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What follows is a true story. It is also a parable. But its main character is the leader of the Liberal Democrats. As mention of them normally ensures deep sleep, I should state immediately that what follows is about all our politicians and not just about the second-rater who leads our third party. 

Before the summer, Nick Clegg was invited to give the annual lecture to the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism. He treated his audience to a supremely empty speech in which he put his career on the line by coming out strongly against Nazism and fascists. Grateful as we were to hear that the LibDem leader was not a supporter of Hitler, it struck me that we might expect more. Having rather expected him to do this, I came prepared.

After Clegg's peroration, there was an opportunity for questions, so I got in first. I expressed my belief that fighting anti-Semitism should, like charity, begin at home and therefore what was he, Clegg, going to do about the conspicuous presence on the LibDem benches in the House of Lords of Baroness Tonge?

For those lucky enough not to know of her, Jenny Tonge is most famous for saying in 2004 of suicide murderers who blow up Israelis, "If I had to live in that situation — and I say that advisedly — I might just consider becoming one myself."

Though this statement and the resulting outcry got her booted off the LibDem front bench it also — as these things do — got her kicked upstairs  into the Lords. Thus she became Baroness "Boom" Tonge. And she has taken her new role seriously — becoming, against some competition, perhaps the shrillest anti-Israeli member of our degraded upper house. For instance, in 2006 she entered  classic Der Stürmer territory, saying: "The pro-Israel lobby has got its grips on the Western world, its financial grips. I think they have probably got a certain grip on our party." The idea that anyone has a grip on the LibDems would certainly surprise its membership.

Back at our meeting, I asked Clegg to address the issue of Jihad Jenny. He assured me that if she said anything like that on his watch she would be in serious trouble. He even did those determined hand-gestures he shares with David Cameron to show that this was something to which he was really, passionately committed.

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March 8th, 2010
8:03 AM
Head of the South Asia Group at the Foreign Office, a former Deputy Ambassador to Afghanistan and before that Head of Chancery in Islamabad, Rowan Laxton, was arrested after stunned staff and gym members allegedly heard him shout: ‘F**king Israelis, f**king Jews’. It is alleged he also said Israeli soldiers should be ‘wiped off the face of the earth’. His rant reportedly continued even after he was approached by other gym users. He is now comfortably back in position in the F.O., I would say that that is an even more worrying turn of events.

Al Farmer
December 2nd, 2009
5:12 PM
I can’t say this surprises me much. As a lifelong Lib-Dem voter I was somewhat dismayed when Chris Huhne expressed support for the expulsion of Geert Wilders back in February. What about centuries of Liberal support for freedom of speech, I thought? Not relevant, apparently. Wilders had "overstepped the line that should be defended in a civilised society". After this I started digging around and found that appeasing Islamism in its different manifestations seems to have become official Lib-Dem policy. There were many examples of this at the party conference this year, for example Lynne Featherstone’s boo-hooing about how we link the word ‘Muslim’ and the word ‘terrorism’ (Gosh, why would anyone make that connection!), concluding as an afterthought that there had been a rising tide of attacks on Jewish people too. So that massive rise in anti-Jewish violence during Israel’s action in Gaza was caused by, er, whom, Lynne? Or go to the blog of Meral Ece, Special Adviser to Nick Clegg on community cohesion and BME communities’ (no, I don’t know what they are either), who believes that only “learned and moderate cholars” should be allowed to discuss issues relating to Islam. The Liberal Party I was moved to join after hearing David Penhaligon many years ago no longer exists. The Lib Dems are not liberal. They no longer believe in freedom of speech, freedom of conscience or freedom from the state. They have become yet another grisly collection of amoral third-way chancers who would sell their grandmothers if they saw any political advantage in it.

Anastasia F-B
November 30th, 2009
2:11 AM
Douglas, I found this so interesting. I had absolutely no idea that the dear old Lib-Dems embraced an individual with such views. No wonder Corporal Clegg is so touchy! I've added a gloss on your piece to my own Ana the Imp blog- -which I've simply called Boom. Thanks again.

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