Martin Bright

Analysis: This is a lethal blow to Human Rights Watch

By Martin Bright, October 22, 2009

The intervention from Robert L Bernstein in the debate over the credibility of Human Rights Watch is beyond devastating.

Mr Bernstein founded the organisation and was its chair in the two decades from 1978 to 1998, during which time HRW built itself into one of the most respected monitors of state abuse in the world. His op-ed piece in the New York Times accuses the present leadership of losing its way over the issue of Israel.

But far more seriously, it accuses his successors of betraying the founding principles on which Mr Bernstein and others built the organisation.

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Hillary Clinton and the Tories' new allies in Europe - Latest

By Martin Bright, October 16, 2009

The Guardian is the first paper to follow up the JC's story on US unease at the Tories' new alliance with right-wing parties in the European parliament. Senior political correspondent Allegra Stratton has confirmed that senior US officials raised their concerns when Hillary Clinton visited the UK last weekend.

The Tories's decision to yoke itself with Poland's Law and Justice party and Latvia's Fatherland and Freedom party looks more eccentric by the minute.

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Miliband sees red over Tory Euro-alliance

By Martin Bright, Political Editor, October 15, 2009

When David Miliband read the JC last Friday, he blew a gasket.

The cause of his fury was the interview with Michal Kaminski, Polish MEP and leader of the Tories’ new allies in the European Parliament, the European Conservatives and Reformists.

He had read Mr Kaminski’s frank remarks about his refusal to apologise for the notorious massacre of Jews at Jedwabne in July 1941 and his view that he did not judge this atrocity as being on the same scale as other crimes of the Holocaust.

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Hillary Clinton fears over Kaminski

By Martin Bright, October 15, 2009

The row over the Conservative Party's alliance with right-wing political parties in Europe intensified this week after it emerged that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised concerns about the issue during her visit to Britain last weekend.

The Tories have been under intense attack from Labour ministers for joining the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, which contains parties with alleged antisemitic and neo-Nazi links.

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Michal Kaminski: Statement on Chrobry Sword

By Martin Bright, October 9, 2009

In my interview with Michal Kaminski I asked him if he had ever said he was proud to wear the Chrobry Sword, the symbol of the National Radical Camp Falanga, a Catholic totalitarian group formed in 1935. He issued a categorical denial: “No, I never wear it. I don’t even know which symbol you are referring to.”

I agreed to send him further details. He responded yesterday evening, after the JC had gone to press:

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Analysis: Kaminski's opinions should ring loud alarm bells

By Martin Bright, October 9, 2009

Michal Kaminski was extremely frank in his interview with the JC. Perhaps too frank. After talking to him I have no reason to believe he is an antisemite or to doubt his commitment to the state of Israel. But I also have a much clearer idea of precisely what he is: a socially conservative east-European Catholic nationalist with all the unfortunate baggage this entails.

There is nothing very appealing about a man who began his political life on the extreme right of Polish politics, went on to heap praise on General Pinochet and was, until recently, happy to casually insult homosexuals.

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EXCLUSIVE Michal Kaminski: 'I'm no antisemite'

By Martin Bright, October 9, 2009

When I finally interview Michal Kaminski he is looking extremely flustered, not to say hounded, by the attention he has received during his flying visit to Conservative Party conference. The controversial leader of David Cameron’s new allies in the European Parliament has been chased into a fringe meeting by a woman from Channel 4 and to the doors of a lunch hosted by Conservative Friends of Israel. Allegations about his far-right past have quite literally pursued him to a suite at Manchester’s Midland Hotel.

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Leaders split over David Cameron's Euro allies

By Martin Bright and Simon Rocker, October 9, 2009

The controversial Polish MEP at the heart of the row over David Cameron’s new alliance in Europe has launched a fierce rebuttal of claims that he is an antisemite with a neo-Nazi past.

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Denham challenged on Prevent

By Martin Bright, October 1, 2009

Britain’s leading moderate Muslim organisation has challenged Communities and Local Government Secretary John Denham over his claim that government money was not being used to fund groups and institutions promoting radical Islamist ideology.

Speaking at a fringe event during Labour Party conference in Brighton, Ed Husain, director of the anti-extremist Quilliam Foundation, said he would provide Mr Denham with a list of organisations funded by the government’s Prevent strategy that should be a cause for concern to ministers.

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Analysis: Not going to extremes with £60m

By Martin Bright, October 1, 2009

Chris Grayling’s interview puts significant blue water between the Conservatives and Labour on extremism and anti-terror policy. The Shadow Home Secretary could not be clearer in his rejection of multiculturalism and the policy of “engagement for the sake of engagement”.

Mr Grayling has taken some time to come to these conclusions — he was appointed in January — but at least he cannot be criticised for rushing to judgment.

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Chris Grayling: No more funding for extremists

By Martin Bright, October 1, 2009

Chris Grayling is a cool customer.

He has a reputation as a Tory attack dog, a ruthless opposition politician who can put the squeeze on any government minister unfortunate enough to cross his path.

He has already seen off one Home Secretary during his short time in the shadow post and is building a reputation as a worthy adversary to the current incumbent, Alan Johnson.

He has the demeanour of an establishment man — crisp pink shirt, Tory blue tie, House of Commons cufflinks — and speaks with the authority of someone heading for the Cabinet.

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Tories will review Prevent policy on extremism

By Martin Bright, October 1, 2009

A conservative government would stop all funding to groups that promote radical Islamic ideology and target money at organisations with a record of bringing Britain’s diverse communities together.

In an interview with the JC, Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said Labour's policy risked creating ghettoes.

He revealed that the Tories were planning an immediate review of the Prevent anti-extremism strategy, which he accused of channelling money to radical organisations.

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Analysis: Denham reveals how government's Islamist stance unresolved

By Martin Bright, September 24, 2009

Our interview with Communities Secretary John Denham illustrates that the British government’s stance on engagement with home-grown Islamism remains unresolved.

Mr Denham has made it clear that the Muslim Council of Britain will remain out in the cold while its deputy secretary general remains a signatory to the Istanbul declaration calling for attacks on Israel and the Royal Navy.

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John Denham interview: let's talk to the Muslim Council but not yet

By Martin Bright, September 24, 2009

Few politicians are as well-mannered and gracious as Communities Secretary John Denham. He is popular with the Labour Party faithful because he is has no airs and is prepared to discuss his ideas openly. In the past decade he has navigated the Blair-Brown sectarian divide with great skill and made an astonishing comeback after resigning from the government over Iraq. But he is not without enemies.

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John Denham: Government were wrong on terror

By Martin Bright, September 24, 2009

The government’s strategy on terrorism following the 7/7 attacks was fundamentally flawed, admits the Cabinet minister now responsible for community cohesion.

Speaking to the JC on the eve of the Labour Party conference, Communities and Local Government Secretary John Denham said the strategy to tackle extremism in the wake of the suicide bombings of 2005 was too centralised, with solutions being sought from Whitehall without reference to the reality on the ground.

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Analysis: Human Rights Watch is naive

By Martin Bright, September 18, 2009

The suspension of Human Rights Watch senior analyst Marc Garlasco is a devastating blow for the reputation of a group which stands or falls by the independence of its reporting on government abuses.

It is hard to imagine why anyone would wish to surround himself with the ephemera of fascism.

And yet, it is theoretically possible for an individual to be fascinated by Second World War military history and remain objective when reporting on the Israeli-Palestinan conflict (one of Mr Garlasco’s areas of expertise).

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Analysis: TUC in chaos over Israel

By Martin Bright, September 18, 2009

There was nothing edifying about the sight of trade unionists fighting each other in Liverpool this week over an attempt by the Fire Brigades Union to introduce a boycott of Israeli goods .

Did no one tell the brothers there is a recession on?

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'Secret sect giving PSC mask of respectability'

By Martin Bright, Political Editor, September 18, 2009

One of Britain’s most longstanding Jewish anti-Zionists has accused an ultra-left political faction, with links to Ken Livingstone, of infiltrating the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Tony Greenstein, a pro-Palestinian activist, says Socialist Action is acting like “political freemasons” in their takeover of the PSC and suggested that the organisation’s leadership has allowed itself to be treated as “useful idiots”.

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Nick Clegg: I won't silence Jenny Tonge

By Martin Bright, September 18, 2009

Nick Clegg is angry. No, it’s beyond angry. Incandescent almost gets it, but that still doesn’t capture the full fury of the man as he leans forward from his chair in the Liberal Democrat leader’s office in the House of Commons.

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Why has liberal Britain deserted Derek?

By Martin Bright, September 17, 2009

One man’s long and heroic struggle for justice has gone largely unreported. Derek Pasquill is a former Foreign Office civil servant who was responsible for a series of leaks in 2005 that revealed the full extent of the influence of the Muslim Council of Britain and other Islamist institutions within Whitehall.

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