Co-op boycott push
On the face of it, the fringe meeting at this week's Co-operative Party conference, on "international development and fair-trade", is laudable. Until one looks at the complexion of the panel, who seem to have only one thing in common: a commitment to boycotting Israel. Atif Choudhury, founder of the UK branch of the International Solidarity Movement - recently in the news over the death of Rachel Corrie, an ISM activist - campaigns alongside the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Friends of Al Aqsa for a boycott.
Labour and Co-op MP Mark Hendrick complained in Parliament in June about the labelling of Israeli goods from the West Bank. And chairing the event is another MP, Mark Lazarowicz. Co-op officials insist that his chairmanship means the event's impartiality is assured. Yet Mr Lazarowicz is a supporter of the air "flytilla" to Gaza and spoke at a rally dedicated to "ending the Gaza siege" in front of a placard reading "Boycott Israel, Sanctions Now." Some impartiality!
Alongside them will be Hannah Newcomb, the Co-op's international development adviser. Despite their protestations that nothing can be read into this fringe meeting, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Co-op is now actively pursuing the boycott agenda. By their works shall ye know them.