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It’s long overdue for the Lib Dems to finally expel Baroness Tonge

Article’s tags: Gaza / Hamas, Boycotts BDS, Double Standards, Media imbalance, Todays Terrorism, Neo Anti Sem

How long does it take for the Liberal Democrats to learn a lesson?

In 2004, Jenny Tonge said she would consider becoming a suicide bomber if she were a Palestinian. When challenged on it, she said she “could understand” why people choose to become civilian-targeting terrorists. Her party’s response was weak: Charles Kennedy simply asked that she step down as spokeswoman for children.

Her party appointed her to the House of Lords a year later.

In 2006, she wheeled out an anti-semitic trope about financial power, claiming “the pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a grip on our party.” Menzies Campbell was weaker than Kennedy – he sent a letter he referred to as “a severe reprimand”, and then failed to act any further when she doubled down by repeating the allegation.

Again, her party didn’t seem to view this as a stain on her record. In 2009, Nick Clegg appointed her as their Lords spokeswoman on health.

She evidently hadn’t changed her views. In early 2010, she demanded that Israel launch an independent inquiry into false and unfounded allegations that an IDF aid mission to Haiti was harvesting organs from Haitians, a reiteration of the blood libel. Clegg went no further than Kennedy had six years earlier; he removed her from her front bench job but allowed her to continue sitting as a Liberal Democrat peer.

Entirely predictably, by 2012 she returned to her favourite theme. Calling Israel “America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East”, she said “Israel is not going to be there forever” and predicted that “Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown.” Given that she had previously met with the leader of Hamas, an anti-semitic terrorist movement with genocidal ambitions towards Israel’s Jews, it seems hard to believe that she can have thought that what “they” would reap would be very peaceful or pleasant.

This time, eight years after the first offence, Clegg got a little tougher. He told her to apologise or resign the whip, and she chose the latter.

Since then, the Lib Dems have largely been spared the repeated embarrassment of Tonge’s increasingly bonkers pronouncements because they are able to say that she is no longer a Lib Dem peer. But there’s a troubling detail – while she is technically an independent member of the House of Lords, it seems that she is still a member of the Liberal Democrat party. Like many others who tout anti-semitism, she has apparently been tempted by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, but hasn’t yet defected.

Last night, she chaired an appalling meeting in the House of Lords. The occasion was (of course) the launch of her campaign for Britain to apologise for ever having supported a homeland for the Jewish people in the first place. But things got worse as the event was opened to the floor. As The Times reports:

‘An audience member was applauded after suggesting that Hitler only decided to kill all the Jews after he was provoked by anti-German protests led by a rabbi in Manhattan. The speaker, described on a blog as an ultra-orthodox Jew, said that in the 1930s Rabbi Stephen Wise, whom he described as a heretic, “made the boycott on Germany, the economic boycott . . . which antagonised Hitler, over the edge, to then want to systematically kill Jews wherever he could find them”…

The speaker compared Israel to Islamic State, and said the best way to atone for the declaration was to prevent such things happening in future. “Just as the so-called Jewish state in Palestine doesn’t come from Judaism, this Islamic State in Syria is nothing to do with Islam. It is a perversion of Islam just as Zionism is a perversion of Judaism.”

…Another audience member suggested that the “Zionist movement” had power over the British parliament comparable to the power which was once believed to have been wielded internationally by Jews.’

I’ve chaired plenty of political meetings over the years, and I know that you can never completely rule out the possibility of there being a nutter in the audience. That’s rather different from what went on at Tonge’s event, though. For a start, this wasn’t a lone nutter – it was several, and the audience apparently saw fit not to challenge them at all.

Nor did the chair, Tonge, seem to object to what was being said. If someone stands up in a meeting I’m chairing and when starts to spout racist rubbish, I will shut them down, tell them they’re unwelcome and move on to someone sane. In this instance, the very opposite happened – video from the event shows her thanking the speaker who recounted the slur that American Jews provoked the Holocaust and then using it as an opportunity to plug the idea of boycotting Israel.

To reiterate, despite her history of poisonous slurs, Tonge is still a member of the Liberal Democrats. And apparently they welcome her with open arms, having tweeted a picture yesterday of her campaigning alongside their candidate in the Richmond Park by-election.

Isn’t it time – indeed, wasn’t it time some years ago – for the Liberal Democrats to expel this person from their party properly, and have nothing more to do with her? Tim Farron’s three predecessors failed to settle the matter – he should kick her out once and for all.


Only 12 years overdue, the Liberal Democrats have suspended Baroness Tonge.

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Tuesday 31 October 2017

Eight people have been killed and at least 11 injured in an "act of terror" after a man drove a pick-up truck onto a path for cyclists in New York city.

The 29-year-old driver of the truck was shot by police in the abdomen and taken into custody after he crashed the truck into a school bus and fled his vehicle, according to New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill.

Speaking at a press conference, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the attack was "a particularly cowardly act of terror". 

The mayor said: "It's a very painful day in our city. Horrible tragedy on the West Side.

"Let me be clear, based on the information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror and a particularly cowardly act of terror. Aimed at innocent civilians, aimed at people going about their lives who had no idea what was about to hit them.

"We at this moment based on the information we have, we know of eight innocent people who have lost their lives. And over a dozen more injured."

Mr O'Neill said the driver was armed with a paintball gun and a pellet gun.

The driver hit a school bus, injuring two children and two adults on board before exiting the pick-up truck.

The man was shot in the abdomen by a uniformed officer before being taken into custody.

The commissioner said a statement made by the suspect when he exited the vehicle was "consistent" with a terrorist attack.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said there was no evidence to suggest a wider plot or wider scheme.

US President Donald Trump said the attacker was "very sick" and a "deranged person".

British Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted: "Appalled by this cowardly attack, my thoughts are with all affected. Together we will defeat the evil of terrorism. UK stands with #NYC."

A police spokesman posted a photo showing a white pick-up truck on the bike path with its front end mangled and the hood crumpled.

The rented truck had logos of the Home Depot hardware store chain.

Mangled and flattened bicycles littered the bike path, which runs parallel to the West Side Highway on the western edge of Manhattan along the Hudson River.

One witness told reporters at the scene that he heard about five gunshots before seeing a large man being taken into custody.

"He seemed very calm," the witness said. "He was not putting up a fight."

A witness told ABC Channel 7 that he saw a white pick-up truck drive south on the bike path at full speed and hit several people.

A video apparently filmed at the scene and circulated online showed scattered bikes on the bike path and at least two people lying on the ground.