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On invoking the Holocaust in defence of Progress

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”


One lesson from this is moderates in Labour Party need to have organised caucus on floor of TU conferences to fight left claptrap motions”.

Quiet then… and imagine the sound of Paul Kenny quaking in his boots.


  1. Ryszard Konietzka says:

    Progress continue their march through the staff of the party as well. Failed Councillor and Eastern Region scion Alan Olive sent an email invitation to all Eastern Labour Party member to a Progress organised conference – I am sure he would, of course, also be delighted to send out similar messages for Briefing……oh.

    Alan also likes to lecture Labour Groups on how to succesfully organise elections the New Labour way, and not the London way. That’s why the Eastern region is a sea of red…..oh, and that’s why Dacorum Borough Council, where he lives and has stood for the authority frequently, has a massive Labour Group of 2 Councillors.

  2. Bob Williams-Findlay says:

    As a disabled person, a socialist, and a former member of the Labour Party I was in the Party in the 1980s.

    It wasn’t the “ultra left” (sic) that undid Labour, but the cowardly right-wing social-capitalists aka “New Labour” – who couldn’t bring themselves to join the Tories – that ideologically gutted the Party.

    I’ve never heard of Luke Akehurst before today, but I can’t say I’m sorry. To use Niemoller to score sectarian points is disrepectful, pathetic and unacceptable.

    You don’t need the far Left to screw the Labour Party with likes Akehurst distorting history, scaremongering and showing contempt for those who were murdered by the Nazis.

    Why should anyone want to vote for a Party full of self-centred hacks who are a waste of space? Labour = R.I.P.

  3. Chris says:

    “It wasn’t the “ultra left” (sic) that undid Labour, but the cowardly right-wing social-capitalists aka “New Labour” – who couldn’t bring themselves to join the Tories – that ideologically gutted the Party.”

    Correct. The whole narrative in the Labour Party about the 1980s is complete rubbish. It wasn’t the left who harmed our chances, it was the splitters on the right and General Galtieri.

    Bottom line is, the “moderates” (actually hard right Thatcherites) believe in their right to take over the party but not ours. The only Labour Party they will accept is one that is unable to benefit its supporters.

  4. john P ried says:

    The comparison with the holocaust was stupid, but I’ve read commetns about first they came for the mienrs I said nothing I wasn’t a miner, then they came for the students’ I said nothing I wasn’t a student then they came for the police, I’ve also read George galloway saying that on’ they came for the socialists, then they came for the muslims, where he comared the govenremnt to the nazis, it’s of course wrong to do this when it was about the holocaust, I’d take it then that Left futures criticises Ken livingstone and Diane Abbot for saying Chairman Mao didn’t kill millions of people or Tony Benn’s views that Lenin and Stalin didn’t kill millions of people or trotsky did more good than harm, there’s No DIFFERENCE Between denying the holocast and Livingstone wrong views that Chairman mao was repsonsible for millions of livign stood up to Japans torture of The chinese or that Mao stopped the torture of young girls who had their feet wrapped tight to keep them small, and Livingstone is wrongo to say that Mao didn’t kill millions of people either,

  5. Vin McIntyre says:

    Doesn’t “eviscerated wreckage of a Party, saddled with out of touch policies” aptly describe the present Labour Party, all a result of the democratic deficit initiated by Kinnock and completed by Blair?

    It’s very interesting, and something of a giveaway about this guy’s attitude, that he thinks that if MPs, councillors, union executives and general secretaries were somehow removed there would be no one left in the Labour Party. Time for the resurrection of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy?

  6. john P reid says:

    vic mcintrye,. yeah bloody kinnock and blair taking labour form 27% oif the vote to at worse 35.35% of the vote, who did they think they were.

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