Veteran MP rejects accusations that he is anti-semitic and renews criticism of Jewish adviser to No 10
The Labour MP Tam Dalyell yesterday scornfully brushed aside accusations of anti-semitism but stood by the allegation that has landed him in political trouble, that "there is far too much Jewish influence in the United States" and one over-influential Jew in Tony Blair's entourage.
Faced with threats to take "inflammatory remarks" to the commission for racial equality, the MP for Linlithgow raised the stakes significantly by criticising Lord Levy, the music mogul turned Blair fundraiser and tennis partner, whose in timate contacts across the region have made him No 10's envoy to the Middle East.
"I believe his influence has been very important on the prime minister and has led to what I see as this awful war and the sack of Baghdad," said Mr Dalyell, who has long been a critic of Israeli expansionism and insists that many Jews are also "desperately unhappy about it'.'
The father of the Commons, an MP for 41 years and a pillar of the "awkward squad" for most of them, Mr Dalyell qualified his criticisms only to the extent of saying he was not attacking Jewish influence as such, but what he called the "Sharon-Likudnik agenda" of the hardliners - led by Ariel Sharon's Likud party - who dominate Israeli politics.
After Mr Dalyell was indirectly reported by Vanity Fair magazine as criticising "a cabal of Jewish advisers" driving US-UK policy towards Iraq - and now Syria - there were protests, and Professor Eric Moonman, a Labour MP 20 years ago, started legal consultations over a complaint to the CRE.
But Mr Dalyell may be the MP least likely to buckle to pressure. Questioned on Radio 4's World at One, he said: "The cabal I referred to was American," and named seven hawk ish advisers to President George Bush - six of them Jewish - as urging a strike against Syria.