April 21, 2010
I have to declare an interest. Although I do not know William Wallace very well, I have met him a few times, and I both like him and respect him. When I heard that he had addressed the Board of Deputies on Sunday, I was naturally very interested to hear what he had said as he is my party's Deputy Leader in the Lords and a foreign affairs spokesman. Especially amid claims of a "walk out by Deputies". Well, one friend says that six out 150 Deputies walked out; Jonathan Hoffman writes that it was four. Is four Deputies leaving out of 150 a "walk out"?
On Monday, at a very enjoyable joint election reception for Lib Dem Dem Friends of Israel, Ed Fordham (our candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn) and I, I was given a printed, partial transcript of what Lord Wallace had said. I read it with great interest. I have always viewed William Wallace as a constructive critic of Israel who, as a senior foreign policy academic, has much to say that is both useful and interesting. He describes himself as a critical friend of Israel. He engages intellectually with the long-term challenges facing Israel. As a friend of Israel myself, I find a great deal to agree with in William's words. I know a great many other friends of Israel who will agree with me on that, including some Israeli friends and relations who have themselves served valiantly in the Israeli armed forces, and whose loyalty to Israel is therefore beyond question.
I do dissent from parts of what Lord Wallace said about Baroness Tonge. While I agree with him in his criticisms of her, he has been misinformed about what happened between the JC and the Baroness regarding the story about Haiti and I disagree with his defence of her (I also defend the JC as being a great newspaper with robust editorial processes).
I think that he possibly makes the mistake of thinking that because he is a person of good will himself, then so is Baroness Tonge; I believe that Baroness Tonge is someone who deliberately says provocative things in a bid to secure publicity. Where William is right is in describing her approach as "over-emotional"; it is precisely because she approaches problems emotionally, rather than logically, that she falls into saying the appalling things that she has said.
While I disagree with some parts of what Lord Wallace said, I also agree with large parts of it.
Here is the full transcript of what he said: http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/30873/lib-dem-lord-wallace-his-controv...
Matthew Harris is the Lib Dem candidate for Hendon.
This blog is part of the JC.com's On The Campaign Trail blog for the Election 2010 where candidates in key Jewish areas have been invited to blog. Read more on our Election 2010 page