Monthly Archives: May 2016

A good meeting in Colyford

Martin Shaw organised a public meeting this evening in Colyford Village Hall to promote remaining in Europe.  Our CLP chair, Jerry Walden, spoke – together with Emily McIvor of the Green Party and Martin himself.  There were one or two Brexiters who spoke from the floor.

In general, the tone was moderate and civil and the Remain position seemed to come out ahead.  One doubter I spoke to had decided now to vote Remain. Whatever one’s personal opinion, she said, we owed it to the next generation to avoid the damage to the economy likely to be caused by Brexit.

Seaton and Colyton IN Europe

Martin Shaw is collecting signatures for this letter to the local press.  If you want your name added contact Martin at

Here is the letter:

Seaton and Colyton IN Europe

As residents of the Seaton and Colyton area, we support the United Kingdom remaining IN the European Union and urge people to vote REMAIN on 23rd June. British people gave their lives to make Europe free and democratic, not to withdraw into a ‘Little England’, and we need to maintain our cooperation with other European countries. ‘Brexit’ would be a huge own goal which will weaken our economy, our NHS (which relies on 30,000 doctors from other EU countries), and our environment (our wildlife and beaches are protected by EU regulations). East Devon needs European tourism to be prosperous and we cannot afford to send an anti-European message to our visitors. A public meeting will be held on Friday 27 May at 7.15 in Colyford Memorial, Swanhill Road, speakers to be confirmed. If your readers would like further details of this meeting, or to join this campaign, please contact

Labour and anti-Semitism

Definitions are important. but need explication.  As ever, I refer to Wikipedia.

Anti-Semitism is hostility, prejudice or discrimination against Jews.  The Wiki article goes on to mention numerous incidents of anti-Semitism going back to 1069, the most recent atrocity being the Holocaust, the Nazi program of systematic and motiveless murder of 6 million Jews, as well as 4 million other unpopular groups during the second world war.

Zionism is a nationalist and political movement of Jews and Jewish culture that supports the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland in the territory defined as the historic Land of Israel (roughly corresponding to Palestine, Canaan or the Holy Land).

Jews had lived in Israel in various numbers ever since the First Diaspora in biblical times, but usually under foreign control.  Zionism as defined above dates to 1896, after which five waves of Jewish migration to Israel took place, the last resulting from the Holocaust.  These were resented and opposed by the existing inhabitants of Palestine, and both Jewish and Arab violence in various forms continued during the British mandate (1919-1947), partition by the United Nations and Israel becoming a member of the UN in 1949.

Under these horrific circumstances it is easy to understand how many Jews have come to identify with Zionism to the point where criticism of one bleeds across to the other.  In the Guardian today Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis  is reported as saying that Jewish students at universities  were confronted with a “wall of anti-Zionism which they feel and know to be Jew hatred.”  In the same article the president of the National Union of Students, Malia Bouattia, defended herself against such charges:”For me to take issue with Zionist politics is not me taking issue with being Jewish . . . it is a political argument, not one of faith.”  Her position is supported by a number of Jews critical of Zionist politics.

Racism or religious bias of any kind is wrong; but we cannot conflate a state with the majority religion of its inhabitants.  If a criticism of Saudi or Iranian politics is not anti-Muslim, then criticising Israeli politics is not anti-Jewish.  This must surely remain the position of the Labour movement.

One complication arises from the above definition for Zionism. It is a political movement, to be sure, but involves Jewish culture. Is it possible that Zionism is more than a simple adjective for Israeli state policy and overlaps the  concept of what it is to be a Jew ?  If so, perhaps we should be criticising Israeli policies not Zionist ones.

Paul Krugman speaks on Brexit

Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize winning economist. Here is his comment on Brexit :

You sometimes hear people saying that the attitudes and character of the pro-Brexit forces are not a valid argument for staying in. But that’s wrong: asking who would call the shots afterwards, who would be strengthened, is extremely relevant.

And that’s where Boris Johnson’s tirade against President Obama is so wonderfully clarifying. It tells us who the anti-EU wing of the Conservatives really are; it tells us not just that they are pretty close to UKIP, but that intellectually and emotionally they live in the same fever swamps as the American right. And they would, all too probably, take on a strong, even dominant role in British politics post-Brexit.

So Britain, don’t do this. You would pay a fairly large economic price, and in return you would get governance so bad that it would make the EU look good.