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Tuesday 4 September 2018

Anti-Semitism - Blairites Did It Too

While our free and fearless press continues to creatively reinterpret what Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn did and said, while not noticing that they did not bother even taking notice of it before August 2015, they might not want to be reminded of one infamous example of past anti-Semitic behaviour, mainly because they all but gave it a free pass at the time.
The 2005 General Election campaign was when the politics first threatened to turn truly vicious: this was two years after the Iraq war had begun, trust in the then Labour Government and especially Tony Blair had taken a knock as voters realised they had not been told the truth about the rush to invade. And the Tories were regrouping.
The Blue Team had united behind Michael Howard, perhaps relieved that they had managed to dispose of Iain Duncan Cough without too much damage being done. Also, the Lib Dems under Charles Kennedy were looking to post gains. Into this combustible mix had been pitched a number of prospective Labour election posters.
Cathy Newman, then chief political correspondent at the Independent, had told readers “Two election posters have been dropped by Labour over a row over anti-Semitism. The party said it would not be using images of Michael Howard, the Conservative leader, superimposed on a flying pig, and dangling a pocket-watch on a chain”.
While the then editor of the Jewish Chronicle believed the images - another used the face of Oliver Letwin, who, like Howard, is Jewish - were anti-Semitic, with echoes of Shakespeare’s Shylock and Dickens’ Fagin, Ms Newman notes “The Labour MP Louise Ellman … said the pocket-watch poster was insensitive”. Only “insensitive”?
Worse, as Matt Black has discovered, is Tone’s former chief spinner Alastair Campbell was behind the offending posters, his diary entry for January 28, 2005 reading “I worked from home most of the day. I’d done a flying pig poster about Howard and Letwin which was causing a row, with some Jewish groups calling them anti-Semitic for putting Howard’s and Letwin’s heads on pigs. The fact both were Jewish had not crossed my mind”.

Although the artwork has apparently not survived, it is not difficult to (a) imagine what the posters might have looked like, and (b) conclude that they could be readily judged to be anti-Semitic. All of which raises three important questions.

One, the right-leaning part of the press wastes no opportunity to come down on Big Al like the proverbial tonne of bricks, especially the Mail. It did not do at that time. Did the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre manage to miss the furore?
Two, the idea that Labour didn’t veer across the anti-Semitism line before Jeremy Corbyn took over the leadership in 2015 is clearly bunk.

And three, if what Corbyn said about a group of disruptive protesters in 2014 is worthy of wall-to-wall condemnation, then mocking up two posters with clear anti-Semitic overtones must surely outrank it. But it didn’t. Why that might be I will leave to others.

Of course, at the time the Murdoch press backed Blair and Labour. I’m sure that’s a complete coincidence. I mean, to have double standards on this issue would never do.
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Mark said...

Further proof that a/s was more of a problem BEFORE Corbyn became leader. I've been saying for weeks that Labour targeted Michael Howard in a grossly offensive a/s way but no one seems to believe me or even want to consider it. It just shows what a hypocritical opportunist the odious Alistair Campbell us.

Stephen said...

I'd loathed Howard for years before I found out he was Jewish. My loathing has lessened since then, but only because he's not in Govt any more.

Anonymous said...

The point is, of course, that the WORLD is riddled with antisemitism. But there isn't one scrap of evidence to mark the Labour Party out as exceptional in the issue. Which is why corporate media have stuck to generalised allegations. Which is why they are dishonest cowards without the least intention of seeking the truth.

If anything, I'm willing to bet the public school dominated tories are much worse. New Labour, equally gutless and unprincipled, have merely latched on to the smear because they've had their political arses kicked all over the place.

But the bullshit sophistry over a choice of words has now been settled. So watch the usual political and media suspects come up with some other lying smear - give it a fortnight at most.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

Just as well they were flying pigs. Had they been sheep, it would be Cymrophobia.

I'd have to admit his Jewish parentage wouldn't come anywhere near my top ten of reasons to dislike Michael Howard as a politician.