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Why are non-Unite members receiving campaign emails?

I was surprised yesterday to receive an email informing me that:

You are receiving this email as a member of Unite the Union.

It invited me to unsuscribe from future emails from Gerard Coyne. Looking back, I now see that I received an earlier email from the Coyne campaign on 20 March. It begins:

Your union should focus on the day job – protecting you at work and fighting for better pay and conditions for our members.

But Len McCluskey has been obsessed with playing Westminster politics. That’s why he gave £225,000 of your money to Jeremy Corbyn to get him elected as Labour leader.

Now this weekend we have learned of plans to link your union Unite with far-left political faction Momentum if Len McCluskey is re-elected.

If you support me for General Secretary, I won’t let Unite become a political football. I won’t spend your money on political games.

I have been a member of AUT, NATFHE and UCU – but never Unite.  It has been reported that many Labour members are receiving these emails, and that this could represent a breach of data protection legislation.  I would welcome more information on this issue.

Update This article from earlier in March reports on a possible sharing of data between Coyne and a Labour mayoral candidate:

“The final decision rests there. However, Unite has been provided with overwhelming evidence that Mr Simon’s campaign and Mr Coyne’s campaign have entered into some form of a mutual support arrangement, which has included the shared use of Labour party membership data.

“The Labour party has acknowledged that this has happened, that it was unauthorised and that it should be halted.

Attend the Momentum Conference for Free

This is your chance to obtain a ticket for this Saturday’s Momentum Conference – for free!

Student/Unwaged/Hardship tickets are priced at £0. You can obtain them here.

Momentum want to make it clear that you shouldn’t claim your free ticket if you have no intention at all of going.

“Please only take a free ticket if you are certain that you will be able to come”

Obviously, it would be a bad thing if you ordered a ticket, and then just didn’t turn up.

Will Jeremy Corbyn condemn the shooting of Khalid Masood?

Will Jeremy Corbyn have the courage of his stated convictions and condemn the killing of Khalid Masood by armed police yesterday?

Corbyn has stated on record that he was “not happy” with police or security services operating a “shoot to kill” policy in the event of a terror attack.

In November 2015, Jeremy Corbyn was asked by the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg whether he would be happy to order police or the military to shoot to kill if there an attack on Britain’s streets similar to the ones in France.

Corbyn answered: “I’m not happy with the shoot-to-kill policy in general – I think that is quite dangerous and I think can often can be counterproductive.”

In the aftermath of yesterday’s attack on Westminster, the Labour Party leader has issued only a short and bland statement about being “united in adversity” and thanking the police for their “bravery”. But he appears to have completely forgotten his previous stated position. Or, when put to the test, his courage has failed him.

It is a rather awkward and uncomfortable question to have to ask in the wake of tragedy, but a necessary one. Politicians like Corbyn cannot get away with holding – in abstraction – positions or stated views which, they believe, signal their greater virtue, only to quietly abandon these when reality strikes. Developing a public policy on the growing problem of self-motivated terrorism is a serious business and is not helped my moral posturing.

Another Beautiful Young Man?

Here at HP we’re wondering if there is anyone who has been investigated in connection with a terrorist plot CAGE don’t know.

Bearing in mind that they had pretty much instant access to Abu Izzadeen’s solicitor and within minutes of the accusation being made were able to definitively assert that he was NOT the attacker we’re wondering whether they know Khalid Masood who has now been named as the perpetrator.

Did any CAGE staff look at the images of the attacker and instantly recognize another “beautiful young man”?

If they did will they stand up and say so?

Israel and International Law – the latest from Cork

It was reported yesterday that Professor Alan Johnson, editor of Fathom, had decided to withdraw from the rescheduled conference. This followed an announcement that Richard Falk, booster of Atzmon,  had been invited to give a keynote paper.  (Some noted that the involvement of Oren Ben Dor might already have been seen as a sufficient disincentive to participate.)

Discussing this on Twitter made me feel that, for some,  antisemitism seems shrouded in mist – a bit like Oren Ben Dor’s prose – even when the issues are clearcut, and don’t hinge on Israel.

One person involved in the conference came up with a string of deflections:

  • Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitism.
  • A claim that there is ‘no agreed definition of antisemitism’.  I guess that’s true, but does it have to stop us calling it out?
  • Wondering why the strongest criticisms had been directed against non-conformign Jews.  I think remembering that Ben Dor said ‘there is something so Jewish in that which has provoked the holocaust’ provides a clue.
  • an assertion that the conference doesn’t welcome antisemites. (!)

Finally a reminder – if you need it – about Atzmon, whom keynote speaker Falk was happy to promote.

As I left the room, I held up my Israel flag. Our departure caused chaos with people complaining that silent protesters were being removed. Gilad Atzmon said “’Raus” as I left the room (it is on film though I didn’t hear it).  He was admonished by the pro-Palestinians.  Atzmon then turned around to the Jewish students at the back and said being chucked out for causing trouble, just like you lot were in Germany”. The pro-Israel people then went ballistic at him and asked him to repeat it – which he happily did. Security was called to remove him – even the pro-Palestinians told him he had crossed a red line. Then (I was told – I was outside) the event descended into chaos as Security refused to remove Atzmon. It ended earlier than the 90 minutes planned.

How shocking this is so unsurprising

Not surprising of course.

Solidarity from France, which has suffered much from this.

It’s all speculation now of course but here’s a thread about the ISIS chatter on this latest atrocity:-

“this violence happened on the 1-year anniversary of Brussels attack. ISIS, like al-Qaeda, loves anniversaries.”

And  here’s a reminder of how the great nature lover poet could find something as mighty as nature in the grandeur of our capital:-

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802
William Wordsworth, 1770 – 1850


Further update:-

The Orban regime takes Horthy’s Hungary as an example

Guest post by Karl Pfeifer

I have known the dark ages of Hungary. As a child, during World War Two, I experienced first-hand Hungarian ultra-nationalism and anti-Semitism. I managed to avoid deportation and murder in Auschwitz by fleeing to Palestine in 1943, along with 49 other Jewish children.

Decades later, I returned to Hungary during the years of Communism. As a journalist writing for major Austrian newspapers, my reporting included interviewing dissidents. As a result, the Kadar regime expelled me four times from the country, the last time in 1987.

This personal history makes me extremely sensitive to current developments in Hungary, and the shadows that are once again rising there.

Consider, for example, the current government campaign against the work of the Hungarian-born American billionaire George Soros. Mr Soros’s Open Society Foundations has given more than $200m to Hungarian groups since the fall of Communism, supporting a host of humanitarian issues—including independent groups that support human rights and are often critical of the government.

As a result, George Soros is demonized and presented as the source of all evil by the government. The rhetoric used reminds me of the anti-Semitic propaganda from my childhood, according to which the Jews were responsible for all of Hungary’s problems, like poverty, ignorance, and landless peasants.

Moreover, the government media portrays Mr. Soros as an agent of the “international finance”. We know that this is a code for “Jews”. You don’t have to be explicitly anti-Semitic, you can be implicitly anti-Semitic – the message is quite clear for mainstream Hungarian society, which has never come to terms with its own prejudices against Jews.
Read more »

George Galloway to stand in Gorton

My first reaction was to think this was quite an amusing parody. Galloway declares:

The “All-Asian short-list” hand-picked by Keith Vaz is just not good enough for the people of Gorton one of the most deprived constituencies in Britain.

I (initially) found this a droll detail:

I want to continue [Kaufman's] work on international issues – which are particularly important in Gorton- especially the issues of Palestine and Kashmir [.]

And this:

It’s true I’m not local but then neither was Sir Matt Busby. Neither was Sir Alex Ferguson nor Pep Guardiola nor Jose Mourinho. Like them I want to work for you, for Gorton, for Manchester.

And this was just extraordinary:

I am like Sir Matt a Scot of Irish background. There are plenty of us around Manchester. My 40 year relationship with Pakistan and Bangladesh my 40 years with the Arabs mean I can speak the language. I can talk the talk but I also walk the walk.

But no – it’s apparently for real:

If I were to win here it would be the Mother of All by-election victories for “The hard working people of Gorton” who would never be forgotten again.

‘I did not leave the Likud, the Likud left me’: an interview with Moshe Ya’alon (Fathom)

Moshe Ya’alon is a former Chief of Staff for the IDF and served under the Netanyahu government for three years as Defence Minister. Since resigning from the Defence Ministry in May 2016, Ya’alon has left the Likud party to set up his own NGO and form a new political party, in which he intends for challenge for Israel’s next Prime Minister. He spoke to Fathom editor Professor Alan Johnson on 20 March 2017 about the internal challenges that face Israel and why the current leadership is not able to meet them.

Alan JohnsonYou’ve announced that you are establishing a new party to seek to lead the country; Israel already has a lot of parties, why is another new party needed?

Moshe Ya’alon: I haven’t found in the existing parties what I really believe in. I want to lead in my own way. I have 21 years of experience in Israeli cabinets. I have participated in the Israeli cabinet since 1995, serving as the head of Intelligence under the late Yitzchak Rabin. I have seen Israel under five Prime Ministers, and I have drawn my own lessons. I don’t find in the current parties my own understanding of the challenges facing our country – whether they are external or internal challenges. I wished to find this understanding in the Likud party and I did so in 2009, but the Likud moved to the extreme. I decided to resign not only due to clashes with the prime minister but also with other members of the Knesset and ministers in the government. My main dispute with the prime minister is not about foreign affairs, but about internal issues: corruption; moral issues on checks and balances; the role and control of the media – I’m not afraid of being criticised by the media, it is part of democracy; and of course the role of the Supreme Court and the rule of law. But I do believe that we have a vibrant democracy.

So my decision is to establish my own political vehicle based on what I believe in and to be engaged with as many Israelis as I can be. I don’t have a newspaper, I don’t have a TV channel, READ MORE

RIP Chuck Berry

Dead at 90.

I never saw him perform live, but what would rock and roll have been without him and Little Richard? Could the Beatles and the Stones have even existed? Ninety percent of what came after Berry and Richard has been forgettable dross in comparison.

Not just great musicianship and great songs, but some of the smartest lyrics ever.

One of my many favorites: