Clive Lewis, who represents Norwich South, is no stranger to saying what he thinks, and on occasion attracting adverse comment as a result. He commended an article in the Guardian by Jeremy Gilbert on electoral reform, approvingly quoting the conclusion “In a normal parliamentary democracy with seats allocated according to the proportion of votes received - Corbyn would lead an explicitly socialist party. One whose internal bureaucracy wouldn’t have spent 5 years undermining him”.
The ensuing Twitter exchanges mentioned the continuing hostility of the Board of Deputies of British Jews to Jezza, with Lewis asserting “Reminds me of the attitude of the Roman Republic to Hannibal. They pursued him relentlessly long after his armies had been defeated. The message clear: defy Rome and know we won’t just defeat you; we’ll utterly destroy you”. Harpin was ready and waiting: he smelt a potential trope.
“He might have got away with this Roman reference - were it not in a thread discussing conspiracies about the [Board of Deputies] … [Clive Lewis] has some explaining to do, surely”. I’m not sure, but don’t call me Shirley. But seriously, if there was some kind of anti-Semitic intent here, he would not have equivocated. And equivocate he did.
So whereas some responding to Harpin’s suggestion said they would make complaints to the Labour Party, suggested that Lewis was doing something wrong, or otherwise nudged and winked, Peter Craven remained unimpressed. “AS tropes under the bed. I think I've just seen one in my greenhouse”. The man from the JC was reaching. Rather a long way.
The Tweeter known as Chris Monsanto was equally unimpressed, not to say cynical: “Ah, the classic antisemitic trope of *checks notes* referencing the 2nd Punic War and its aftermath”. Not going too well for Harpin, was it? And there was more.
One responder simply asked “What are you planning to do when this trick stops working, Lee?” And the Tweeter known as Buddy Hell asked Harpin “Is this you?” and linking to a press release from Carter Ruck, which means it was expensive.
What was that about? Well, the first paragraph sums it up: “The Jewish Chronicle, its editor Stephen Pollard and journalist Lee Harpin have apologised to Nada al-Sanjari, a school teacher and local councillor over a number of articles they published last year. They have also agreed to pay her a substantial sum in libel damages, as well as her legal costs”. The JC does seem to get itself embroiled in an awful lot of these actions.
But the inference is clear: Lee Harpin’s judgment sometimes isn’t. I’ll just leave that one there.
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