28 November 2019
Diary of a Corbynista
Scraping the bottom of the barrel
by Don Urquhart
Over the last few days The Jewish Chronicle has reported on anti-Semitism in the Conservative Party and among their Brexit Party bedfellows.
The media have turned a blind eye to the Conservatives’ anti-Semitism problem for far too long. The fact that too many politicians are allowed to shine the torch of antiracism only at their political opponents has undermined our collective ability to eradicate it.
Just yesterday, it was revealed that a Tory candidate claimed events in the Holocaust have been “fabricated” and “exaggerated”. Although he’s been suspended, he will appear on the ballot paper as a Conservative candidate on December 12, which Holocaust survivor Lord Alf Dubs has described as “sickening”.
A Conservative councillor, who is acting as agent for a general election candidate, has been accused of sharing “appalling comments about Jewish people” on social media.
Ben Shirely, agent to Tory candidate Simon Fell in Barrow and Furness, is under investigation by the party for sharing a post on Facebook that referred to “Yid w***ers” and “liked” another post about “faggots” and another that used a derogatory comment about women in the past year.
Mr Shirely, a Barrow Borough councillor, shared a post about a football fixture between Stoke City and Tottenham Hotspur that said “bring it on you yid w***ers”.
Ryan Houghton is suspended on same day Amjad Bashir, the Conservative candidate for Leeds North East issues new apology over calling British Jews ‘brainwashed extremists’
A Conservative Party candidate has been suspended over alleged anti-Semitic comments he made about the Holocaust.
The Scottish Tories confirmed they had withdrawn their support for Aberdeen North candidate Ryan Houghton, a local councillor, while the comments, which he made seven years ago were investigated.
In a statement Mr Houghton said that in one of the social media threads he had discussed freedom of speech and he had discussed comments made by disgraced Holocaust historian David Irving. He said that that had been an online discussion on freedom of speech and that there “followed a discussion about the now disgraced historian David Irving started by other members”.
Mr Houghton said that in explaining the historian’s position “after watching one of his lectures online, I had referenced his view that part of the Holocaust had been fabricated or exaggerated”.
Nigel Farage has been revealed to have endorsed “New World Order” conspiracy theories linked to anti-Semitism.
In an interview with Revelation TV, an evangelical Christian channel, the Brexit Party laid claims that firms such as Goldman Sachs “see the European Union as basically the forerunner of global government”.
The Conservative Party has banned the Daily Mirror from its battle bus. This is the first time that a major newspaper has been denied this facility since battle buses first arrived back in the 70’s.
This hangs together with the party’s sensitivity to scrutiny of its policies inside and outside Parliament.
Daily Mirror editor Alison Phillips said:
Mirror readers have every right to know what the Conservatives have in store for them should Boris Johnson win the election.
Our journalists have every right to scrutinise the Conservatives on our readers’ behalf. Blocking us from doing our job is deeply worrying for freedom of journalism and the protection of the truth.
One of my favourite websites claims to list and explain “the lies of Boris Johnson and his government”.
There are more than 100 items documented on the site. Watching Johnson trying to dissociate himself from the Cameron government’s austerity measures and talking up his time as London Mayor, the Johnson Lies website has this to offer:
City Hall’s gender pay gap audit showing data from March 2016 shows that in the top pay grade, in which staff were paid more than £114,000 per year, 78.6 percent were men — there were 11 men and three women. In the top pay grade there was also a gender pay gap of 10.22 percent.
In the second grade, in which staff were paid between £105,000 and £114,000, there were seven men and five women — so 58.3 percent men. In the third grade, salaries between £81,000 and £88,000 (there appear to be no staff paid between £88,000 and £105,000), there were 11 men and four women — so 78.3 percent men.
Johnson became mayor in 2008. Oyster cards were introduced in 2003.
The most generous interpretation is that Johnson was referring to schemes introduced while he was mayor aimed at increasing the use of Oyster cards, although he gave no indication he was doing so. He could have been referring to the fact that contactless payment was introduced on London buses in 2012. But Oyster cards had been accepted on buses since before he became mayor.
In 2009 Johnson pledged to eradicate rough sleeping, the most visible form of homelessness, in London within three years. When he left office seven years later it had more than doubled.
“We kept the murder rate in London at fewer than 100 for more than four or five years running”
The Metropolitan Police collects data on the number of homicides (murder, manslaughter and infanticide) and not murder specifically. We assume Johnson is referring to homicide statistics.
Official figures show the number of homicides fell below 100 once during Johnson’s tenure as mayor of London, to 95 in 2014. In his last full year in office, 2015, it was 120.
“The way we reduced knife crime in London was by a very active policy of stop and search, which I know the party opposite opposed. They were wrong.”
Johnson’s claim is contradicted by the Home Office impact assessment of Operation Blunt 2, the crackdown on knife crime that began shortly after he became mayor in 2008. While knife crime did indeed come down during his time as mayor, the assessment found that “there was no discernible crime-reducing effects from a large surge in stop and search activity at the borough level during the operation.”
Recently I had dinner with Harry and Colin, old University friends. Harry had some insider knowledge which enabled him to tell us that a well-known political leader “batted for the other side”. Colin responded by asking Harry if he knew that he, Colin, was gay. Harry apologised profusely. He is a decent man who intended no offence.
I give Johnson the benefit of the doubt. I do not regard him as a racist or homophobe. However he is on record as having made racist and homophobic comments and when invited to apologise for this on Friday’s Question Time he demurred on the basis that he is entitled to free speech. In which case I put his behaviour down to ignorance. He is the Prime Minister and should realise that his apparent blame free racist comments play to the agenda of the likes of Tommy Robinson, who has endorsed him in the upcoming election.
And it was adherence to Robinson’s world view that led the previously apolitical Darren Osborne to plough into a crowd of people outside the Finsbury Park Mosque in 2017 with fatal consequences.
As is the case with Trump in America, the behaviour of our current Prime Minister is held up by bigots as a cover for their atrocities great and small.
In the Daily Mirror Abigail O’Leary and Oliver Milne compiled an analysis of the influence of billionaires on the Conservative Party.
48 of the country’s 151 billionaires have donated almost £52million to the Conservative Party since 2005.
Nick Sommerlad, also in the Mirror tells us more about the kind of person who benefits from a Johnson government.
Boris Johnson’s Tories handed £1million by billionaire tycoon based in Bahamas.
Theatre boss John Gore was the biggest single benefactor, handing over £1million to bring his total contribution to the Tories to £4.8million since 2017.
Mr Gore is registered as a director of two firms at Companies House, giving his nationality as “English” and his country of residence as “Bahamas”.
He doesn’t pay tax in Britain.
The Caribbean island is infamous for being a tax haven. There is no income tax, no corporation tax, no capital gains tax and no wealth tax.
But Mr Gore told the Mirror: “I am employed by a US company so that’s where I pay my tax. A big amount. That is where I am tax resident.”
The party also received £200,000 from Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of a former Russian minister. In the past she paid £160,000 to play tennis with Boris Johnson.
Labour Chairman Ian Lavery said: “While the Conservative Party is in the pockets of vested interests and the super-rich, we are proud that the Labour Party is funded by hundreds of thousands of people donating what they can afford to build a fairer society.”
Over the last few weeks I have canvassed for the Labour Party in Barnet. Many Jewish people have answered the door. A few have closed it very quickly signalling with word and gesture that they have no interest in me or my party. Some will take the time to express their dislike of Corbyn in a manner civilised but brooking no discussion. It is ironic that most of my canvassing colleagues have been Jewish, all shaking their heads about such reactions.
Naomi disliked Corbyn but was happy to talk. She said she was afraid of the backlash from her neighbours if they discovered that she had voted Labour, thus offering a different slant to the term “fear in the Jewish community”. And it emerged that she was inclined to take this risk as she recognised that it was the best way of obtaining a Remain MP for the borough.
I don’t think Rabbi Mirvis’ article in The Times and its amplification in the media will affect the voting intentions of our constituents.
I find the ad hominem nature of his attack disappointing. As with other Corbyn critics he does not adduce a shred of evidence to support his arguments and wonder whether his criticisms of the Labour leader are not primarily driven by the latter’s commitment to a two state solution in the Middle East.
The rumblings about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party started soon after Ed Miliband made a similar commitment. Robert Philpot in 2015 describes Miliband’s dilemma before the election of that year.
It blows a hole in the assertion that Labour’s anti-Semitism problems started with Corbyn.
Rabbi Mirvis should not be misled into thinking that his old friend Boris Johnson can be trusted to follow the Israeli government line slavishly.
Two years ago, the then Foreign Secretary published:
The nub of his vision was:
There should be two independent and sovereign states: a secure Israel, the homeland for the Jewish people, standing alongside a viable and contiguous Palestinian state, the homeland for the Palestinian people, as envisaged by UN General Assembly Resolution 181.
And if he sticks with this you could not insert a cigarette paper between him and Corbyn on the issue.
On Tuesday the Financial Times published a letter from 163 economists:
It seems clear to us that the Labour party has not only understood the deep problems we face, but has devised serious proposals for dealing with them. We believe it deserves to form the next government.