Excl, extraordinary – LFI ‘throws supporter MP under bus’ in ‘damage-limitation’

siddiq.png

Tulip Siddiq (source: parliament.uk)

As the SKWAWKBOX reported earlier, a news site revealed that Labour MP Tulip Siddiq told a constituent by email that she had not ‘signed up’ as a Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) supporter and was going to query with the organisation the fact that she was listed in its parliamentary supporters’ section.

The background

Labour MPs are under pressure to sever ties with the organisation after its astonishingly crass, ‘victim-blaming’ statement in the wake of the massacre of around sixty unarmed protestors in Gaza – including eight children – and the wounding or maiming of thousands of others.

In a sign of the intensity of the pressure created by the public backlash LFI deleted its statement, while a director and its chair wrote articles to try to soften and justify its decision to blame Palestinians for Palestinian deaths caused by bullets fired from Israeli weapons.

Ms Siddiq’s London colleague Catherine West MP had already announced that she was suspending her membership of LFI because of its response to the massacre and Ms Siddiq’s response to her constituent suggested she was also keen to distance herself from the group.

The enquiry and response

The SKWAWKBOX wrote to LFI with details of Ms Siddiq’s email, asking it to confirm:

  • whether Ms Siddiq proactively joined your organisation
  • whether any other MPs have ever been registered as LFI members/supporters without their explicit consent and if so, how many
  • what the normal procedure is for an MP to be approached to join, or to proactively sign up for, membership/supporter status

The response when it came was remarkable, to say the least:

lfi response

We advised LFI that the earlier story stands, as it accurately reports the media claims about Ms Siddiq’s response to her constituent.

The attached screenshot was of an email sent to LFI by a Tulip Siddiq staffer. The obscured areas in red were redacted by the SKWAWKBOX and were unobscured in the original:

lfi screenshot 1

 

Dated 6 Feb last year, the email states:

Hi Jen

I’m in India from tomorrow I’m afraid, so won’t be around for a catch up this week. Have just spoken with Tulip and she’s fine to have her name added as a supporter.

Hopefully see you when I‘m back!

This shows that a staffer confirmed on Ms Siddiq’s behalf that she was happy to be listed – but that’s not the extraordinary aspect.

What is extraordinary is that LFI was immediately prepared to disclose an email sent by – or on behalf of – a supportive MP – to prove that she had even agreed to be named on its website.

The fall-out

The SKWAWKBOX contacted Tulip Siddiq with a copy of LFI’s response and a request for comment. Ms Siddiq said:

I have never been a member of LFI. I have been listed as a parliamentary supporter in the past and have been supportive of their work to promote a two state solution in the region. However, in light of recent events, I’ve asked LFI to remove my name as a supporter.

A second MP has now moved to publicly distance herself from LFI.

But that may be far from the only consequence. A Labour insider previously unwilling to criticise the organisation told the SKWAWKBOX this evening:

That response from LFI is astonishing. They’ve just thrown an MP who has previously supported them under a bus for damage-limitation. What kind of message does it send to other supporters?

A number of other Labour insiders, including MPs’ staff, made similar comments.

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