Strange Bedfellows Indeed – How the Torys, Labour and Israel Denied Scotland Independence

Strange Bedfellows Indeed – How the Torys, Labour and Israel Denied Scotland Independence

Scottish Referendum – Independence: Good or bad for Jews & Israel?

An independent Scotland would be no friend of Israel. While so many issues remain coloured in grey, heading into the referendum on Scottish independence, this one should be viewed as black-and-white. Over the past decade, Scotland’s First Minister – and the architect of Thursday’s historic referendum vote – Alex Salmond, has consistently presented an anti-Israel agenda to the people of Scotland.

In 2002, it was an attack on then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw for the supply of parts used in fighter planes that Mr Salmond believed attacked “Palestinians in the illegally-occupied territories”.

Five years on and he trumpeted the difference between UK and Scottish foreign policy on Israel. He stated that he was “appalled by the British approach that runs contrary to our Scottish view of the world”. And over the course of the most recent conflict in Gaza, the de-facto Scottish Foreign Minister Humza Yousaf was unequivocal in what he saw as a “heavily disproportionate” response by Israel to Hamas rocket bombardment and terrorism. “With mounting evidence of possible violations of international law the UK must ensure that it is not complicit in the killing of innocent civilians through its supply of arms,” Mr Yousaf said last month. “There must be an immediate embargo on arms sales to Israel and an investigation into whether or not UK arms supplies might have been used in violations of international law.” “We stand ready to play our part as a good global citizen.”

The last line is particularly important. Because while it is obvious that Scotland alone, a would-be-nation of just over five-million people, cannot dictate or influence Israeli policy, its voice would carry a greater weight than ever before. It would join the legions of ‘global citizens’ – inactive in so many other conflicts – in condemning Israel’s right to defend itself.

An independent Scotland would be one extra vote in the United Nations and, probably, one extra voice in the European Union where every vote, voice and opinion of smaller nations counts more than ever and multi – million – euro trade contracts with the Jewish state hang in the balance. Presently, Holyrood has no say in British foreign policy. And although Mr Salmond retains a right to his views, both publicly and privately, they appear to be unwanted when it comes to Israel.

Earlier this year, the former Palaun ambassador to the United Nations explained to me that no voice was insignificant in the UN and most countries formed,  “cohesive voting blocks, with each vote becoming noticed and vied for”. Scotland, like its Celtic neighbour the Republic of Ireland, is a historically left-wing nation never likely to favour Israel in its battle over what the Celts see as an oppressed people, like themselves.

Ireland is a prescient example of what a yes vote may bring and is home to one of the most vocal anti-Israel atmospheres in Europe. The Israeli embassy in Dublin is routinely barricaded and ‘sieged’. The Irish Foreign Minister is routinely asked to expel the ambassador, while members of the Oireachtas (parliament) Friends of Israel are lambasted on social media for their membership of the group and boycotts are spreading.

The President of Ireland, Michael Higgins, is considered one of the most anti-Israel heads of state in Europe and a quick glance at some of the comments directed to @IsraelInIreland Twitter would be eye-opening reading.This is all before taking into account the impact of being ruled by a nationalist party – the Scottish National Party – which Mr Salmond leads. How do we know that, in the years to come, the question of “just how Scottish are you” won’t be asked of Scottish Jews?

In May, the former Foreign Secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, himself a Scottish Jew, told me that “nations don’t just break up” and said he would “bet everything against a vote for Scottish independence”. Let’s hope he is right.

Labour Party Members Actively Supporting Israel

1. The National Union of Students has supplied many of the Labour Partys senior members over the years. Lot’s of them also joined:

a. Labour Friends of Israel

b. Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre BICOM, a powerful lobbying group always pushing the case for support of Israel in all things in Westminster.

2. This note addresses in brief a group of student friends and their links to each other and the foregoing activities:

3. Jim Murphy was Chair (2001-2002) and still is a member of Labour Friends of Israel and has close links with members of BICOM.

a. WikiLeaks: In 2011, The Daily Telegraph published documents, compiled by a senior US official at the US Embassy in London and published by WikiLeaks, it was revealed that throughout 2009, Jim Murphy was in charge of organising a coalition of Unionist parties whose aim was to, “block an independence referendum” in Scotland. The documents state: Throughout 2009, UK Secretary of State for Scotland, Jim Murphy played a leadership role in organizing the opposition parties, hoping to move Scotland toward implementation of the Calman recommendations as an alternative to an independence referendum, according to Murphy’s advisors, Labour party insiders, and opposition party leaders. First Minister Salmond’s response to independence critics (such as Murphy) was to accelerate the implementation of the Calman recommendations as soon as possible – “to call the bluff.”

b. East Renfrewshire has the biggest Jewish community outside London and Murphy is noted for working hard for them. but the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign is a lot more extreme than the English one. It is a very hostile political environment for a beleaguered Jewish community of 5,000, which needs to change.

c. Avoiding national service with the South African Army; “I saw for myself the legalization of grotesque theories of racial supremacy” he returned to Scotland, and took up studies at a University in Glasgow before dropping out to become president of the NUS. Then on to become an MP.

e. Murphy is a prominent member of the ultra right wing think tank, “The Henry Jackson Society Advisory Council”. The policies of the group conflict, at times with official Labour Party policy which causes conflict.

4. Lorna Fitzsimons: Grew up in Rochdale where she still lives with her family and runs her two businesses, Lorna Fitzsimons Consulting and MK-LF Partnership.

a. She is currently the Director of The Alliance Project and the Textile Growth Program. The Alliance project was established by industry, Lord Alliance, (David Alliance, Baron Alliance, GBE is a British businessman and Liberal Democrat politician of Jewish origin from Iran). and the Combined Authority’s of Greater Manchester to work with Government on the growth potential in British textile manufacturing.

b. She has completed the biggest study of supply and demand in British textile manufacturing in the last twenty years and presented the findings and recommendations to Government. She is now working with Government, industry and GMCA implementing the recommendations. She directs a £12.8million textile growth fund investing in British textile manufacturing.

c. Lorna has also set up MK-LF Partnership with her business partners. The company runs The Pipeline, a program working with FTSE 100 company’s to develop executive female talent.

d. Lorna served as president of the National Union of Students from 1992 to 1994. She was a NED of Endsleigh Insurance and chair of the European Students Forum. From there she became an associate director at a Saatchi subsidiary. Lorna became the first ever winner of the IPPR’s Young Communicator of the Year award.

e. In 1997, Lorna was elected to Parliament as MP for Rochdale (29). She was PPS to Robin Cook. Lorna was a member of the Hansard Society Board and chair of the Historic Parliamentary Labour Party Women’s Committee, comprised of 101 female MPs.

f. On leaving Parliament in 2005, Lorna set up her own consultancy and became a senior visiting fellow at the Defence Academy.

g. Lorna became the CEO at the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) in October 2006. She left BICOM after five and a half years in 2012 to set up her own company’s.

5. Dermot Kehoe has been Chief Executive of BICOM, Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre since 2012.

a. Dermot has over 20 years’ experience in public affairs, communications and journalism. A career in broadcasting that spans the BBC, ITV, GMTV and Channel 4 and in communications at the Home Office, Social Market Foundation and the Fabian Society.

b. His Credits include The Sunday Programme with Alistair Stewart, GMTV Election ’97, The Street Weapons Commission (C4) and The Iraq Commission (C4).

c. His partner John David Cairns MP died  from acute pancreatitis 9 May 2011

6. John David Cairns (7 August 1966 – 9 May 2011) was a Scottish Labour Party politician, who was a Member of Parliament (MP) from 2001 until his death.

a. He represented the constituency of Inverclyde.

b. He was the Minister of State at the Scotland Office until he resigned on 16 September 2008.

c. He died from complications of acute pancreatitis on 9 May 2011, aged 44.

d. He was a catholic priest but gave up his vocation to become a politician. Openly gay his long time partner was Dermot Kehoe.

e. He was a member of Labour Friends of Israel.

7. Michael Dugher was elected to serve as the Member of Parliament for the Barnsley East constituency at the 2010 General Election.

a. He is the Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, having been appointed as a full member of the Shadow Cabinet in October 2013.

b. He had previously attended the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Minister without Portfolio since October 2013 and was also Vice-Chair of the Labour Party.

c. Prior to that, Michael was: Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband; Shadow Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology; and briefly a member of the Public Administration Select Committee.

d. Jim Murphy and Michael compiled a document whilst in office setting out the benefits of defence purchasing from Israel

e. He is a member of Labour Friends of Israel.
8. Stephen Twigg is the Labour Co-operative MP for Liverpool West Derby and shadow Secretary of State for Education.

a. Openly gay he championed the removal of clause 28 from Schools.

b. He is a member of Labour Friends of Israel.


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