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Walter Wolfgang and Nazi Germany


John Simkin
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I suppose most people were shocked by the scenes of the 82-year-old, Walter Wolfgang being thrown out of the Labour party conference for heckling Jack Straw yesterday. It reminded me of the British Union of Fascists removing hecklers in the 1930s.

The way New Labour controls its conference it rarely has problems with hecklers. However, the use of overweight bouncers to remove a refugee from Nazi Germany, was clearly a public relations disaster.

Today Tony Blair apologised for the way Wolfgang was treated. However, he went on to say it is “difficult” situation for stewards when people interrupt ministers during their speeches. It seems in the Britain of New Labour it is not allowed to shout out “nonsense” when ministers are talking.

It should not be forgotten that when Wolfgang tried to re-enter the conference he was detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

I live near Brighton and have heard two disturbing stories about what has been going on at the conference. When Blair arrived at the conference by car on Monday, a middle aged man on the other side of the road shouted out a comment about the war in Iraq. He was immediately thrown to the ground by three police officers, handcuffed, and taken away in a police car.

Another incident involved a 80 year old man walking through the streets of Brighton. He was arrested and detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. His crime – he was wearing a t-shirt with a slogan criticising Blair.

It is clear that Blair is using the Prevention of Terrorism Act to stop people criticising his policies in Iraq. Don’t be fooled by his smiling face. Blair is gradually removing our right to protest.

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Blair's party conference thugs did a heavy job on an 82-year-old man for shouting "nonsense" at the foreign secretary on Thursday. Walter Wolfgang was mildly heckling Jack Straw for justifying unprovoked military aggression.

As luck would have it, Wolfgang was a refugee from Nazi Germany. When he felt the hand of "security" on his collar, I wonder if his mind flashed back to his youth. The incident recalls a New Yorker cartoon of a Nuremburg rally. It has the Führer beginning his speech: "I think I may say without fear of contradiction?"

What was outrageous was not the ejection as such - insecure politicians have always feared hecklers - but the use of anti-terrorism powers. It now seems instinctive to the police to assume that an elderly heckler has terrorist intent. It is exactly the syndrome that killed Jean Charles de Menezes in the London tube.

Next year's "shoot-to-kill" anti-free-speech law will enable the police to throw people such as Wolfgang into prison for giving "unintentional encouragement" to any political violence. Lord Falconer said on Sunday that the powers will be enforced "reasonably". Like in Brighton on Wednesday? Does that mean Falconer will arrest only regius professors of history?

Ian McCartney, the Labour party chairman, should not have bothered to apologise to Wolfgang. He should have summoned Blair, Straw, Charles Clarke and Falconer and told them to get their tanks off Labour's lawn. They had already turned his conference into little short of a police rally. The whole thing was near Mosleyite. Blair and co should abandon their totalitarian laws or he, McCartney, will suspend their party membership forthwith.

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Blair's party conference thugs did a heavy job on an 82-year-old man for shouting "nonsense" at the foreign secretary on Thursday. Walter Wolfgang was mildly heckling Jack Straw for justifying unprovoked military aggression.

As luck would have it, Wolfgang was a refugee from Nazi Germany. When he felt the hand of "security" on his collar, I wonder if his mind flashed back to his youth. The incident recalls a New Yorker cartoon of a Nuremburg rally. It has the Führer beginning his speech: "I think I may say without fear of contradiction?"

What was outrageous was not the ejection as such - insecure politicians have always feared hecklers - but the use of anti-terrorism powers. It now seems instinctive to the police to assume that an elderly heckler has terrorist intent. It is exactly the syndrome that killed Jean Charles de Menezes in the London tube.

Next year's "shoot-to-kill" anti-free-speech law will enable the police to throw people such as Wolfgang into prison for giving "unintentional encouragement" to any political violence. Lord Falconer said on Sunday that the powers will be enforced "reasonably". Like in Brighton on Wednesday? Does that mean Falconer will arrest only regius professors of history?

Ian McCartney, the Labour party chairman, should not have bothered to apologise to Wolfgang. He should have summoned Blair, Straw, Charles Clarke and Falconer and told them to get their tanks off Labour's lawn. They had already turned his conference into little short of a police rally. The whole thing was near Mosleyite. Blair and co should abandon their totalitarian laws or he, McCartney, will suspend their party membership forthwith.

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Blair's party conference thugs did a heavy job on an 82-year-old man for shouting "nonsense" at the foreign secretary on Thursday. Walter Wolfgang was mildly heckling Jack Straw for justifying unprovoked military aggression.

As luck would have it, Wolfgang was a refugee from Nazi Germany. When he felt the hand of "security" on his collar, I wonder if his mind flashed back to his youth. The incident recalls a New Yorker cartoon of a Nuremburg rally. It has the Führer beginning his speech: "I think I may say without fear of contradiction?"

What was outrageous was not the ejection as such - insecure politicians have always feared hecklers - but the use of anti-terrorism powers. It now seems instinctive to the police to assume that an elderly heckler has terrorist intent. It is exactly the syndrome that killed Jean Charles de Menezes in the London tube.

Next year's "shoot-to-kill" anti-free-speech law will enable the police to throw people such as Wolfgang into prison for giving "unintentional encouragement" to any political violence. Lord Falconer said on Sunday that the powers will be enforced "reasonably". Like in Brighton on Wednesday? Does that mean Falconer will arrest only regius professors of history?

Ian McCartney, the Labour party chairman, should not have bothered to apologise to Wolfgang. He should have summoned Blair, Straw, Charles Clarke and Falconer and told them to get their tanks off Labour's lawn. They had already turned his conference into little short of a police rally. The whole thing was near Mosleyite. Blair and co should abandon their totalitarian laws or he, McCartney, will suspend their party membership forthwith.

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Blair's party conference thugs did a heavy job on an 82-year-old man for shouting "nonsense" at the foreign secretary on Thursday. Walter Wolfgang was mildly heckling Jack Straw for justifying unprovoked military aggression.

As luck would have it, Wolfgang was a refugee from Nazi Germany. When he felt the hand of "security" on his collar, I wonder if his mind flashed back to his youth. The incident recalls a New Yorker cartoon of a Nuremburg rally. It has the Führer beginning his speech: "I think I may say without fear of contradiction?"

What was outrageous was not the ejection as such - insecure politicians have always feared hecklers - but the use of anti-terrorism powers. It now seems instinctive to the police to assume that an elderly heckler has terrorist intent. It is exactly the syndrome that killed Jean Charles de Menezes in the London tube.

Next year's "shoot-to-kill" anti-free-speech law will enable the police to throw people such as Wolfgang into prison for giving "unintentional encouragement" to any political violence. Lord Falconer said on Sunday that the powers will be enforced "reasonably". Like in Brighton on Wednesday? Does that mean Falconer will arrest only regius professors of history?

Ian McCartney, the Labour party chairman, should not have bothered to apologise to Wolfgang. He should have summoned Blair, Straw, Charles Clarke and Falconer and told them to get their tanks off Labour's lawn. They had already turned his conference into little short of a police rally. The whole thing was near Mosleyite. Blair and co should abandon their totalitarian laws or he, McCartney, will suspend their party membership forthwith.

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