A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Oh great, a conspiracy theory

Winner of most idiotic and unhelpful contribution to the debate on Party funding goes to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. According to this article today the current issues are all down to "The shadowy role of Labour Friends of Israel".

I declare an interest as a - non-Jewish - member of LFI. But I don't really think that its LFI that Yasmin is writing about. What she is not very subtly trying to suggest is that Jews have too much influence in the Labour Party.

Would she write a similar article demanding to know about "the shadowy role of Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform", or the "shadowy role of the Christian Socialist Movement", or the "shadowy role of Compass"?

No, but like them LFI is a pressure group composed of Labour supporters who share a common interest on a policy issue. Far from being shadowy it publishes pamphlets and books, has a website listing its officers and patrons, and holds a very high profile fringe meeting at each year's Labour conference.

LFI has its counterpart, LMEC, which promotes the Palestinian cause inside the Labour Party. They both express legitimate points of view and make a useful contribution to the Labour Party's foreign policy debate.

She correctly anticipates that she "can already hear the accusations of anti-Semitism". I think I just made the first one. Because I cannot understand what, other than anti-Semitism, would motivate someone to write a whole column whose only hook was the shared ethnicity of David Abrahams and Jonny Mendelsohn.

39 Comments:

Blogger Merseymike said...

I think your support for Israel is blinding you to what the article is saying.

Which is that there does seem to be a rather clear link between LFI and a significant number of people involved in this sort of funding scandal, and so it is reasonable to look at the influence of LFI and its means of operation.

After all, it often strikes me as strange that so many influential people have connections with LFI, whereas I would suggest that most Labour supporters certainly do not support the stance of Israel in recent years.

Thing is, Luke, I still see nothing here other than excuses. Face up to the facts. Illegal action has been taken, the Party has come out of this looking corrupt and sleazy, and as a result the Tories are on target to win next time.
I get the impression you think that there really hasn't been anything wrong and that the Labour party were just unlucky to be caught!

The problem is that you can't criticise Israel these days without being branded as anti-semitic. I am certainly prepared to say that I think the creation of a Jewish state in that geographical position has had a detrimental affect on world peace and has been the catalyst for much tension. If such a state was needed, land should have been found without a need to displace those already living there. To think that the Palestinians would meekly depart was a mistake from the very start.

10:32 am, December 03, 2007

 
Blogger Westmonster said...

I'm with Luke on this one. Whatever you may think about Israel, this really has little to do with the price of fish (or indeed, Donorgate).

The fact of the matter is that Alabhai-Brown used classic antisemitic themes to describe a perceived problem - namely that there is some sort of Jewish conspiracy linked to the funding of the Labour party and the Government's policy in the Middle East.

Which is paranoid bollocks. She's proved nothing in her article - she's just thrown a load of conspiracy theories and antisemitic themes around without making it clear exactly what her argument is.

11:00 am, December 03, 2007

 
Anonymous jdc said...

Right, look, seriously. How do you join LFI? Because their site says they organise at all levels of the party, but when I asked they said it was just for MPs. Does that mean "MPs and members of the parliamentary panel / former candidates"?

They put me on the mailing list for news and so on, so I guess that'll do. Because I don't think I'm on the panel. I have no real desire to be on the panel, though I did get a letter last year congratulating me on automatically being on the panel for the next election on account of having been on it for the last one (which I don't think I was either).

So that's two questions actually. How do I join LFI, and how do I check if I'm on the panel.

11:37 am, December 03, 2007

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

Westmonster: I don't think there is a 'conspiracy', and I think that's a term that both you and Luke use because of the cachet it has.

However, I think LFI has far too much influence and does not represent the view of most Labour members. It is clear that many of those involved in funding issues past and present have had involvement in LFI. So, it is reasonable to take a look at this organisation and how it and its members operates.

I have criticised peoiple like Bob Wareing for his uncritical support for Serbia, LFI should certainly be subject to the same criticism for their support of what I think has become a pariah state.

12:50 pm, December 03, 2007

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

I just thought I would lend my support for Mike's standpoint on Israel. I have mentioned something similar to this on this blog.
He is also right to say we are in a right pickle at the moment, but it will pass. I think this fiasco is salvagable.
Gordo if you are reading this (I hear it is required reading for all movers and shackers in New Labour) no cap on what should be open and honest donations, rather a cap on what parties spend seems the right balance to me.

2:47 pm, December 03, 2007

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

Fact is that the Tories desperately want to avoid a strict limit on total spending because they know they have plenty more places to look for 50 grand donations.

If we argue strongly for downsizing and less spending then I think we can take the moral high ground again. Its by far the fairest system for every party.

3:41 pm, December 03, 2007

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Fair point Mike, however I am uncomfortable with an overall cap on donations. If a party is popular with individuals or groups and the financial means of these benefactors allow that should not be a barrier for their donation.
Donations must be open and honest and come from british subjects who pay tax (pay heed Wendy). By the way mike did you catch what Honest Tone said on the "Blair Years" regarding "Cash for Honours"? What a classic!!!!

4:02 pm, December 03, 2007

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

But its nothing to do with popularity. If we don't have a cap on donations, then we will be forced to crawl to rich benefactors and we all know the consequences. The Tories will always have more of them than Labour. I would be worried if they didn't.

5:07 pm, December 03, 2007

 
Anonymous Dan said...

Merseymike, that is a rather partial reading of history.

The original UN partition plan did find land for the (existing) Jewish population in Palestine to form a Jewish state without displacing those already living there. It was the rejection of partition by the local Arab leaders and neighbouring states that led to war and explusions/flight in both directions - around 700,000 Palestinian Arabs from Israel, and around 800,000 Jews into Israel from the Arab states and Iran.

In both cases there are well-worn and rather pointless arguments about the extent to which the transfers of population were forced and the extent to which they were voluntary. The end result was the same in all cases - people lost their homes and most of their possessions and could not return. A tragedy that should not have happened, and painting either side as comic-book villains helps nobody

Dan

5:36 pm, December 03, 2007

 
Anonymous lord london fields lido said...

Let's not get into the Israel/Palestine question here... instead let's look at your words, Lukey:

"Would she write a similar article demanding to know about "the shadowy role of Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform", or the "shadowy role of the Christian Socialist Movement", or the "shadowy role of Compass"?"

This sounds like you know all about these "shadowy" roles. Could you elaborate on them please? I had no idea that corruption had got so far into the Labour party.

8:24 pm, December 03, 2007

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

But there isn't another internal organisation where so many key players appear to have played leading roles...

9:08 pm, December 03, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Progress? The Irish/Catholics? Labour Friends of India? LCC? The Sisterhood (tm)? Oxford PPEists?

I can think of lots of groups with more penetration than LFI.

9:20 pm, December 03, 2007

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

In terms of the funding issues? No.

12:00 am, December 04, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I think both Abrahams and Mendehlson are in Progress. But if you are an anti-semite it obviously reinforces your world view of a zionist conspiracy more to point out they are both Jews.

9:39 am, December 04, 2007

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

Yes, it does. But if you're not, and you are concerned about what are unacceptable and illegal funding practices, then the active involvement of so many individuals in a single pressure group within the party is relevant.

9:50 am, December 04, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

You've missed the point - there is a high chance they are all active in one or more other internal Labour pressure groups too - but I don't see any press coverage of that - just use of their LFI membership to hint at the usual crude stereotypes about Jews having too much political and financial influence.

10:00 am, December 04, 2007

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

You can read it that way if you wish. I am concerned not by the religion of the individuals involved, but the heightened influence that LFI appears to play, and the way that it appears to be so central to this sort of networking - which has led to a lot of damage to the Labour party.

But, then, I'm not sympathetic to their agenda (I should point out that I think the Palestinians leadership has done them absolutely no favours either....)

10:19 am, December 04, 2007

 
Blogger Chris Paul said...

Polls show this funding problem is not registering with the voter whereas the datagate crisis is. Funding is "you're all at it", data, albeit probably lost by private posties is "on your watch" and "may affect by bank account" to boot.

There are 45 unions - only c 16 of which are affiliated - and 4.5 million businesses, 6,000 of them with 250+ workers.

11:21 am, December 04, 2007

 
Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

"There does seem to be a rather clear link between LFI and a significant number of people involved in this sort of funding scandal, and so it is reasonable to look at the influence of LFI and its means of operation.

After all, it often strikes me as strange that so many influential people have connections with LFI, whereas I would suggest that most Labour supporters certainly do not support the stance of Israel in recent years.

Thing is, Luke, I still see nothing here other than excuses. Face up to the facts. Illegal action has been taken, the Party has come out of this looking corrupt and sleazy, and as a result the Tories are on target to win next time.
I get the impression you think that there really hasn't been anything wrong and that the Labour party were just unlucky to be caught!"

OK, I know, that's what merseymike posted, but I don't see anything here that has discounted or negated what he said.

12:48 pm, December 04, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Ted

basically you seem to be saying that you find it wierd that any Labour figures would be pro-Israeli unless they were

a) Jewish
b) corrupted by the mythical international Zionist conspiracy

In contrast I find it wierd that people in the Labour Party don't feel supportive towards a democracy founded mainly by self-professed socialists.

I must mix in different circles to you because almost the entire generation of people I came out of Labour Students with see support for Israel as part of their politics.

I agree that on the donations an illegal action happened and it looks appalling. I just find it disgusting that people are turning the enthnicity and support for Israel (which is a coded way of refering to their ethnicity) of two of the characters in this story into an issue.

Every comment posted here about not understanding why people would back LFI, or that LFI has "too much influence" feeds anti-semitic stereotypes about the Jewish community having excessive power or money.

1:05 pm, December 04, 2007

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Luke Akehurst said

"In contrast I find it wierd that people in the Labour Party don't feel supportive towards a democracy founded mainly by self-professed socialists."

I am against Israel because the ideology of Zionism (like antisemitism) is a vile racist philosophy and should be opposed by socialists universally. A land only for the jewish people implies that non jews would have deminished rights. As a fellow socialist I'd thought you would realise that. As I said before you can hate antisemitism and not back Israel (many jews do).

2:06 pm, December 04, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I want a Kurdish state as well does that make me doubly "racist"? No.

Are the SNP racists for wanting a state for Scots? No.

Ravi your casual linkage of zionism to racism is moronic.

2:32 pm, December 04, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Oh PS I believe in a Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state - a two state solution. So I must by Ravi's definition be tripply "racist".

2:39 pm, December 04, 2007

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

Israel may well have been founded by socialists - and of course, many early zionists were secular. But in recent years, this is far from the case, and I would question the simple common sense of creating Israel (a supposedly secular democracy) in the midst of that area. There may have been a case for a safe space for Jewish people, but I think that its creation there was a mistake - and the only justification for its creation there is a religious one.

But once again, any criticism of anything to do with Israel is seen as anti-semitic.

I am not surprised that your Labour Students colleagues held such views, Luke - I was doing my MA at the same time, and remember the star-struck enthusiasm for all things Blairite. Many of us with a longer pedigree were more cautious, although by no means hostile, and given that enthusiastic support for Israel and enthusiastic support for the disaster of the Iraq war seem to go hand-in-hand, I think a little humility may be in order....

Interestingly, the Cameroon's are all very pro-Israel too - its something noted about the latest batch of Tory MP's.

3:26 pm, December 04, 2007

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

It is a shame you have to resort to namecalling Luke, despite our differences I have come to respect you. Well if you want to fight in the gutter that is fine by me comrade, I just won't lower myself to your level.

Zionism is an international political movement that supports a homeland for the Jewish People in the Land of Israel.

If that statement was rephrased like this say ,


X is an international political movement that supports a homeland for the white, anglo saxon people in the land of Y.

Would you consider that racist?

As I am sure you are aware there are many ancient documents mentioning the exsistance of Kurdistan (like Palestine). This land has been sectioned amoung the powers in the area leading to the mal treatment of Kurds in thier own land (again not too dissimilar to the Palestinians and non jews in Israel). For the moronic (oops sorry it was too easy!)it is simple to say a country founded on a single ethnicity would be an anwser to persecution. What I would rather see is a secular state where the rights of the all the people across the ethnic divide would be sacramount.
That is socialism.
If creating a Kurd only country is your solution you must be barking.

Finally to equate the SNP with this racist ideology is stretching it too far even by your book, you must be desperate!

4:11 pm, December 04, 2007

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Luke Akehurst said...
Oh PS I believe in a Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state - a two state solution. So I must by Ravi's definition be tripply "racist".

Here is a better solution. A unified secular state where Jew, Muslim and Christian can live in peace.

4:15 pm, December 04, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

If that's a better solution, why is no one in the region actually supporting it?

There are plenty of legitimate criticisms that can be levelled at the actions of Israeli governments.

But I would have hoped that after it had existed as a state for 60 years and several generations of Israelis had been born there, and it had fought and won multiple wars of survival, we could move on from debating Israel's right to exist and get on to a debate about what is required for the Palestinians to also have a state living in peace and mutual security alongside Israel.

Israel can't be wished away - whatever you think about 1947 it is now a reality.

As for the comparison with a state for White Anglo Saxons, there always have been several. Anglo Saxons have not been stateless and they have not been victims of pogroms and a holocaust that made fighting to survive in the Middle East a relatively attractive option.

5:21 pm, December 04, 2007

 
Blogger Merseymike said...

Yes, probably true - Israel is a reality and so a two-state solution is probably the best available option.

Whether it will be a practical possibility or not, I just don't know. The mistrust is very deep, and the Palestinians have not really recovered from the demise of Arafat, who, for all his faults, did keep the extremists away from power.

What will be required is Israel giving up all the land it illegally occupies now. And its nuclear weapons, obviously

But I still don't know if it is a viable option, long-term. It would have certainly been better if it had never been created in that geographical position.

11:37 pm, December 04, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I have never before seen anyone try to link Israel's nuclear weapons to a peace deal with the Palestinians.

They are two completely separate security issues. Israel's nuclear weapons are to deter Iran - which would still be a threat to it even if the Palestinians, who are not Shi'ites, acheived a lasting peace through a two state solution.

8:12 am, December 05, 2007

 
Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

Luke I've takern some time to think before replying to your baffling response to my posting (which is essentially a repeat of what merseymike posted).

I'm sorry but it is your response that I find 'really weird'. I don't think I can constructively respond in turn, because I just think you're whole take on this issue is so odd and in places almost insulting in its implications (I accept that my inability to respond constructively may be as much my problem as yours).

Maybe the whole Israel and Labour thing is indeed a sectarian issue. In any event I do not see what value or purpose this thread has served.

10:28 am, December 05, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

The point of the thread is to ask why on earth the shared support for Israel of two characters in the funding story has been thought noteworthy.

If they both supported Labour CND or LCER or Africans for Labour would that have got a whole column written about it in a national paper?

10:44 am, December 05, 2007

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Well on the point about Israel being wished away, I agree we are where we are. I don't want to see forced repatriation of people already there.
I think my solution of a unified secular state where the rights of all people are respected has more in common with socialism than a state formed along religous lines. Just becasue it is not being mooted round the diplomatic table does not make it a less valid point; it would settle the question on who owns Jeruselem.
The human race is a nomadic one. There are diverse ethnic communities the world over. To claim a monocultural state will end persecution ignores my primary point. This creates more problems than it seeks to resolve.

You said

"As for the comparison with a state for White Anglo Saxons, there always have been several. Anglo Saxons have not been stateless ......"

So you don't think that is a racist statement then? Should we try and recreate these extinct states? Should we force ethnic minorities that currently live in these countries to live in ghettos and create "white only areas"?
Despite your venomous attack on me I still think you to be a decent socialist and hopefully you would find the obove repugnant.

Your point about the holocaust as an example of man's inhumanity to man is a fair one. I don't want to see ethnic cleanisng in any country, which is why I am opposed to the israeli government. Why can't we create a society where we respect the rights of all our citizenry? You are in essence saying as a nation we are intollerent to jews and therefore they should go to another country as they are not going to be welcome in ours. As a socialist and a member of the ethnic minority in this country I think it sets a dangerous presedent.

11:02 am, December 05, 2007

 
Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

Although, Ravi, I don't see any problem with your overall idea of a broader secular state (I argued for years for a peaceful slavic/Albanian confederation in the Balkans to jeers on all sides!) is it not better to propose things that are acceptable AND attainable. A two state solution is attainable and it can be acceptable to all, including socialists, if we begin from a starting position (which most Israelis and Palestinians would wish to start from, I am sure) that those states will respect the rights of minority ethnic and religious groups within them. If there are people arguing that Israel should be a state for Jews only, then that would be racist - but if they exist then I am sure they are a tiny minority. The same would go for people saying Palestine should be a state for Muslims only, or for Arabs only. Again, I haven't heard such calls.

11:56 am, December 05, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Ravi

Israel isn't a "monocultural state".

20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs who can vote in elections. There are Arab Israeli MPs in the Knesset.

Thank you Duncan for a sensible contribution.

2:14 pm, December 05, 2007

 
Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Ravi, I'm glad you "don't want to see forced repatriation" but surprised you would even refer to such a horrific concept. The vast majority of Israelis were born there. They have no other homeland to be repatriated to. Of the first generation Israelis repatriation might involve sending Holocaust survivors back to the countries where they escaped genocide over 60 years ago, or North African and Middle Eastern Jews back to Arab countries that forcibly expelled them and expropriated their property.

2:34 pm, December 05, 2007

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

Ravi

"Israel isn't a "monocultural state".

20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs who can vote in elections. There are Arab Israeli MPs in the Knesset."

Israel's Declaration of Independence called for the establishment of a Jewish state with equality of social and political rights, irrespective of religion, race or sex. This, however, has no legal status in regard to the rights of minorities.
Many Arab citizens feel that the state, as well as society at large, actively discriminates against them. Observer groups have noted that Arabs citizens in Israel suffer political discrimination based on decades of social exclusion.
Israel's system of governance to based upon the nationalism inherent in Israel’s foundation as a 'Jewish state' is at odds with its political basis of democratic governance as applied to the Arab minority.
In short an ipso facto monoethnic state.

You said

"Ravi, I'm glad you "don't want to see forced repatriation" but surprised you would even refer to such a horrific concept."

Well thank you for granting me some courtesy after all. The reason I agree with you is

"The vast majority of Israelis were born there. They have no other homeland to be repatriated to"

ie- Like myself!! I was born here, my parents came here to work, so please don't lecture me on the rights of 2nd generation individuals.
No, I want to see an end to the migration of Jewish people from Russia and other places who find themselves settling on disputed land as there is nowhere else for them to go. It makes them a target for terrorists and it upsets the local population (especially when they say God has promised the land).
With regards to Dunc point I believe it is obtainable. India is a mix of different cultures yet they have managed to keep the country together despite ethic tentions (it is worth noting people thought India would destablise into a plethora of tiny statelets). If you want somthing more recent who would have thought Sinn Fein and the DUP would form a power sharing executive? Peace is hard work, but in the end is it not worth striving for?
My major issue with the two state solution would a palestinian state be viable? I hope you and Mike are right, and that it will signal peace in the region, however my instints tell me if we divide an already small country we could storing problems for the future.

4:27 pm, December 05, 2007

 
Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

The thing is Ravi, what you're essentially arguing for is for Israel (maybe with a different name, I don't know) to continue KEEP the occupied territories, but for that state not to be considered Jewish or Arab but multicultural and secular. Nothing wrong with the aspiration except it isn't what Palestinians want: they haven't been fighting just to end discrimination and reverse past wrongs, but for the formation of a Palestinian state.

Yes, I hope to goodness that we can see Palestinian and Israeli leaders and representatives working together like people are doing in Northern Ireland; but Sinn Fein have not concluded that they are now happy with Ulster being in a secular multicultural United Kingdom - they have committed themselves to a peaceful approach to trying to attain their political goal of a united Ireland. If both sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict could commit themselves to a peaceful approach to attaining the two states of Israel and Palestine - and two secular, multi-cultural states that respect the rights of minorities at that - then that would be an exceptionally positive outcome.

I have found myself in vehement opposition to recent Israeli governments over their approach to the peace process (and to Lebanon) - but I think people on the left have a special duty to ensure that their opposition to an Israeli administration and its policies is not co-opted by people with very different political ends, to further racist or anti-semitic arguments. I completely disagree with Nick Cohen's analysis that people on the left have found themselves on the far right - it is lazy and unthinking (as lazy and unthinking as saying that he and David Aaronovich are now neo-con imperialists) but everyone needs to keep on proving him wrong :o)
(I stress, Ravi, that I don't think you've said anything remotely anti-semitic - although I think your analysis of Jewish emigres settling on disputed land is simplistic and misses important aspects of the history - and I've no objection to your general idealism; I agree that multi-ethnic/multi-cultural states can and should function, but I don't accept that national self-determination is necessarily racist!)

10:32 pm, December 05, 2007

 
Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

I don't know how we got so embroiled over this issue considering what the original post was about but I do like a good debate.

Dunc,
you have as usual made some great insightful points on this, plus I am glad you have not lumped me with racist antisemitic morons just because I don't agree with how Israel conducts itself. It is not a reflection upon the Jewish people rather a critism of the Israeli government (something to his credit Comrade Akehurst has agreed with).

Yes you are right, the state I have envisioned does include the disputed territory. After 1947 when Transjordon was made independent this territory was under the Mandate of Palestine authority. It has fored the justification of Israel seizing this land, however peace settlement will be hurtful affair to start with. For example the jewish settlements would have to be transformed into mixed communites, palestinians would have to recognise the right of jewish people living on this land (a right formed by a secular consitution rather than a divine interpration). That will breed resentment to start with but I believe over time these can be ironed out (yes I am an optimist that is what socialism is about).

Your point about the Palestinians wanting their own country is a fair one, I would counter it however by saying Sinn Fein wanted a unified Ireland, that will not happen (atleast not for the time being), I believe this potential sticking point is negotiable.

What is in a name? It can be called Israel, Palestine Israel, Palestine, Boogie wonderland, etc names can be thrashed out over a negotiating table.

I am not sure what you mean about simplifying the issue on the modern migration of jews to Israel, maybe there are plenty settle sites within the pre 1967 border (although a unified state would probably defend their right to settle on these lands if space allows) in which case I stand corrected, however I really cannot be sure of this.

On your final point I whole heartly agree with you.It is very easy for a good cause (in my opinion) to be hijacked by morons (although that really is not harsh enough to call them). I know there are many bigots out there (some have told me Mossad - and thereby the state of Israel, was responsible for 911). Their oppostion to Israel is born from vile racism. When I talk of antizionism I stand with tolerent people and antizionist jews.
(http://www.jewsnotzionists.org/)

11:12 am, December 06, 2007

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you blame people for being suspicious though? This is coming on the back of an expose of the Israel Lobby and its influence in the United States.

The Jewish Chronical took a brave decision in printing the story and shows that many Jews in Britain are also concerned because of this latest "donorgate" debacle.

8:50 pm, December 07, 2007

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

 
Free Hit Counters
OfficeDepot Discount