support for Palestinian rights, which condemn Israeli government policy and aspects of Zionist ideology, and have nothing whatsoever to do with antisemitism.
The accusations do not refer to antisemitic actions but usually to comments, often made on social media, long before Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership. Those making the charges now, did not see fit to bring them up at the time, under previous Labour leaders, but are using them now, just before mayoral and local elections, when they believe they can inflict most damage on the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn.
The attack is coming from four main sources, who share agendas: to undermine Jeremy Corbyn as leader of Labour; to defend Israeli government policy from attack, however unjust, racist and harmful towards the Palestinian people; and to discredit those who make legitimate criticisms of Israeli policy or Zionism as a political ideology. As anti-racist and anti-fascist Jews who are also campaigning for peace with justice between Israelis and Palestinians, we entirely reject these cynical agendas that are being expressed by:
• The Conservative Party
• Conservative-supporting media in Britain and pro-Zionist Israeli media sources
• Right-wing and pro-Zionist elements claiming to speak on behalf of the Jewish community
• Opponents of Jeremy Corbyn within the Labour party.
The Jewish Socialists’ Group recognises that ordinary Jewish people are rightly concerned and fearful about instances of antisemitism. We share their concerns and a have a proud and consistent record of challenging and campaigning against antisemitism. But we will not support those making false accusations for cynical political motives, including the Conservative Party, who are running a racist campaign against Sadiq Khan, and whose leader David Cameron has referred to desperate refugees, as “a swarm” and “a bunch of migrants”. The Conservative Party demonstrated their contempt for Lord Dubs, a Jewish refugee from Nazism, when they voted down en masse an amendment a few days ago to allow 3,000 child refugees into Britain while Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn, gave total support to Lord Dubs and his amendment.
The Jewish Socialists’ Group sees the current fearmongering about antisemitism in the Labour Party for what it is – a conscious and concerted effort by right-wing political forces to undermine the growing support among Jews and non-Jews alike for the Labour Party leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and a measure of the desperation of his opponents.
We stand against antisemitism, against racism and fascism and in support of refugees. We stand for free speech and open debate on Israel, Palestine and Zionism.
While some of the Jewish Socialists’ points about the origins of the present furore are borne out by the facts there remain problems about this statement.
Apart from underestimating the growth of overt antisemitism, not just from stray comments but from full-blown Ant-Semites of the type described by Sartre in Réflexions sur la question juive, this downplays the extent to which by denying the right of Israel to exist at all – and thus of the Jewish people where large numbers wish to – has a coherence within the framework of the ‘anti-imperialism of fools’.
Support for the view that Socialist Fight’s claims about a ‘pan-national Jewish bourgeoisie’ at the heart of world-wide Zionism, may seem a lunatic fringe affair.
But backing, sometimes unconditional, for the Islamist Hamas – which makes no secret about its hatred of the Jewish population in the Middle East – on ‘anti-imperialist’ grounds is much more widespread.
We note that within the Labour Party and the wider left there are strong critics of these positions, and that John McDonell has been sufficiently concerned to issue a declaration calling for there to be no place for antisemitism in the movement.
This careful and lucid examination of the media-famous incidents ignores the points raised in the previous two paragraphs: Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t got an ‘antisemitism problem’. His opponents do.
Remembering those who gave their lives in Protest at the Invasion of Iraq.
There are two powerful voices pushing people to support bombing Syria.
A couple of days ago Giles Fraser wrote,
War in time for Christmas is David Cameron’s plan. Yes, exquisitely timed to coincide with the Christian message of peace and goodwill to all. Yes, a perfect accompaniment to all those half-forgotten carols: “And man, at war with man, hears not, / The love-song which they bring: O hush the noise, ye men of strife, / And hear the angels sing.” Translated into the prosaically secular: we have no vision of peace.
Now Ken Livingstone has intervened.
He said on Question Time this week,
Mr Livingstone argued that David Cameron’s proposed air strikes against Isis in Syria were “too indiscriminate” and that the only way to defeat Isis would be with tens of thousands of ground troops – a move repeatedly ruled out by the Prime Minister
Livingstone also said.
In a heated debate on BBC One’s Question Time, he recalled the start of the Iraq invasion, saying that Tony Blair was advised that joining the US would make the UK a terror target.
“He ignored that advice and it killed 52 Londoners,” Mr Livingstone continued…
Jeremy Corbyn’s Defence adviser said out loud what the SWP and others , er, say even louder: those killed by Islamist bombers are the victims of imperialism, in this case, its agent, Tony Blair.
The former London Mayor also had a theme of religious sacrifice:
“Go and look at what they (the terrorists) put on their website did those killings because of our invasion of Iraq…they gave their lives, they said what they believed,” the former mayor of London said.
“They took Londoners’ lives in protest against our invasion of Iraq.”
It’s hard to not feel that, yes, it was an act of generosity, of martyrdom, of truth speaking to power…
Perhaps Giles Fraser could continue the lines of his Christmas Carol,
Glory to God in the highest
Glory to God evermore
Good news, great joy for all
Melody breaks through the silence
Marina Hyde in today’s Guardian, with Christian Charity, dissects Ken’s finely honed remarks.
Like Austin Powers after the cryogenic unfreezing process, Ken Livingstone has no inner monologue. Or if he had one, it was extinguished some time around 2006. The absence of any kind of filter makes Powers say out loud: “My God, Vanessa’s got a fabulous body … I bet she shags like a minx.” With Ken, it’s contemporaneous stuff, like how the 7/7 London terrorists “gave their lives” in protest. Although he can do the sexytime too: he once leered at a female journalist: “You should come home with me – I’m like a broom handle in the morning”. And still people persist in the nonsense that politics is showbiz for ugly people. If you’re not turned on by that, you’re either dead or a Tory. Which is the same thing – amirite, comrades?
Ken’s political superpower is a total inability to feel even a scintilla of shame, which is why he was back on the horse for his Question Time outing so quickly after last week’s forced apology, and will doubtless have something else groan-inducing up his sleeve for the runup to Christmas. Maybe Labour’s merchandise unit could produce a Ken-themed advent calendar, with a piece of signature artless spite behind each door. On 24 December, you get to open his brain and reveal the festive message: “Jesus was a terrorist. Now either get undressed or piss off.”
As Ken Livingstone stonewalls calls for his good self to piss off perhaps he will seek advice from his one-time Policy Director of Economic and Business Policy, John Ross, of the International Marxist Group.
Ross is a dab hand at putting a spin on difficult issues.
Recently he wrote, How China made the world’s largest contribution to human rights
China should be supported precisely because of its contribution to human rights. China has done more to improve the overall situation not only of its own people but of humanity than any other country in the world – as the facts show.
Ross, like Livingstone, is also a great patriot,
I love my country deeply, and the enormous contributions it has made to world culture and science…
The former London Mayor loves himself deeply as well.
Let’s hope that his Yuletide carol singing with Gilles Fraser is a happy one.
Despite Fraser and Livingstone’s efforts the Tendance remains opposed to Cameron’s plans to intervene in Syria.
Meanwhile a very different left approach (which we signaled when it appeared in French) has now been translated.
It is absolutely essential reading:
No to Daesh- no to imperalism
Solidarity with the victims!
Friday 27 November 2015, by,
Whatever the role of imperialism, the Islamic State is responsible for its actions.
All fundamentalist movements do not have the same bases, the same strategy. Are some of them, such as the Islamic State, fascists? They do not maintain the same (complex) relations with sectors of the imperialist bourgeoisies as in Europe in the 1930s, but they reproduce them with sectors of the bourgeoisie of “regional powers”, such as, in the Middle East, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey … They attract the “human dust” of decaying societies as well as elements of the “middle classes”, of a “petty bourgeoisie”, of educated workers. They use terror “from below” to impose their order. They dehumanize those who are different and make scapegoats of them, as yesterday the Nazis did with Jews, Gypsies or homosexuals. They eradicate all forms of democracy and of progressive people’s organizations. Religious exaltation occupies the same function as national exaltation in the interwar period and enables them, in addition, to deploy internationally
Ken Livingstone backing Naz Shah in Bradford.
“Shah caught the public imagination by writing about her difficult personal life. She grew up poor and at times destitute after her father left her pregnant mother and two children for the neighbours’ 16-year-old daughter. Shah was then sent to Pakistan by her mother, who feared for her safety; there, she was forced into an arranged marriage at the age of 15. Her mother, meanwhile, suffered abuse at the hands of another man, who she ended up poisoning to death.
Shah’s journey into politics is a far cry from the PPE-at-Oxford template of the traditional upper-middle-class career politician. With this powerful story and the Labour Party political machine behind her, she is Galloway’s only credible opponent in the election.
“Galloway still has a following in Bradford West, and, as he is fond of pointing out, it’s an international one: “They’re watching this contest from Manhattan to Gaza, from Mirpur to Baghdad. They’re watching the result of this election all over the world.”
“Galloway still has a following in Bradford West, and, as he is fond of pointing out, it’s an international one: “They’re watching this contest from Manhattan to Gaza, from Mirpur to Baghdad. They’re watching the result of this election all over the world.”
But on April 13, former Respect councillor Mohammad Shabbir released a statement announcing that he had joined the Labour Group within Bradford council. He stated that “Respect (George Galloway) is a party of one and sadly it will remain so.”
“At the end of the first hustings, an apparent Respect supporter who had heckled from the side-lines throughout asked Naz Shah a question as she was leaving for the night:
“Who will be dancing in the streets if your party wins – the Israelis or the Palestinians?”
“Human beings will,” she replied.
“Your leader’s a bacon-eating Zionist!” came the reply.
Shah responded: “Half of England eats bacon. I can’t decide my policies by that.”
Livingstone and Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
Ken Livingstone’s defeat raises many issues about his political strategy.
As a believer in robust debate this is not the time to shirk serious questions.
A major cause of unease on the left has been Livingstone’s appeals to people’s religious identities. Whether favourably, or less warmly, Livingstone’s speeches and comments have stoked divisions whose effect has harmed the anti-racist cause.
His willingness to defend Islam can be seen as anti-racist. But Livingstone has also come to embrace Islamists with far-right views.
No decision has been more divisive than his defence of an invitation to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Islamic Scholar with extreme reactionary opinions.
At the moment when a visit by Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s to Tunisia is creating controversy amongst Tunisians it is important to recall that Livingstone has not backed down on his decision. Indeed he continues to stand up for the man.
As Pink News noted during the London mayoral campaign,
Gaydar also questioned Livingstone about inviting the controversial Muslim preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi to City Hall in 2004 during his time as London mayor. The cleric is banned from entering the United States and has previously said that gay people should be executed and has also supported female genital mutilation. Livingstone was unapologetic, stating that Qaradawi was the victim of “demonisation” by the western press. (Pink News)
In Tunisia in the last few days his reception has been more mixed than Livingstone’s,
According to Noureddine Harbeoui, the spokesperson of Tunisia’s dominant center-right Islamist party Ennahdha, the visit of the Islamic scholar was officially organized by his party. He explained that the visit will be an enriching experience for the country, given that he represents “a prominent Muslim scholar in the Arab world.”
“For sure we will have people opposing the visit, but Qaradawi has many followers as well. His rally will be proof. We should give all Tunisians the opportunity to meet their favorite public figures,” Harbeoui added.
Salem El Adeli, president of the Imams’ League, asserted that the visit is an important opportunity to nullify some of the negative perceptions surrounding Qaradawi. Qaradawi’s controversial rhetoric, regarding a number of topics ranging from the rights of women and homosexuals to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, has resulted in him being labeled as an extremist by some. He has also been banned from entering the U.S., the UK, and France.
“Tunisia has proven itself to be an open country, opening its doors to all scholars. He is against extremism and terrorism,” Salem said.
Several civil society representatives were less excited about the upcoming visit of the controversial cleric. Bochra Ben Hamida is a lawyer and human rights activist who opposed the visit of Wajdi Ghoneim – another firebrand Islamic scholar from Egypt – last February. Hamida and a number of other lawyers attempted to build a case against Ghoneim, accusing him of inciting hatred, and making unauthorized use of public spaces for the purpose of worship.
“I don’t have any problem with anyone coming to Tunisia. My only concern is the unity of the people, which can be threatened by bringing controversial figures who peddle religion,” she stated.
Bochra asserted that the Tunisian government should exert greater effort in confronting the country’s more pressing concerns, such as combating unemployment, rather than bringing controversial figures that could possibly deepen ideological rifts in Tunisian society.
Zeineb Farhat, a member of the Tunisian Democratic Women association, described Qaradawi as a, “a false religious figure.” She further described him as “a disgrace to Tunisian women,” citing controversial, “sexist” statements he has made that call for restricting women’s freedoms.
Aman Allah Grich, a member of another Tunisian NGO known as “Minorities,” stated that he is not opposed to the visit, since Qaradhaoui represents an important cultural and religious figure for certain demographics of Tunisian society.
“He is free to say whatever he wants as long as it does not infringe upon other people’s freedoms or human rights – whether it is related to gender, sexual orientation, or religious convictions. However, he should not stigmatize minorities or call for their death,” Grich said.
Emna Mnif, a civil society activist and the president of an organization known as Kolna Tounis (“We are all Tunisia”), expressed her disappointment with the decision to invite Qaradawi to Tunisia.
“We feel sorry that we still welcome such such figures…The visit has other political motives,” she stated.
She concluded by affirming that Tunisian civil society would not remain silent should Qaradawi’s message serve to further exacerbate the country’s social tensions.
“We will wait and watch his speeches and what kind of discourse he will deliver. If he tries to challenge the ideas and principles we are fighting for, we will take serious measures against him,” she asserted.
A Tunisian commented on the Tunisia Live site,
• on ethnicity, race and religion, extermination of the Jews, Hitler-Nazism (Fascism)
In August 2005, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Dublin-based European Council for Fatwa and Research, of which al-Qaradhawi is president, had used the anti-semitic ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ in its theological deliberations.
»Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the Jews people who would punish them for their corruption…The last punishment was carried out by [Adolf] Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them«
• on religious freedom
With regards to the punishment of apostasy, al-Qaradawi … considers execution as a penalty in principle, but the only apostates that are to be executed are those that combine other crimes with apostasy (e.g. “incit[ing] a war against Islam”). … “intellectual apostasy” … he still strongly condemns it. He says »These people are not noticed when they invade or begin to disseminate their falsehood, but they are mostly felt when they affect the minds. They do not use guns in their attacks, however, their attacks are fierce and cunning.« …
• on freedom of opinion and expression
Al-Qaradawi endorsed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call to execute novelist Salman Rushdie for blasphemy in regared to his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’
• on human dignity, equal rights, gender equality
Al-Qaradawi told The Guardian that wife beating was neither »obligatory nor desirable« but that he “accepts it as a method of last resort – though only lightly”.[
• on human (female) mutilation
… female circumcision … »whoever finds it serving the interest of his daughters should do it, and I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world.«
These reactions illustrate just how much it’s a grave mistake to think that all ‘Arabs’ and ‘Muslims’ sympathise (if not endorse) the opinions of people like Yusif al-Qaradawi.