Unease over selection of prospective parliamentary candidates

Colin Monehen was smeared in retaliation for his 2018 speech defending Palestinians. Photo: Labour Party/YouTube

JVL Introduction

What is going on with the Labour Party and the selection of Prospective Parliamentary candidates?

The exclusion of well-known local activists from longlists drawn up by the NEC is causing deep resentment. And  the exclusion of candidates on totally unspecified grounds is deeply worrying, as revealed in the case of Colin Monehen.

This article was originally published by Electronic Intifada on Wed 23 Oct 2019. Read the original here.

Palestine activist removed from Labour shortlist after smear

The activist behind an iconic speech on Palestine at Labour’s conference last year has had his parliamentary hopes dashed by the party, the UK’s main opposition.

Colin Monehen announced on Sunday he had been shortlisted to be the Labour candidate for Epping Forest in northeast London.

But the party emailed at 1pm on Wednesday telling him he had been removed from the shortlist “after due diligence.” They gave no specifics, Monehen told The Electronic Intifada.

That morning, The Jewish Chronicle had published a story claiming Monehen had “defended a notorious anti-Semitic image.”

But the journalist behind the story made his real motive clear, by denouncing Monehen on Twitter as having given a “pro-Palestinian rant” at last year’s conference.

Lee Harpin also invented the ludicrous idea that Monehen had been “dragged off the stage by security” in 2018.

After being mocked online, the article was later edited (but not corrected) to read he had been “urged off the stage.” The original can still be read online here.

What Harpin reported about the image was also untrue. Monehen had actually repeatedly condemned it.

It showed the Statue of Liberty being smothered by a face-hugging creature from the movie Alien. On top of the creature, the blue Star of David from the Israeli flag has been imposed.

“I have not shared that image nor would I,” Monehen told The Electronic Intifada on Wednesday. “We are now in a situation where any discussion around the subject is in itself dangerous.”

The Labour Party did not reply to a request for comment.

Harpin is one of several former Mirror journalists to be implicated in that paper’s phone hacking scandal in 2015.

That year, he was arrested and questioned by police over his alleged role in illegally tapping individual’s phones while he was an editor there. Charges against the paper’s editors were later dropped, even though the paper admitted criminal activity had taken place.

Monehen came to prominence among the party’s grassroots last year after his stirring speech at Labour conference.

Proposing a motion against arms sales to Israel, Monehen said there had to be recognition of the past, and how “in 1948 the Palestinian people suffered the tragedy of the Nakba, when the majority of the Palestinian people were forced from their homes.”

He was cheered by a sea of delegates waving Palestinian flags.

“This tragedy happened on our watch,” he said. The Labour government elected in 1945 presided over the Nakba in 1948, when Britain ended its occupation – only to be replaced with Israeli occupation.

“Conference, if we are silent, we are complicit,” he said. “The Palestinian people cannot be left alone.”

Videos of the speech online have had more than 160,000 views.

Monehen is the latest in a long line of victims in the witch hunt against the left and the Palestine solidarity movement that has been raging in Labour since 2015.

Update, 24 October

Labour Party activists have tweeted expressing support for Monehen.



Comments (6)

  • Harold Slovo says:

    Roger Silverman’s comments are in my opinion the most lucid, cogent, honest and insightful ever posted on this website.
    Without being boring and verbose, and without trotting out cliches he gets to the point in a mature and balanced manner.

    How hard is it for you and your chums to just say in simple terms “ criticism of the Israeli Government is not antisemitic “

  • Angie Mindel says:

    It is a disgrace. Similarly in Nottingham East there has been NEC interference in our process to replace Chris Leslie. Our own CLP Chair, Louise Regan, was not shortlisted despite huge local support. NEC members took over the interviews from our elected selection committee leaving only 1 CLP representative. Louise is a prominent Palestine activist – Vice Chair of National PSC. Please sign petition:

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScnB4rbhD5yCw9nKg7wJeauC9QBUSB1NiFlSMmInBcKQ8yWVQ/viewform

  • Ruth Appleton says:

    So sorry to hear of your removal from the candidate list Colin. I remember your speech last year and was extremely moved. The powers that be are afraid of you evidently! Keep your chin up – you have been extremely brave! Our time will come despite their cowardice.

  • Mary Davies says:

    A beautiful, moving, poetic speech from Colin.

    I despair at the terrible injustices against good, honourable, decent socialists in the Labour Party.

    Bad for democracy!

  • John says:

    Is it not the case that all selections have now been frozen – leaving the regional bureacracies to determine who will – and who will not – be official candidates?
    Two years+ on from 2017 and we do not seem to have progressed as a party.
    All the same old Blairite dead-beats look set to be re-adopted as candidates.
    Why is Jeremy Corbyn not providing leadership on this matter?

  • Rosalind Austin says:

    Shocking, quite disgraceful!

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