Nandy and Neil

Here is a link to the full Nandy interview with Andrew Neil. She is an articulate women who makes some good points. I find her comments on antisemitism starting at 20:42 to be quite problematic. Her comments on Scottish independence from 18:52 are also problematic particularly her reference to the Catalonian example and particularly in the light of her purported commitment on devolving power.

As the subject that primarily interests me is that of freedom of thought, speech and dialogue, it is Nandy’s thoughts on antisemitism and their implications for free and open conversation that I choose to comment on. Nandy asserts by implication that:

1. It is ‘antisemitic’ to call the Board of Deputies of British Jews ‘Conservative backers’.

[It is either true or false to call the BoD ‘Conservative backers’. Either they are or they are not. If they are ‘Conservative backers’ then Nandy is saying that true statements can be antisemitic. If it is false she is saying that wrongly claiming that they back the Conservative Party is antisemitic. I do not know why an erroneous claim about an organisation that is not in itself a slur should be considered antisemitic or otherwise abusive but before getting to this question we really should ask whether the claim itself is true or untrue.]

2. It is ‘antisemitic’ to demand that they disassociate themselves from the Conservative Party.

[The BoD should be free to associate with whatever political party they wish and people are free to ‘demand’ whatever they want. Making demands that that no one is obliged to act on and on those whose compliance you have no power to command is silly but I do not understand why it should be considered antisemitic.]

3. It is wrong to ‘demand’ that they condemn all Israeli military atrocities in the West Bank.

[Again with the demands. Forget the demands. But is Nandy saying that it is wrong to ask individuals/organisations to condemn ‘atrocities’? Now of course some questions or ‘demands’ may come across as being invidious, and much depends on context but I see nothing intrinsically wrong in asking that atrocities be condemned, that organisations that we work with take a stance that we consider moral.]

Ethically and logically problematic statements are available from other Labour leadership aspirants.