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clownfish Britain 

Engendering the NHS

Imagine the scene. You have a sore throat and hacking cough. You visit your GP. “Please stick out your tongue,” says the doctor, “but before you do so I need to ask whether you are straight, gay, lesbian, bi or other.” Ludicrous? Disturbing? Of course; and soon, perhaps, a scenario being played out in a surgery or health centre near you. To read my whole Times column (£), please click here. Oh – and why the fish? It’s a clownfish. It turns from male into female. You might say that,…

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may-ice-sculpture-12-56-17 Britain 

The vanishing Conservative party

You really do have to feel for Theresa May over her catastrophic party conference speech. With a heckler who got far too close, a prolonged coughing fit and a visibly disintegrating party slogan backdrop, this concatenation of calamities would have shaken the hardiest of performers. Someone reportedly as shy as Mrs May must be in agony over the whole thing. Cruelly, the debacle is being portrayed as a metaphor for Mrs May’s premiership. Her grip on power is supposedly melting away, just as her speech evaporated under the merciless heat…

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justin-welby Britain 

A kinder society? Really?

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has taken a hammering for claiming that the BBC didn’t display the same integrity over its role in the Jimmy Savile scandal as the churches had done over allegations of child abuse in their own ranks. The archbishop was immediately accused of hypocrisy. The broader point he made was perhaps more interesting. “I think,” he observed, “we are a kinder society, more concerned with our own failures, more willing to be honest where we go wrong.” A kinder society? Really? To read my entire…

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jeremy_corbyn_speaking_at_the_labour_party_general_election_launch_2017 Britain 

Antisemitism engulfs Britain’s Labour party

Jerusalem Post At its annual conference this week, Britain’s Labour Party crossed a chilling and fateful line. At a fringe meeting there was a call to treat Holocaust denial as a legitimate contribution to debate; Israel was compared to the Nazis; and there was a demand to expel pro-Israel Jewish groups from the party. On the conference floor itself, a Jewish woman spewed a stream of defamatory falsehoods, distortions and smears about Israel. She then received an ecstatic standing ovation for stating: “I am not an antisemite. This party does…

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Die sogenannten "Hep-Hep-Krawalle" in Frankfurt am Main, Antisemitische Ausschreitungen in Deutschland 1819; Radierung, zeitgenössischOriginal: Frankfurt am Main, Historisches MuseumStandort bitte unbedingt angeben!; Britain 

Labour’s lanyard of hate

The reverberations from Tuesday’s Jew-baiting hate-fest at the Labour party conference rumble on, as well they might. David Collier’s blog post here on what he experienced at the conference is a must-read. I found this observation particularly chilling: “At the Labour Friends of Israel event, there were anti-Israel activists actually taking photos of the MPs who were present. No doubt to add new faces onto existing expulsion ‘lists’… To my knowledge, I had my photo take twice at the conference. Once as I was leaving the ‘Free Speech’ event, an…

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779px-massacre_of_jews_woodcut_1493 Britain 

The Labour Party – a safe space for hate

What has been revealed about the Labour party at its annual conference in Brighton should make all decent people shudder. A fringe meeting hosted a call for Labour to debate whether the Holocaust actually happened, the libelling of Israel as a racist, Nazi, apartheid and colonialist state and a demand that Jews who supported Israel should be kicked out of the Labour party. What was so chilling was not just that the meeting, called Free Speech on Israel (aka Safe Space for Hate) provided bigots with the opportunity to spew…

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bus Britain 

In defence of Boris

The now (in)famous article Boris Johnson wrote about Brexit in the Telegraph (on his Facebook page here) has been presented entirely in political terms. It was an attack on Theresa May, an act of disloyalty or treachery, a sackable offence, the outcome of blind ambition and his positioning for a leadership challenge. Well ok, maybe it was such a challenge and then again, maybe it wasn’t. But what was so wrong with the article itself to have provoked such apoplexy? For it was no more or less than a passionate…

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779px-massacre_of_jews_woodcut_1493 Britain 

Britain’s alarming antisemitism problem

In 2002, on the BBC TV show Question Time, I was accused of dual loyalty in front of a jeering studio audience. My crime had been to defend Israel against demonization and double standards by both the audience and other members of the panel. At that time I had visited Israel only twice in my life, two years previously. No matter. A British Jew defending Israel was – and is – immediately accused in some quarters of incipient treachery toward Britain, just as throughout history antisemites have accused Diaspora Jews…

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arrest-handcuffed-classism-racism-oppression-1251664 Britain 

Don’t look for prejudice where it doesn’t exist

One of the key dividing lines in political debate is whether people are largely helpless victims of circumstance or responsible for their own fate. The Labour MP David Lammy seems well aware of the trap of elevating the former belief into an irresponsible dogma. Nevertheless, he appears to have fallen into it in his report on the over-representation of black, Asian and minority ethnic people in the criminal justice system in England and Wales. Lammy’s report acknowledges the part played in this by personal circumstances. He still concludes, however, that…

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pie-in-sky Britain 

The pie in the anti-democratic sky

There are many things that could be said about Tony Blair’s suggestion that the UK should toughen its immigration policy to reduce the numbers coming in from Europe. He claims this can be done “by measures within our own law or by negotiation with Europe”. Hey presto! – the British will then suddenly come to their senses, demand a second referendum and vote to stay in the EU after all. I don’t know which is the most startling here – the fantastic magical thinking, the fathomless hypocrisy or the deep…

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