As she had something interesting to say (often which I disagreed with), I followed her twitter account. Rachel often wore her heart on her sleeve, perhaps just a little too much for someone with Parliamentary ambitions. Last week, she retweeted a rather silly twitter message, which suggested that Adolf Hitler was a socialist. I thought it was an extremely stupid tweet and wondered why someone who was clearly reasonably intelligent would bother to retweet it, but thought no more about it. I've retweeted all manner of things which I wish I hadn't (especially after a couple of bottles of vino).
Today I saw this message on her twitter account
Please read and circulate http://rachelfrosh.com/further-information-regarding-that-re-tweet/ … Thanks
As Rachel often circulates things which are interesting, I clicked the link. To my amazement, it was a statement explaining that se'd been deselected as a Parliamentary Candidate for the Conservatives because of the Tweet. The statement says
In summary, I must have (without even remembering later on) lazily re-tweeted a tweet that used a quote from Hitler where he stated that they (Nazis) were socialists. As someone who converted to and married a Jewish man, and who has been active in anti-genocide and human rights campaigns (including in particular Sri Lanka), it always jars when the BNP and neo-nazis are described as right wing, or far right, when the evidence from history is contrary to that. That was probably why I clicked the re-tweet button.
I could stand behind the defence that a re-tweet isn’t an endorsement (I’ve since double checked, and it isn’t), but merely a request for followers to take a look, but I acknowledge it was a poorly worded tweet so I shouldn’t even have re-tweeted that particular tweet.
The reason I resigned as DPCC was because the role requires a large degree of partnership work, convincing local councils (including Labour controlled ones) to work with us for the benefit of the population to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour by tackling the wider causes of crime. I felt that I could not continue in that role and at the same time defend myself in the regard that the tweet was about exploring the socialist roots of Nazism – nothing else. It came over as insulting the Labour party and I therefore felt that it would damage the PCC’s work with local councils. (However I re-iterate the point that the modern Labour party and no other mainstream party bear no resemblance to any fascist or racist party). In regard to the party’s candidates’ list, I am sure I will be back on that soon, when all the facts are reviewed.
In short, it seems that if you retweet a message which offends the hierarchy of the Conservative Party, you get deselected. I have a degree of sympathy for Rachel. She has a staunch record of opposing fascism and has gone far further than any other Tory candidate I know in this field. She has posted all manner of Youtube videos about the subject on her blog and I for one would be prepared to stand beside her and defend her (even though she's a Tory). She has been more active opposing the BNP than ANY of our local Labour politicians. As to the actual Tweet.
She is correct that the roots of the German Nazi party were in socialism. Where she is completely wrong is in stating that the Nazis were a Socialist party. They took the socialist ideology of equality and then changed it to exclude all manner of sections of society - Jews, Gypsies, Gays, Disabled, Criminals, foreigners. At the point that anyone claiming to be a Socialist says "We are all equal except for them", they cease to be a Socialist. The Nazis were an extreme right wing party, because extreme right wing parties believe in social division and inequality. They believe that a priviliged group within society have rights and freedoms and anyone else doesn't. The fact that some members of the Nazi party started out calling themselves Socialists is irrelevant. As soon as you stop believing in equality, you cease to be a socialist.
I believe that labels of Left and Right are outdated. In the UK we consider the Tories to be a right wing organisation. If they were in the USA, they would be viewed as rabid Socialists or even communists, with their commitment to the NHS and Gun Control. We consider Labour to be Left wing, but Cuban friends of mine consider Labour to be a bunch of Fascists for their policies towards Iraq and Afghanistan (not to mention the Falklands). At the extremes of left and right, the two meet. Stalin and Hitler had far more in common with each other than any moderate left or right wing leader. During the Second World War, we had a government of National Unity lead by Winston Churchill, but backed to the hilt by the British Labour party.
We are extremely lucky that all three major mainstream parties reject the policies of division on Nazis and Fascists. David Cameron has yet again displayed our cultural Liberal tolerance by forcing through Gay marriage legislation. I often think that the reason the likes of Rachel sometimes spout such nonsense on the subject is precisely because there is so little difference between Labour and Conservative.
Which brings us back to Rachel and her deselection. I have never heard of a more ridiculous reason to deselect a candidate. She clearly isn't a fascist. She did something which was a bit silly. If anyone anywhere was offended by her retweet, they need to get a life. I hope she gets reinstated on the PPC list and I hope she learns from the experience.
I really don't believe that the Conservative party is so awash with talented candidates that they can afford to toss her on the scrapheap. In Hendon, we have an MP in Matthew Offord, who has compared gay marriage to polygamy all manner of other things. He didn't simply retweet this, he has gone to great lengths to stick the knife in. So much so that he's fallen out with his former best mate, Mike Freer MP, who is in a civil partnership and spoke up for gay marriage. I'd swap Matthew for Rachel any day of the week.
I don't normally stand up for Tories when they do something a bit stupid, but in this case, I have to follow my conscience. I would suggest hwoever that Rachel takes herself down to Mill Hill Music Complex and I'll give her a lesson on political history, so that she can understand why what she retweeted was complete cobblers. It would save her a lot of trouble in future.