Saturday, February 13, 2010

Jenny Tonge fired as health spokeswoman

From The Guardian:

The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, has sacked his health spokeswoman in the Lords after she called for an inquiry into allegations that Israeli soldiers were involved in organ trafficking in Haiti.

Clegg described Baroness Jenny Tonge's remarks about Israeli troops sent to the earthquake-stricken country as "wrong, distasteful and provocative".

It is the second time Tonge has been fired as a Liberal Democrat frontbencher for making controversial comments about Israel.

The latest row followed accusations in the online Palestine Telegraph – of which she is a patron – that members of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) had been harvesting body parts in Haiti.

She subsequently told the Jewish Chronicle: "To prevent allegations such as these – which have already been posted on YouTube – going any further, the IDF and the Israeli Medical Association should establish an independent inquiry immediately to clear the names of the team in Haiti."

Fellow Liberal Democrats were said to have complained to Clegg about her comments.

In a statement last night, the leader said the peer "apologises unreservedly".

"Following discussions with the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, Lord McNally, I have decided that Jenny Tonge will stand down as Liberal Democrat health spokesperson in the Lords following her unacceptable comments suggesting an inquiry into highly offensive allegations against the IDF humanitarian operation in Haiti," Clegg said.

"The comments were wrong, distasteful and provocative and I recognise the deep and understandable distress they have caused to the Jewish community.

"While I do not believe that Jenny Tonge is antisemitic or racist, I regard her comments as wholly unacceptable. Jenny Tonge apologises unreservedly for the offence she has caused."

Is it weird that someone is quoting her as apologizing but she isn't doing it herself?

Meanwhile, the spoof TongeLashing website I may or may not have set up in response to her comments is doing well, with some 2000 hits and dozens of comments. It is also getting hits from the Liberal Democrat Voice website as well.

Interestingly, the article in the Palestine Chronicle that Tonge was referring to seems to have disappeared from that site. Were they embarrassed? A copy can be seen here.