ANSWERING THE ALLEGATIONS
(Posted: 11 April 2007)
Alistair McConnachie, right, outside the Scottish Parliament, explains why some people have mistakenly called him a "Holocaust denier" and what he intends to do about it.
It has been brought to my attention that the "Principal Male Speaker" of the Green Party of England and Wales has recently been putting it about that I am a "Holocaust denier" and presumably trying to infer from this that I am "anti-Semitic" -- by which is meant, "anti-Jewish".
I understand "Holocaust denier" to mean "someone who denies that the Holocaust happened" and I understand "anti-Semitic" to mean "someone who hates Jews because they are Jews". Of course, I utterly reject and refute both smear labels and I address these absurd allegations in full below.
WHAT'S ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?
To understand the story we need to go back to the year 2000 when I was a member of the UK Independence Party. Prior to that I was never a member of any political party. I was the Scottish organiser for UKIP between 1999 and 2001 and stood for them 5 times.
Since I left UKIP in 2001, I have never been a member of any other political party except Independent Green Voice (IGV) of which I am the founder and leader.
I have stood for IGV three times: at the Scottish Election in 2003 where I took an amazing 1,300 votes (6%) in the Kelvin constituency in Glasgow. I also stood in the Hillhead Council Ward that same day, and again in the 2005 General Election where I stood in a less promising and different constituency and took 379 votes.
When I was a member of UKIP, in early 2000, I wrote a couple of letters -- in my personal, not party, capacity -- to the editor of The Scotsman and another to The Herald.
I thought they were innocuous enough, but each addressed issues relating to the Holocaust, which were in the news at the time -- the second one relating to the David Irving libel case which was in all the newspapers. I was a regular writer of letters on all manner of subjects to the national press. I still write and get published, on all manner of subjects.
Letters of mine, on a myriad of topics, have been published in The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday, The Herald, The Sunday Herald, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Scottish Farmer, The Farmers Weekly, New Internationalist, to name a few.
Both letters were published, and were somewhat unremarkable. I have included scans of them both on this page -- The Scotsman, 27-3-00, right, and The Herald, 27-4-00, below left.
Towards the end of that year, a member of UKIP, who was Jewish, read them -- because I had sent them to his colleague who had requested them on his behalf!
He started a campaign against me in the party because he thought the claims made by me were "substantially in agreement with leading 'Holocaust deniers'". Yet these letters were certainly not denying the Holocaust, and furthermore they had been published by the editors of Scotland's two most prestigious newspapers.
This person faxed a demand -- on the 25 September 2000 -- from Tel Aviv, which stated that there was an "issue that is not subject to debate: Mr McConnachie's immediate expulsion from the UK Independence Party by the Disciplinary Committee."
He stated that he would: "In precisely 10 days from the date of this letter...[among other things] ensure the widest national publicity is given to this issue through contacts in the media that I and my personal colleagues have developed (both in the UK & now in Israel), so that the Jewish community worldwide understands that UKIP MEPs are actively working with Mr McConnachie, knowing his views."
He continued: "The only actions that will obviate my own are: 1. Official, written confirmations to me (via Xxx Xxxxxx) from the Party Secretary and Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee that disciplinary proceedings have been initiated - these to be received within 10 days from the date of this letter...[continues in this vein for 3 more paragraphs] 5. A decision to expel Mr McConnachie from the Party is taken, effective immediately, with no possibility for him to return to the Party within the next 10 years at least. (Time for him to reflect)."
As a result of these demands, he managed to persuade the party to hold a Disciplinary Committee meeting to consider the issue.
During the run-up to this, I came under intense pressure to "explain myself" fully. It was at that time that I made a statement about my disbelief in the existence of "execution gas chambers" -- which had been informed by watching the Mr Death documentary at the Edinburgh Filmhouse, to which I had made reference in my letter to The Herald, above. These comments subsequently came out for the public record, as I show below.
The Disciplinary Committee meeting was held in late 2000. It claimed I had brought the party into "disrepute", even though the letters were sent in my personal capacity and even though no-one had complained, apart from my accuser and his tiny band of party associates -- less than 5 that I know of, and compared to him, I had many more supporters.
Anyway, the Disciplinary Committee decided to "expel" me, pending Appeal.
My Appeal was held in front of the governing body of the party -- the National Executive Committee (NEC). It was held in early 2001 and I was quizzed extensively during a 3-hour hearing, which included me stating my belief that the claimed existence of execution gas chambers was not credible.
The NEC sided with the progressive Enlightenment-derived position that we are all entitled to our beliefs regardless of whether or not we agree with each other, and the result was that I won my Appeal unanimously after a 3-hour hearing in front of 10 NEC members.
The "expulsion" penalty was overturned and the NEC replaced the penalty with a one-year suspension from the NEC, of which I had also been a member at that time.
Consequently, my accuser had a fit! He went to the press and at that point, my internal party comments came out for the public record in this article in the Guardian.
I WAS NOT EXPELLED FROM UKIP
The point here -- which the Guardian article makes clear -- is that I was not expelled from UKIP, as some uninformed people have been putting about, and I remained a member.
However, UKIP continued to come under pressure from this person and his associates as a result of my continued membership. In the autumn of 2001 -- after I had personally organised the 2001 UKIP-Scotland General Election campaign -- the UKIP leadership chose to resolve the issue by the simple expedient of not renewing my membership when it came up for annual renewal!
It placed a notice in the party Journal, UK Independence News, in the December 2001 issue, to this effect -- see the cutting below right.
So, I was never "expelled" from UKIP -- rather my membership was not renewed, which is a different matter entirely.
Ultimately, and importantly, there was never any suggestion that the failure to grant renewal of my membership was because of particular political opinions or "anti-Semitic" views on my behalf. It was simply UKIP's way of trying to pacify the vociferous accuser and his tiny band of associates.
MY OPINION ON THE HOLOCAUST
I am certainly not a "Holocaust denier". I know there was a Holocaust. The Holocaust was real! Millions of Jews were murdered. We all know that! We've all seen the pictures!
I am quite prepared to accept that six million Jews perished in the Holocaust. The only thing that needs to be said is that we should all expect to be free and able to investigate the evidence for ourselves, and reach different conclusions, and share these conclusions publicly, just as we investigate any other matter of history and talk about it publicly.
There is nothing controversial about that! There should be no "off-limit" topics, and no-one, and no group of people, or their history, should be free from investigation or criticism. Political "taboos" are not appropriate in the 21st Century!
As Desmond Tutu has said, "People are scared in this country [the US], to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful -- very powerful. Well, so what? For goodness sake, this is God's world! We live in a moral universe." (Desmond Tutu, "Apartheid in the Holy Land", The Guardian, 29 April 2002, p.11)
Regarding the Holocaust, the most that could be said is that I've questioned and doubt, from a historically-interested point of view, some aspects, specifically with regard to the existence of execution gas chambers. This is certainly not an anti-Jewish point of view, but rather a simple historical point of view, which like all historical points of view, is up for consideration in the mainstream. It is ridiculous to suggest that someone who has a mere opinion on a matter of history is "anti-" anybody. We should all be free to hold perfectly rational opinions on matters of history without being slandered!
As a historical opinion, it is open to being refuted. It is not held thoughtlessly, but sincerely. I don't say these things to make trouble for myself!
If you want to disagree with me then that's OK, but let's disagree openly and fairly and in a mature way, face to face. Let's not try to smear or hurt people or try to damage their reputations with whispering campaigns behind their backs just because you don't agree with them on simple matters of history!
Let us all stand for the basic right to engage in historical enquiry, study, discussion, debate and disagreement, and to do so publicly without being vilified or our motives questioned.
I don't proselytise on this issue. I suggest to anyone who is interested that all the information to make the logical deductions is found easily on the Internet. Basically, my advice is, "Don't take my word for it, go look it up for yourself!"
WE WILL ORGANISE A PUBLIC CONFERENCE
For those of you who disagree with me on this matter, here is my Pledge, to you:
When I am elected, among the many other positive things which I intend to do is to convene an annual public Civil Liberties Conference in the Scottish Parliament to protect and promote our freedom of speech and defend and develop our democratic rights. I pledge that one of these Conferences will examine both sides of the "execution gas chamber" debate, and the people who disagree with me will be very welcome to attend, will be encouraged to take the platform, and will be free to try to show me where I am wrong.
That's an exciting public event that all the people of Scotland can get behind, and it's what democracy is all about!
It is healthy and proper to open up our ideas to debate because it is a principle of our democratic society that the truth emerges through the clash of competing ideas. Freedom of speech, debate and enquiry is essential to the open intellectual life upon which a vibrant democratic political culture is built and maintained. Those who are afraid of debate are afraid of the truth.
People who would oppose a public event like this need to explain why they want to suppress public debate on the matter, while attacking people with whom they disagree!
The event would also be very timely, because there are anti-democratic attempts being made to ban any discussion of this issue throughout the EU and to try to criminalise people who do not believe execution gas chambers were physically possible or have been properly proven, or who merely suggest that the matter is debatable.
So, now, more than ever, we need, in the best Scottish tradition, to stand up for our civil liberties, for the rights of us all to enquire, study, discuss, debate and disagree freely and publicly on any matter of history without being persecuted by small-minded, totalitarian, speech-control fanatics.
MY MESSAGE TO THE GREEN PARTY OF ENGLAND AND WALES
To my many supporters within the Green Party of England and Wales -- whose "Principal Male Speaker" is trying to attack me, and trying to attack you for associating with me, I say this: Take your party back from the Stalinists and the speech-control fanatics who are telling you what you can and cannot think, or say, or do, and with whom you can and cannot associate!
I say, to the many good people within the Green Parties, on both sides of the border, fight for a party which stands for freedom of speech, debate and enquiry. Show by your actions that you oppose any laws which would ban mere historical opinions. Fight for a party which is proud to offer a free intellectual environment for people with views on all matters of history -- an inclusive party which is a broad church for independent-minded and thoughtful individuals. Build a party where your members and candidates are free to believe, and say, what they want on historical matters. Oppose the Stalinist-style political and historical-correctness of the leadership of the Green Party of England and Wales, which opposes the freedom of speech, debate and enquiry -- and the freedom to dissent from the prevailing orthodoxy -- which are absolute necessities, essential for the optimum strength and healthy functioning of democratic societies. Your commitment to such intellectual freedom must motivate you to fight against the growing totalitarian State which you claim to be against!
Unfortunately, you don't have a party like that at the moment.
But the good news is that those of you who live in Glasgow can show your support for freedom of conscience, and the public right of us all to freedom of enquiry, study, discussion, debate and disagreement by voting for me, Alistair McConnachie, Independent Green Voice, on Thursday 3rd May 2007 on the Glasgow Regional List -- the violet-coloured, left-hand side of your ballot paper.
In 2003, I stood in the Glasgow constituency of Kelvin and took 1,300 votes (6%). If that result is repeated in each of the 10 constituencies which make up the Glasgow Region constituency, then I will be elected to the Scottish Parliament. I only need a mere 5.6% of the total vote in the Glasgow Region, and on past performance, that is entirely possible and clearly do-able.
Please make it happen, and together we can stand up for our civil liberties!