Posts Tagged ‘James Purnell’

Israel Lobbyists Smear Mike Again, Run Away When Refuted

March 7, 2018

Mike on Monday put up another piece, describing how he was smeared once again as an anti-Semite in an article, ‘Labour’s Anti-Semitism Problem’, by a couple of hacks called Kieron Monks and Gary Spedding. This was over what Mike had written about the belief that Blair had been unduly influenced by a group of Jewish advisers. Mike went on the attack to defend his reputation, and pointed out that he had not written what Monks’ claimed he had, and that he had in any case taken his words out of context. Monks tried arguing back, but when the force of Mike’s argument proved too much for him, retreated and went silent. He ran away, leaving his mate Spedding to try and defend his libel. Spedding didn’t fare any better either, and this resulted in Spedding not only abandoning the argument, but blocking Mike on Twitter.

You can read about the incident at: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/03/05/another-article-alleges-anti-semitism-about-me-author-refuses-to-acknowledge-his-mistake/

Mike makes several very good points in his article about it, not least that all the relevant information about these claims and accusations is up on his blog, if the writers of such articles would actually care to read what he has to say.

But they don’t, because they’ve already decided that Mike’s an anti-Semite. And it’s not because of any genuine concern for anti-Semitism. Monks’ real motivation in writing the article is clearly shown in the title, and in one of the people he hashtags at the bottom of his tweet about it, Dave Rich.

The title of Monks’ piece is the same as a book written by Dave Rich, and published last year by Biteback. This claimed that there was a rising tide of anti-Semitism on the Left, ever since the Liberal party had got involved in an anti-Israeli politics in the 1970s. I can’t remember where I found it, but I read a review somewhere that pointed out that Rich was another prominent member of the Israel lobby, and that what really concerned him was that the Left were taking the side of the Palestinians against Israel. In short, he’s another Zionist upset that people are criticising and protesting about the Israeli state’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, and trying to shut them down by libelling them as anti-Semites. Ditto for Monks and Spedding, who obviously share his views.

As for the accusation that Blair was unduly influenced by a group of Jewish advisers, it is true that Blair received much funding during the run-up to the Iraq invasion from businessmen connected to the Israel lobby, though a campaign run by Lord levy and Peter Mandelson. John Booth describes this in his ‘Labour, Corbyn and Anti-Semitism’ in Lobster 74. He writes

In contrast, this is Jon (now Lord) Mendelsohn speaking to Jewsweek.com on 8 September 2002: ‘[Tony] Blair has attacked the anti-Israelism that had existed in the Labour Party . . .Labour was cowboys-and-Indians politics, picking underdogs. The milieu has changed. Zionism is pervasive in New Labour. It is automatic that Blair will come to Friends of Israel meetings.’ Mendelsohn was speaking during the build-up to the Iraq war. At the time Corbyn was indulging in what the New Labour fundraiser would probably style ‘cowboy-and Indian politics’ by helping create the Stop the War Coalition. 7 Mendelsohn was a close associate of Michael (now Lord) Levy in drawing down funds from Israel supporters, a programme also well described in Robert Peston’s Who Runs Britain?. The ITN political editor in his informative 8 chapter ‘Democracy for Sale’ makes clear that a good deal of that funding was not from Labour supporters, but from those, including previous Conservative backers, who identified with Blair and his support for Israel and the Iraq war.

He also goes on to discuss the connections between the Israeli embassy and the various Friends of Israel organisations, which have been making the accusations of anti-Semitism against Corbyn and his supporters.

Mendelsohn is a former chairman of Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), membership of which, as he says, attracted many of the New Labour intake in 1997 and which resembled a passport to promotion for many of them. Not all have stayed in party politics since Labour’s 2010 defeat. Former Cabinet minister and chairman of LFI James Purnell is now a senior BBC executive and is talked of as a possible future director-general. LFI supporter Lorna 9 Fitzsimons, formerly Parliamentary Private Secretary to Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, became chief executive of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) after losing her parliamentary seat in 2005. Most of the LFI supporters still in Parliament or subsequently elected to it were opposed to Corbyn’s 2015 election as leader and tried to unseat him the following year. From their ranks – some of them here supporting LFI chair Joan Ryan – have come many of the well-publicised claims of anti-semitic 10 abuse that has attended Corbyn’s rise. 11 As the Al Jazeera documentary series, The Lobby, exposed earlier this year, there is a very close working relationship between the Israel embassy in London and the Friends of Israel groups in Parliament, including the one chaired by Enfield North MP Ryan. 12 There is also a strong link between the embassy and the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) that has led criticism of Corbyn and was very active on the ‘anti-semitism’ issue at the Brighton conference. Two JLM officials, Jeremy 13 Newmark and Mike Katz, were backed by Yvette Cooper, a Corbyn rival for the leadership in 2015, when they unsuccessfully stood as Labour candidates in the general election.

And no, before anyone asks, Booth’s article is not remotely anti-Semitic. It begins by describing the warm welcome given to Jewish speakers at Labour’s Brighton Conference last year, including Naomi Klein, Naomi Wimbourne-Idrissi, who declared that the party did not have a problem with Jews, and, of course, Ed Miliband. Wimbourne-Idrissi later that day went on to launch Jewish Voice for Labour, along with a number of other, very prominent Jewish activists, including a former member of the Israeli Defence Force.

The article also discusses the close relationship between the Blairites and the Israel lobby, and how the rise of Corbyn and the leftward turn of the party threaten the Thatcherite entryists, and their backers in the media, such as the Groaniad. It challenges their views on the neoliberal consensus, as well as their political careers. Hence they have resorted to smearing their opponents as anti-Semites. And before Booth talks about Mandelson, he writes about how Marek Edelman, a hero of the Warsaw Ghetto, was persona non grata in Israel because he supported the Palestinians. He stated that to be a Jew means that you always side with the oppressed.

Edelman’s a true hero, and Rich, Monks and Spedding are definitely siding with the oppressors. Hence their participation in the smearing of Labour members and supporters, who criticise Israel’s maltreatment of the Palestinians, or who, like Mike, simply defend those, who do, on grounds of historical accuracy.

Lobster 74 is at https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/issue74.php

Go and read the whole article to find out what these mendacious accusations are really about, and the noxious politics behind them.

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More From Lobster on New Labour’s Links to the Israel Lobby

September 23, 2016

Yesterday I put up a couple of pieces about items on New Labour and its connections to the Israel lobby. One of these pieces discussed James Purnell and James Harding, former Labour politicos and now directors of the BBC, who were involved in attempts to overthrow Jeremy Corbyn when they were councillors in Islington in the 1990s.

Robin Ramsay’s ‘View from the Bridge’ column in Lobster 58 for winter 2009-2010 has further information on the connections between Blair and Brown’s entryist clique and the Israel lobby. He reported that Grim Gordon had appointed Ivan Lewis as the responsible minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for Israel and the Middle East. Lewis was the vice chairman of Labour Friends of Israel. (pp. 109-110).

In the same issue he also reports that Channel 4 had broken one of the last great taboos of British journalism, and broadcast a documentary on the Israel lobby. He states that the accompanying booklet is ‘seriously good’ and should demonstrate that the Israel lobby is ‘real and significant’. It was available from as a download from and .

I don’t know whether it’s still available after all these years. Probably not. But it could still be worth a look. (pp. 110).

The Blairites were deeply entwined with Labour Friends of Israel, and the current anti-Semitism allegations, which have now resurfaced again with Liverpool MP Louise Ellman, are all about preserving their influence, against opposition from both gentiles and Jews.

That issue is Lobster is available free online. Go to Lobster’s webpage and select it from the numbers listed.

The Beeb’s Anti-Corbyn Bias and Labour Friends of Israel

September 22, 2016

More information from Lobster about the Israel lobby. And it’s directly relevant to the Corporation’s glaring bias against Jeremy Corbyn. Tom Easton’s ‘Tittle-Tattle’ column in number 68 of the parapolitical magazine, Lobster, for Winter 2014, discusses the various high-flyers and senior media figures and their very dodgy connections to intelligence and various covert political attending that year’s Media Society’s annual dinner. The dinner’s joint host was James Harding, the Beeb’s director of news and current affairs. One of his colleagues in the Beeb’s upper echelons is James Purnell, the corporation’s director of strategy and digital. Purnell’s a form a Labour politico. He started off as a councillor for Islington, alongside Stephen Twigg and Tal Michael, two senior Blairites. The Simpering Scrounger and his circle found them ‘winnable seats’, and they both went on to join Labour Friends of Israel. Both Twigg and Purnell served the organisation as chairmen, beginning with Twigg. Purnell headed it from 2002 onwards, also becoming an MP for Liverpool, where he was joined by Louise Ellman and Luciana Berger, who were also leading members.

Harding himself is also pro-Israel. The Guardian, discussing his appointment at the Beeb, commented:

‘Harding, who is Jewish, will also have to leave behind the pro-Israeli line of The Times. In a debate at the Jewish Community Centre For London in 2011, he said: “I am pro-Israel” and that in reporting on the Middle East, “I haven’t found it too hard” because “The Times has been pro-Israel for a long time.”’

Purnell, Twigg and Michael also tried to oust Jeremy Corbyn from his seat in Islington, but were unsuccessful. They were able, however, to smear Liz Davies.

See: http://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster68/lob68-tittle-tattle.pdf
Scroll down till you find the relevant section.

Given the history of these senior managers at the Beeb, it’s no wonder that the Corporation’s coverage of the Labour leader is so horrendously, blatantly biased.

The Anti-Semitism Accusations, Blair and the Israel Lobby

May 7, 2016

I’ve blogged a number of articles last week pointing out that the accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour have precious little to do with any genuine anti-Semitism, but are simply part of a strategy by the Blairites to hang on to power within Labour, and the Israel lobby to deflect criticism of the state’s appalling treatment of the Palestinians.

I’ve posted up a number of pieces from the parapolitics magazine, Lobster, about the connections between the Zionist lobby and New Labour. And in the case of Blair his circle of MPs and activists, the connection was very close indeed. For example, in the article ‘Yo, Blair!’, in Lobster 52 for Winter 2006/7, editor Robin Ramsay noted that Lord Levy’s fundraising activities amongst the Jewish community was aided by a member of the Israeli embassy.

Even when the police investigation into Lord Levy’s fundraising activities for the Labour Party overlapped with the Israeli assault on Lebanon, to my knowledge none of the major British media, looking at Blair’s support for the Israelis, thought it relevant to mention that his successful capture of the Labour Party owed much to the money provided by Lord Levy, money which came, we are told, from British Jews, and that this arrangement, which enabled Blair to be financially independent of the Labour Party’s resources – and thus to all intents and purposes beyond their control – was facilitated by Gideon Meir, then with the Israeli embassy in London. (P. 16).

Ramsay also ran another piece on ‘New Labour and Israel’ in ‘New Labour Notes’ in Lobster 44, Winter 2002, 16-17. He wrote

In Lobster 43, p. 9, I referred to Tony Blair’s membership of the Labour Friends of Israel. That body was the subject of ‘Byers plots a comeback with pro-Israel pressure group’ by the Times’ political editor, David Cracknell, which included the following:

‘Stephen Byers is bidding to make an early political comeback just two months after quitting the government. The former transport secretary is the front runner to take over the chairmanship of the influential Labour Friends of Israel pressure group. the body is one of the most prestigious groupings in the party and is seen as a stepping stone to ministerial ranks for Labour MPs. Several recent incumbents have been backbenchers who have gone on to be appointed to government….Tony Blair consults members of the Friends of Israel over Middle East policy and Byers would have the opportunity to regain access to Downing Street on a vital area of policy without attracting unwelcome headlines.’

In ‘Tony Blair, New Labour Trumpet Boy!’, Diane Langford of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, added the following information on LFI.

* The Director of Labour Friends of Israel is David Mencer, former research assistant and electoral agent for Gwyneth Dunwoody, ‘life president’ of LFI.

*The parliamentary register of Members’ interests shows that recent visitors who have had flights and accommodation paid by Labour Friends of Israel include Ivor Caplin, Paul Clark, Oona King, Ashok Kumar, Ivan Lewis, Anne McGuir, Rosemary McKenna, Margaret Moran, former LFI Chair Jim Murphy, Sandra Osborne, Gareth Thomas, Frank Roy, Joan Ryan, Angela Smith, Graham Stringer, Rudi Vis, David Watts, Gillian Merron, Peter Pike, Lorna Fitzsimons, Louise Ellman, Caroline Flint, Linda Perham, Douglas Alexander, Fabian Hamilton, Anthony Colman, LFI former Chair Stephen Twigg, LFI Vice Chair Mike Gapes, and Dan Norris.

Ivan Lewis, in the list above, was PPS to secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Stephen Byers MP.

* Since 1997 57 Labour MPs have visited Israel, mostly with the Labour Friends of Israel.

* The have been 14 official trade missions to Israel from the UK since 1997. The BRITECH agreement signed by Trade Secretary Stephen Byers means there is now a £15.5 million joint fund to encourage co-operation between British and Israeli hi-tech industries in research and development for their own benefit.

In the even the puff for Byers in the Times came to naught. the new chair of Labour Friends of Israel is the MP James Purple.

Further information on the Labour Friends of Israel appeared in the article ‘Terrorism, Anti-Semitism and Dissent’ by Tom Easton in Lobster 47 for Summer 2005, pp. 3-8.

Gwyneth Dunwoody’s researcher and election agent for some time was David Mencer, a former member of the Israel armed forces, and now secretary of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI). Stephen Byers, one of the few remaining defenders of the New labour Project, is a senior figure in LFI whose parliamentary chairman is now James Purnell. the latter was elected to Parliament in 2001 after working at No. 10.

Purnell, Stephen Twigg, Lorna Fitzsimmons, Jim Murphy and Sion Simon (a columnist for Conrad Black’s Daily Telegraph before becoming an MP in 2001) were all members of the New Labour ‘Praetorian guard’. Before becoming MPs they all cut their teeth in student politics with the help of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS). Numerically small – its website said it had 5,000 members in 2001 – it can afford 10 full-time workers. It played an important role in the 1990s in working with the National Association of Labour Students (later Labour Students) in keeping Israel off the campaigning agenda of the National Union of Students (NUS).

Of an older generation of student politicians is Mike Gapes, who came to work for the Labour Party after the NUS as a foreign policy researcher. He was part of the small team around Neil Kinnock who shifted the party away from its critical stance of the US and unilateralism. Elected to Parliament in 1992 he is now vice-chairman of Labour Friends of Israel. He wears another hat, that of chairman of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), a tax-funded operation similar to the NED in the States. Earlier this year Gapes chaired a WFD gathering at which Neocon NED chief Carl Gershman was a speaker.

This is just scratching the surface of the old Atlanticist networks with a newer Israel dimension, but it is sufficient to suggest that much of it in Britain centres around New Labour. And just as Avnery describes the pride the Israel lobby takes in its power over the US political process, so we have a parallel here around Tony Blair.

We not only can piece together the evidence; we can hear the words of one of Blair’s main links to the business community John Mendelsohn. this is what Mendelsohn told Jews Week (www.jewsweek.com) on September 8, 2002.

‘Blair has attacked the anti-Israelism that had existed in the Labour Party. Old Labour was cowboys-and-Indians politics, picking underdogs. The milieu has changed. Zionism is pervasive in New Labour. It is automatic that Blair will come to Friends of Israel meetings.

In a signed 2001 election advertisement in The Jewish Chronicle, Blair said:

‘Since 1997 a record 57 Labour MPs have visited Israel, mostly with Labour Friends of Israel, swelling the numbers of MPs willing to ensure balance on the Middle East in the House of Commons. More labour MPs have visited Israel than from any other party.’

How many of those Labour MPs voted against the invasion of Iraq? This is now important to the future of British politics. (p.8)

Elsewhere in the article Easton notes that the journos promoting the Iraq war worked for Murdoch, Black and Richard Desmond, who were all very strong supporters of Israel. (p. 6)

Owen Jones on the Middle Class Domination of the Houses of Parliament

May 5, 2014

I posted a piece this morning on early trade unionist campaigns to get the vote for the working class and working men into parliament and the local authorities. This was in response to the way working people have become increasingly ignored and excluded by the political class, to the point where many feel disenfranchised.

Owen Jones in Chavs describes the way parliament has become overwhelmingly upper and middle class in its composition:

We’ve seen that prominent politicians manipulated the media-driven frenzy to make political points. Like those who write and broadcast our news, the corridors of political power are deominated by people from one particular background. ‘The House of Commons isn’t representative, it doesn’t reflect the country as a whole,’ says Kevin Maguire. ‘It’s over-representative of lawyers, journalists-as-politicians, various professions, lecturers in particular … There are few people who worked in call centres, or been in factories, or been council officials lower down.’

It’s true to say MP’s aren’t exactly representative of the sort of people who live on most of our streets. Those sitting on Parliament’s green benches are over four times more likely to have gone to private school than the rest of us. Among Conservative MPs, a startling three out of every five have attended a private school. A good chunk of the political elite were schooled at the prestigious Eton College alone, including Tory leader David Cameron and nineteen other Conservative MPs.

There was once a tradition, particularly on the Labour benches, of MPs who had started off working in factories and mines. Those days are long gone. The number of politicians from those backgrounds is small, and shrinks with every election. Few than one in twenty MPs started out as manual workers, a number that has halved since 1987, despite the fact that that was a Conservative-dominated parliament. One the other hand, a startling two-thirds had a professional job or worked in business before arriving in parliament. Back in 1996, Labour’s then deputy leader John Prescott echoed the Blairite mantra to claim that ‘we’re all middle-class now’, a remark that would perhaps be more fitting if he had been talking about his fellow politicians. (p. 29)

It would be easy, but lazy, to portray parliament as a microcosm of the British class system. It isn’t, but it certainly showcases the gaping divides of modern society. When I interviewed James Purnell just before the May 2010 election that brought the Tories and their Lib Dem allies to 10 Downing Street, I put to him how unrepresentative Parliament was: two-thirds of MPs came from a professional background and were four times more likely to have attended a private school than the rest of the population. When I referred to the fact that only one in twenty MPs came from a blue-collar background, he was genuinely shocked. ‘One in twenty?’

When I asked him if this had made it more difficult for politicians to understand the problems of working-class people, he could hardly disagree. ‘Yes, indeed. I think it’s become very much a closed shop …’ For Purnell, this middle-class power grab was the result of a political system that has become closed to ordinary people.

In the build-up to the 2010 general election, a number of excited headlines claimed that trade unions were parachuting candidates into safe seats. ‘Unions put their candidates in place to push Labour to the left,’ bellowed the Times. And yet, in the end, only 3 per cent of new MPs were former trade union officials. There was no similar outrage about the number of prospective candidates with careers in the City – the sector that, after all, was responsible for the biggest economic crisis since the 1930s. One in ten new MPs had a background in financial services, twice as many as in the 1997 landslide that brought Labour to power. Politics has also increasingly been turned into a career rather than a service: a stunning one in five new MPs already worked in politics before taking the parliamentary oath. pp. 104-5).

He then contrasts with the great political figures from Atlee’s cabinet of 1945 from the working class: Nye Bevan, Ernest Bevin, and Herbert Morrison. They were a miner, farm boy and grocer’s assistant, respectively. He contrasts this with the Tory jeers about John Prescott’s working class origins.

When he entered the House of Lords, that retirement home for the ruling elite, the Telegraph’s chief leader writer scoffed: I’m not sure ermine suits John Prescott.’ the comments left by Telegraph readers on the newspaper’s website were a class war free-for-all. One passed on a friend’s hilarious description of him as ‘the builder’s bum-crack of the Labour Party’. ‘Baron Pie & Chips’ and ‘Prescott is a fat peasant’ were other witticisms, as was ‘John “here’s a little tip” Prescott’. Someone has to serve the drinks between debates!’ guffawed another. Prescott was ridiculed because some felt that by being from lowly working-class stock, he sullied the office of deputy prime minister and then the House of Lords. (p. 106).

We desperately need more working class people in parliament. And as for the Telegraph, Buddyhell over Guy Debord’s Cat has posted a long series of pieces on just how frighteningly far-right the commenters on their website are. Very many of them post horrendously racist and overtly Fascist messages. One even suggested that the Nazis were being demonised out of ignorance (!) and that this would not happen if people knew more about them. (!)
No, the Nazis are demonised because people know exactly what they are like. Hence the attempts by Nazi apologists to deny the Holocaust ever happened, or played down the number of people who were murdered. The Cat has noted that the Telegraph uses the excuse that it can’t be held responsible for what it’s commenters post, and it is therefore not responsible for the ravings of the assorted stormtroopers that post there. This won’t wash. Other website are modded, and stopping genocidal racists from advocating mass murder is one of the few infringements to the right to free speech that most people would applaud. But not, it seems, the Torygraph. Either – God help us! – the editors secretly agree with these rants, or else they are following the old tactic Enoch Powell adopted with his supporters from the Far Right. Powell actually personally wasn’t racist. He spoke Urdu, and had served on various official bodies promoting civil rights for Blacks and Asians before the infamous ‘River of Blood’ speech. See the section on him in Bloody Foreigners: Immigration and the English. He actually hated the NF, but cynically used their support.

As for the Times, this is the quintessential paper of the establishment. I’ve got a feeling it was edited for a time by the very blue-blooded Peregrine Worsthorne. Under David Leppard, it saw fit to publish the lie that Michael Foot was a KGB agent. No wonder it printed scare stories about a coming union left-wing takeover.