UK Politics

Attacking Zeichner

This is a guest post from Sarah

Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate, Daniel Zeichner, received some unwelcome publicity following an unfortunate incident at the Cambridge Student Union. He gave a Nazi salute in an ill-judged attempt to communicate his distaste for some of the Conservatives’ allies in Europe, including the Polish Law and Justice Party. He was condemned by many for this gesture, including Cambridge Rabbi Reuven Leigh.

Although this story received national coverage in the Daily Mail, another related aspect of the Cambridge campaign has received less attention. Zeichner himself, although apparently not Jewish, has been the focus of a smear campaign which seems tainted by anti-semitism. Conservative blogger Frugal Dougal expresses his anxiety about the issue on his blog Tales from a Draughty Old Fen and links to minutes (pdf) from a recent Stop the War coalition meeting.

Here Zeichner was quizzed about his supposed membership of Labour Friends of Israel – he is not a member – by a photographer. A little earlier in the meeting one of the candidates, Old Holborn, had felt it would be helpful to point out that “80% of Conservative MPs and 40% of Labour MPs are signed up as friends of Israel. Only Israel has more Jewish MPs than Britain.”

As well as being an independent candidate for Cambridge – easily recognizable from his Guy Fawkes mask – Old Holborn is a blogger. It seems he has been running a concerted campaign against Zeichner. On 22 March he asks his readers: ‘Anyone know if Daniel Zeichner (Lab) Cambridge has been on a fully funded trip to Israel?’ On 28 April he ran the story about the Nazi salute, eliciting the following comment from a reader:

“Nice English name you have there Daniel! wouldn’t be a anti British racist would you? doing all you can to undermine the indigenous people of this country by swamping them against their wishes! remember the people who pay your wages? – clearly not!

However let me guess there is a place that has strict immigration controls to ensure their identity is not flushed away, that you fully support and are `friends` with! is that correct?”

(Although my initial assumption was that the photographer at the STW meeting was a far left type, he might just as easily have been a BNP supporter of course.)

On 29 April Old Holborn urged his readers to come along to the next hustings. “Thanks to your generosity, I shall be presenting him with a brand new spade to bury himself with. Do come along, I promise it will be fun. Bring cameras.” I went to the hustings myself and can confirm that Old Holborn did indeed bring the spade with him and implied he’d like to use it to bury Zeichner. Conservative candidate Nick Hillman warmly defended Zeichner against Old Holborn – to audience cheers.