An unprincipled attack on Luciana Berger

Luciana Berger is the Labour Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Liverpool Wavertree.  Tony Greenstein, on his so-called anti-Zionist blog,  is not amused. Despite calling himself a socialist, he wants people to vote against the Labour Candidate.  It is a fact that Ms. Berger is a Director of Labour Friends of Israel. It is also a fact that  Greenstein stated in a letter to the Communist newspaper Weekly Worker (No. 634, July 20, 2006), “I want the state of Israel to be destroyed.”

Based on his views, he lowers himself to referring to Ms. Berger as a “reptile” and someone who is “racist to the core.” The first accusation is not worth commenting upon and the latter is simply laughable.  Far from being racist, Ms. Berger has been an active anti-racist! She was the co-convenor of the National Union of Students’ Anti-Racism/ Anti-Fascism Campaign. He concludes that if he were able to vote in Liverpool Wavertree, which he is not, he would vote for the Liberal Democrats. What kind of socialist votes against the Labour Party and in favour of the major opposition to the Labour Party? Moreover, it can be noted that the Liberal Democrats run Liverpool Council, one that has been described as the worst council in Britain.

And who does Greenstein put up a picture of in support of his article that Luciana Berger should not be elected? The answer to that question is Ricky Tomlinson. In fact, Greenstein copies an out of date article suggesting that Tomlinson wished to stand against Ms. Berger. Had he looked at a more up to date article, he would know that Tomlinson has withdrawn his candidacy.

What is not mentioned in Greenstein’s article is Tomlinson’s murky political past. Greenstein calls himself an “anti-racist.” One wonders why he is promoting the views of  Tomlinson, a man who admits to being a former active member of the National Front who went on National Front marches and was even a candidate for that party!

In the article that Greenstein has copied, the following is said about Tomlinson:

A firebrand trade unionist who was once jailed for alleged violence on a picket line…. Tomlinson was jailed in 1973 for acting as a flying picket during the building strike in which unionists confronted the then Conservative government.

He was sentenced to six years but was released after two following mass protests and has always contested his innocence.

According to The Times, (December 20, 1973) the author of this article has facts wrong. Firstly, violence on the picket line is not simply “alleged.” Tomlinson was found guilty of conspiring to intimidate building workers, unlawful assembly as well as fighting and  making an affray. Tomlinson was also not sentenced to six years and released after two. He was sentenced for two years. Tomlinson and Dennis Warren (who was also found guilty and sent to jail) appealed against their sentences. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. (The Times, October 30, 1974).

During the trial, Mr. Maurice Drake, QC  for the prosecution, explained that Tomlinson and Warren were leaders of the “flying pickets” and that they had engaged in acts that no responsible trade union member or leader would condone. Far from being peaceful, the flying pickets had “intimidated and terrified ordinary workers.” At the Kingswood building site in Shrewsbury, pickets had smashed windows and damaged machinery. Witnesses described the pickets as like  “a bunch of Apache Indians – a frenzied mob.” At a different site in Shrewsbury, the pickets had stormed the site office chanting “kill, kill, kill.” (The Times, October 5, 1973).

An appeal court judge described in general terms the incidents for which the charges came about (The Times, December 20, 1974):

There was at each site a terrifying display by pickets of force and violence actually committed or threatened against buildings, plant and equipment; at some sites, if not at others, acts of personal violence and threats of violence to the person were committed and made. persons working on the sites and residents near by were put in fear.

In conclusion, Tony Greenstein’s article is disgraceful.  Claiming to be a socialist he admits that he would not vote for a Labour candidate but would vote for the Liberal Democrats. He accuses an anti-racist of being racist and at the same time he is happy to promote the views of a former active member of, and candidate for, the National Front! This same former National Front candidate that Greenstein is promoting was also a convicted criminal and his conviction involved intimating and striking fear into building site workers.

Rather than Greenstein’s pathetic and unprincipled attack, we can see what James Noakes, vice chairman of Liverpool Wavertree Labour Party, said about Luciana Berger’s selection:

We’re delighted the members have selected Luciana and I’m confident that whenever the election comes Labour now has the best candidate for Liverpool Wavertree, who will give us fresh leadership and great enthusiasm. Labour has taken the right choices to support the economy, helping businesses and families in Liverpool Wavertree through the downturn. At the General Election people have a choice: Luciana will stand up and fight for a fair deal for all in Liverpool Wavertree.