‘Mainstream. The Campaign Against Extremism.’ That sounds like a worthy cause. Hands up who’s in favour of extremism? I was prompted to look at the website of this new crusade (wrong word: crusades were terribly extreme) after its chair, the ex-Labour MP Ian Austin called for a vote for Boris Johnson. Who else is backing Mainstream? As comic actor Terry Thomas might have said, ‘an utter shaaarr.’ (Younger readers: he meant an utter shower.) This group of self-appointed defenders of decency in politics includes Tory Eric Pickles, one of the key architects of austerity. Looking at the various shameful stories that one finds on the web relating to this odious man, one is spoilt for choice, so I’m stumped. I’ll just have to leave that one there. Another supporter is Rachel Riley, of whom I knew nothing until now. She is a B-list TV celebrity. She holds some profound views on decency in society—dealt with in a lengthy, forensic article ‘Enough is Enough: Rachel Riley, GnasherJew, and the Political Weaponisation of Antisemitism.’ Not a pretty picture, it has to be said. It is worth looking at not least since it has a video clip of a former Israeli government minister admitting that it was their policy to weaponise anti-Semitism against any who dared criticise their policies.
Maureen Lipman is another Corbyn hater, but unlike some of her Mainstream colleagues she left the Labour Party in 2014 when its first Jewish leader Ed Miliband expressed support for Palestine. Apparently she doesn’t believe Palestine should achieve statehood. There are three other Labour MP defectors, and a former Labour MP, Michael McCann who is now director of the ‘Israel-Britain Alliance.’ Summing up his support for Mainstream, former MP Ivan Lewis said “When the history books are written about politics in 2019, there will be a shining light standing out amongst the darkness – Mainstream. I am proud to join a cause bringing civility and decency back into the political discourse.” What a laugh. Here’s a piece from the New Statesman about Mainstream’s chair, Ian Austin:
“Extraordinary scenes in the division lobby before the parliamentary recess when Labour’s combustible Ian Austin exploded in the summer heat. Witnesses allegedly heard and then saw the MP swearing loudly at party chair Ian Lavery, screaming that he was a “fucking bastard” and “wanker”. Onlookers report Austin didn’t make a political point as he went nose-to-nose to shout expletives at the granite-faced former miner but surmise it was another offensive in the anti-Semitism row. The outburst was observed by Labour chief whip Nick Brown, who moments earlier was told he should resign by the Dudley rampager.” (25th July 2018)
One wonders why if such language is ‘civil’ and ‘decent’ and is a hallmark of Mainstream, Margaret Hodge hasn’t yet joined.
As one might expect, there is no clue on Mainstream’s website as to how they are funded. It could be just another ‘astroturf’ style outfit designed to fool. I suspect it won’t last very long, since most of its key supporters will be quickly forgotten. And despite its mission statement declaring that they will call out extremism from wherever it comes, their only activity to date is to attack Labour’s leadership. I rather suspect ‘Lord’ Eric Pickles won’t be prodding Mainstream to investigate anti-Semitism or indeed Islamaphobia in Tory ranks.
The grand-sounding 'Israel-Britain Alliance' has cropped up in this blog. This is a professed lobbying organisation with a strong anti-Palestine bent (as you would expect). It appears to claim one or two successes on that front, e.g. by getting the UK government to cut overseas aid funding to the Palestinian Authority. But as with Mainstream, its funding is a mystery. It is a registered company, and its balance sheet as at the end of November last year showed creditors of £24,521 but no clue as to who they were. There is only one director, Mr McCann himself. Despite the declared lobbying purpose of this outfit, it is not registered with the UK Lobbying Register (UKLR) The UKLR ‘is open, universal and free. Increased scrutiny from parliament and the public mean the requirement for lobbyists to act transparently has never been greater. Signing up to the UKLR proves to your clients, colleagues and the public that you’re serious about transparency and meeting standards of ethical conduct.’ (UKLR website) The absence of the 'Israel-Britain Alliance' on the register kind of sums it all up really. Perhaps it’s time for Al Jazeera to do a follow-up report on their exposé of the Israeli government’s thought police.