First it was ‘anti-Semitism’ now the Labour Right (& the BBC's Tory Kuesnberg) are weaponising Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is much like anti-Semitism. No one wants to be accused of it and the immediate thought when faced with the accusations made against Kelvin Hopkins is that there is no smoke without fire.
I know this because in my Momentum group in Brighton for the first few months a number of people thought that I must be guilty if I was suspended for ‘anti-Semitism’. It was only after people like Jackie Walker and others began to be accused of the same crime that it dawned on people that this was a cynical ploy by the Right to divide the Left. And because the Left has a conscience, because socialists as opposed to the neo-liberals of the Right don’t act like cynical automatons, people do take these things seriously. The same is true of sexual harassment.
Perhaps more so with sexual harassment because all men are, to a greater or lesser degree, guilty of possessing power in relationships and using that power. I doubt if there is any man who can honestly say they haven’t, at some point in their life been guilty of some form of sexual harassment or coercion or pressure. You live in this world and are part of it, a world framed by patriarchal relations. You can’t live outside the social relations that you are a part of.
|Ava dressed up as a schoolgirl by her Telegraph minders for her interview|
That is why just like anti-Semitism has been weaponised, so sexual harassment can be and it would appear is being weaponised at this moment. It is clear that the Tories epitomised by the monstrous lech Michael Fallon are clearly guilty of gross acts of abuse and worse. However there is a determined effort by the BBC and the Tory press to turn the attention on Labour. The Right are doing all they can to encourage this and the Left should stand up and ask where the proof is, because apart from Ivan Lewis MP there seems none.
It is almost certain that Kelvin Hopkins is innocent of the charges against him. I must confess that when I first saw Etemadzadeh I rubbed my eyes. Why is she dressed up as a schoolgirl? Is this to try and suggest she is young, virginal and innocent? She must be at least 23-24, what is this school girl image for? And the poppy? No socialist activist would be seen dead wearing a symbol to British military imperialism.
|A very different Ava E in her Linkedin profile|
I confess on Friday night, after just coming out of hospital, I had BBC News 24 on and the news goes round in cycles and Etemadzadeh seemed to be on interminably as I half listened, and got on with writing and posting a blog. Perhaps because I listened to her more than once it gradually occurred to me that she had been very carefully coached – her interview seemed incredibly staged and even forced. At the end she described an alleged conversation where Kelvin said that if he were young, he would have been proud to have her as her lover and then she said ‘and if he was young he would be happy to have her as a lover’ and then the killer punch ‘but he’s not’ made me feel that this was not spontaneous. It now appears that it was a put up job with John Pina.
More details have come about concerning Ava. She is a member of Progress and she has been working with the Telegraph, hardly a Labour paper. She seems to have been put up to it by a Progress MP (Wes Streeting?) just as the Jewish Labour Movement have constantly run to the Times and Mail when they wanted an anti-Labour story printed.
Too much of this story doesn't hang together. The one conflict of evidence is where Etemadzadeh says that Hopkins rubbed his crotch against her when saying goodbye at Essex. If that is the case, then why the hell did she go out of her way to make further contact with him? It’s not as if she had to. There was no financial or contractual or employer-employee relationship between them.
There were 3 separate messages sent by Etemadzadeh to Kelvin Hopkins, none of which square with his alleged behaviour. And why wait 3 years if indeed all this transpired? It may well be the case that Hopkins told her that if he was young he would happily fall in love with her. That is no more than saying that he found her a nice woman. Certainly you can question his appalling sense of judgement but it hardly constitutes sexual harassment. She doesn’t allege that there was any further alleged physical or sexual contact.
She was also an intern with Michael Dugher, who was special adviser to the most right-wing of all Labour MPs, John Spellar, an old associate of the Electrical Trades Union and its anti-communist leadership. Dugher was also a special adviser to Geoff Hoon, Blair's Defence Minister and latterly he worked as a corporate lobbyist for American multinational Electronic Data Systems (EDS), one of the government's largest IT contractors.
Left-wing men of course feel very queasy about standing up to this and that is precisely the problem. The Labour Right, both men and especially women, are unscrupulous in using peoples’ abhorrence of sexual harassment or racism for their own devious political purposes. Taking out left-wing men is a game to these people.
I am referring to people like Jess Phillips who is quite happy to say she’d stab Jeremy Corbyn in the front rather than the back or who tells Dianne Abbot, who unlike her has a record of standing up to oppression racist bullying, to ‘fuck off’, without of course meriting any punishment from Labour Party HQ.
Phillips is the archetypal right-wing feminist, a woman who attacks left-wing men as the ‘enemy’ but seems more than happy to be friends with the backwoodsman Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg, a man who believes that a woman who is raped should be denied an abortion. His chivalry apparently bowls the simpleton over.
No self-respecting woman could count a misogynist like Rees-Mogg, the man who never changed a nappy, as a friend. Phillips is a fraud and a fake as are most right-wing feminists, precisely because they see their liberation as taking place at the expense of the most oppressed women. That is why some of the vilest Zionists happen to be women on the Labour Right. We have a good example of that in Brighton Labour Party where the execrable racist Progress Councillor, the mad and bad ‘Poison’ Penn, willingly use scurrilous allegations against socialist men, in order to pursue a far-Right Zionist and racist politics.
I include Hattie Harman in this, a woman whose feminism didn’t prevent her cutting benefits for single parents as soon as she became a Cabinet Minister in 1997.
People have to get use to the fact that the Right in the Labour Party are wholly unscrupulous. This is because they are in bed with US imperialism. They are the old Atlanticists to whom the ‘special relationship’ even if it is with Trump is more important than anything else. That is why Israel is such an important issue for the Right. Israel symbolises the American relationship hence why someone like Louise Ellman is happy to justify Zionist war crimes, even against children.
It is a great pity that once again Corbyn takes what he sees as the easy way out by accepting at face value the allegations against Kelvin Hopkins. My suggestion is that, unlike the fake ‘anti-Semitism’ allegations he starts to probe a little deeper, not least into Miss Goody Two Shoes Etemadzadeh, who isn’t quite sugar and spice and all things nice that young girls are supposed to be made of!
There are a number of interesting things one can gauge from reading the Linked in page for Etemadzadeh. She worked as an intern with people like Gavin Shuker and former MP and JLM officer Michael Dugher. She also campaigned for Wes Streeting, Daniel Zeichner, Gareth Thomas etc, She stood on a platform with Richard Angell of Progress and campaigned for Blairite Jasmin Beckett for NEC. She moved easily in right-wing circles but not with anyone on the left of the party. She also seemed to admire Blair.
I also suggest that people read very carefully Kelvin Hopkin's statement before reaching a judgement on this 'girl'.
Press Statement of Kelvin Hopkins MP in response to press reports concerning allegations by Ava Etemadzadeh (hereafter ‘Ava’):
1. My first recollection of ever meeting Ava was at the Labour Party Conference in Manchester in September 2014. She was one of approximately 10 party activists who had been present at a fringe reception and who accompanied me and my daughter to an evening meal in Manchester for activists and supporters. She introduced herself as the Chair of Labour Students at Essex University and she joined in the general conversation around the dining table. As I usually do, I let her have my contact details.
2. I next came across Ava when I was canvassing in support of the Labour candidate in the Clacton-on Sea by-election on 9 October 2014. She was one of a number of Labour Party activists who joined me in leafleting and door knocking. I had no prior knowledge at all that Ava would be in Clacton for the by-election. I had a general chat with her about the by-election in the company of the other campaigners.
3. On 11 October 2014 Ava sent me a text message:
“Hi Kelvin, how are you? I was wondering if you would like to come to University of Essex to speak in one of our Labour society socials this term? x Ava”.
4. I then arranged, through the secretary of the student Labour society at Essex University, to speak at Essex on 12 November 2014. I arrived at Colchester mid-afternoon as the social event was due to start at 4.15 pm. I gave my speech to the students. It was a well received talk and involved a lively questions and answers debate with those who were there. After the event, Ava walked me to my car in the car park at the university. There were many people in the general area.
5. The allegation has been made and reported in the press that I “hugged her [Ava] inappropriately” (eg Telegraph newspaper 3 November 2017). Ava is reported to have said, “He hugged me to say goodbye, held me too tight and rubbed his crotch on me, which I found revolting”.
6. I absolutely and categorically deny that I in any way engaged in any such inappropriate conduct. I simply put an arm around her shoulder to give her a brief slight hug just before getting in to my car. I did not hold her tight. I did not rub any part of my body, let alone my crotch, against Ava. She waved me off as I drove away and did not say anything whatsoever to suggest that anything had occurred that upset her let alone revolted her. In fact after I left the University, Ava sent me a text message during the same evening of 12 November timed at 9 pm saying:
“Thank you so much Kelvin for coming tonight!! We had a fantastic time. My members loved you! You’re a star! x Ava”
7. On 15 December 2014 Ava sent me a text message:
“Hi Kelvin, how are you? Could you please send me your post address? I’d like to send you a Christmas card. x Ava”.
8. I gave her my address as House of Commons, Westminster London SW1A 0AA. Her card arrived on 17 December.
9. When I had visited Essex University I had made an invite to the students to visit the House of Commons. I often take groups and individuals on tours of the Palace of Westminster and often dine with my guests in the House. Arrangements were made for a group of about 8 students to come to Westminster early in 2015. I believe the group trip was cancelled but Ava still wanted to visit and came to Westminster on 2 February 2015. It is reported in the press that at that meeting I asked questions about her personal life and that I made her uncomfortable with a suggestion that I would have liked to take her to my office if it were empty. I have no recollection whatsoever of such conversations. I recall the meeting lasting about 2 hours including dining in the Strangers Dining Room which was buzzing with very many other parliamentarians and their guests also having lunch. Shortly after leaving Westminster Ava sent me the following text message on 2 February at 14:50:
“Thank you, Kelvin for today. It was lovely meeting you! xx”
10. On 16 February 2015 I did send a text message to Ava which included the reported words saying Ava was “charming and sweet natured” and that “a nice young man would be lucky to have you as a girlfriend and lover…Were I to be young…but I am not…”. She in fact replied to my text on the same day:
“Oh thank you Kelvin for such kind words. I was ill last week for a couple of days and also I had run for NUS delegate – they announced the results and I got elected with the highest number of votes!! So sorry if I couldn’t speak to you last week x”
11. My only contact with Ava since then was about a year ago when she made contact with me to discuss working in Westminster. She told me that she had applied for a job with a Labour MP and that although she had been shortlisted to the final 2 for the job she nevertheless did not get it. She wanted my advice on how she could possibly have done better. I called her from parliament and advised her that jobs with MPs are difficult to get and I told her for example that my office had no vacancies. I advised her that she should also think about working as a member of staff of the House of Commons and should think about the civil service. I also suggested that as she is bi-lingual (Ava is fluent in Farsi) she could also think about working with the Foreign Office. Our conversation was friendly.
12. I have had no contact with Ava since then and was shocked when I saw the allegations appear online last night and in the papers today. I have always wished and still do wish, Ava the very best of luck in pursuing the career in politics that she wants to follow. I am happy to fully cooperate with the Labour Party to bring to a swift conclusion the investigation that is now being carried out into my conduct.
Martin Howe (Senior Partner) firstname.lastname@example.org