Baroness Tonge forced to resign following Student Rights pressure (Update: Baroness Tonge releases statement)
UPDATE: Baroness Tonge has released a statement in which she has said:
"The comments I made have been taken completely out of context. They followed a very ill tempered meeting in which Zionist campaigners attempted continually to disrupt proceedings. They mouthed obscenities at the panelists, to the extent that university security attempted to remove them from the premises.
The comments I made were in protest at the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and the treatment of Israeli Arabs. I am disappointed the leadership of my party did not consult me before issuing a press release and seems always to abet the request of the Pro-Israel lobby. Israel is acting against international law, the Geneva Convention and Human Rights. They do this with impunity and if our political parties will not take action then individuals must.
I have been asked to apologise but refuse to do so and resign the whip of my party".
Following our report this morning that Baroness Tonge had said that “Israel is not going to be there forever”, and that one day “Israel will lose its support and then they will reap what they have sown”, it appears that Nick Clegg offered her a ‘apologise or resign’ ultimatum this afternoon. Baroness Tonge refused to apologise and has since resigned from the Liberal Democrats, prompting Student Rights to commend the decisive action of the Deputy Prime Minister on this matter.
We first highlighted the issue this morning following a tip-off from someone who attended the event, and pressure from our organisation throughout the day resulted in Tonge’s comments being reported widely. As well as this we contacted numerous political groups requesting statements on the issue, including the Liberal Democrat Press Office and the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office who were unaware of the story at the time.
We also pointed out the nature of the event, including the claims by Baroness Tonge’s platform companion Ken O’Keefe that 9/11 was carried out by Israel and Mossad, and that Israel “in its current form should be destroyed”.
Eventually the grass roots pressure on the Liberal Democrats and Baroness Tonge became too much and she was rightly forced to step down. Student Rights would note however that we are yet to hear from either Baroness Tonge herself or the Middlesex University Press Office.