Anger over Kaufman's role in trib­ute to Wil­son

Daily Mail - - Life -

THE Labour Party is pulling out all the stops to mark the cen­te­nary of for­mer Labour Prime Min­is­ter Harold Wil­son’s birth in March.

But not ev­ery­one is so en­thu­si­as­tic about the cel­e­bra­tions, which will in­clude a lunch in Speaker’s House, a lec­ture in Ox­ford’s Bodleian Li­brary, and a cer­e­mony in Politi­cian’s Cor­ner in West­min­ster Abbey.

Lady Cocks, the founder of Labour Friends Of Is­rael, of which Wil­son (pic­tured right) was pres­i­dent for many years, is an­gry that the vet­eran Labour MP Sir Ger­ald Kaufman has been asked to join the cen­te­nary or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee de­spite the Fa­ther Of The House ex­press­ing vir­u­lently anti-Is­rael views.

Only four months ago, there were calls for Sir Ger­ald, who is Jewish him­self, to re­sign, after he claimed ‘Jewish money’ dic­tates Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment pol­icy, and that Is­rael fab­ri­cated the re­cent stab­bings in the coun­try. Leader Jeremy Cor­byn called the MP’s re­marks ‘com­pletely un­ac­cept­able’.

Sir Ger­ald has form when it comes to his out­spo­ken views on the Mid­dle East. In 2013, he wrote a blog for the Huff­in­g­ton Post, in which he called Is­rael a ‘rogue state which com­mits

war crimes’. Va­lerie Cocks, who vis­its Harold Wil­son’s 100-year- old widow Mary ev­ery week, tells me: ‘Harold, the pres­i­dent of Labour Friends Of Is­rael all the time I was run­ning it, and to­tally ded­i­cated to Is­rael, would never have agreed with any of the vit­ri­olic com­ments he [Kaufman] is mak­ing on the sub­ject.’

The widow of for­mer Labour Party chief whip Michael Cocks has told friends she is so in­dig­nant that she may boy­cott the cel­e­bra­tions.

Sir Ger­ald, 85, was the press sec­re­tary to Wil­son and was cho­sen to help or­gan­ise the cen­te­nary events be­cause he is so knowl­edge­able about the for­mer Labour PM’s life.

He is joined on the cen­te­nary or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee by Wil­son’s two sons, Robin and Giles; his­to­rian Lord Hen­nessy; film pro­ducer Lord Put­tnam; Knowsley MP Ge­orge Howarth; and Hud­der­s­field MP Barry Sheer­man. Sheer­man has been lob­by­ing for a £100,000 statue of Wil­son to be erected in the Houses of Par­lia­ment, but the Speaker’s Arts Com­mit­tee has twice knocked him back.

‘We will crowd­fund it if we have to,’ says Sheer­man.

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