Fabian Society investigates local group after it hosts Baroness Jenny Tonge

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Fabian Society investigates local group after it hosts Baroness Jenny Tonge

The former Lib Dem peer suggested Israel was to blame for the rising Jew-hatred behind the mass shooting in Pittsburgh

Baroness Tonge
Baroness Tonge

The Fabian Society is investigating its affiliated branch in Tunbridge Wells after the group hosted the peer Baroness Jenny Tonge earlier this year.

Baroness Tonge is a former Lib Dem peer who quit the party in 2016 after she was suspended over alleged antisemitic comments.

She suggested Israel was to blame for the rising Jew-hatred behind the mass shooting in Pittsburgh and also hosted a meeting at the House of Lords at which Israel was reportedly compared to the Islamic State.

The Fabian Society said yesterday it was probing “the circumstances that led to an independent affiliated local Fabian society inviting a speaker who is widely known to have resigned from a political party over accusations of antisemitism.”

Baroness Jenny Tonge’s controversial Facebook post

The event, hosted by the Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells Fabians in March, was titled “Baroness Jenny Tonge: Gaza and the Holy Land.”

The event description states the peer’s pro-Palestine advocacy “has led to frequent vilification and accusations of antisemitism which she passionately refutes.”

“We very much look forward to hearing from Jenny on this topic and shedding light on the issues based on her knowledge and concern,” it continues.

Euan Philipps, spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism, contacted the Fabian Society in May, demanding an explanation.

“We do not believe Baroness Tonge should be given any kind of platform by any organisation committed to anti-racism considering her well-reported history of reportedly antisemitic comments, and we wonder why your organisation felt she was an appropriate choice,” he wrote.

In an email seen by Jewish News sent about two weeks later, the Fabian Society replied that it played no part in choosing speakers hosted by local Fabian groups.

“The national Fabian Society has no role in programming their events although we can intervene if there is evidence of serious malpractice,” it wrote.

“My team contacted Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells Fabians and asked for their comments and response.”

The left-wing think tank is putting its annual summer conference on hold while it reviews the programme over concerns about one of the invitations, but refused to confirm more details.

“The UK Fabian Society abhors antisemitism and will never knowingly platform antisemitic speakers,” it wrote.

The Fabian Society declined to comment.

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