Guardian promoted BDS letter by ‘130 parliamentarians’ is not what it seems

A May 1st Guardian article by Patrick Wintour (“MPs press for sanctions against Israel over West Bank annexations“) promotes a letter organised by the Council for Arab British Understanding (Caabu), a UK lobby group which promotes BDS and other forms of deligitimisation against Israel.

It begins thusly:

Nearly 130 parliamentarians, including former Conservative cabinet ministers, have written to Boris Johnson urging him to impose economic sanctions against Israel if Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition government goes ahead with its threat to annex parts of the West Bank.

However, we examined the 130+ parliamentarians who signed the pro-BDS letter, and it turns out to be far less impressive than the Guardian’s framing.

First, here’s our breakdown of the party affiliation of those who signed.

  • 42 Labour MPs
  • 12 Labour Peers
  • 31 SNP MPs
  • 7 Lib Dem MPs
  • 17 Lib Dem Peers
  • 9 Conservative MPs
  • 3 Former Conservative MPs
  • 5 Conservative Peers
  • 1 Green MP
  • 1 Plaid Cymru MP
  • 1 Northern Ireland Alliance MP
  • 8 Crossbench Peers
  • 1 Green Peer

Some observations:

In total, only 92 signatories are current MPs. (The rest are either peers or retired MPs)

The number of current Labour MPs who signed the letter (42) is actually small when you consider that 91 Labour MPs are members of Labour Friends of Palestine, and that there are 202 Labour MPs overall.  Further, signatures from high profile Labour MPs – including Jeremy Corbyn – were noticeably absent, and, in fact, not one member of Keir Starmer’s Shadow Cabinet signed.

SNP MPs account for nearly one third of the total MP signatures.

Only 9 current Conservative MPs, out of 365 who sit in parliament, signed.

Given that there are 650 MPs in total, the fact that only 92 MPs (14%) signed is far from impressive.

Finally, the chances of the current British government actually enacting economic sanctions against Israel are all but nil.  Thus, the Guardian’s piece promoting the Caabu letter is yet another unsuccessful attempt by the media group to prop up a failing BDS movement.

h/t Jonathan Hoffman


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