Labour’s BDS Copout

Appallingly 12 hard Left Labour MPs (including Corbyn who remains in the Party despite losing the Whip) signed a Stop the War letter six days ago blaming NATO for Putin’s deranged aggression towards Ukraine. (They have now withdrawn their signatures – presumably after an ultimatum from the Whips – apart from Corbyn).

Yet more proof that Labour remains unelectable came on Tuesday (22 February 2022).

On Tuesday the British Parliament considered whether to stop public sector organisations – including local authorities  – from directing their pension funds to adopt an independent foreign or defence policy by excluding the shares of specified companies. Neither ‘Israel’ nor ‘BDS’ was mentioned in the relevant proposed legislation but it was perfectly obvious that it was aimed at outlawing Israel boycott policies (such as the one disgracefully voted by Lancaster).

Legislation was needed to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that (former) Communities Secretary Sajid Javid had gone too far in saying that trustees must not invest contrary to government policy. In truth pension fund trustees have to act for the benefit of beneficiaries. They obviously cannot impose ‘ethical’ constraints without consulting those beneficiaries. To market a new ‘ethical’ unit trust is perfectly legal. To impose constraints on a pension fund without the agreement of all the beneficiaries is obviously not.

But because the PSC indulges in ‘gesture politics’ to publicise Israel Hate via these dead-on-arrival local authority motions, it’s important to legislate.

The legislative proposal (an Amendment to a Pensions Bill) was sponsored by Conservative MP Robert Jenrick. (He is married to an Israeli-born daughter of Holocaust survivors; their children are being brought up as Jewish). He had an excellent article in The Times Red Box on Monday explaining the proposed Amendment:

The place for legitimate debate around the UK-Israel relationship is in Westminster. There will be differing opinions, as befits our democracy in which we prize freedom of speech. It is there that I will continue to argue that, despite its flaws, Israel is a beacon of light in the region and a country with which deeper ties can only make us safer and more prosperous.

The amendment was approved by 296-81, making 377 MPs who voted. There are 650 MPs but the 7 Sinn Fein MPs do not take their seats; that makes 277 MPs who abstained. Appallingly Starmer told his 198 Labour MPs to abstain. Presumably he knew that he would face a significant revolt from IDS virus sufferers if he whipped his MPs (IDS = Israel Derangement Syndrome). So he bottled out.

Let’s take a closer look at the 81 MPs who vetoed Robert Jenrick’s amendment. 23 of them are Labour Party members (including Corbyn who has had the Whip removed but disgracefully remains a Party Member).  34 are SNP (so all but 11 SNP MPs vetoed). 3 are ex-SNP plus Alba. 1 Green (Lucas). 12 of the 13 LibDems vetoed. The remaining 7 naysayers are SDLP, current or ex-Plaid Cymru and Alliance. No Conservative MP vetoed.

Here are the names of the 23 Labour MPs who vetoed: Paula Barker; Apsana Begum; Richard Burgon; Ian Byrne; Dan Carden; Jeremy Corbyn; Marsha De Cordova; Mary Kelly Foy; Margaret Greenwood; Kim Johnson; Ian Lavery; Clive Lewis; Rachael Maskell; Andy McDonald; John McDonnell; Graham Morris; Yasmin Qureshi; Bell Ribeiro-Addy; Lloyd Russell-Moyle; Zarah Sultana; Mick Whitley; Nadia Whittome; Beth Winter.

Begum, Burgon, Lavery, McDonnell, Ribeiro-Addy, Sultana, Whitley and Winter also signed the ‘Stop the War’ letter (but later withdrew their signatures).

All have a history of antisemitism or of support for antisemites or of IDS.  

McDonnell even endorsed the widely ridiculed Amnesty Report in the debate. (Amnesty issued briefing against the amendment – of course they did).

And Zarah Sultana referred to ‘illegally occupied Palestinian lands’ – they are not ‘illegally occupied’, no genuine Court has ever ruled otherwise. Ditto Begum in her proud statement after the vote:

Despite being regarded as a campaigner against antisemitism in Labour, Dame Margaret Hodge failed to endorse the amendment.  Neither did turncoat Christian Wakeford. 

Time and again Labour has proved that it cannot be trusted on Israel. Starmer’s copout is merely the latest example.

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