The recent remarks of the first ever and former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone supposedly in support of another British Labour politician, Naz Shah, who had shared a social media post depicting a map of Israel transferred to the United States has ignited a debate on the extent of anti-Semitism in the British Labour Party.
In defence of Shah, Livingstone felt compelled to remind people that certain Zionists in 1930’s Nazi Germany came into an agreement with elements in the Nazi regime to transfer German Jews to Palestine. And indeed there is nothing remotely mutually exclusive about being both anti-Semitic and pro-Zionist. But, why he needed to drag this minor episode of European Zionist history, the Haavara agreement, into the mix in a supposed defence of Shah is bewildering.
More bewildering when one considers the fact that British imperialism was the most consequential partner to the Zionist colonial settler project in Palestine in the inter-war period. In 1917 when the British government issued the Balfour Declaration there were between probably 70,000 Jews in Palestine as opposed to at least 700,000 Palestinians. The British Empire’s policy was to establish a “national home for the Jewish people” and use its “best endeavours to facilitate” this achievement. Continue reading
One of the most boring British election campaigns on record produced a supposedly dramatic result. Before the polls closed at 10pm on Thursday 7th May 2015, every polling organisation had the two main political parties, Conservative and Labour neck and neck. No one knew who was going to win. But as soon as London’s iconic, Big Ben struck ten an exit poll for the main television stations surprisingly showed an overwhelming victory for the Conservatives. By the time the last votes were counted on Friday 8th, the Conservative Party led by Ed Cameron, had ridden home with 331 seats while David Miliband’s Labour Party performed unexpectedly poorly with 232 seats.
The United Kingdom’s parliament seats 650 members so the Conservatives had theoretically crossed the halfway 325 seats needed to govern the nation alone without a need to enter a coalition with a smaller party as it had done in 2010 with the Liberal Democrats.
In the immediate aftermath of the Conservative victory many rightly asked why the polls for the preceding six weeks got it so wrong. Continue reading
At the recent United Nations annual gathering of world leaders in September, President Barack Obama once again admitted to America’s role in the coup d’état which overthrew the government of the democratically elected Muhammad Mossadegh in 1953. This is not the first time Obama has mentioned this sore and defining episode in American-Iranian relations. In his 2009 Cairo speech Obama was more explicit in laying out America’s involvement. He acknowledged that during “the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.”
The reason why Obama may have used the indefinite article, “a role”, in describing America’s involvement is largely because there was another external actor. If America had acted alone in overthrowing Mossadegh’s government Continue reading
Tony Benn is a legend in his own time to many a politicos, especially those of us who are interested in anti-imperialist politics. He is admired by friend and foe alike as the fearless embodiment of the principled and quintessential British parliamentarian.
Over the last ten years his reputation as a peacenik and a radical left-winger was further consolidated by being the head of the UK’s main anti-war organisation, Stop the War Coalition (StWC) and with his continued patronage of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Britain’s main pro-Palestinian organisation. Yet according to a recent article published on the Open Democracy website it seems that Benn has a particular past which brings his current status into question. According to the writer, Professor Colin Scindler, Benn used to write “uber-Zionist” articles for a pro-Israeli journal called, the ‘Jewish Vanguard’. This surely beggars the question who is the real Tony Benn in accordance with a ‘Chomskyite’ criteria. Continue reading
“The greatest peril of Imperialism lies in the state of mind of a nation which has become habituated to…deception and which has rendered itself incapable of self-criticism.” J.A. Hobson, “Imperialism: A Study.”
Immediately following his successful appearance on BBC’s ‘Question Time’ programme, the author and journalist Owen Jones dedicated his weekly column in the ‘Independent’ to lambast the current UK political spectrum. He rightly noted the almost complete banality of consensus of the three main parties on the major issues of the day. From financial regulation, austerity to foreign policy, it is literally a case of tweedledum and tweedledee when it comes to their respective political positions. Yet, there was something all very déjà vu about the article. It simply read as though it was based on a reading of Peter Oborne’s book, ‘The Triumph of the Political Class’ published several years ago on the conformity of the ruling class. Oborne, who clearly belongs to the moderate (culturally, at least) side of the Conservative Party, bemoaned the decline of traditional British oppositional politics and its supplantation by a technocratic, careerist ‘modernising’ class who rarely substantially disagree or venture outside the Westminster bubble. Owen has every right to partly rehash this argument even if it is executed with a good dose of left-wing spice.
In contrast to this contemporary dreary state of affairs Owen conjures up the Labour politicians Continue reading