Labour MP pulls out of pro-Palestine event

By Jessica Elgot, November 11, 2009
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Labour MP Neil Gerrard will not speak at a pro-Hamas rally because of an invite to a neo-Nazi

Labour MP Neil Gerrard will not speak at a pro-Hamas rally because of an invite to a neo-Nazi

Labour MP Neil Gerrard has pulled out of a pro-Hamas rally, which will be attended by Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Jenny Tonge, after an anti-racism group asked him to withdraw.

Mr Gerrard told the anti-fascist group Nothing British About the BNP that he would not attend the event organised by the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC).

He claimed this was because of “substantial evidence” that far-right Hungarian MP Kristina Morvai would be attending.

Mr Gerrard and Baroness Tonge had been asked to withdraw from attending the event on December 16 in London over an apparent invitation to Ms Morvai.

Gaza has been virtually under siege since the elections which Hamas won.

Neil Gerrard MP

Walthamstow MP Mr Gerrard, who has decided to retire at the next election, has been an outspoken critic of Israel and voiced his support for Hamas as an elected political party.

During a House of Commons debate over the future of the Palestinian state in 2007, Mr Gerrard said: “If the West cannot explain its own policy on Palestinian independence and Jewish settlements, the individuals will continue to have the gut feelings that generate both tacit and active support for terrorists.”

He was an active campaigner for Palestine during the Gaza war earlier this year, writing on his blog: “The actions of Israel in the last few days are totally inexcusable. Gaza has been virtually under siege since the elections which Hamas won, with shortages of fuel, food, and vital medical supplies.”

Baroness Tonge reiterated her commitment to attend the conference as planned. Both she and the PRC denied Ms Morvai, of the Hungarian Jobbik party, would attend the conference.

But Maurice Cousins, of Nothing British, said that Ms Morvai’s name appeared in a press release about the conference, published by the Palestine Telegraph newspaper and Wafa, the Palestinian Authority news agency.

Mr Cousins said: “To double check that some mistake wasn’t made, we spoke to her assistant Zsanett Makkai in the European Parliament, who confirmed that Mrs Morvai had been invited to attend.”

Last updated: 3:11pm, November 11 2009