In the UK, LSD party member Jenny Tonge was sacked by party leader Charles Kennedy for saying she would consider being a suicide bomber if she was a Palestinian. On the same day as this sacking, Israeli soldiers shot three Palestinian children, one fatally. If Tonge had said that she might consider becoming an Israeli soldier would Kennedy have fired her?
Psipook has posed this question to Charles Kennedy by email. Check back to read his reply.
Here’s the Psipook letter to Charles Kennedy, Social Democrat leader
Dear Mr. Kennedy
On Friday you sacked Jenny Tonge from her frontbench role for remarking that she might consider becoming a suicide bomber if in the position of the Palestinians. On the same page of the Online Guardian on which the story of the sacking appeared, there was also a story of Israeli soldiers fatally shooting an 11-year old Palestinian boy and injuring two others. The question is: would you have sacked Ms. Tonge if she expressed a hypothetical interest in becoming an Israeli soldier? I thank you in advance for taking time to consider this question, and I look forward to your reply.
Here’s Mr. Kennedy’s form letter reply
Thank you for your e-mail regarding Dr Jenny Tonge MP standing down as Liberal Democrat frontbench spokesperson for children. Please accept my apologies for the long delay in replying and also if you receive more than one copy of this message.
Jenny Tonge MP has long been vocal on the plight of the Palestinian people and I have consistently supported her work on international development. Asking her to step down as frontbench spokesperson on children’s issues does not detract, in any way, from this position. However, there can be no compromise on comments that justify, or give the appearance of justifying, the use of terrorism and suicide bombings which target and kill innocent people. As the leader of a political party, I expect all my frontbench spokespeople to ensure that their comments reflect the principles and policies of the Liberal Democrats, especially when speaking on a public platform. Jenny is entitled to express her opinions in a manner she sees fit and will, quite rightly, continue to express her views and represent her constituency as a values back-bench Liberal Democrat MP. Indeed, Jenny herself has welcomed the freedom she will have as a back-bencher to speak her mind. The situation in the Middle East is complex. The Liberal Democrats believe in two fundamental principles, which need reasserting as often as possible if this conflict is to be resolved. The first is that the State of Israel has a right to exist in peace and security within recognised and guaranteed boundaries. And the second is that the Palestinians are entitled to justice and a viable homeland. These concepts are to be found in UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and they survived through the Madrid conference, the Oslo Agreement and Camp David. I am committed to this position and will continue to press for a resolution to the conflict that respects the rights and liberties of both groups. The Liberal Democrats will not shrink from making strong criticisms of the policies followed by the Israeli Government, nor will we shrink from opposing the scourge of terrorism wherever it is found. Thanks once again for writing and I hope this reply helps with your concerns.
The Rt Hon Charles Kennedy MP
More Kennedy bollocks
Well, your long wait is over. You can now get some sleep at night. Charles Kennedy, leader of the UK’s LSD party finally replied to the letter I sent him on January 24th this year.
And what a mealy-mouthed lot of rubbish it is too. Mr. Kennedy, considerate enough to reply, was apparently not considerate enough to read the message Psipook sent him because the form letter he sent fails abjectly to address the question I posed and in fact digs himself deeper in.
Mr. Kennedy in his reply quite rightly condemns “the use of terrorism and suicide bombings which target and kill innocent people.” I am not sure why he sees terrorism and suicide bombings as two separate things, but the point is he seems to be unconcerned about the killing of innocent people by the Israeli armed forces, which endorses my original objection to his treatment of Jennifer Tonge. Or does he consider all Palestinians to be terrorists and suicide bombers? Is that really what the leader of the UK’s third party thinks?
And to think I once voted for these guys twenty years ago. I guess I was beguiled by the name of the party and anyway, there was no Monster Raving Loony Party candidate standing in my constituency on that occasion.
In posting this, I have noticed a further irony. Ms. Tonge was the party’s spokesperson for children, and as Mr. Kennedy was sacking her it was children that were being shot by the Israeli army. Hands up all those who are going to vote LSD at the next election!
To be honest, Mr. Kennedy replied to my letter on February 12, but since he didn’t bother to address the issues, I didn’t bother quickly to address his reply.
March 9, ’04