When Britain Occupied Iceland


Of many legends woven about World War II one of the most enduring is the ‘Britain at Bay’ fiction. The story goes that in 1940 the warlike Reich invaded unprepared innocent France.

The carefully spun myth has it that it was Hitler’s intention was to use England’s nearest neighbour as a launching pad to invade ‘Ethelred the Unready’ England. From this falsity stems the belief that in 1940 Britain stood alone in defending the free world from the rapacious Hun.

Not wishing to spoil a good story there is no mention that France on September 3, 1939, declared war on the Workers Reich and soon afterwards invaded and occupied part of Germany. Nor is there mention that Germany occupied northern France to forestall Britain’s intention to bring D-Day forward by four years.

Britain in 1940 was not quite as alone as victors’ propagandists would have us believe. The British Commonwealth in 1940 was a global superpower. The British Empire directly or de facto had political and economic control of 25% of the world’s population and 30% of the earth’s and land mass. The combined forces of the British Empire numbered an incredible 15 million servicemen and women who fought in every theatre of war.

In 1940, Britain fought and occupied Italian and German colonies. Britain at bay invaded and occupied Libya, Italian Somaliland, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Persia (Iran), Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Madagascar.

Britain at bay during 1940 added 1.6 millions square miles of international territory to its vast empire. The transport infrastructure of several of the British occupied countries was used to send massive free aid the Bolshevik terrorised Russia.

In 1940, Britain conspired in a Yugoslavian coup, assassinated political leaders, blackmailed neutral countries, and illegally initiated the bombing of civilian populations in Germany. This was to bring terrible retribution to the British population.

In 1940, Winston Churchill’s Britain was allied to many of the world’s most notorious dictators. Britain openly conspired and collaborated with Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. The Bolshevik despot was responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity unequalled in human history.

Thanks to Winston Churchill and U.S President Roosevelt adding their blood-soaked signatures to the Yalta Conference agreement Josef Stalin added 21 ‘prize of war’ nations to his terrifying empire.

Like most of the British invasions the occupation of Iceland is airbrushed out of the victors’ narrative. Former Royal Navy serviceman R. Hull of Newhaven writes: “I was posted to Iceland in 1944. During the year I spent on the island, I found the people full of hatred towards the British. I was spat at many times, and there was regular aggression from the locals.”

The Royal Navy sailor goes on to tell of how, when the war ended, “we and the Merchant Navy lads decided get our own back. We met inside the dockyard gates while the locals began gathering across the road on a large green.

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The fire brigade and the Royal Marines had been ordered to keep us apart, but didn’t lift a finger as we moved into town, overturning cars, smashing shop windows and fighting all over the place as we went. It was one big riot. I don’t know if it was reported back in the UK, but the best thing the Icelanders did was to persuade the British Government to sign an agreement that we would leave within three months at the end of the war.”

N M Symonds describes the Icelandic Victory in Europe (VE) publication Spegillinn being headed by the words, Fridur! Fridur! Fridur I Europuwhich translates in to Freedom, Freedom, Freedom in Europe.

This was a sarcastic reference to the Allied swan song and the continued occupation of Iceland. The caption was illustrated with a drawing of drunken British sailors fighting and smashing their way through the streets.

Nothing much changes from Britain and America’s ‘defending our freedoms’ fiction. Britain’s illegal invasion of Iceland was dressed up as ‘stepping in to assist a threatened nation.’


Britain’s May apologizes to own MPs for election ‘mess’

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May took the blame for the Conservatives’ disastrous performance in last week’s election as she faced her party’s angry MPs on Monday, seeking to ward off any challenge to her leadership.

“I got us into this mess, and I’m going to get us out,” May told Conservatives MPs during a crunch meeting in Westminster.

May’s Conservatives unexpectedly lost their majority in parliament in Thursday’s snap vote, causing political chaos ahead of Brexit talks with the European Union set to start next week and prompting calls — from within her own party — for her resignation.

But one MP present at the meeting said there was no discussion of a leadership contest, adding “she’s won, she’s got to be prime minister.”

The chaos has also weighed on the pound, which has plunged almost two percent since Thursday, and the government may have to delay the announcement of its policy plans to parliament.

May vowed to stay on despite the poor results, and on Sunday unveiled a largely unchanged new cabinet, which met for the first time on Monday.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (C) holds the first Cabinet meeting of her new team at 10 Downing Street in London on June 12, 2017, following the June 8 snap general election in which the ruling Conservatives lost their majority. (Leon Neal/Pool/AFP)

Foreign minister Boris Johnson, who was reported by British media to be lining up a leadership bid, insisted May should stay.

“The people of Britain have had a bellyful of promises and politicking,” he wrote in The Sun tabloid. “Now is the time for delivery — and Theresa May is the right person to continue that vital work.”

May’s party fell eight seats short of retaining its parliamentary majority, and is now in talks with Northern Ireland’s ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) — which won 10 seats — to forge an informal alliance.

DUP leader Arlene Foster is due to see May on Tuesday for crunch talks, which could force the delay of the government’s presentation of its legislative program to parliament by Queen Elizabeth II, due on June 19.

“Obviously until we have that we can’t agree the final details of the Queen’s Speech,” said May’s deputy Damian Green, referring to a an agreement with the DUP.

‘Walk away’ with no deal

Brexit minister David Davis insisted the government still aimed to take Britain out of the EU single market.

“The reason for leaving the single market is because we want to take back control of our borders, they’re not compatible,” he told BBC radio.

He also said the government would “walk away” with no deal if talks broke down on ending Britain’s four-decade membership of the European bloc.

But Ruth Davidson, the pro-EU leader of the Conservatives in Scotland, called on May to “reopen” the government’s Brexit plans.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said May’s government lacked the credibility necessary for Brexit talks and should delay the negotiations.

“The idea that the UK led by this prime minister and this government can just blunder into negotiations starting one week today, I just don’t think it’s a credible proposition,” she told reporters in London.

‘Dead woman walking’

May has a busy schedule on Tuesday, hosting a cabinet meeting and talks with the DUP leader before travelling to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron.

Brexit will likely be on the agenda at the Paris meeting, after May confirmed she will stick to the negotiating timetable.

“Going abroad and being seen to be the prime minister and talking to the president of France… is a classic move to shore up authority at home,” said Colin Talbot, professor of government at the University of Manchester.

May tried to reassert her shattered authority at the weekend by announcing her new cabinet — with no changes among her top team.

In a surprise move, Michael Gove was appointed environment and agriculture minister less than a year after the prime minister sacked him as justice minister.

Britain's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove leaves after attending a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in central London on June 12, 2017, following the June 8 snap general election in which the ruling Conservatives lost their majority. (Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

After the opposition Labour Party made hefty election gains by focusing heavily on national issues, May listed areas such as education and housing as top policy priorities.

May has shown little public contrition for the electoral gamble that backfired spectacularly, but was forced to accept the resignations of her two top aides — reportedly a requirement by cabinet colleagues for allowing her to stay in office.

On Monday, she faced members of the Conservatives’ 1922 Committee, which can trigger a vote of confidence in a party leader if it receives letters from 15 percent of the party’s MPs.

Concern over DUP deal

DUP leader Arlene Foster said there had been “positive engagement” so far.

“We are going into these talks with the national interest at heart. The union as I’ve said before is our guiding star,” she said.

Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Arlene Foster (L), and DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds prepare to address the media outside Stormont Castle, on the Stormont Estate in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on June 12, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Paul FAITH)

Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said the government was not looking at a formal coalition but would seek assurances that the DUP would vote with May “on the big things.”

He stressed he did not share their ultra-conservative views on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, which have caused disquiet among many Conservatives.

The deal has also caused consternation in Dublin, with Irish premier Enda Kenny warning such an alliance could upset Northern Ireland’s fragile peace.

London’s neutrality is key to the delicate balance of power in Northern Ireland, which was once plagued by violence over Britain’s control of the province.

Trump said to cancel visit to Britain due to expected protests

US President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to Britain may be on hold, according to British and American officials who spoke to the Guardian and New York Times dailies.

The proposed visit, which has not yet been scheduled, has drawn widespread opposition across the political divide in the UK.

According to the Guardian, Trump himself told British Prime Minister Theresa May he did not want to visit the country if his visit, which is tentatively set for October, would be accompanied by widespread protests.

The report cited a “Downing Street adviser who was in the room” during the call, which was made “in recent weeks.”

May’s office issued a denial of the report, saying, “We aren’t going to comment on speculation about the contents of private phone conversations. The queen extended an invitation to President Trump to visit the UK and there is no change to those plans.”

But The New York Times confirmed at least some details of the report from American officials, the paper’s White House correspondent Glenn Thrush tweeted on Sunday: “UK off Trump’s Europe trip for now, per two senior admin officials, not quite going as far as Guardian story. Still possible etc. Story soon.”

UK off Trump’s Europe trip for now, per two senior admin officials, not quite going as far as Guardian story. Still possible etc. Story soon

The news of the possible cancellation drew immediate praise from UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who tweeted it was “welcome” due Trump’s attacks on Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan last week and his environmental policy: “Cancellation of President Trump’s State Visit is welcome, especially after his attack on London’s mayor & withdrawal from #ParisClimateDeal.”

Cancellation of President Trump’s State Visit is welcome, especially after his attack on London’s mayor & withdrawal from .

Khan last week urged the government to cancel Trump’s state visit following his public row with Trump over the terror attack in the British capital on June 3.

“I don’t think we should roll out the red carpet to the president of the USA in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for,” Khan told Channel 4.

“When you have a special relationship it is no different from when you have got a close mate. You stand with them in times of adversity but you call them out when they are wrong. There are many things about which Donald Trump is wrong,” he said.

In a series of tweets, Trump had criticized Khan’s leadership after the attack last Saturday in which three terrorists rammed a van into pedestrians on the London Bridge and then jumped out and proceeded to stab passersby and bar patrons, killing eight people and injuring dozens.

US President Donald Trump stands with British Prime Minister Theresa May next to a bust of former British prime minister Winston Churchill on Friday, Jan. 27, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Khan had told Londoners there was “no reason to be alarmed” about an increased police presence in the coming days following the attack, a remark Trump mischaracterized in a tweet the following day, suggesting the mayor had said there was “no reason to be alarmed” by the attack itself.

Khan’s spokesman said he was too busy to respond to Trump’s “ill-informed” tweet and Khan later told the BBC that “some people thrive on feud and division. We are not going to let Donald Trump divide our communities.”

“Honestly, I’ve got better and more important things to focus on,” he told Sky News.

But the US president renewed his attack on Monday, accusing London’s first Muslim mayor of offering a “pathetic excuse” and “had to think fast on his ‘no reason to be alarmed’ statement.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaks at a vigil in Potters Fields Park in London on June 5, 2017 to commemorate the victims of the terror attack on London Bridge and at Borough Market that killed seven people on June 3. (AFP/Daniel Leal-Olivas)

The war of words was the latest episode in a long-simmering feud between Trump and Khan, who was elected London’s mayor in May 2016. After his election last year, Khan tweeted criticism of then-candidate Trump’s rhetoric, saying that his “ignorant view of Islam could make both our countries less safe. It risks alienating mainstream Muslims.” Trump later challenged Khan to an IQ test during an interview on Britain’s ITV.

His comments caused outrage among British officials.

May, the prime minister, was among those who came to Khan’s defense, though she declined to criticize Trump directly.

“I think Sadiq Khan is doing a good job and it’s wrong to say anything else — he’s doing a good job,” she told a press conference last Monday.

May invited Trump on the state visit in January while visiting the White House.

A ‘hung parliament’ in Britain? What happens next

LONDON — An exit poll following Britain’s general election on Thursday suggested the country could be heading for a “hung parliament,” in which no party has an overall majority.

Here is what would happen next if the forecast is confirmed by the full results, most likely due on Friday.

– There are 650 seats in the House of Commons up for grabs at the election. One party needs to win at least 326 to secure an overall majority. The exit poll — which must be treated with caution given the poor reliability of forecasts in recent British elections — indicates the Conservatives have won 314, Labour 266, the Scottish Nationalists 34 and the Liberal Democrats 14.

– If this does translate into a hung parliament when results come through, Theresa May as incumbent prime minister will have the first shot at trying to form a government — either as a minority or in coalition with others.

– If May did manage to do this, she would then go to the House of Commons to see if her government could survive a motion of confidence, probably after the state opening of parliament on June 19.

Counting staff count ballots at the main Glasgow counting center in Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland, on June 8, 2017, after the polls closed in Britain's general election.(AFP PHOTO / Andy Buchanan)

– But if May could not form a government or did not survive the motion of confidence, she would be expected to hand in her resignation to Queen Elizabeth II.

– The monarch would then be likely to invite Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour party, to try to form a government. That, again, could be a minority or coalition administration.

– If no government can command the confidence of the House of Commons, parliament can be dissolved and another election held.

Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system means hung parliaments are relatively rare — there have been only five since the end of the 19th century.

The last ones were:

May 2010

Prime Minister: David Cameron (Conservatives)

Composition: Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition

Lasted: Five years

February 1974

Prime Minister: Harold Wilson (Labour)

Composition: Labour minority government

Lasted: Eight months


Prime Minister: Ramsey MacDonald (Labour)

Composition: Minority Labour government backed by Liberals

Lasted: until 1931, but amid the Great Depression, MacDonald formed ‘National’ coalition government of Conservatives, Liberals and small number of Labour MPs which won 1931 and 1935 elections.


Prime Minister: Ramsey MacDonald (Labour)

Composition: Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin’s Conservatives won more seats than Labour but stepped aside for Labour’s MacDonald

Lasted: 10 months


Prime Minister: Herbert Asquith (Liberal Party)

Composition: Liberal Party in a minority government, with support of Labour and the Irish Nationalists. Then a coalition government from 1915.

Lasted: Six years

Merkel warns US, Britain no longer reliable partners

FRANKFURT, Germany — Europe “must take its fate into its own hands” faced with a Western alliance divided by Brexit and Donald Trump’s presidency, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday.

“The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days,” Merkel told a crowd at an election rally in Munich, southern Germany.

“We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” she added.

While Germany and Europe would strive to remain on good terms with America and Britain, “we have to fight for our own destiny,” Merkel went on.

Special emphasis was needed on warm relations between Berlin and newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron, she said.

The chancellor had just returned from a G7 summit which wound up Saturday without a deal between the US and the other six major advanced nations on upholding the 2015 Paris climate accords.

Merkel on Saturday labeled the result of the “six against one” discussion “very difficult, not to say very unsatisfactory.”

Trump offered a more positive assessment on Twitter Sunday, writing: “Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!”

US President Donald Trump arrives for a family photo with leaders of the G7 and leaders of some African countries that have been invited for the two-day talks, on the second day of the G7 summit of Heads of State and of Government, on May 27, 2017 in Taormina, Sicily. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / JONATHAN ERNST)

The US president had earlier tweeted that he would reveal whether or not the US would stick to the global emissions deal — which he pledged to jettison on the campaign trail — only next week.

On a previous leg of his first trip abroad as president, Trump had repeated past criticism of NATO allies for failing to meet the defensive alliance’s military spending commitment of two percent of GDP.

Observers noted that he neglected to publicly endorse the pact’s Article Five, which guarantees that member countries will aid the others they are attacked.

The omission was especially striking as he unveiled a memorial to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the US, the only time the mutual defense clause has been triggered.

Trump also reportedly described German trade practices as “bad, very bad,” in Brussels talks last week, complaining that Europe’s largest economy sells too many cars to the US.

Sunday’s event saw Merkel renew bonds with the Christian Social Union (CSU), Bavarian sister party to her own center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), ahead of a parliamentary vote in September.

Polls show the chancellor, in power since 2005, on course to be re-elected for a fourth term.

Britain joins US in opposing UN health body’s resolution singling out Israel

(JTA) — Great Britain and the United States joined four other nations in voting against a World Health Organization resolution that they said singles out Israel for criticism.

The resolution, which passed by an overwhelming majority on Friday during the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, mostly speaks of the need to improve services provided to Palestinians and residents of the Golan Heights. It also mentions the health needs of “prisoners and detainees” in Israel.

Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Pakistan, South Africa and five other Arab countries proposed the draft resolution this year.

Critics like the UN Watch NGO suggested that it was hypocritical of the WHO to support a resolution on Israel that was co-authored by Syria, where hundreds of thousands of people have died in a brutal civil war that erupted in 2011.

“In the real world, Syria drops barrel bombs on its own hospitals. In the UN world, Syria co-sponsors @WHO resolution today targeting Israel,” UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer wrote on Twitter.

The British delegate joined the United States, Canada, Australia, Guatemala, Togo and Israel in voting against the resolution. The United Kingdom was the only European Union member nation to oppose the resolution, which is a standing item at World Health Assembly meetings. Israel is the only country for which WHO has a standing item, according to UN Watch, which claims this is discriminatory.

Titled “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan,” the final text of the resolution was not immediately available on the WHO website. But a draft of the resolution is a significantly softened version of previous WHO resolutions condemning Israel.

Unlike the 2016 resolution, the current draft does not include condemnation of “barriers to health access in the occupied Palestinian territory” and “damage to and destruction of medical infrastructure” by Israel.

The United Kingdom voted in favor of the 2016 resolution.

By voting against the resolution this year, the United Kingdom “rejected the politicization of the important issue of health and the unacceptable anti-Israel bias present in UN bodies,” Richard Verber, the senior vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told JTA.

Trump Condemns ‘Alleged Leaks,’ After Complaints From Britain

BRUSSELS — President Trump condemned “leaks of sensitive information,” responding on Thursday to a complaint by Britain’s prime minister, Theresa May, over disclosures of details from the investigation into Britain’s deadliest terrorist attack since 2005.

“The alleged leaks coming out of government agencies are deeply troubling,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “These leaks have been going on for a long time, and my administration will get to the bottom of this. The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security.”

He added, “I am asking the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to launch a complete review of this matter, and, if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Mr. Trump has angrily criticized leaks from his government, many of them revealing information that has been embarrassing or politically damaging to him. In his first month in office, he called for a Justice Department investigation into what he said were “criminal leaks.” Just as he left Washington to start his nine-day overseas trip and again while he has been traveling, more leaks disclosed details about his private conversations.

But two dimensions of the latest controversy are new: The disclosures in this case are about a terrorism investigation led by a foreign ally, and the British government has brought its complaints to a receptive audience.

In a statement, Mrs. May’s office said she would bring up the matter at a NATO gathering in Brussels on Thursday evening and would “make clear to President Trump that intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure.”

In what appears to be another effort to assuage British anger, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson will go to London on Friday to meet with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson “in an expression of U.K.-U.S. solidarity following the terrorist attack in Manchester earlier this week,” the British Foreign Office announced. The two men “will write messages of condolence for the victims of the attack and hold talks on a range of foreign policy issues,” the statement said.

Mrs. May’s statement followed expressions of outrage by top law enforcement officials after The New York Times published images on Wednesday of the shrapnel, backpack and battery used by Salman Abedi, the 22-year-old bomber who killed 22 people and injured scores outside the Manchester Arena as a pop concert ended Monday night. The Times did not disclose the source of its information.

All of the information and photographs shared with The Times were marked “restricted circulation — official use only,” a level of classification used for routine British government business and below the classifications of secret or top-secret.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council in Britain called the leaks a breach of trust, adding, “This damage is even greater when it involves unauthorized disclosure of potential evidence in the middle of a major counterterrorism investigation.” The disclosure of potential evidence “undermines our investigations and the confidence of victims, witnesses and their families,” it added.

On Thursday, Manchester’s top police official, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, joined the chorus of criticism, saying that the disclosure “has caused much distress for families that are already suffering terribly with their loss.”

Earlier in the day, the BBC reported that the Manchester police would no longer share details of the investigation with American counterparts. But on Thursday evening, after Mrs. May had new assurances from Mr. Trump, the police announced that intelligence sharing had resumed — if it had ever stopped in the first place.

Mark Rowley, an assistant commissioner in charge of counterterrorism at Scotland Yard and an officer on the Police Chiefs’ Council, said in a statement issued later on Thursday that “while we do not usually comment on information-sharing arrangements with international law enforcement organizations, we want to emphasize that, having received fresh assurances, we are now working closely with our key partners around the world including all those in the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance.” (Along with the United States and Britain, the other countries in the alliance are New Zealand, Australia and Canada.)

The Times said in a statement:

The images and information presented were neither graphic nor disrespectful of victims, and consistent with the common line of reporting on weapons used in horrific crimes, as The Times and other media outlets have done following terrorist acts around the world, from Boston to Paris to Baghdad, and many places in between.

Our mission is to cover news and inform our readers. We have strict guidelines on how and in what ways we cover sensitive stories. Our coverage of Monday’s horrific attack has been both comprehensive and responsible.

We cover stories about terrorism from all angles. Not only stories about victims but also how terrorist groups work, their sources of funding, how they recruit. Acts of terrorism have tremendous impact on how we live, on how we are governed and how we interact as people, communities and nations. At times the process of reporting this coverage comes at personal risk to our reporters. We do it because it is core to our mission.

Mr. Trump has viewed leaks differently at different times depending on whether they helped or hurt him. During last year’s presidential campaign, he not only capitalized on the disclosure of emails from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, he publicly called on Russian hackers to unearth and publicize even more of them. “I love WikiLeaks,” he said at one point, praising the group that made public many of the emails.

But since taking office, Mr. Trump has been increasingly frustrated by information coming out of his own White House. Details of his conversation with Russian officials and of his telephone calls with the leaders of Mexico, Australia and, just this week, the Philippines have spilled into public view. Leaked information about a telephone call between Michael T. Flynn, his first national security adviser, and Russia’s ambassador forced the president to fire Mr. Flynn.

Mr. Trump’s own aides also routinely leak about one another in the latest palace intrigue.

In recent days, anonymously sourced articles about Mr. Trump’s private conversations with and about James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he fired, have fueled investigations into his associates’ ties with Russia. After The Times reported that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to shut down an investigation into Mr. Flynn, the Justice Department felt compelled to appoint a special counsel to take over the Russia investigation.

The president’s request for a Justice Department inquiry into the Manchester leaks was the latest example of Mr. Trump’s crossing what other presidents have considered a bright line insulating the department from White House influence. Presidents do not normally call for or otherwise weigh in on criminal investigations, at the risk of being seen as trying to steer the impartial administration of justice.

The first disclosures in the Manchester case came on Tuesday, when American television networks, in particular NBC and CBS, revealed the name of the bomber, citing American officials. (The name had also been circulating on social media.)

Then, on Wednesday, The Times published crime scene photographs, including of a battery possibly used in the device, and the label of a backpack that may have concealed the bomb itself. The Times report also pointed out precisely where the bomb had been placed. The Times did not cite its sources, but it attributed its account to “preliminary information gathered by British authorities.”

American news organizations have not been alone in disclosing information that appears to have originated with British intelligence. France’s interior minister, Gérard Collomb, said on Wednesday that Mr. Abedi had “most likely” traveled to Syria, and on Thursday, a German magazine, Focus, cited unidentified German officials as saying that Mr. Abedi had gotten paramilitary training there.

On Wednesday morning, before The Times published its disclosure, Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the BBC that she was irritated by the disclosure of the bomber’s identity against the wishes of the British authorities.

Roy Greenslade, a former Fleet Street editor and a professor of journalism at City University in London, said that “the messenger is blamed for the message.”

“Our business,” he said, “is the business of disclosure.” He added, “If facts exist in the public domain, especially over sensitive matters, then our job is to publish them.”

The “first position of the authorities is always secrecy,” Professor Greenslade said. “They oppose the disclosure of secret information, sometimes for operational reasons.”

Britain Raises Threat Level to ‘Critical,’ Says ‘Further Attack May Be Imminent’


British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Tuesday that the terror threat in the country had been raised to “critical” — the highest possible level — one day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that killed at least 22.

May said that meant another attack “may be imminent.”

Speaking Tuesday night from Downing Street in a televised statement, May said that while investigations were ongoing into whether suicide bomber Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old British citizen, had acted alone, “the work undertaken throughout the day has revealed that it is a possibility we cannot ignore that there is a wider group of individuals linked to this attack.”

May said the country’s joint terrorism analysis center, which sets the threat level based on available intelligence, had been keeping the situation “under constant review.”

“It has now have concluded on the basis of today’s investigation that the threat level should be increased for the time being from severe to critical,” she said. “This means that their assessment is not only that an attack remains highly likely but that a further attack may be imminent.”

Sam Petulla / NBC News

The move marks the first time the country’s threat level has been this high in a decade. It was last declared critical from June 30 to July 4 of 2007, according to the United Kingdom’s Security Service.

May said that Tuesday’s change in the threat level meant additional resources would be available to police working “to keep us all safe.”

Image: Deadly Blast Kills 22 at Manchester Arena Pop Concert
Police forensic officers leave the Manchester Arena as they investigate the scene of an explosion in Manchester, England on May 23, 2017. Dave Thompson / Getty Images

She announced that the country’s Operation Temperer, an emergency plan that allows military personnel to support the police’s armed forces, was “now in full force.” Previous reports out of Britain have said that the secretive “Temperer” plan could unleash up to 5,000 troops on the streets of England.

May said that “armed police officers responsible for duties such as guarding key sights, will be replaced by members of the armed forces, which will allow the police to significantly increase the number of armed officers on patrol in key locations.”

Those military personnel may be deployed at certain events, May said, “such as concerts and sports matches” to help police keep the public safe.

The prime minister said Tuesday that the death toll from the attack stood at 22 and “59 people remain injured — and many of them have life-threatening conditions.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement late Tuesday that he wanted “to reassure all Londoners and visitors that we are doing everything possible to protect our city” in light of the increased terror level.

“Our emergency services prepare day in, day out for these situations,” he said in the statement. “Our plans are well rehearsed and well prepared. I would urge all Londoners and visitors to remain calm and vigilant, and to report anything suspicious to the police.”

Khan added that additional police officers and some military personnel would be present in London’s streets over the coming days.

May asked the public to be vigilant, but stressed that the nation stood “defiant” in the face of terrorism.

“While we mourn the victims of last night’s appalling attack, we stand defiant,” she said. “The spirit of Manchester and the spirit of Britain is far mightier than the sick plots of depraved terrorists.”

To Understand ‘Brexit,’ Look to Britain’s Tabloids

LONDON — Tony Gallagher, editor of The Sun, one of Britain’s most raucous and influential tabloids, looks down on the government, literally. From the height of his 12th-floor newsroom, all glass and views, the Palace of Westminster seems like a toy castle, something to be played with or ignored at will.

Mr. Gallagher also looks down on the editor of the more measured Times of London, whose office is one floor below and who makes a point of keeping his blinds drawn. The hierarchy is not lost on either man.

In Britain after the so-called Brexit vote, the power of the tabloids is evident. Their circulations may be falling and their reputations tarnished by a series of phone-hacking scandals. But as the country prepares to cut ties with the European Union after a noisy and sometimes nasty campaign, top politicians court the tabloids and fear their wrath. Broadcasters follow where they lead, if not in tone then in topic.

Their readers, many of them over 50, working class and outside London, look strikingly like the voters who were crucial to the outcome of last year’s referendum on membership in the European Union. It is these citizens of Brexitland the tabloids purport to represent from the heart of enemy territory: Housed in palatial dwellings in some of London’s most expensive neighborhoods, they see themselves as Middle England’s embassies in London.

In the campaign leading up to a snap election on June 8, most tabloids can be counted on to act as the zealous guardians of Brexit and as a cheering section for the Conservative government of Prime Minister Theresa May — even though the city that houses them voted the other way.

The Sun offices are just below Mr. Murdoch’s office. CreditJosé Sarmento Matos for The New York Times

Mr. Gallagher made his mark on three of Britain’s most stridently pro-Brexit newspapers. He was editor of The Daily Telegraph, a conservative broadsheet, and deputy editor of the more midmarket Daily Mail, one of The Sun’s main rivals, before Rupert Murdoch poached him 20 months ago. Together, these three titles are a central reason that print coverage of the referendum campaign was skewed 80 percent to 20 percent in favor of Brexit, according to research by Loughborough University.

In the marble-and-glass lobby of the 17-story News Building, home to Mr. Murdoch’s British media empire, there is a small plaque that commemorates the building’s 2014 opening by Boris Johnson, then the mayor of London and now the British foreign secretary.

Mr. Johnson, wild-haired and witty, became a chief architect of Brexit when, four months before the referendum, he threw his weight behind a cause until then most closely associated with the populist U.K. Independence Party. But his main contribution to Brexit may go back more than two decades.

A correspondent in Brussels for The Daily Telegraph in the early 1990s, Mr. Johnson was credited by fellow reporters with pioneering the euroskeptic coverage of the European Union that has since become the default setting for much of the British press. With little regard for the truth — he was previously fired by The Times of London for making up a quote — Mr. Johnson wrote about a Europe scheming to impose standard condom sizes and ban his country’s beloved prawn-cocktail-flavored chips (both untrue).

“Boris invented fake news,” said Martin Fletcher, a former foreign editor of The Times, who was in Brussels shortly after Mr. Johnson. “He turned euroskepticism into an art form that every news editor in London came to expect.”

Before the referendum, Mr. Fletcher added, “Boris campaigned against the cartoon caricature of Brussels that he himself invented.”

The campaign was marked by a relentless drip of anti-immigration rhetoric and a couple of big lies that stuck: the 350 million pounds (about $450 million at current rates) that Britain paid to the European Union every week (false) and the prospect of millions of Turks’ making their way to Britain if it stayed in the union (Turkey is not joining the bloc). Two years ago, the United Nations urged Britain to deal with hate speech in its newspapers, specifically citing a column in The Sun that compared migrants to cockroaches and the norovirus.

The tabloids say they merely reflect the concerns and fears of their readers. But their critics say they poison the debate by playing to people’s worst instincts and prejudices, distorting facts and creating a propaganda ramp that mainstreams intolerance and shapes policy.

Tony Gallagher, editor of The Sun, in his office. CreditJosé Sarmento Matos for The New York Times

Respected, and Feared

I had emailed Mr. Gallagher seeking an interview on March 29, the same day Britain delivered a letter to European Union leaders in Brussels formally initiating the two-year Brexit negotiations. I argued that it was difficult to understand Britain today without understanding the tabloids. He must have agreed.

The elevator rose past the offices of The Wall Street Journal, the Dow Jones news agency, The Sunday Times and The Times, all the way up to The Sun’s newsroom. Mr. Murdoch, proprietor of The Sun since 1969, sits right above.

At The Telegraph, Mr. Gallagher won respect for overseeing coverage of one of the biggest political scandals in recent British history: More than two dozen lawmakers resigned after the paper revealed widespread abuse of allowances and expenses that paid for, among other things, limed oak toilet seats and the clearing of a moat.

But he also has a reputation for losing his temper. “Mail Men,” a new book about The Daily Mail, where Mr. Gallagher spent much of his career, quotes former colleagues describing him as a “figure of death” who “put the fear of the devil into his reporters.”

A tall, lean figure, he guided me to a seat opposite a panoramic view of London. Throughout our conversation, he was cautious and mostly unsmiling, but polite. (He called the book’s depiction of him “mean.”)

Unprompted, he pointed to a staircase and explained that The Sun’s newsroom was the only one in the building with direct access to the management floor. (“They are up and down those stairs all the time,” a journalist said later. “They” are Mr. Murdoch, when he is in town, and his British chief, Rebekah Brooks, a former editor of The Sun and of the now-defunct News of the World who was charged with criminal offenses related to phone hacking but was cleared by a jury in 2014.)

Mr. Gallagher was still enjoying the aftermath of a recent showdown with the government. The Sun had printed bumper stickers and run an eight-page special report on how a rise in national insurance contributions for self-employed people would hurt “White Van Men,” shorthand for members of the working class, who, in The Sun’s view, were getting the shaft.

A front-page splash last fall insinuated that child refugees arriving in Britain from Calais, France, were lying about their ages and should have dental X-rays.

It was the first time the tabloids had turned on the nine-month-old government of Mrs. May, and she swiftly retreated. “It took them less than a week,” Mr. Gallagher recalled.

He recounted the fury of David Cameron — Mrs. May’s predecessor as prime minister, who called for the referendum and campaigned to stay in the European Union — when The Sun turned against him on Brexit with a blistering front-page attack.

It so happened that Mr. Gallagher had a prearranged meeting with Mr. Cameron that day — “Just a catch-up,” the editor recalled. Mr. Cameron was cursing “about the coverage that he was getting in the early stages of the referendum,” Mr. Gallagher said. “He was in a red-faced four-letter rage.”

“I put my pen in my mouth because I thought I was going to burst out laughing,” he added.

At their best, Britain’s irreverent tabloids report without fear or favor, aggressively holding the political elite to account. But they can be selective about whom they hound — and boastful. In 1992, when the Conservative Party unexpectedly beat Labour after a ferocious anti-Labour campaign in The Sun, the paper’s headline proclaimed, “It’s the Sun Wot Won It.”

And Brexit? Was it The Sun wot won it?

“We campaigned for Brexit,” Mr. Gallagher said carefully. “I don’t think we caused Brexit.”

In June, barely an hour after the referendum results were in, he struck a very different tone in a text message to a journalist at The Guardian: “So much for the waning power of the print media.”

A newspaper shop in Dagenham, England. CreditJosé Sarmento Matos for The New York Times

Mirroring or Inciting Readers?

According to a recent analysis by the Media Reform Coalition, a pressure group, senior executives from Murdoch-owned companies met with the prime minister or the chancellor of the Exchequer 10 times in the year ended in September, when the study was completed — more than any other media organization in the country.

Yet The Sun sells only 1.6 million copies today (more than 80 percent of them outside London and the country’s wealthy southeast), down from a peak of 4.7 million in the mid-1990s. It lost more than £60 million, about $75 million, last year.

Why are politicians still so scared?

“It’s a fact that print newspapers, national newspapers, set the agenda here far more effectively than broadcasters, who are essentially a reactive medium,” said Mr. Gallagher, noting that newspapers can keep hitting certain issues.

“So if you as a newspaper are making much of the fact that all our laws are made in Europe, eventually that permeates the national consciousness,” he said.

Britain makes many of its own laws, of course. But it is an interesting choice of example. A more obvious one might have been immigration.

Front-page splashes in The Daily Mail showing hostility toward migrants in the weeks leading up to last year’s “Brexit” vote.

Research by a former Times journalist, Liz Gerard, showed that tabloids pounded the immigration issue, with at least 30 hostile front-page splashes in The Daily Mail in the six months leading up to the referendum, and 15 in The Sun. The headlines — “Britain’s Wide Open Borders” The Daily Mail shouted — often tended toward histrionic. The Sun insinuated that child refugees arriving in Britain were lying about their ages and should have dental X-rays.

“Tell Us the Tooth,” the headline read.

A week earlier, I had met Kelvin MacKenzie, a former Sun editor and a columnist who was subsequently suspended for referring to a mixed-race soccer star as a “gorilla.” He said that the paper still reflected the “beating heart of Britain,” and that Brexit was won on immigration “by a thousand miles.”

Mr. Gallagher was more nuanced.

The Sun newsroom is the only one in the building with direct access to the management floor.CreditJosé Sarmento Matos for The New York Times

“It was about a combination of migration, sovereignty under the broad umbrella of taking back control, and a sense that, as a country, we were no longer able to control our destiny,” he said.

The Sun, which recruits some employees straight out of high school, has an almost personal relationship with its readers, like that with a trusted friend down at the pub.

Other newspapers in Mr. Murdoch’s group supported remaining in the European Union, Mr. Gallagher noted, reflecting the views of their readers. Among that group was the Scottish edition of The Sun, which like Scottish voters backed Remain.

“It makes commercial sense,” said Mr. Gallagher. But he has also been a passionate euroskeptic for years.

“Undoubtedly, we fed people’s enthusiasm,” Mr. Gallagher said. But, he added, “the idea that we can somehow drag otherwise unwilling readers to a point of view that they don’t otherwise have is delusional.”

Roy Greenslade, a former features editor at The Sun, disagreed. In 1975, he said, the last time Britain held a referendum on membership in what was then the European Economic Community, and a time when polls suggested that most people wanted to leave, all papers (except the communist Morning Star) campaigned to stay. People voted to stay.

“Every populist editor will tell you, ‘We are merely reflecting and articulating the public views,’ ” said Mr. Greenslade, now a journalism professor at City University of London. “But they are publishing inaccuracies and distortions which help people to feel the way they’re feeling.”

The view of London from The Sun’s offices. CreditJosé Sarmento Matos for The New York Times

‘Creative’ Headlines

It was 2:30 p.m., and Mr. Gallagher had already mocked up Pages 3-29 of the next day’s paper. He expected the front page to lead with the funeral of the police officer who had been killed in the recent Westminster terrorist attack. The officer’s widow and child would appear in public for the first time, which could make for “emotional” pictures, the editor said. But the decision would not be made until the daily 5 p.m. Page 1 conference.

Mr. Gallagher said he had once attended a news meeting at The New York Times. He was not impressed.

“I was shocked at how threadbare and how little actual discussion there was in the meeting,” he said. “There was no energy, there was no creativity. It could not have been more desultory and perfunctory, the discussion. It was awful.”

The Sun’s news meetings are much more “lively,” he said.

O.K., I said. Could I attend the Sun meeting that afternoon?

He stiffened. “No,” he said. “It’s an inner-sanctum meeting.”

A what?

“We have lawyers in the meeting,” he explained, adding, “We try our headlines there. It’s quite a creative meeting.”

Britain’s tabloids pride themselves on their “creativity.” Perhaps The Sun’s most brazen front-page claim last year was “Queen Backs Brexit,” a headline later ruled misleading by Britain’s press regulator.

The Sun’s unchallenged king of “creative” headlines is Mr. MacKenzie, once the paper’s editor. Some of the meeting rooms are named after his most memorable creations, like “Gotcha,” his take on the sinking of an Argentine warship during the Falklands War that killed more than 300 people, and “Up Yours Delors,” telling Jacques Delors, then the president of the European Commission, where to stick a proposed new European currency.

I had met Mr. MacKenzie a week earlier to ask about those headlines. “Your front pages were sometimes funny and sometimes outrageous,” I began, at which point he interrupted and said, “And sometimes untrue!”


I asked what headline he would like to see in the paper were he still in charge.

“I think the fake news headline that would give this country the most joy,” he replied cheerfully, “would be ‘Jeremy Corbyn Knifed to Death by an Asylum Seeker.’ ”

Mr. Corbyn is the leader of the Labour Party. Mr. MacKenzie’s fake news headline inevitably brought to mind the murder of Jo Cox, a pro-Remain Labour lawmaker who was killed by a man with far-right leanings a week before the referendum. Her death prompted a lot of soul-searching over whether the tone of the campaign had encouraged hate crimes.

(The next morning, I got a text message from Mr. MacKenzie: “Hi Katrin, Can you change that perfect headline from ‘Jeremy Corbyn knifed to death by asylum seeker’ to ‘Jeremy Corbyn Defrauded by Asylum Seeker.’ In the light of Jo Cox murder mine is in tol poor taste.”)

Mr. Gallagher left for his “inner-sanctum meeting” but promised to brief me later. I wandered up to the canteen on the 14th floor.

The servers were all Southern European. An assistant chef strolling by said the kitchen staff was mostly foreign-born, too. He could not imagine how they would staff the kitchen after Brexit. “It will be chaos,” he said.

It was 5:40 p.m. The lineup for the next day’s front page had been decided. The photos of the police officer’s funeral were found “unsatisfactory” for a full-page splash. A soccer player, Ross Barkley, who had been beaten up in a nightclub and who would later become the subject of Mr. MacKenzie’s gorilla column, was the main story. The headline: “Barkley’s Spank.”

My time was up. Mr. Gallagher had kept his poker face all afternoon. The only time I thought he had shifted in his seat was when I asked about his children’s views on Brexit. Two were too young to vote, he said, but his oldest, who is 21, cast her ballot for Remain.

He accompanied me to the door. “Don’t stitch me up,” he said.

Will Britain’s Labour lose the Jews again in 7 weeks?


LONDON — For Britain’s battered Labour party, there will be a particularly cruel irony in the fact that the formal start to the country’s general election campaign in two weeks’ time will come almost 20 years to the day after Tony Blair’s historic victory on May 1, 1997.

Labour’s landslide win two decades ago turned the country’s political map red as scores of constituencies which had been solidly Conservative for decades fell into Blair’s lap. One of the most symbolic gains came in Finchley in northeast London — a seat which Margaret Thatcher had represented in parliament for over 30 years and where around 20 percent of voters — the highest concentration in the country — are Jewish. Blair’s victory in Finchley mirrored wins in a string of other seats with a comparatively sizeable Jewish presence, few of which are natural Labour territory.

With the opinion polls suggesting that Prime Minister Theresa May will inflict a crushing defeat on Labour when the country votes on June 8, it is probably safe to predict that Finchley and Golders Green will remain in Conservative hands.

As in 1997, though, the “Jewish vote” will prove an excellent barometer as to which party has captured the center ground on which Britain’s general elections are won and lost. Moreover, while the Jewish community’s relatively small size limits its electoral potency, its voters are nonetheless clustered in a handful of marginal seats: Hove, Hendon, Brent Central, Harrow East, Harrow West, Ilford North, Hornsey and Wood Green, Hampstead and Kilburn. And, then there are of course, Finchley and Golders Green, which are traditionally on the general election front line.

American Jews have remained, alongside African-Americans, one of the Democratic party’s most loyal constituencies. This historic party loyalty prompted essayist Milton Himmelfarb to quip that “Jews earn like Episcopalians, and vote like Puerto Ricans.” Britain’s Jews, however, have long since become detached from their traditional moorings on the political left.

British Prime Minister Theresa May walks out of 10 Downing Street to make a statement to the media in central London on April 18, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS)

Concentrated in the East End of London and similar inner-city parts of Leeds, Manchester and nearby Salford, Jewish immigrants to Britain in the early 20th century were, like other working-class voters, naturally drawn to the Labour party. When Labour won its first parliamentary majority under Clement Attlee in the 1945 general election, seats with large Jewish populations voted overwhelmingly for the party.

But, beneath the surface, British Jewry was already undergoing significant demographic shifts. As they joined the ranks of the middle-classes, Jews moved out of the inner-cities to the Tory-voting suburbs and old political allegiances began to loosen.

Photograph of former British prime minister Clement Attlee during visit to Hill Auditorium at University of Michigan in 1956 (public domain)

These socioeconomic factors were overlaid and complicated by Britain’s relationship with Israel. The Attlee government’s betrayal of the Zionist cause which Labour had hitherto steadfastly advocated, coupled with Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin’s notorious hostility to the young Jewish state, angered and offended many British Jews. So, too, did the party’s stance during the Suez crisis in 1956 when Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell compared Britain’s actions to someone helping “the burglar [Israel] shoot the householder [Egypt].”

But, in its greatest hour of need in October 1973, it was Labour who was to prove the Jewish state’s better friend, attacking Edward Heath’s government for imposing an arms embargo on both sides and urging solidarity with “democratic socialist” Israel.

A few months later, the country went to the polls. Where their votes counted, Jewish voters punished Conservative MPs who had backed the government’s stance and rewarded those who had rebelled against it. Indeed, Labour has provided three of Britain’s most pro-Israeli prime ministers of the past four decades: Harold Wilson, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Nonetheless, Labour has too often forced Jews who might naturally vote for it to choose between their party and their support for Israel in a manner that the American Democratic party has never done.

The US “kosher vote” has remained steadfastly loyal, in part, because the Democratic party has never succumbed to the virulent hostility to Israel which became fashionable in some sections of the European left during the 1970s. That tide of anti-Zionism swept over Labour in the early 1980s when, in the wake of Thatcher’s election in 1979, the hard left attempted to seize control of the party.

In this 1980 file photo, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher poses for a photograph in London. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Gerald Penny)

Labour’s lurch to the left extended well beyond the arena of foreign policy in general and Israel in particular. Given the overwhelmingly middle-class nature of the Jewish electorate, the party’s newfound radicalism on economic and social policy would regardless have alienated many Jews who had previously voted for it it, as it did with millions of other Britons.

But difficulties for Labour in the community were compounded by the fact that virulent opposition to Israel was one of the hallmarks of the hard left, while attacks on the Jewish state became a mainstay of debates in many local parties.

Virulent opposition to Israel was one of the hallmarks of the hard left, while attacks on the Jewish state became a mainstay of debates in many local parties

The principal beneficiary of these developments was Thatcher. As polling by Prof. Geoffrey Alderman indicates, in northeast and northwest London, Jewish electoral behavior was significantly different from that of other voters in these areas — almost always, Jews were more likely to vote Conservative and less likely to vote Labour.

In 1987, as she headed towards a then-record three consecutive general election victories, Thatcher captured the votes of six out of 10 of Finchley’s Jews; a share six points higher than that of other middle-class professionals in the seat.

When Britain swung back to Labour 10 years later, however, constituencies with large Jewish populations fell to the party with greater than average swings.

Of course, Jewish voters do not vote on the single issue of Israel. Blair may, as one former aide put it, have purged his party of its “anti-Israelism,” but his commitment to education, emphasis on the values of community and reciprocal responsibility, and desire to rid Labour of its knee-jerk hostility to entrepreneurialism, all resonated with many Jews.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, on March 26, 2017. (AFP Photo/Andrew Biraj)

Similarly, Thatcher’s longstanding support for Israel did not alone explain why she was able to capture large swaths of the “Jewish vote.” Instead, her close relationship with then-Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits symbolized her deep respect for Jewish values and what she termed the “Jewish approach to life” along with the symmetries she detected between them and her own religious and political beliefs. Such was the affinity that in 1988 the pro-Conservative Sunday Telegraph admiringly declared that “Judaism has become the new creed of Thatcherite Britain.”

There is also nothing homogeneous about the “Jewish vote.” As research by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research showed shortly before the Conservatives’ return to government in 2010, while Jews leaned more towards the Tories than toward Labour, Jewish voters demonstrated many of the same characteristics as the country as a whole: Jewish men, those who were married, the over-60s, and the self-employed were all more likely to vote Conservative.

Labour party leader Ed Miliband (center) and his wife Justine Thornton arrive at Labour party headquarters in London on May 8, 2015, the day after a general election. (AFP Photo/Justin Tallis)

Nonetheless, the period since Labour’s loss of office seven years ago has snapped many of the bonds between the party and Britain’s Jews. Ironically, the initial damage was done under Ed Miliband, the party’s first Jewish leader.

For much of the community, Miliband was a blank slate when he won the leadership in 2010. That was hardly surprising. His parents, wrote Miliband in 2012, “defined themselves not by their Jewishness but by their politics.” A polite but slightly uneasy relationship ensued.

That relationship, however, was put under severe strain by the events of the summer of 2014. Just weeks after returning from a visit to Israel and declaring his commitment to “Israel’s security and right to protect itself,” Miliband angrily denounced Operation Protective Edge.

Infantry soldiers operating on the ground during Operation Protective Edge, July 20, 2014. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit/Flickr)

It was less the condemnation itself and more its fiery nature, lack of nuance and empathy for Israeli civilians who found themselves under rocket attack that dismayed many Jews. It didn’t help that there was a strong suspicion that he was using the issue as a political football.

Worse, however, was yet to come: as anti-Semitic attacks in Britain doubled, Labour remained inexplicably silent for four months. Shortly after, Miliband burned his final bridges with many Jews, whipping his MPs to back a parliamentary vote, proposed by Labour backbencher Grahame Morris endorsing unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. (In 2014, Morris compared the Israeli army to IS; he is now a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet away on sick leave.)

Miliband thus casually cast aside the studded even-handedness of the Blair and Brown governments.

Some suspected that Miliband was weak, allowing a resurgent left to dictate his foreign policy. Others believed that the Labour leader was simply part of that section of the left for which the Palestinian struggle is of central importance. Either way, by the following summer’s general election, Labour’s support among Jews had plummeted.

Ahead of the 2015 elections, a poll by the Jewish Chronicle found 69% of Jews intended to vote Tory, with Labour trailing with only 22%. Reflecting the heightened tensions of the previous summer, the poll also found that 73% of Jewish voters said the parties’ approach towards Israel and the Middle East was “very” or “quite” important in determining how they would vote. On that issue, the Tory leader, David Cameron, led Miliband by 65% to 10%.

British former prime ministers Tony Blair (R) and David Cameron attend the funeral of former Israeli president and prime minister Shimon Peres at the Mount Herzl national cemetery in Jerusalem on September 30, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / ABIR SULTAN)

Miliband resigned the leadership shortly after suffering a heavy defeat in the general election. His legacy, however, continues to haunt the party — more than anyone else, it was Miliband who laid the groundwork for the election of Corbyn, a serial rebel and veteran anti-Israeli activist, to Labour’s leadership in September 2015.

Miliband provided the organizational foundations by changing the rules by which the party elects its leader, thereby throwing open its doors to hard left entrants. And by tolerating extreme anti-Israel rhetoric in the parliamentary party and indulging the left’s fantasies about why Labour had lost power in 2010 and how it should regain it, he provided the intellectual foundations, too.

'The Left's Jewish Problem' by Dave Rich. (Courtesy)

Corbyn’s hostility to Israel is deeply entrenched. As Dave Rich wrote in his recent book, “The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-Semitism,” he came of age politically during the era of decolonization. Rich argued that to Corbyn’s generation of leftists, Zionism is “a racist, colonialist ideology, and Israel an illegitimate remnant of Western colonialism in the Middle East.”

Even before he won the leadership, Corbyn’s past description of Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends,” his links to a motley crew of extremists, anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers, and his willingness to campaign alongside those who question the Jewish state’s very right to existence damned him in the eyes of many Jews.

Little he has done since has changed those initial evaluations. Corbyn’s attempts to show he takes anti-Semitism in Labour’s ranks seriously have proved unconvincing. The credibility of a report he commissioned into the problem last year — which largely exonerated the party — was left in tatters when just weeks after its publication he awarded its author a peerage and then appointed her to his shadow Cabinet.

Earlier this month, Corbyn refused to join calls for the party to expel former London mayor Ken Livingstone over his comments that Hitler supported Zionism and that there had been “real collaboration” between Jews and Nazis before World War II.

Labour may not, then, have plumbed the depths of Jewish support. A poll last summer suggested just 8.5% of Jews would vote for the party. For the many Labour MPs who have a long history of fighting anti-Semitism and defending Israel, and for the many more left-leaning Jews who feel the Labour party no longer offers them a home, the next seven weeks may well prove uniquely challenging.