Sunday 20 September 2015

Giving Tonge to Jeremy Corbyn

Watching today's The Andrew Marr Show, there was an intriguing bit during the paper review where Julia Hartley-Brewer and Andrew Marr discussed Baroness Jenny Tonge's possible defection from the Lib Dems to Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party, as reported in The Sunday Times

Andrew summarised the story thus:
Jenny Tonge has been around the Lib Dems for a very, very long time. She's well known in the party and she wants to go to the Labour Party because she thinks Corbyn is more honest.
And that, indeed, is the Sunday Times story...

...though I have to say, on reading that story, I immediately strongly suspected the real reason Baroness Tonge feels so drawn towards Jeremy Corbyn has much more to do with her anti-Israel obsession than with anything to do with benefit cuts or the environment ...

...and when Andrew Marr raised the story with Lib Dem leader Tim Farron later, Sunny Tim's answer left me in little doubt that he thinks that's the real reason for her declaration too:
Andrew Marr: I’m sorry, but it appears that you no longer have Jenny Tonge.
Tim Farron: I spoke to Jenny Tonge last night. She’s not a member of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, so she sits as an independent. So in so far as I own anybody, she’s not ours to start off with.
Andrew Marr: I see. But she regards Jeremy Corbyn as more honest than your party.
Tim Farron: I’m only half hearing you. So you’re saying that…can you tell me that again?…
Andrew Marr: She regards Jeremy Corbyn as more honest than you lot.
Tim Farron: Well she takes a view on Israel Palestine which she’s entitled to take. I believe in a two state solution. I also believe that you don’t get there by backing extremists who support violence. And so it’s very important, if we’re going to ever solve that incredibly important problem in the Middle East, you don’t do it by making out one side is the lone transgressor and you’ve got to make sure we have a solution which is going to work and mean that two state solution must come to pass. Netanyahu mustn’t be allowed to stop that. Neither should others who support the other side.
Actually, just checking out the BBC News website's take on this - a report from Ross Hawkins - and, expecting the worst (a mealy-mouthed focus on anything but what's really motivating her)...

...well, I was pleasantly surprised. Young Ross did good (I think)...

[...though I was only pleasantly surprised until I started really thinking about what Jenny Tonge actually said]:
Former Lib Dem peer Lady Tonge, who quit the party whip over its policy on Israel, says she's considering joining Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party. 
And she said she was "favourably impressed" by leaders of the Palestinian militants Hamas. 
Lady Tonge currently sits as an independent peer, but remains a member of the Liberal Democrats. 
In a BBC interview she said she would decide "by Christmas" whether to take the Labour whip in the Lords. 
"I have met Hamas leaders both in Damascus and in Gaza. So has Jeremy Corbyn," she said. 
"We were all favourably impressed by those people. We all feel it was very very important to listen to their point of view.
"They said a lot of wise things." 
Lady Tonge, a former Lib Dem MP, also said that peace talks should involve senior figures from so-called Islamic State. 
"They're not friends, but I think people should meet them. We've got to bring in Isis leaders and you've got to bring in Assad. You've got to talk to all the people who are involved." 
Lady Tonge resigned the Lib Dem whip in 2012 after saying that Israel would not exist forever in its present form. 
At the time the Board of Deputies of British Jews called the remarks "sinister and abhorrent." 
Giving his reaction to Lady Tonge's latest comments, Gavin Stollar, chairman of Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel, said: "Jenny Tonge does not sit as a Liberal Democrat Peer in the House of Lords and for good reason. 
"If she is as impressed by Hamas as she is with Jeremy Corbyn maybe she should stop threatening to join the Labour Party and take a principled stand by joining them."
Exactly, Gavin. As the sainted Mrs Doyle and her stressed-out friend Gobnait O'LĂșnasa might say, 'Ah, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, you ould bag'...

Given that the ever-so-honest Mr Corbyn has been saying that his use of the word "friends" about Hamas was a mere courtesy, it may not be too helpful to have Baroness Tongue saying that he, like her, found himself "favourably impressed" by Hamas.

And only Jenny Tonge (or, maybe, Jeremy Corbyn?) could begin a comment about Islamic State by saying, "They're not friends, but..."


  1. Tonge's clearly nasty brand of anti Semitism did not stop BBC's Radio 4 sponsoring her to go out to Israel for a week to bring back her outrageously biased reporting to the Today programme listeners in March 2004 . See

  2. Watching Marr now, and I noticed that the Beeboid reading the news brief at the beginning spoke of "migrants and refugees" trying to get in somewhere. Maybe Mark Urban's common sense is winning just a little bit? If so, it only took the BBC about a month of massive complaints and being publicly called out on it by a number of their fellow journalists. Baby steps!

    Hang on, I thought people were supporting Corbyn because of his principled stand on helping the poor and making the rich pay their fare share and democracy. Although I must admit it's funny seeing people act as if losing Tonge is a bad thing for the Lib Dems. Farron's statement about why she had the wrong attitude about Israel and the Palestinians is verbatim what we say about the BBC on the same issue, and I was actually shocked to hear him say it like that. It's practically heresy in some quarters these days. I'm surprised the Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel have enough members to use the plural.

    I think Marr's interview with Tony Benn basically boils down to Marr saying, "You guys are so screwed," over and over again in between utterances of phony equivocation from Benn about how everyone welcomes open debate.

    1. Can I just check which Tony Benn interview this is... was?

    2. Sorry, Hillary Benn. Same thing. It's hard for a parochial American like me to tell these inbred champagne socialists apart.

  3. That this woman got, stayed and apparently can move around seats of such power with such views is.... unfortunate.

    1. Also, the current amorous revelations, human, porcine and inbetween, from the benches has me feeling quite faint enough without further punnage to bleach the mind.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.