Theresa May gives peerages to her SpAd John Randall and her friend Catherine Meyer, Corbyn makes anti-Semitism row Martha Osamor a peer – at 5pm on Friday before the Royal Wedding…
Jeremy Corbyn’s new peer Martha Osamor is embroiled in an anti-Semitism storm after it emerged she mounted an extraordinary defence of some of Labour’s worst anti-Semites. On 15 June 2016, Osamor signed a letter protesting against the suspension of several Labour members who had made virulently anti-Semitic comments. The letter – which itself should be enough to warrant suspension – defended the notorious Tony Greenstein, who was kicked out of the party after Labour’s NCC found him guilty of “repeatedly using ‘zio’ as a term of derision, stating ‘Gay zionists make me want to puke’ and referring to others as ‘Zionist scum’”. Osamor personally backed Greenstein.
The Osamor letter also defended Jackie Walker, insisting her suspension was “applied and publicised in haste, without due consideration”, and welcoming her re-admission to the party (Walker was later suspended again for claiming that Jews financed the slave trade). Osamor thinks Jackie Walker should still be in the Labour Party.
Osamor’s letter remarkably backed Ken Livingstone’s claims that Hitler was a Zionist: “It appears allegations of anti-Semitism are being used to stifle the sharing of information on some of the uncomfortable events that took place during the Shoah”. Osamor specifically called for Momentum activist Marlene Ellis to have her suspension overturned. Ellis called for Ken to be reinstated and dismissed Naz Shah’s call for Jews to be transported out of the Middle East as “not so outrageous within the historical context and involvement of Zionists with Nazis”. And the letter defended David White, the Croydon CLP secretary who was suspended for saying Ken was “largely accurate” to say Hitler was a Zionist. It appears Osamor thinks Ken and his defenders have done nothing wrong.
Osamor’s letter said the suspensions for anti-Semitism “undermine serious discussion and thinking”. What “serious discussion and thinking” about Jews does Osamor want to have? She goes on to claim “Allegations are also being made to silence criticisms of Israel, hamper the work of Momentum activists, and undermine Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn”. This is a viewpoint Corbyn has himself condemned – so why is he putting Osamor in the Lords?
Her letter then compared the anti-Semitism scandal to the McCarthy era and the Salem witch trials. It states:
“We are uncomfortable with the parallel between the suspensions and what took place during the McCarthy era in the United States… Some members of the Party appear to have exploited a somewhat hysterical atmosphere which has been allowed to develop. This is reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts, rather than of calm, rational consideration… The current suspensions are perceived as a tool to intimidate activists on the Left which is inimical to the progress of the Labour Party.”
Just three weeks ago, Osamor shared another letter to the Guardian on her Facebook page which claimed Labour’s anti-semitism crisis was “weaponised” by the media to damage Corbyn and Labour ahead of the local elections. Again, this is a position Corbyn has condemned.
If a typical Labour member had said the things in Osamor’s letter, endorsing Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker, Ken Livingstone, Marlene Ellis and David White, they would be suspended. Instead Corbyn has given Osamor a peerage. Labour have been approached for comment. Will they act in light of these new revelations?
UPDATE: Martha Osamor says in a statement:
“I am and always have been implacably opposed to antisemitism and have spent my life as an anti-racist campaigner. As Jeremy has said clearly, raising concerns about antisemitism is not a smear. I welcome Jennie Formby’s recent actions as Labour’s new General Secretary to ensure there is no place for antisemitism in the Labour Party.”
Labour are declining to defend Osamor and have made her put out a statement in her own name. Oh dear…
UPDATE II: Campaign Against Antisemitism condemn Corbyn and Osamor:
“Mr Corbyn has promised action, not just words, against antisemitism in the Labour Party. Today his actions speak louder than ever. By elevating Ms Osamor to the peerage, Mr Corbyn has sent an unmistakable signal to those in the Jewish community who still harboured some hope that he might change. Mr Corbyn is telling us not only that he sees her behaviour as unproblematic, but that he sees it as being worthy of the highest honour and a lifelong seat in the House of Lords. Yet again, Mr Corbyn has sent the Jewish community a two-fingered salute, and the Labour Party has looked on inertly.”
Theres are the 2 bishops, 17 Tories, 50 crossbenchers, 83 Labour, 84 LibDem and 11 other peers who voted to overturn the referendum result and keep the UK in the single market tonight. More than a few voting to protect their EU pensions. This is the 13th time the unelected House of Lords has voted to try to wreck Brexit. Reform badly needed.
Arbuthnot of Edrom, Lord
Cooper of Windrush, Lord
Green of Hurstpierpoint, Lord
Patten of Barnes, Lord
Prior of Brampton, Lord
Ah, cool. A Lib Dem peer just compared Theresa May to Adolf Hitler for implementing Brexit. pic.twitter.com/eCfE0SFw9j
— Darren Grimes (@darrengrimes_) April 30, 2018
Latest from the Lords, where the disgraced moat-cleaner Douglas Hogg and friends are tabling an amendment to stop Brexit. LibDem peer Lord Roberts has just compared Theresa May to Hitler:
“My mind went back to Berlin in March 1933, when the Enabling Bill was passed in the Reichstag. That Enabling Bill transferred democratic rights of the parliament into the hands of one man, that was the Chancellor. His name was Adolf Hitler. Perhaps I’m seeing threats that do not exist, but they are there, they are possible. Who’d have said before the 1930s that Germany, this cultured country, would involve itself in such a terrible war.”
This is the standard of argument from Remain peers.
Vid via Darren Grimes.
Anti-Brexit bias runs like a spinal cord through the bloated body of civil servants and ex-mandarins that make up Whitehall. This group of metropolitan remainers – whose fat pensions are funded by the taxpayer – are an influence network which has been regularly accused of trying to hamper Brexit. Many of them have seats in the House of Lords. Last night every living former Cabinet Secretary voted against the government on the customs union. A Guido probe reveals the extent to which former top civil servants share anti-Brexit views…
Let’s start with Lord David Hannay, formerly Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the European Economic Community. He tarred all Leave voters with the same brush, calling them “feckless” during a Parliamentary debate last year. That’s 17,410,742 voters dismissed…
Lord Robin Butler – Cabinet Secretary for a decade under Thatcher, Major and Blair, loudly and publicly opposes Brexit. He claims leaving the EU:
“Strikes a dagger to my soul… The United Kingdom being motivated by an illusory quest for independence, in a world which becomes more interdependent day by day, is a painful prospect.”
Sir John Kerr – former Permanent Under Secretary of State at the Foreign Office (a particular hotbed of remain sentiment) – wants Article 50 reversed and believes the UK should accept a subordinate position to the EU:
“At any stage we can change our minds if we want to… we can remember that an Article 50 notification can always be withdrawn… in the end, we will basically come to heel.”
Lord Sir Nick MacPherson, Permanent Secretary to the Treasury for more than a decade, suggested stopping Article 50, even if it demands a change of government:
“Lord Kerr drafted Art. 50 and entirely right that Brexit can be halted at any time. Odds are against but all governments’ lives are finite.”
Lord Ricketts, former Permanent Under Secretary of State of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, denied that the EU intends to create its own army despite evidence to the contrary:
“I think we can be completely relaxed about the prospect of a European army; it is never going to happen.”
Former Head of the Civil Service Lord Kerslake – often deployed by Corbynistas as a policy ally – says there is “no upside” to Brexit:
“The challenge here, and I’ll be very direct about this – from my perspective there is no upside [to Brexit]. This is about damage limitation. And we’re working in a situation where policy has not been properly settled.”
Sir Martin Donnelly – Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Trade until last year, prefers a food analogy. He compared leaving the Customs Union to sign trade deals with other countries to:
“Giving up a three-course meal now in favour of the promise of a packet of crisps”
And let’s not forget Lord Gus O’Donnell, Cabinet Secretary from 2005-2015, who publicly campaigned for ‘remain’. Faced with the legacy of this gang of Brussels-loving Sir Humprheys, no wonder Brexiteers think Whitehall is working against them…
If anyone is still wondering why Brexiters think the civil service is working against Brexit, take a look at this. As the Times’ Henry Zeffman points out, every living former civil service Cabinet Secretary voted against the government on the customs union last night. As did three former permanent secretaries at the Foreign Office and the former permanent secretary at the Treasury. Our former civil service chiefs voting directly against the will of the 52%…
As expected the government has lost the vote in the Lords on the customs union by 348-225. This will be spun up as a huge win for Remainers that means we are likely to stay in the customs union. That is not the case. Even Remainers Guido has spoken to today agree that is an exaggeration – the vote only requires the government to make a statement outlining its position. The problem is it provides room in the Commons for Remainers to toughen up their amendment there, causing potential problems down the line. No10 must hold firm – staying in a customs union is not Brexit…
Their noble Lordships have bagged a pay rise: their daily expenses allowance now stands at up to £305, a £5 increase on last year. The £305 daily rate does not account for the benefits gained from subsidised restaurants. It also does not include travel expenses which can be claimed separately. Lording it up…
Unelected, unaccountable and unknown to the British reading public, a gang of press-hating peers last night forced a double defeat on the government which could pave the way for Leveson 2. Lords voted by a majority of 29 to effectively green light the proposed second part of the Inquiry. Lengthy Leveson 1 already produced a 2000 page report at a cost of £5.4 million to the taxpayer – and left the press with legal bills in the tens of millions.
The Conservative manifesto pledged in black-and-white that the Inquiry would not be reopened. Despite this promise, Leveson 2 will now face a vote by MPs in the spring. Commons maths means the outcome is far from certain. Tom Watson can hardly conceal his glee. Cop-thumper Max Mosley will consider it a spankingly good development…
The peers, led by Baroness Hollins, effectively hijacked the Data Protection Bill, twisting consumer protection measures into yet another press-bashing free-for-all. Their illiberal agenda includes introducing measures akin to the harsh Section 40, which would mean newspapers could have to pay both their own and their opponent’s legal costs even if they were successful in data protection cases.
Guido understands government concessions are in play. A ‘press sustainability review’ may be put on the table. There’s a danger opponents of a free press will run away with any concession and try to force through their anti-freedom agenda. The government last night said it will seek to overturn the Lords’ amendments in the Commons.
The press has been publicly scrutinised to an extraordinary level in recent years, put under the spotlight unlike any other industry, with lengthy inquiries and multiple (fruitless) police probes. The threat of yet another inquiry was described in last night’s debate as amounting to “harassment” of the press by the state. Some politicians are still on their hellbent crusade to muzzle the free media, the force that exposes their wrongdoing and holds them to account…
When he stood for leader arch opponent of the House of Lords Jeremy Corbyn vowed that he wouldn’t nominate any more Labour peers. Post-Shami, Michael Crick reports that Jezza has formally sold out on his principled stance and is now in the process of choosing which comrades he wants to ennoble. What about Lord Mason of Lambeth, since he never did run for parliament? Surely Lord Loach for services to filmmaking. Lord Lansman of Shad Thames could be a good shout. There has been talk of a senior Stop the War figure being nominated – not Lord Murray? Unfortunately Lord Livingstone of Caracas wouldn’t be able to take the Labour whip. Though Lord Galloway may be able to soon. Alas Lord Jones of Islington may be overlooked for disloyalty…
Legendary Tory peer Baroness Trumpington has announced she will retire on 24 October. she was a wartime codebreaker at Bletchley Park and at 94 is the oldest female peer. Famously, the Baroness gave Lord King the v-sign in the House of Lords after he alluded to her age in a speech. She said later: “he got what he deserved”. Guido brings you her career highlights…
No, not that Alastair Campbell… but Alastair Campbell, 4th Baron Colgrain and the former High Sheriff of Kent has won the House of Lords hereditary peer by-election. Lord Colgrain, a Tory, is an old Etonian who has worked for 30 years in the City in the financial executive search sector. PR guru Lord Bethell came a close second. One for the Lords diversity quota.
Last night’s BBC documentary Meet the Lords saw Baroness D’Souza attend the unveiling of a portrait of herself costing a cool £12,000. Asked whether this was taxpayers’ money well spent, D’Souza said the media were correct to hold her to account but suggested they had not reported her spending accurately. For the sake of “accuracy“, here is the full litany of how D’Souza has spent your money:
- £12,000 on a portrait of herself which the Baroness described as “a really good painting”
- £4,000 on flowers
- £1,100 on a trip to the ballet
- £26,000 on a ten day trip to the Far East
- £738 to keep her car waiting outside Windsor Castle
- £270 to keep her car waiting during lunch with the Japanese Ambassador
- £230 to keep her car waiting during a trip to the opera
“One would require them to be accurate”…
Interesting timing for the new BBC documentary on the House of Lords. The choice quote is from Baroness D’Souza:
“There is a core of peers who work incredibly hard, who do that work, and there are, sad to say, many, many, many peers who contribute absolutely nothing but who claim the full allowance. I can remember one occasion when I was leaving the House quite late and there was a peer – who shall be utterly nameless – who jumped out of a taxi just outside the peers’ entrance, left the engine running. He ran in, presumably to show that he’d attended, and then ran out again while the taxi was still running. So I mean that’s not normal, but it is something that does happen and I think that we have lost the sense of honour that used to pertain, and that is a great, great shame.”
That would be the same Baroness D’Souza who infamously billed the taxpayer £230 to keep a chauffeur-driven car waiting for four hours while she watched an opera a mile from Parliament. As well as another £270 bill to keep the meter running while she had lunch with the Japanese ambassador. And another £738 to keep a Mercedes parked while she attended an event at Windsor Castle. D’Souza also spent £4,000 of taxpayer cash on flowers for her office and £1,120 for drinks and a trip to the ballet with a delegation from Russia. “We have lost the sense of honour and that is a great shame…”
Theresa May and Commons leader David Lidington are sitting on the steps of the throne in the House of Lords as they begin their Brexit debate this afternoon, to remind peers of the democratic mandate issued by the elected chamber. Sound.
UPDATE: Another angle:
A “government source” in this morning’s papers threatened the Lords with abolition if they obstruct Brexit, now Oliver Letwin has asked for a debate if they do hold up the process. Instead of implausibly threatening to abolish the Lords they should promise to cut daily their expenses from £300 to £0. Focus the peers’ minds…
Ed Miliband has secured an adjournment debate tonight on HS2 where he will argue against the line going through his Doncaster constituency. Miliband has been on quite a journey – he used to say he “absolutely” supported the project before u-turning because it will “disrupt” his constituents. Will it disrupt relations with the wife too? Ed’s other half Justine Thornton QC has for the last few months been working as counsel for the Department for Transport, defending HS2 as it faced public opposition at Lords committee stage. MPs needing lines to take before Ed’s debate tonight can read Justine’s evidence on behalf of DfT and HS2 here. Mr Miliband attacking HS2 in the Commons, Mrs Miliband defending it in the Lords…
At least 20 peers who tried to derail the government’s Higher Education Bill last week are in the pay of universities, Guido can reveal. Jo Johnson’s Bill aims to encourage competition by allowing new high-quality higher education providers to call themselves universities.[…] Read the rest