Labour’s right appears to be panicking. That is the charitable explanation. No sooner had Paul Kenny suggested at the GMB congress that he supported a move to “outlaw Progress as part of the Labour Party” than Progress activists started to talk of a “purge“: “Seems the purges are about to start in the Labour Party! Odd, I always thought I’d be doing the purging”, said one. No matter that no-one had suggested expelling anyone. OK, it isn’t yet quite clear what Paul and the GMB have in mind but since the Left doesn’t want to expel Progress and its supports, it seems unlikely that the GMB does either — though they clearly feel very strongly about what Progress is trying to do in the party. But to make comparisons with the Holocaust?
OK. We are familiar with Godwin’s Law, namely that “given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably makes some comparison to Hitler and the Nazis.” However, we expect that to happen well down the comments, not in the blog at the top. So it was something of a surprise when Luke Akehurst in his LabourList column yesterday decided to invoke the Holocaust in defence of Progress!
The problem is that the ultra left showed in the 1980s they are never satisfied by just attacking the Labour right.
First they will come for Progress.
Then they will come for Labour First.
Then they will come to take over your CLP and deselect you as an MP or councillor.
Then they will come for Ed Miliband and Ed Balls.
Then they will come for the union executives and general secretaries.
But there will be no one left to fight them.
And the eviscerated wreckage of the Labour Party, saddled with out of
touch policies and ruined by infighting, will totter towards a General Election defeat, and another, and another, just like we did in the 1980s.
The Twittersphere was rightly buzzing with condemnation of this offensive trivialisation of the Holocaust from this beginning. Luke may be Campaigns Director of the Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre but working essentially for the Israeli government does not come with a right to exploit the Holocaust for any cause you choose. To use it in defence of Progress in a debate about the regulation of groups inside the Labour Party is beyond belief.
Since Luke has invoked Pastor Niemöller who penned the famous words which he seeks to emulate, perhaps we should be still more charitable and try to think of whether there are any aspects of the good Pastor’s life which might be relevant here – clearly not his incarceration in Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps, nor his narrow escape from execution. I was thinking of the fact that experience of the Nazi’s persecution turned him from an initial symapthiser to a brave critic. And then to one who campaigned for nuclear disarmament and against the Vietnam War, famously meeting with North Vietnam’s leader Ho Chi Minh at the height of the war.
Is Luke about to experience a Damascene conversion following his own record of support for purges past and “giving the left a kicking“? Will he now condemn the way in which the Left in the Blair years was shunned, tricked and cheated out of every selection and internal position? Might he reconsider his views on the importance of nuclear weapons and the justification for western military intervention in far-flung conflicts from Vietnam to Iraq? Might he even recognise the hostility that has been caused by Progress operating as a party-within-a-party? Sadly, we think not. If anything he seems determined to take those operations further still. Into the unions themselves. In his own words:
If Progress stopped from operating in LP Sainsbury should spend his money on serious caucusing in the unions to move their politics”
Quiet then… and imagine the sound of Paul Kenny quaking in his boots.