The Labour Party and its leadership may have thought that the current row over alleged anti-Semitism was bad, but as with so many such controversies, the point comes when the opposition rides to your rescue. First it was the news that those IHRA examples, which Labour was getting stick for as it hadn’t implemented them in full, hadn’t been adopted at all by the Tories. And then, galloping into view, came UKIP.
I em not a racialist but, und zis is a big but ...
The remaining saloon bar propper-uppers of the Kipper massive, now under the less than benign leadership of Adolf von Batten, need not have even bothered with the controversy over the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and its list of examples. But UKIP has, under Batten’s leadership, lurched to the far right, and hate speech has become part of its modus operandi. And if hate speech can be directed at Muslims, why not anyone else?
So it was that that the Mirror told its readers “Ukip bosses block anti-Semitism pledge because they're the 'party of free speech’ … Senior figures are concerned accepting the IHRA definition of anti Jewish abuse would restrict Ukip members' freedom of speech”.
This bizarre stance came after a UKIP NEC member, Pat Bryant, “suggested signing up to the anti abuse pledge, because it would convince members the party’s opposition to ritual slaughter was not fuelled by anti-Semitism … She also suggested signing up to the pledge would ‘put Labour on the back foot.’” Ms Bryant’s idea did not fare too well, though.
As the report confirms, “senior figures blocked the move, claiming members’ free speech should not be restricted, according to emails leaked to the Daily Mirror … Elizabeth Jones, a member of Ukip’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), wrote: ‘No way. We are the party of free speech. We cannot sign any document that restricts that position.’”
It got worse, with senior Kippers taking wildly contradictory positions - and, indeed, peddling some particularly lame excuses. For instance, “Michael McGough said he was ‘loathe’ to sign up to the agreement, because he never ‘signs declarations or petitions’ when he is standing as a candidate for election … He added: ‘I would rather send a letter supporting their aims but stating we do not sign third party declarations’”.
On the other hand, “Paul Oakley, the party’s General Secretary said he would be happy to sign up to the definition, arguing anyone using ‘free speech’ to spread anti-Semitic abuse would be breaking the party’s Constitution”. How about the party leader, then?
“Ukip leader Gerard Batten last night refused to sign the party up to the definition in full, insisting anti-Semitism is covered under the party’s existing rules against discrimination”. Well, if it is, he should have no problem in urging his party to adopt the IRHA definition. But he did have an excuse to hand. “UKIP has a long-standing position of not formally signing up as a body to external positions, petitions, etc, because to do so for one would merely embroil us in endless discussions about why we might do so for one but not another”.
What Batten ifs effectively doing is to endorse anti-Semitic hate speech, and that UKIP members can indulge in such behaviour, although they may get disciplined later.
Jeremy Corbyn thinks he’s got controversy? Gerard Batten says Hold My Beer.
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