Guardian

CiF reader comment of the day: How the Israel lobby defeated Ken Livingstone


H/T Margie

Call it Israel Derangement Syndrome, or Reductio ad Israelum, or what you will, but the capacity of Israel’s critics to find a Jewish/Zionist connection to any political phenomenon they find displeasing is constantly on display below the line at ‘Comment is Free’.

Dave Hill’s CiF commentary (So, Boris Johnson remains mayor and it’s not all Ken Livingstone’s fault, May 4) elicited over six hundred comments, many of which touched on Livingstone’s relationship with the UK Jewish community.  

The following, by a commenter using the moniker “brothermacdub“, was deleted by moderators, but you can see text from the post cited by “Kawtara1” (which begins, “Typical response from the lobby” and ends,”swing an election”.), quoted before offering his/her response.  

So, London’s Jews, who are more loyal to a foreign power than the UK, singlehandedly defeated the former mayor who should nonetheless be proud that he didn’t give in to the “hateful Israel lobby”.  

Interestingly, the suggestion that Jews swung the mayoral election for Boris Johnson was advanced in a letter published by the Guardian today, albeit by someone seemingly friendly to UK’s Jews.

At the very least, the letter represents a rather curious editorial decision. 

27 replies »

  1. London’s Jews, who are more loyal to a foreign power than the UK, singlehandedly defeated the former mayor

    But the poster made no such suggestion, did they?

    • “It’s a sad day when the interests of a foreign power can swing [a London] election”.

      This was written after he/she complained of the hateful Israel lobby in the UK, and Jews’ obsession with Israel. I think it’s pretty clear.

  2. It would be unwise – and unprovable to make a link between Livingstone’s defeat & the votes of Jewish Londoners. Livingstone’s always played a sectarian hand, offending a number of groups including gays. His strategy was to rely on a core inner London vote, but his offensive past caught up with him. Obviously the wrong candidate for Labour. I fully expect to hear more anti-semitism from him now he is “retired”.

  3. http://www.thejc.com/blogs/jonathan-hoffman/adieu-ken-livingstone

    40% of those intending to vote for Johnson cited Livingstone’s relations with the Jewish Community as an important factor in their decision.

    971,931 people voted for Johnson as their first choice. 40% of that is 388,772.

    There are only 250,000 Jews in London, including children. Assume there are 150,000 Jewish voters. Even if they all voted for Johnson that makes 238,772 (=388,772 minus 150,000) non-Jews who voted for Johnson because (among other reasons) they disliked Livingstone’s relations with the Jewish Community.

    Say the turnout among Jews was 45% (hard to envisage because the turnout in Barnet/Camden – where many Jews live – was only 38%, the same as the London-wide figure). Assume they ALL voted for Johnson (again unlikely). That means that 67,500 Jews voted for Johnson. So 321,272 non-Jews who voted for Johnson did so partly because of Livingstone’s bad relations with the Jewish Community.

    Bottom line: Antisemitism must never be left to Jews alone to fight. And these numbers show conclusively that in this election it was not.

    To each and every one of those 321,272 non-Jewish voters I say: “Thank you for doing the right thing”

    London Jews alone did not reject Livingstone for his bad relations with Jews. Decent people in London rejected Livingstone because of his bad relations with Jews. And thank G-d that they did.

    • I understood that there are only some 60,000 Jewish voters in London – I assume your numbers are more accurate, and the number I saw referred to only the actual turnout, close to your figure of 67,000. The other side of this coin would be to identify how many of the Moslems Livingstone courted actually voted for him.

      • 250,000 may be on the high side. If it is, that strengthens the argument.

        Many people – not just Jews – found Livingstone’s interactions with Jews abhorrent and cited this as a reason to vote for Johnson.

  4. Well, since I understand that there are approximately 1 million Muslims in London and something like 60,000 Jews, I can only conclude using the CiF commenter’s logic that the Muslims are more loyal to a foreign power than to the the needs of London and had more to do with Livingstone’s loss.

    Right?

    Or maybe there are more people living in London who feel a stronger attachment to their country than to a politician who panders to the Islamic minority, regardless of how the Jewish minority votes.

    • If you mean that far too many of said Muslims are more loyal to the spreading of the da’wah, AKUS, then yes, you are right, and that would not preclude their voting to elect in someone who was daft enough to help them and/or show open support for them. Remember the photograph of Livingstone giving cuddles to Qaradawi?

      But no, any other Labour candidate might have got in, so disillusioned is the electorate with the current government. Perhaps this woeful lack of judgement on the part of Labour is par for the course.

      • I find it interesting that when a BritishJew votes there are people who believe they are influenced by a foreign power, yet when a British Moslem votes, and there are many who explicitly say they are influenced by at the very least their religion, let alone loyalty to the most extreme forms and sects and groups in Islam, the same “analysis” (accusation) is not applied to that group.

  5. No doubt the 2012 Mayoral campaign in London will be picked at and pulled apart for a long time to come.
    There is a good analysis of it at the Labour Uncut website,
    http://labour-uncut.co.uk/2012/05/05/lions-were-led-by-donkeys-in-labour%e2%80%99s-london-mayoral-election/#more-13278

    I agree with the conclusions that the current leadership of the Labour Party is weak, and obviously wrong, in allowing Livingstone to stand as the Labour candidate.
    There was clearly a negative vote, that is a vote against Livingstone compare the fact that in the voting for the London Assembly the Labour Party increased its number of seats to 12 an increase of 4.

    Forgotten by the media in the U.K., who tend to think the U.K. starts and ends in London, are that there was voting for directly elected Mayors in two cities outside of London at the same time, Liverpool and Salford.
    Both were won by Labour Party candidates.

    Was the vote in London a vote for Boris or, more likely, a vote against Ken?
    I believe it was a vote against Livingstone for a number of reasons including, but not exclusively, his anti-semitism.

    • The current leadership of Labour cannot be blamed for Livingstone’s selection. It happened before Ed Milliband was voted Leader.

      • Jonathan his selection was a stitch-up before Milliband became Leader.

        But, he should have been removed as candidate for Mayor of London when he supported a candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets against the Labour Party candidate that happened after Milliband was, sadly, elected Leader of the Labour Party.

  6. May I be permitted to change the emphasis slightly here?

    Of course it suits the paranoid Livingstone supporters to blame his failure on the “Jewish lobby” rather than on his own (how shall I put it?) “unfortunate personality” and associates. Boris might even have lost (so great is the disaffection in the UK with the Tories) had Labour fielded another candidate.

    Whatever is written above or below the line on CiF should be take with sacks full of salt. By and large, these are hardly the well-thought-out conclusions of intelligent people by and large, are they?

    What, of course, CiF dare not allow to be published is the likely truth about why Livingstone lost, because it would not chime with the Guardian’s world view:

    By playing shamelessly to the Muslim electorate; by repeating antisemitic remarks (which of course resurrected the memories of his stupidity towards the Evening Standard reporter) in order to play to the Muslim voter gallery; by his shameless support of Galloway and Lutfur Rahman, mayor of Tower Hamlets, Livingstone tapped into the fears of the voting public about the increasing accommodation of Islamism and sharia by the UK governments.

    THOSE, in sum, were what lost him the mayoralty, and also because he was too stupid to hide it as might any other politician.

  7. Implyng that the 60,000 votes that Livingstone lost to Boris were Jewish votes by is every bit as absurd (and arguably racist) as claiming that the 1,000,000+ votes that Livingstone actually received were all Muslim votes.

    Milliband, by the way, claimed that Livingstone “did not have an anti-semitic bone in his body” which was a totally evasive way of sidestepping the anti-semitic tropes Livingstone invoked in his meeting with the Jewish Labour activists.

    He must also have known that Livingstone was lying in his claims about having no idea before Qaradawi arrived what his hate ideas were, because Gilligan last week published an account stating that, Fiona MacTaggart, a junior Minister in the Labour govt Ed Mili served in, urged Livingstone not to attend the meeting with Qaradawi and withdrew from it herself. He was also lobbied before Qaradawi’s arrival by Jewish and gay groups and urged by the Tory Shadow Minister opposite number of Fiona MacTaggart not to meet with Qaradawi, to avoid giving a supporter of terrorism a publicity coup.

    He must also have known that Livingstone’s electoral promise to restore the Education Maintenance Allowance was neither legally nor financially achievable for a Mayor of London because of the legal constraints on his powers, nor was his 7% fares cut promise deliverable without Council or congestion tax rises or cutting transport services. Yet he specifically urged people to vote for Livingstone for those two specific promises.

    And by the way, it was a non-Jewish journalist, Andrew Gilligan, and a non-Jeiwsh blogger, Guido Fawkes, who published evidence of Livingstone’s tax avoidance. That and the fact that Livingstone repeatedly blustered and tried to deny it, falsely accused Boris of doing the same and never delivered on his promise to publish accountant certified tax data that led voters to distrust Livingstone. While his attitude to London’s Jews was a factor, there’s no doubt that the tax avoidance data did more than anything else to defeat him.

    But, hey, why let the evidence stand in the way of a really good anti-semitic “Jewish lobby” story?

    By the way, helpful as Jonathan H’s data is, my understanding is that 250,000 is the total number of Jews in the whole UK, not just in London. My understanding is that 50,000+ Jews live in Barnet.

    • Thanks Judy – as I wrote above if it’s less than 250000 it makes the argument I put even stronger

  8. http://legacy.london.gov.uk/gla/publications/factsandfigures/dmag-briefing-2006-27.pdf

    It was 150,000 in the 2001 Census (latest available) who ‘self-identified’. Say the number hasn’t changed. Say 120,000 are over 18, and 45% of them voted, all for Johnson. That makes 54,000. It leaves 334,772 non-Jewish voters for Johnson for whom Livingstone’s bad relations with the Jewish Community were an important factor.. And that’s an understatement because (i) the turnout among Jews was unlikely to have been as high as 45% (ii) not all Jews voted for Johnson!

    Anyone who blames Jews for Livingstone’s defeat is howling at the moon. That won’t stop them though.

      • In the 2001 census there were 266,000 jews who listed themselves so. We can assume that not every Jew puts Jewish as their religion as it’s voluntary. Many aren’t religious or don’t like the big brother implications of listing their religion officially for instance. Most demographers estimate there’s about 450,000 Jews in the UK. This too is problematic with the strictest test for who is a Jew being implied. To give an example in Australia there’s officially 150,000 Jews but 400,000 people with one Jewish grandparent. It would be similar in the UK.

    • I think that perhaps Livingstone’s general relationship with the Jewish community, a respected community played a part but his rank hypocrisy relating to a host of other matters played a very large part in his defeat.

  9. *applied

    The Jewish community in the UK has been growing since 2008 whereas it decreaded annually between the war and that time because of low birthrates and assimilation. It has now reached a point where the religious (who have many kids eg 5-8 being normal) make up such a high percentage they are increasing the population while reform and secular Jews are declining in numbers due to having less than 2 kids each family on average.

    Some of the figures quoted as to there only being 62,000 Jews in London are silly. There at least 200,000 in London ;

    http://vlstatic.com/assets/maps/multicultural_london/jewish/jewish_final_v2.pdf

  10. “brothermacdub” writes that the people he blames for keeping Livingstone out of office are “obsessed with Israel”.
    May we remind him of Andrew Gilligan’s post in the DT (11/12/11)?
    “It’s quite a revealing sign of what Ken is really interested in – and it’s not always petty old London. There are, for instance, 64 mentions of ‘Israel’ or ‘Israelis’ in the book and 32 mentions of ‘Zionists’ or ‘Zionism.’ This compares with only 30 mentions of the words ‘TfL’ or ‘Transport for London,’ and only 17 mentions of ‘NHS’ or ‘National Health Service.'”
    It is not my obsession with Israel which compelled me to vote again Livingstone, but Livingstone’s.

  11. Livingstone lost because his pursuit of the Muslim vote lost him more support than it gained him. Let that be a lesson to others.
    Promising you will make your city or constituency a beacon for Islam will turn the mass of voters against you. Islam is not exactly popular with most people in this country, for obvious reasons.

  12. It is not my obsession with Israel which compelled me to vote against AGAINST! Livingstone, but Livingstone’s.

  13. Livingstone lost because London is nor Bradford……He can always get a job as mayor of Caracas,Havana,Tehran,Beirut or any other “Socialist” or Muslim capital city,where his friends run the place………