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Why The Independent Group Splintered from The Labour Party

This is a two part issue, which can be seen in how it's playing out. It's partially about socialism, social democracy, and capitalism, and it's partially about UK foreign policy, specifically about Israel and Palestine, and the UK's role in the Middle East.

Part 1- It's about Basic Economics.

Firstly, People assume the fight in british politics was always between Labour and the Tories. That's an oversimplification, and it's not such a simply black and white, or red and blue issue.

The underlying fight is for equality, or at least least to address the ludicrous levels of inequality.

There are two basic groups in Labour - those who sold out to the right wing media to achieve power, and those who refused to.

In ye olde marxist terms, historically it might have been described as a fight between the bosses and the workers, but in a modern world with many self employed, and those struggling to run small companies, it's better described as a fight between the many, and the few. It's a fight for social justice and equality, or at least reduced inequality.

In the later part of the 20th Century the Labour Party shifted very much to the right. The narrative to justify this was that Labour had to change to "make it more electable", but all "Being electable" really meant was fitting a narrative shaped by the Sun, Mail and Express. It was handing control of the Labour party to Murdoch, Lord Rothermere, and Richard Desmond, the very right wing owners of those papers.

So even though Labour gained power between 1997 and 2010, little changed that would upset those three. Rather than further blatant privatisation, we saw more subtle use of Private Finance Initiatives (PFI). Our schools and health service weren't actually privatised, but instead put heavily into debt, so that the richest could profit from the steady income of owning those debts. Nothing was renationalised. There were no new council houses built to solve the problems of rocketing house prices. Regulations on banking and finance were removed, and not strengthened. Unions were not revitalised following Thatcher's attacks. It's not that nothing of value was done in that time... but that nothing was done which might upset the very rich and powerful; Certainly not the very rich and powerful who owned the media.

The struggle for the many against the few, became a fight, not between Labour and the Tory Party, but a fight that was being carried out for control of the Labour Party. Prior to Corbyn's election as leader, there was very little difference between the Labour Party and the Tory Party, and little point in voting Labour. Some four million people, a third of Labour's support, abandoned the Labour Party during that time.

Part 2 - It Goes International

To understand the second part of this, and the constant false accusations of antisemitsm, we need to look on a more global scale. We need to question why Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson, the old guard of the Labour Right, not only took the party out to the right, but why thet took the UK into an illegal war in Iraq.

We know from the Chilcot Report It was done on a false premise, based on non existent weapons of mass destructions. Blair joined the US in a war which they had entered on the back of the twin towers attack, which had nothing whatsoever to do with Iraq. Why? Oil? Gold? Some mention banking rights in countries which had nationalised banks. Some have pointed out that every single country which the UK have engaged in war in, in the Middle East, happens to have been an enemy of Israel. We shouldn't be jumping to conclusions, we simpy don't have all the facts, but we should be looking to get those facts. We should be looking to have an investigation into why the UK went to war in Iraq, given we know for a fact the reasons given at the time were false.

If we're going to understand this, We need to be willing to look at Israel and Palestine, and how much of Middle Eastern Politics revolves around it. And we need to do this without throwing accuasations of "antisemitism" at anyone and everyone who raises the issue.

We might ask why the Middle East is so important. Even for those who don't care about the lives of those in the region, Let's not forget that Tony Blair dragged the UK into a massively expensive war in the Middle East on a false premise, which has completely destabalised the region, leading to exodus, and fears of foreign immigration which tipped the balance in the Brexit vote in the UK. You can't bomb the crap out of an area, and then complain when everyone living there suddenly wants to leave it.

In Osama Bin Laden's own words, the situation in Israel and Palestine was his primary motive (along with a bunch of self righteous religious stuff) for the attack on the twin towers.

Israel and Palestine is not just another conflict. It is a central issue in Middle Eastern politics. It has shaped the foreign policy of Britain and the US. It's important, and we need to pay attention to it.

So What Is Going On In Israel and Palestine?

As I was growing up, the only time I ever heard the name 'Palestine' was in relation to accusations of terrorism. Previously the story was of oppressed Israel struggling for survival against PLO terrorists, and as we all know, all terrorists are bad, unless it's the UK or US training and funding them.

In the advent of the internet, phone cameras, and the expansion of the media from an easily controlled mainstream, far more footage has come out of that region than we were ever aware of previously. The narrative has very much changed.

Now we see repeated footage of Israel as the oppressor, Palestinian homes bulldozed and bombed, Palestinians living in a constant state of oppression, as Israel seeks not peace, but continual expansion into or over Palestinian territory.

While we all want a right to self determination, and to the greatest extent we should all have it, Zionist rights to self determination do not over-rule Palestinian rights to self determination.

Why is This Relevant to the Labour Party?

Since 1957, there has been a group within the Labour Party called Labour Friends of Israel. It is a powerful lobby. It is a large group organised into local branches. There is also a Conservative Friends of Israel group. Both have ties with the Israeli Embassy in Britain. Labour Friends of Israel is reported to have around 80 members who are MP's. About 80% of Tory MP's are reported to be members of Conservative Friends of Israel. The Israel Lobby in UK Parliament is significant. No other country has a lobby of such proportions.

In 2009 an alternative group was set up in the Labour Party called Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, which "campaigns for peace and justice in the Middle East, with a specific focus on international law and human rights." There is no corresponding group in the Conservative Party, which is very likely why, even though antisemitic beliefs are more prominent in the tory party, we are not seeing a massive campaign of accusations of antisemitism within the tory party.

Note, it's possible for MP's to be members of both groups, i.e. Friends of Israel and Palestine, and some are, but some are more one sided in the debate than others.

The problem for those supporting Israel is that bit about "international law and human rights", because The current Israeli regime are repeatedly falling foul of it. Given that the Israel lobby can't win the argument reasonably, because the current Israeli regime are constantly trying to expand their territory through a constant program of settlement building (close to 250,000 acres were appropriated since 1979), and appear to have no intention of achieving peace. Israel's supporters are instead trying to close the conversation down, by accusing those arguing against them of antisemitsm. They even attempted, and largely succeeded in changing the definition of antisemitism, to include criticism of Israel in various forms, to make criticism of Israel far more difficult and a minefield for those arguing against them.

Part 3 - Putting it all Together

What we're seeing now is a is a combination of those two parts, because those who always argued for increased equality economically, and freedom from the oppression of poverty, are the same people who are arguing for equality and freedom of oppression for Palestinians.

Jeremy Corbyn has spent his entire political career arguing for peace, and for equality, as have the majority of his supporters.

UK mainstream media generally supports the UK establishment, and the UK establishment sells a lot of weapons to Israel.

Whatever the reason, we have to be asking why the mainstream media, specificaly the publicly owned media (BBC), appear so keen to repeatedly report unsubstantiated allegations of antisemitism as if they were substantiated fact.

On the other hand, regarding the splinter group from the Labour Party, we are left wondering if Blair is supporting The Independent Group, or the Independent Group are supporting Blair. They appear to be very much one and the same.

Let's look at TIG Member's Positions on War.

Iraq war Investigation Into The Iraq War For Other Combat Operations Overseas
Chukka Ummuna Not an MP until 2010 Against Investigation For War
Luciana Berger Not an MP until 2010 Against Investigation For War
Chris Leslie For War Against Investigation For War
Mike Gapes For War Against Investigation For War
Angela Smith Not an MP until 2005 Against Investigation For War
Gavin Shuker Not an MP until 2010 Against Investigation Mixed
Ann Coffey For War Against Investigation For War
Joan Ryan For War Against Investigation For War
Sarah Wollaston Not an MP until 2010 Never Voted For War
Heidi Allen Not an MP until 2015 Against Investigation For War
Anna Soubry Not an MP until 2010 Against Investigation For War

Select the names above to check each members full voting records.

And Where They Each Stand on Israel / Palestine.

Member of 'Labour Friends of Israel' Member of 'Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East'
Chukka Ummuna Yes No
Luciana Berger Yes No
Chris Leslie Yes It's Complicated - See below.
Mike Gapes Yes No
Angela Smith Yes No
Gavin Shuker No No
Ann Coffey No No
Joan Ryan LFI Chair No
Note: Chris Leslie is reported on Wikipedia as being a member of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East but is not listed amongst the members on the groups own web site. More info needed.

When we look at The Independent Group we are not looking at a group of moderate peace loving paragons of virtue. We are looking at a group of people who have little or no interest in Palestinians rights to international justice, and who, as a group not only voted for illegal war, which we might assume they did out of ignorance, but voted against investigations into that war, to ensure others ignorance. As such, we can only assume they knew what they were doing and didn't want to be investigated.

Those final tables, along with the basic information that we're talking about a group of politicians, who label moderate social democratic policies as "far left", should tell you everything you need to know about the current fight going on in the labour party right now.

It is not about antisemitism. It's not anti Jewish. The Labour Leadership have repeatedly fallen over themselves to stress that they are not antisemitic and they want Jewish people to feel welcome in the Labour Party. It's not even anti Isreal. It's a fight about economics, where the right wing are lying through their hind teeth, in order to ensure that genuine social democracy and certainly not socialism ever becomes a viable political force with a chance of forming a government in the UK.

And in the process, they are seeking to prevent a group who support Palestinians having basic human rights, from reaching power in the UK, and they are using the narrative of antisemitism to achieve both goals.

Finally, if anyone is for a second considering attacking British Jews as a whole over this situation, please understand that British Jews are far from united in support of the current Israeli regime and oppression of Palestinians.