“Livingstone said he had not been asked by Labour to refrain from repeating his comments about Hitler, and that the disciplinary process was like “being in North Korea”.
Photo ©Daily Mail
Ken, Ken, Ken… mate, just stop digging! Move on, okay?
Oh dear, Ken Livingstone. Red Ken as was, eh? What is he like?
The former Mayor of London, everyone admits, did a brilliant job, completely transforming a failing city: congestion charging, free bikes, free love, special protection for crested newts – rationalising the public transport infrastructure… yes, he made the trains run on time.
Okay, a few criticisms, like starting the process whereby Putinist oligarchs and Arab oleocrats continue to launder their ill-gotten gains through the rampant housing market; or at least not dissuading it. Not many signs that his successor, Mr Johnson did much about it either.
But Ken has always been a controversialist; a man who frequently gets himself into holes and, like the Russians of Knightsbridge, keeps on digging. For sheer self-righteous indignation he has few peers, except with the pro-Israel, pro-Zionist lobby among the “Jewish community” of Britain. (Such a “community” may not be said to exist at the best of times, given the broad diversity of views and cultural practices among Britain’s 250,000 Jews, but we’ll gloss over that, as many do. These are not anyway the best of times.)
And now he is of an age when creeping senility is merely hardening his view that he is a priceless national treasure who must not be criticised for anything; even the most arrant tactical stupidity. Oh, Ken! Dear, dear Ken.
Thus it was that, a year ago, in an interview with Vanessa Feltz about his professed loyalty towards the then-Labour leftwing candidate, Naz Shah, he blurted out some apparent nonsense about Hitler and his “support for Zionism”.
Now, while mention of the name Hitler in the title is said to increase book sales by 15 per cent, all politicians must be aware that its use in political discourse must be done with the utmost circumspection. Vague generalisations will not do. But Boris managed to get away with it: no-one accused him of antisemitism when he likened the EU to the Third Reich.
The original accusation of “antisemitism” laid against Ms Shah, who went on to get elected after offering up the expected grovelling apology, concerned a silly Tweet she had sent to her friends group, in which she had taken an anti-Zionist meme – as it may have been, or it could have been a perfectly innocent geographical comparison, I have no idea – showing the map of Israel superimposed on the US state of Iowa, and added the caption “job done!”.
I suffer from an irritating habit of understanding the difference of when someone is just being amused by their own parti-pris sense of humour, and when they are deliberately issuing hateful propaganda for political ends. My own verdict, for what it is worth, which is not a lot, is that Shah was making a wry and not especially controversial private observation, that from a Muslim point of view it might have saved 70 years of violence if the European Jews had settled postwar in an uninhabited part of America instead of in Palestine, where there was a native population that has subsequently been marginalised and often brutalised by a flow of incomers who may be seen either as “indigenous but absent for the past 1900 years”; or as “oppressive colonisers”, depending on your point of view.
Nevertheless, there is a powerful lobby in Britain that is perfectly capable of utterly disregarding the first, “it is my humour” option, and seldom misses an opportunity to cry “antisemite!” when feeling offended; to stir up offence and to start a witch-hunt, especially against a Muslim, Labour MP, in order to keep up the pretence that the Likud government’s view that “might is right” should continue to dictate unpopular Israeli policy uncriticised and unhindered by any in the West.
Meanwhile, anyone thinking of going into politics should seriously consider their social media usage: you get away with nothing nowadays. Personally, I have no social media accounts. This li’l bogl would be more than enough to condemn me as anti-pretty much everything.
Believe it or not, people are actually paid and encouraged to go on social and mainstream media at the drop of a hat, to cry their “offence” and to respond to any hint of a point of view to the contrary with angry denunciations. One such, principal apologist Mr Regev, has been rewarded with the Israeli ambassadorship to London. Ms Shah on the other hand was accused by this group of Zionist trolls of wanting to “deport all the Israelis” from Israel, and other people went along with this propagandistic, Islamophobic assertion. Their bad.
Look. Have I got space here to dilate on the history of the Zionist movement from its invention in the latter part of the C19th up until 1932, when Hitler’s party came to power in Germany; the 1933 Enabling Act abolishing the powers of the German Presidency, leaving the Chancellor unopposed in his position; the subsequent Othering of the German Jews, the decrees confiscating their businesses and property, de-platforming of scientists, artists and writers; Kristallnacht, the deportations, the slave labour camps, mass murders by SS Einsatzgruppen death squads in the occupied territories and finally, the industrialized slaughter of millions?
Then the subsequent battle of wills of the survivors against the British mandate in Palestine – the terror campaigns by the Haganah and Irgun groups – the “ethnic cleansing” of the native Palestinians, the expulsions, the wars against their neighbours and the Occupation (happy 50th), the massacres at Shabrah and Chatilah, the immuring and blockade of Gaza, the punitive expeditions, the Intifada and the resistance, the abstraction of water and destruction of livelihoods, the relentless building and post hoc validation of illegal settlements, the creation of what now looks like an apartheid single-state, by what some Jewish historians themselves call the “Settler-colonialist” movement?
No, I haven’t. It’s all much too controversial, territory into which one dare not stray for fear of being hounded from pillar to post with cries of “antisemite”, no further such discussion being tolerable as European and American graveyards are desecrated and Jewish citizens targeted by Islamist terrorists and ultranationalistic white supremacists apparently feeling licensed by populist demagogues to raise the spectre of persecution once again, in a hideous cycle of attrition; it’s impossible.
Now is clearly not the time.
I dare however remark that, while it is only the holocaust-denying, alt-right revisionist ‘fake’ historians of the Chicago school who have linked the name of Adolf Hitler to Nazi support for Zionism, there are some respectable historians (such as AJP Taylor, who suffered academic persecution for his revisionist views on the “accidental” origins of WW2 and Hitler’s intentions, now more normally accepted) who have pointed to documentary evidence that there was indeed a section of the National Socialist party before 1933 that tended to favour the idea of encouraging Jews to leave Germany of their own volition.
Indeed they may have financed the settler movement to some degree and, indeed, expediently professed some admiration for their values of sturdy independence and briefly supported their ambition to create their own separate state. But there is no evidence that the pro-Zionist tendency included Hitler himself; and it was rapidly discouraged. Nor does the evidence explain, excuse or exonerate the responsibility of the party leadership subsequently for acts of genocide.
But we can’t discuss it. Nor is it particularly relevant that we should discuss it; someone should tell Ken there is no reason to keep raising the matter, it is relevant to nothing outside possibly the context of history books. No-one really cares about this detail; you are only giving a hostage to fortune for ignorant racists to seize on some debatable alt-fact to justify their prejudices.
I might also comment without fear or favour that saying this does not make me an “antisemite” or a Holocaust-denier, okay? I merely state an objective fact: that some reputable historians have pointed to this short-lived phenomenon; however retrospectively controversial their findings may be. But I appreciate that it does not suit some people’s narrative or their current political objectives to admit for a second the possibility that there may have been collusion at any time between the Nazis and the proto-state of Israel prior to the adoption of the policy of genocide.
It is a sensitive point: my argument is that it is very much in your interest to make it a sensitive point, to use such arguments as a basis for stirring up resistance when it may not much be of special concern among the “Jewish community”, who have more important things to worry about. History cannot alter the realities of the past; nor can anyone, neither Mr Arkush of the Board of Deputies, who asserts with maximal indignation and assumed offence that he regards today’s news as “a new low” in the history of relations with the historically antifascist Labour Party, which he and Rabbi Mervis continually hammer as institutionally racist; nor even Mr Livingstone.
But it can be used against reason, which seems not much valued nor respected anywhere in the era of “alternative facts”.
Now, back to poor Ken. Dear Ken.
Comparing the Labour party executive to North Korea is even more wildly imaginative than comparing Hitler to the Zionists, or whatever the hell he was trying to say. Let us not ignore the Trump theory, that Ken (71, going on 72) is in the early stages of dementia. His stubborn refusal to confront not just the possibility that he and his revisionist historical sources may be wrong, but that it is probably better just to shut up about it, since he is no expert, is doing all kinds of damage that could be avoided if he would just get off his horse and drink his milk, to borrow a line from John Wayne.
He needs to understand that the only people who give a fuck about Hitler and the Zionists are the Zionist lobby making maximum political capital out of his pernicious vapourings.
His repetition of the theory; his insistence that he is in the right, his complaint about the mild slap on the wrist the party machine has inflicted on him, which he refuses to recognise as anything other than a historic abrogation of his right to free speech; these are understandable reactions, but unwise. That he cannot see it as his ruin, and that of the party, is an expanding tragedy.
Better they had hung him out to dry, torn up his party card for life, sacrificed one of their totemic supporters, than suffer yet another existential crisis at a time when they are under relentless assault by the media over their dysfunctional leadership and shambolic underperformance in holding a rampant Tory party to account over such more pressing matters as the unfolding nightmare of Brexit, the “50p Housing Benefit” scandal and the deliberate running-down of the NHS.
The Labour Party cannot afford Livingstone any longer. He is doing this deliberately, I imagine, in order to force the Party to confront its divisions and lack of direction, to divert attention away from the inadequacies of Mr Corbyn; and to keep himself in the public eye, no doubt – retirement can go hard. But it’s not working, so he can just cut it out.
You’re all as awful, self-righteous and obsessive as one another, frankly.
Just stop digging! Move on, okay?
Anyone imagining that all such controversies matter a damn had better look at this:
http://arctic-news.blogspot.co.uk/ (5 April)
El Niño underway in the Pacific (wrong year). Gulf Stream heating up. Methane plumes erupting from the Arctic seabed. Sea surface temperatures 5.9°C warmer than 1981-2011. Central Africa currently exceeding 50 deg. C. Hundreds of wildfires burning in central Asia – CO2 measured at over 510 ppm, air heavy with sulphur.
Major flooding from Cyclone Debbie in New Zealand and Queensland (“1 in 500-years event” – second time in six years); devastating landslides after record rains in Colombia and Peru; millions of acres of Chile and the southern states of the USA burned; snow and tornado warnings nightly. Low-lying Vanuatu (wrecked by Cat 5 ‘Pam’ two years ago) threatened by tropical cyclone Cook (10 April).
Bleaching reported of two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef. 10 April: +28 Deg. C (83F) in New York.
Can’t the lying rich fuckers in the White House see where this is inevitably heading?
Out on my walks, I notice it – again. Spring arrived maybe a month early. Astonishing rapid growth, everything out chaotically all at once; trees in leaf, masses of blossom, carpets of daisies like snow – bluebells already – 23 Deg C. today, cloudless skies. My neighbour made a new front lawn: in five days from seeding his grass is 2″ high.
Guys, we’re basically fucked here.