Thursday 4 July 2019

Open Letter to Ian Lavery MP, Chair of the Labour Party: Jeremy Hunt

This is my first blog entry for a while. It’s not that I’ve been short of things to write about but one way and another it’s been rather a busy, full-on year. I’ve had a couple of bouts of illness, work has been hectic and there have been some good and happy social times too… It seems as if the mis/adventure will continue as only this Monday a friend ran over my foot with his car (I’m fine, my foot is fine; rearrange ‘old, boots, as, tough’); more of that another day maybe. Despite my lack of activity here I have not been silent/silenced as far as politics goes. This time last year I had approximately 700 follows on Twitter, today, at the time of writing, I have 10,190. This increase is largely due to #SocialistShoutouts from like-minded others and despite the insults and trolling my increased numbers have prompted (I WILL be writing about that on another occasion) I very much appreciate the support and the care I have received via this medium, not to mention the further development of my (lifelong) political education (again… more later). So, what is it that has driven me to pick up my blog writing again today? The title and what follows makes it clear: 

Open Letter to Ian Lavery MP, Chair of the Labour Party: Jeremy Hunt

Dear Ian (if I may)

I am writing to you as Chair of the Labour Party and as the only MP (to my knowledge) who has condemned Jeremy Hunt MP for his recent disgraceful (verbal and written) comments thus:

@Jeremy_Hunt: When I went to Auschwitz I rather complacently said to myself, ‘thank goodness we don’t have to worry about that kind of thing in the UK’ and now I find myself faced with the leader of @UKLabour who has opened the door to antisemitism. 

As I am sure you are aware a petition (close on 16,500 signatures to date) is calling for Mr Hunt to apologise to the LOTO, given Hunt's 'weaponising of antisemitism’ linking Jeremy Corbyn ‘who has publicly condemned antisemitism on numerous occasions, with Hitler and the atrocities that Jewish people endured and suffered during the Holocaust.’  As the petition notes, and many, many others on Twitter have highlighted (see not least Frea Lockley’s piece for The Canary Hunt’s hideous, political game-playing (just like his recent support for a free vote on fox hunting) appears to be all part of a cynical attempt to enhance his chances of winning both the Tory leadership contest and a future General Election by discrediting Labour. I share here just one quote from Lockley’s article:

@MichaelRosenYes: Hunt linking the place where my relatives were killed to an accusation about the Labour Party; not at all unprincipled hijacking of a world tragegy for his own electoral advantage. Free airtime provided my the mass media. Get off our history you horrible man.

Whilst I agree with you and many others that an apology is needed given the significance of and distress caused by Hunt’s words this does not seem to me to be nearly enough. Such an attack is so, so offensive to Mr Corbyn a life-long, anti-racist; his supporters (MPs, Labour Party members and others) who are regularly smeared (and insulted) by association; anyone who truly wants to fight all and any racism; and of course, as Michael Rosen’s tweet (and similar by many others) highlights, those who suffered and died under the Nazi regime and their relatives and decedents. Surely, there should be demands for Hunt's resignation – how can such a man be seen fit, by anyone, to be a Member of Parliament let alone a Prime Minister – and for legal action against him?

I know we are used by now to an unfair coverage of @UKLabour’s vision, policies and internal issues and concerns by the mainstream media (MSM) but the lack of attention, the almost complete silence from the MSM, following Hunt’s comments is a new low. Furthermore, why is it only you, amongst MPs, that have called out Hunt’s despicable political game-playing? Should not every politician, from each and every political party be condemning this? I appreciate, as you yourself note, that one of Jeremy Corbyn’s admirable strengths is his refusal to sink into the gutter, along with his/our opponents, but is this incident not something we should ALL be taking a stand on, given the real threat to our democracy from both the rise of the far-right, at home and abroad, and the ever-present and increasing attempts (often successful) to shut down the voices of the left?

The reason I am sharing this letter is that I know, as stated above, that I am not the only one with these concerns, not the only one distressed by Hunt’s words and also by the lack of visible outrage from those with more power to challenge. I have of course signed and shared the petition but this feels to me, and I know to others, way, way too little.

I would be more than grateful for your thoughts.

Thank you for reading this, and for all that you do.

Yours in solidarity


Gayle Letherby, (Truro and Falmouth CLP)