Principle is a word that is rarely heard these days in the Lib Dems. The most that Simon Hughes can manage is an envelope on which he makes political calculations as to what will most benefit a party headed for extinction. But then Hughes was the willing beneficiary of an anti-gay vote against Peter Tatchell in Bermondsey 25 years ago – despite being gay himself.
If you scratch a Liberal, you will usually find a Tory underneath. The story of the Weimar Republic is the story of the decline of the liberal German Democratic Party into the tiny German State Party. The Staatspartie ended up supporting the Nazi party, since the social basis of both fascism and liberalism is quite similar. Halmjar Schact personified this betrayal.
In Britain it was the Liberals who, under Lloyd Georgem insisted on Partition in Ireland and pushed for a Zionist settlement in Palestine. It was Liberal PM Herbert Asquith who led the battle against women’s suffrage with the Cat and Mouse Act. In other words, Clegg wouldn’t know what a principle was if it bit him on his nether regions.
Jenny Tong’s real crime, for which she was sacked, was to hold to her principles. This is rare in most political parties and in the Lib-Dems it is unique. The main principle of the Lib-Dems is to hold on to the Tories for fear of something worse, and to seek power and a well-paid sinecure come what may.
Look at Norman Baker, who used to be considered a radical MP for Lewes in East Sussex. He supported all sorts of causes but since becoming a minor Minister, he has jettisoned all his eccentric views in favour of a limousine to park his ample bottom on.
Principle and the Liberal-Democrats are about as compatible as oil and water. Understand that and you understand everything. There is no principle that is too dear for the Lib-Dems to jettison. Remember all those pledges against locking up child refugees? Well forget them because they are still being locked up. Remember theri opposition to control orders? Well they still have them too (but they are renamed!).
There used to be a welfare state which owed its birth in part to the Liberal peer William Beveridge. Today the Lib-Dems are busily tearing it up. NHS? The Lib-Dems have whined and complained but they had a unique opportunity to say no to Tory privatisation and fluffed that. On student fees we all know the u-turn they and Clegg did, despite signing a pledge not to introduce them.
On workers’ rights at employment tribunals, you would think a basic principle of justice for those aggrieved at work, the self-important ex-BP economist Vince Cable has led the charge to deprive the most put upon workers of the most elementary rights and to charge them thousands of pounds into the bargain for the privilege of enforcing such things as the right to be free from sexual or racial harassment.
The glee of Zionist toe-rags like Martin Bright, the Jewish Chronicle’s Political Editor and ex-Observer journalist (who was known for his close relationship to Britain’s Special Branch) goes without saying. Below are a wide variety of reactions but one thing is for certain – Jenny Tonge is held with deep affection for her principled stance on Palestine. Nick Clegg by contrast is held in contempt for dancing to the tune of the Zionist media.
Even by the Jewish Chronicle’s abysmal standards, standards which have immeasurably declined since ex-Express editor, Stephen Pollard, took over, Bright’s article is a disgraceful set of trite and superficial observations.
Jenny Tonge has never said anything hostile to the Jewish community in Britain. Only a liar like Bright (or an anti-Semite – since Bright is not Jewish it is highly likely that his support for Zionism is, as was the case with most non-Jewish Zionists, motivated by anti-Semitism) could confuse British Jews for Zionism and Israeli Jews .
Jenny Tonge said no more than the obvious. A state that feeds off war, that is incapable of coming to terms with its own population, which treats 20% of its own citizens as guests and refuses to acknowledge a unitary Israeli citizenship is not destined long for this world.
Israeli is destined to die, the only question is when. Only a fascist hyena, or an ignoramus like Clegg, would confuse the people of Israel for the state. The state is a racist, apartheid state. It is destined for the funeral pyre and one can only hope that day comes soon. But like South Africa, the people we hope will devise new structures with which to live in peace and equality.
PRESS RELEASE – BARONESS JENNY TONGE
The Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine regret the resignation of the party whip by Baroness Tonge and offer her their full support. Her resignation follows condemnation of her by the party leadership for remarks she made in a meeting at Middlesex University last week. The condemnation was made before the leadership had heard her side of the story or even spoken to her. That action in itself worries us. She is entitled to an apology.
Her actual words which caused the controversy were “Israel is not going to be there forever on its present performance”. She has confirmed to us that her intention was to imply that Israel’s wilful failure to uphold and respect the human rights of Palestinian Muslims and Christians is behaviour which is likely to lead to its self-destruction. This failure by Israel applies both with regard to its own Arab citizens (whom it discriminates against) and to the people of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (who have endured Israeli occupation for nearly 45 years). We consider that her words, when interpreted in this context, were entirely reasonable.
It is worth noting that her remarks were made at the end of a long and acrimonious meeting in which she was repeatedly barracked by pro-Israeli government hecklers. The video clip which recorded her remarks is incomplete and does not give a full or accurate impression of the debate. What disturbs us most, however, is the selective reporting of her remarks on the blogs by Richard Millet and Guido Fawkes. The three minute clip of her remarks on Guido Fawkes is entitled “LibDem Peer says ‘Israel won’t be there forever’.” This partial quotation would seem very possibly to be deliberate, and has had the effect of fostering a misinterpretation of her views.
John McHugo, chair of Lib Dem Friends of Palestine, says, “This is a witchhunt based on trial by blog. Jenny’s motivation in speaking up for the rights of the oppressed is anger at injustice when others, who have the duty to speak out, pass by silently on the other side of the street. It is also an attempt to make Jenny the story, and to detract attention from the evils of Israel’s occupation.”
Note (from the LDFP website): “The Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine exist to fight for the rights of the Palestinian People through the medium of the Liberal Democrat Party. We currently support the “two state solution” for an independent and viable Palestinian state, and security for both parties. We therefore call on Israel to renounce all claims to occupied land and to halt all illegal settlement building. If Israel is unwilling to do this, there will come a point at which “the one state solution”, under which Israel will need to offer all Palestinians citizenship in a single, secular State, will become the only way forward. This may be very soon.”
By Martin Bright, March 1, 2012
Baroness Tonge has been a one-woman running sore within the Liberal Democrat Party, poisoning relations with the Jewish community with her persistently distasteful and incendiary comments about Israel. Finally she is gone, effectively sacked after refusing to withdraw her statement during an event at Middlesex University that Israel “will not last forever”. Now there is reason to believe that wound can begin to heal.
Her career as one of the Palestinian people’s least effective champions began while still an MP when she said she might herself have considered becoming a suicide bomber if she found herself under Israeli occupation.
Over the years she has repeatedly evoked classic conspiracy theory language to bemoan the power of the “Israel lobby” – to the intense irritation of her colleagues and the Liberal Democrat leadership. She referred to it again in her resignation statement on Wednesday.
But, astonishingly, she managed to hold on to the whip. When the JC interviewed Nick Clegg in September 2009, he made it clear that he would not remove the whip from the peer, as he did not view her comments at that point as racist.
He later sacked her from the front bench after she called for an inquiry into accusations that the Israeli Defence Forces had been harvesting organs in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake. But she still held the Liberal Democrat whip.
To give credit to Mr Clegg, he always said he would have no hesitation in removing the whip from the peer if he felt she had overstepped the mark. He has been as good as his word.
There have always been people within the party who have been deeply troubled by the presence of Baroness Tonge within its ranks.
Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel have had to plough a lonely furrow and the organisation deserves credit for keeping up the pressure on the leadership over the issue.
It is no surprise that the now former LibDem peer once again blamed her predicament on “the pro-Israel lobby”.
It is certainly true that she was brought down by an irresistible pincer movement of right-wing bloggers. First, the neo-cons at the Commentator picked up on footage of the Middlesex University event posted by the redoubtable Richard Millett and then passed the baton to the conservative attack dogs at Guido Fawkes.
But it was probably coverage in the Guardian, not known for its Zionist views, that finally made it obvious that Nick Clegg could no longer hold on to “Jihad Jenny”.
Few will lament the end to her LibDem career, too often punctuated by an irrational hatred of Israel, paranoid conspiracy theory and outright blood libel. Baroness Tonge’s views were always on the wilder fringes of British politics, but her position within a mainstream political party gave her the veneer of respectability, albeit increasingly tarnished. Now she has been consigned to the margins, which is exactly where she belongs.
Lady Tonge refuses to apologize after declaring that ‘Israel will not be there forever’
Ynet Published: 02.29.12
An outspoken British Liberal Democrat party peer who declared that Israel would not last forever resigned from her post as the party whip on Wednesday after rejecting a call from Nick Clegg to apologize.
Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported that Lady Tonge told the party leadership that she could not accept the ultimatum from the deputy prime minister because she stood by her remarks.
Her move, which came as the Board of Deputies of British Jews condemned Tonge’s remarks as “sinister and abhorrent,” means she no longer holds the post of Liberal Democrat whip in Britain’s House of Lords.
In her statement she said: “The comments I made were in protest at the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and the treatment of Israeli Arabs.”
She added: “I have been asked to apologize but refuse to do so and resign the whip of my party.”
Enough is enough?
Clegg said in response: “These remarks were wrong and offensive and do not reflect the values of the Liberal Democrats.
“I asked Baroness Tonge to withdraw her remarks and apologize for the offence she has caused. She has refused to do so and will now be leaving the party.”
Tonge, who was fired from a party post in 2004 when she suggested she could consider becoming a suicide bomber, sparked the row after raising questions about the future of Israel.
She told a meeting at Middlesex University last week: “Beware Israel. Israel is not going to be there forever in its present form. One day, the United States of America will get sick of giving 70 billion pounds sterling a year to Israel to support what I call America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East – that is Israel. One day, the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA: enough is enough.”
She added: “Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown.”