Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Tonge: A celebration tinged with sadness

My delight at Baroness Tonge's decision to stand by her illiberal principles and abandon the Liberal Democrats is immense (http://m.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/feb/29/lady-tonge-lib-dem-israel?cat=politics&type=article). Since she is clearly no liberal, why would she want to be a Lib Dem anyway? It is grotesque to contemplate the end of any country (least of all a country whose neighbours regularly call for its genocidal destruction) and Nick Clegg was right to demand that she apologise. You can be a Lib Dem Parliamentarian (representing the corporate body that is my party) OR you can say what she said (http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/64307/tonge-resigns-liberal-democrats-after-israel-controversy) - you can not do both.

Subject to the law of the land, she can offend who she likes, but she cannot do that whilst standing on public platforms as a Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian. Just as I would not have been able to offend whoever I liked and remain a Lib Dem Parliamentary candidate. And to those who disagree with me on that, I say: if you don't like being a member of a disciplined, grown-up political party in which there's a limit to the extent to which senior figures choose to say stupid and offensive things on public platforms, then please don't feel obliged to remain a member of the Liberal Democrats.

So why does my champagne have an after-burp of sadness? Why can I not simply dance in the streets (or on the Tube, where currently I sit) singing Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's "Goodbyee!" song? Why am I not jumping on and off pavements like Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain? Actually, I am. My joy is unconfined.

Were there, however, to be a police officer hovering with a warrant for my joy's potential confinement, then that warrant would say that the whole thing is actually very sad. It is very sad that Baroness Tonge ever became the sort of person who says the things that she says, it is very sad that she associated with some of her chosen associates and it is very sad indeed that she chose to associate with those people instead of associating with those many pro-Palestinian campaigners who share the Liberal Democrats' vision of a two-state solution that will bring peace, justice and security to Israelis and Palestinians alike.

But it is not sad that she has gone. Now Liberal Democrats can campaign for the rights of Palestinians and Israelis without that campaigning being distorted by Jenny Tonge's complete misrepresentation of what our party stands for. Oh, and roll on an elected House of Lords so that I can vote for Liberal Democrat candidates to replace her in our country's Parliament. Anyway, as Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg has said:

"These remarks were wrong and offensive and do not reflect the values of the Liberal Democrats.

"I asked Baroness Tonge to withdraw her remarks and apologise for the offence she has caused. She has refused to do so and will now be leaving the party.

"The Liberal Democrats have a proud record of campaigning for the rights of Palestinians, and that will continue, but we are crystal clear in our support for a two state solution."

2 comments:

  1. My only sadness is that Nick Clegg tolerated her membership of the party for so long. She can now take her sacking as a badge of honour, to her new home in Respect and a regular show on Press TV.

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    1. Great news is that PressTV has been taken off the air in the UK. This is because it was subject to exactly the same rules on impartiality as is every other TV station in the UK, and it broke those rules. Of course, PressTV has blamed its closure on a conspiracy including members of the British Royal Family, which would be funny if it was not so sad.

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