Opera Holland Park, or more correctly nowadays Investec Opera Holland Park, so the blurb goes, “is widely regarded as one of the most exciting, innovative and accomplished opera companies in the UK, with an extraordinary history of producing rarities, alongside popular favourites. Whether novice or aficionado, OHP has something to offer - and all taking place in one of the most beautiful covered spaces in the capital”.
OHP’s General Director is Michael Volpe, who, when he is not thus directing, includes a moderately opinionated Twitter feed among his pursuits. On that feed, he has let the world know that he is not impressed with efforts to smear Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, to the extent of joining the party, something he confirmed earlier this week.
His Tweet was to the point: “Consequences of this hourly smear campaign against Corbyn and the left; 1. Joined the Labour party (never done that before) 2. Started following people with images of Fidel Castro in their profiles 3. Thinking [people] I have long admired or respected are complete tosseurs”.
This mood of moderate levity, though, did not last, as Volpe then received what can only be described as a veiled threat to the business in which he is involved. This came from Ben Weich, who covers UK news for the Jewish Chronicle.
“I was wondering if you have had any backlash to this Tweet - specifically regarding the ongoing row involving Mr Corbyn and anti-Semitism?” he asked. Then came the less pleasant part. “Another interesting point is that Investec - who I understand sponsor Opera Holland Park - is a company with longstanding ties to the Jewish community … [have] there been any ramifications professionally?”
This, of course, could have been a genuine enquiry from Weich, and so Volpe kept the discussion in the polite and reasoned arena. “Hi Ben, backlash in what way? My Tweet doesn’t mention anti-Semitism … it was specifically in response to David Aaronovitch’s reference to the Warrington bomb [and] Red Action, actually”.
Weich was not so jocular in his next response. “I see … so what we [!] picked up on was the ‘smear campaign’ remark … there are some in the community who might see that as undermining their concerns”. Ri-i-i-i-ght.
One hates to be picky, but the difference between Weich’s approach to Volpe, and saying “That’s a nice Opera Holland Park you’ve got there, Michael … it’d be a pity if something was to happen to it”, does not appear to be significant. That’s quite apart from the impression that Volpe was having his Twitter feed monitored.
What is Ben Weich’s problem, and indeed the JC’s? Can’t Michael Volpe join the Labour Party and say that he has done so, without having his business threatened?
The impression is given that some opponents of the current Labour leadership are getting a little too enthusiastic. Perhaps taking a step back is in order at this point.
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