Ubiquitous Mann

A few weeks’ ago, I wrote about the appalling Ken Livingstone’s rewrite of history and the failure of the BBC to correct the faulty facts. The BBC is unrepentant but Livingstone looks set to explore the wilderness at last. The man behind the exposure was John Mann, who called Livingstone a “nazi apologist”, and who had also attacked Livingstone earlier as a “bigot” when the ex-Mayor had pointed out that he thought the shadow Defence Minister Kevan Jones might “need psychiatric help”. This is what Livingstone said, “I think he might need some psychiatric help. He’s obviously very depressed and disturbed … He should pop off and see his GP before he makes these offensive comments.” It is very much a Livingstone put-down. Livingstone suggested that his spat with Mann, however, went back to his failure to campaign for Mann in Oldham during the general election. Another typical swipe. But well done, Mann!

It all seems a bit personal, of course. When the two of them were on the radio, Livingstone said, “You’re on the radio and TV all the time, criticising what this party leadership is doing. All the time.” mm. It is an Edward Lear instance of the pot bashing the kettle.

And in response, Mann said this,

“You are a bully attacking Kevan Jones. Your language is appalling. You’re a bigot. You’ve failed to apologise … Even today, you’re failing to do so.” whereupon David Mellor butted in and added, “Can listeners kindly be reminded that these are two members of the Labour party who’ve been discussing their love for one another.”

However, Livingstone has a point. Whenever he knocks him down, Mr Mann keeps popping up like some sort of puppet- but the issues are so much bigger than a punch and judy booth.

john Mann

I think Mann looks alot like Neil Morrissey of “Men Behaving Badly” fame.

Mr Mann is also the MP who blew the whistle on abuse in Westminster, amid lurid tales of child strangulation in the 1980s. This, in turn, led to the hounding of Leon Brittan and Edward Heath. Unfortunate: stories have been leaking for years about the former PM but I think the idea that such an introverted man was involved in any groups is absurd, lurid and foundless. De Mortuis nil nisi bonum. Today, Mr Mann has announced that he is voting against his party for Brexit. I suppose that says rather more about Mr Corbyn’s lacklustre leadership than it says about Mr Mann’s ability to grab headlines.

Mr Livingstone I presume!

red kenI am astonished that the BBC report on the Livingstone affair today lets him get away with the perverted chronology that he presents as “fact” on BBC Radio London. Either he is wrong and the BBC have avoided making that clear or he is right. No subsequent BBC report makes it clear that his so-called “facts” are wrong.

The impression, instead, given in reports is that his error lies in his attempts to smudge over Naz Shah’s supposed anti-semitism. In fact, Livingstone is just wrong.

And let’s get something else clear from the beginning- it is quite possible to be critical of current Israeli policy (It may even be not only “possible” but “necessary”) without being anti-semitic. Not all Jews support the State of Israel, and even among those who do, there are many who openly reject the current treatment of Palestinians.

This is what Livingstone said,

“It’s completely over the top. It’s not anti-semitic. Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting zionism before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews…” He went on to add  that Hitler was “a monster from start to finish” but he claimed to have been quoting “historical facts”.

His history is wrong. And it is wrong of the BBC to let him get away with this.

The facts are very simple, when Hitler came to power in 1932(sic), a wave of international horror at the treatment of Jews in Germany, known now as the “anti-Nazi boycott”started in New York two months after he became chancellor and continued in various forms until the outbreak of the war. There was already a good deal of anti-semitism, and indeed the Catholic Bishop of Linz thought anti-semitism was “a moral duty”, something he announced in January 1933, when Hitler became Chancellor. But the full force of hatred was fired by outrageous lines like this in Mein Kampf: “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: ‘by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” and elsewhere he argues that it was the “deceit of Jews” that led to Germany’s defeat in the First world war- “the sacrifice of millions at the front” would have been prevented “if twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the people had been held under poison gas.” Strong words from the man who cannot dodge responsibility for the Holocaust. They were echoed in the Nazi party newspaper, Der Sturmer which had the motto “the Jews are our misfortune”. In 1941, one day after declaring war on the US, he brought up this same argument in Berlin to justify the annihilation of Jews. Hans Frank, who attended this briefing, went on to brief his own officials in Krakow saying, “in Berlin,” he had been told “to liquidate the Jews….As an old National Socialist, I must state that if the Jewish clan were to survive the war in Europe, while we sacrificed our best blood in the defence of Europe, then this war would only represent a partial success.

“With respect to the Jews, therefore, I will only operate on the assumption that they will disappear… We must exterminate the Jews wherever we find them.(Auschwitz: The Nazis and the ‘Final Solution’, BBC Books, 2005, p.112)

Goebbels proposed a number of “countermeasures”, really an excuse to boycott and close Jewish businesses in Germany with Goebbels on record saying “the boycott will be resumed until German Jewry has been annihilated”. Placards outside Jewish shops told people not to use them- Kauf nicht bei Juden! and Die Juden sind unser Unglück! Within one week, beginning on April 1st 1933, a one-day boycott of Jewish shops escalated into the wholesale banning of Jewish workers from Government jobs and from practicing law. Only the Lutheran church opposed the sanctions while Catholic bishops had what was described as “cordial” chats with the Führer. By the end of April, Jewish children were being turned away from schools under the “Overcrowding in German Schools and Schools of Higher Education Act”.

The Haavara agreement was a further response by Hitler’s Germany to the Anti-Nazi Boycott, brokered partly by the Va’ad Leumi organisation. This was signed on 25th August 1933, but although it facilitated the emigration of 60,000 people to what was then called Palestine, it also involved confiscating their property in Germany. A complex and half-hearted refunding process had already been in place through Hanotea for shipping goods from Germany to Israel.

Hitler was certainly not a supporter of the agreement and the impression given is that he was dragged into it because he feared the Anti-Nazi boycott was destroying the fragile efforts made to sort out the German economy. Johann von Leers and Achim Gercke also did not support the Palestinan agreement advancing resettlement instead to Madagascar as a way to solve the “Judenfrage” It was only 2 years’ later that the Nuremberg Laws came into effect. The rest is certainly “history”.

Whatever happens to Livingstone and Naz Shah, the BBC comes out of this looking distinctly shabby. I have just renewed my TV licence: I regret that now. A shame.


Miqdaad Versi’s campaign

Just a footnote here to draw attention to the work of Mr Versi who works for the Muslim council of Great Britain. Sloppy journalism simply has no place in defining the way we tackle extremism and the threat of terror. On 23rd March, he tweeted a correction to some rather silly reports that suggested that Muslims were not doing enough to stop the spread and influence of ISIS. We should be careful not to soak up the nonsense peddled by twits like Trump who claimed there are no-go” areas in Britain There may well be, and they are reserved for people peddling the nonsense you peddle, Mr Trump. For God sake, Donald, grow up! It matters not one jot whether you eventually secure the Presidency or whether you are just in this race for the pleasure of making hell, you are a public figure, and you have responsibilities – not, I think to “truth” but to “probity”, common decency.

This is what Mr Versi wrote:

We’ve had mosques that throw extremists out of their midsts. We’ve had many hundreds of Muslims reporting other Muslims to the police and to counter-terror officials. We have over 95% of Muslims saying if there is any Muslim within their own community, maybe committing an attack, they would report them. Of course there are fringe elements in any community and there are people who have gone to Syria to fight for Daesh or so-called ISIS. They are people we need to stop.