The House of Lords Commissioner for Standards, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, has now delivered a verdict on whether or not an event chaired and hosted by Baroness Tonge at the House of Lords was “taken over by those promoting antisemitism” in a way that she was bound by “personal honour” to oppose.
The Commissioner has concluded that despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the Baroness acted on her honour.
Campaign Against Antisemitism, having read the Commissioner’s detailed considerations, and, having measured it against her remit, found it wanting on the grounds that the conclusions she reaches are unreasonable.
Particularly, the Commissioner has delivered a highly personal and dubious verdict which betrays, at best, a lack of understanding of key historic antisemitic slanders against Jews, and how they are used by antisemites to sanitise their hatred as political discourse.
For example, one member of the audience claimed that “I’m not talking about World Jewry, I’m talking about the Zionist movement that has that power…over our own Parliament.” We would contest that the idea that any group of Jews controls the British Parliament is transparently antisemitic, by any standards.
Further, the argument proposed by another member of the audience that “Zionists…antagonised Hitler over the edge” will be familiar to those who witnessed Ken Livingstone’s bizarre and offensive comments last year. Ms Montcrieff would do well to review the many eminent historians who at the time, dismissed these well-worn notions as the product of lies, published and disseminated by known antisemites. It is sad and worrying to us that she would have accepted as politically acceptable discourse that which scholars have identified as lies used in fabricating a classic antisemitic tale of Jewish malice.
We greet the verdict with dismay. It is our opinion that the author clearly was not suitably knowledgeable on the subject of antisemitism to deliver judgement. This verdict will encourage other antisemites to express antisemitic views at the House of Lords with impunity. Furthermore, we predict that by failing to act now, the Commissioner has only delayed the day when she must act until next time antisemitic libels are aired at the House of Lords, further shaming the House and damaging its institutional credibility.
It is clear to us that what has said at the meeting required Baroness Tonge to act on her honour to oppose it. We will be making our position clear in a written response to both the Commissioner and the House of Lords Committee for Privileges and Conduct.