Published on Monday, 11 June 2012 01:44 Written by Adam Carter
Some may regard the Labour Party as a long way away from its socialist roots but one would still not expect a Labour peer to be hosting a meeting that featured contributions from a close associate of antisemites and Holocaust deniers who has appeared in a historical revisionist video with veteran nazi Richard Edmonds. However a forthcoming meeting advertised at the House of Lords on 13 June looks like being the second time this has happened.
The meeting is billed as an ‘anti-war’ meeting and purports to be about restoring diplomatic relations with Iran. It will take place in Room 3A at the Palace of Westminster from 6pm to 8.30pm, will apparently be chaired by Lord Nazir Ahmed, the (currently suspended) Labour peer for Rotherham in South Yorkshire, and will feature James Thring as one of its main speakers. Thring, who is a retired architect and former planner, is a strange character even by the standards of the extremist fringe. He has spent the past ten years claiming a role in various peace and anti-war organisations at the same as consorting, networking, sharing platforms and publishing with a wide variety of figures on the extreme right including several involved in denial of the Holocaust as well as others supporting the repressive Iranian regime of President Ahmadinejad.
This will be the second time that Lord Ahmed has chaired a meeting featuring Thring. In 2010 Lord Ahmed chaired a meeting on Human Rights and the Privileged Veto, which featured contributions (from the audience) from Thring and Holocaust denier Lady Michèle Renouf (see below) and can be viewed online.
Searchlight first reported on Thring in July 2008 in an article on Britain’s Holocaust deniers where we stated: “James Thring, who is the convener of Planning for Peace and the author of Peace with Iran, was a close confidant of the veteran antisemite Lady Jane Birdwood. In May 2002 he spoke at a conference in Baghdad alongside the Russian fascist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the French far-right activist Serge Thion and the Respect MP George Galloway. He has declared that Israel is ‘an illegal, criminal, psychopathic, belligerent, apartheid entity bent on desecrating the Holy Land and destroying anyone or even any country that tries to seek justice for the Palestinians’. After David Irving’s imprisonment in 2005, Thring was among those who demonstrated outside the Austrian Embassy for his release.”
Since 2005 Thring has stepped up his links with the far right. He appears to have developed a close relationship with Lady Michèle Renouf, the chief cheerleader for disgraced Holocaust denier David Irving. Renouf has contributed to the defence of several other Holocaust deniers and has since become one of the most influential figures in this murky antisemitic subculture. Renouf attended the controversial Holocaust denial meeting organised by President Ahmadinejad in Iran in December 2006 and she can be seen fawning over the Iranian dictator in the September/October 2010 edition of the white nationalist US Publication The Barnes Review. Thring shares Renouf’s enthusiasm for Iran: his pamphlet on peace with Iran and several letters he has written to prominent UK politicians are featured on her website alongside support for a number of Holocaust denial activists and a bizarre antisemitic scheme to move Jews forcibly to a notional micro-state on the Russian-Chinese Border, Birobidzhan. Both Renouf and Thring have been interviewed on the Iranian propaganda TV channel Press TV which had its licence revoked by broadcasting regulator OFCOM. Thring also spoke at a meeting celebrating the 22nd anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini. Given that neither Ahmadinejad nor Khomeini is renowned for his position on peace or human rights, the motivation for this seems dubious at best unless seen through the prism of Thring’s extreme anti-Israel views.
Renouf and Thring also both feature in a revisionist video called Dresden: A Commemoration produced by her Telling Films company, which defends Hitler and attacks the Allies. The video shows Renouf and Thring presenting with the veteran nazi and former BNP deputy chairman Richard Edmonds. In addition to these propaganda activities with Holocaust deniers, Thring has been active with other elements of the extreme right. He has twice addressed meetings of the New Right group, the bi-monthly gathering of hardcore racists, fascists and antisemites. Thring spoke at the eighth meeting in 2006 and more recently the 31st meeting in December 2011. As well as mixing with British right-wing extremists, Thring featured earlier this year in a lengthy interview with former Klan leader and prominent American white supremacist David Duke.
In summary as the evidence makes clear, Thring is intimately involved with the extreme right and with racists, antisemites and Holocaust deniers.
However while we was associating with the extreme right, Thring was also active in peace and anti-war circles. Thring is the convenor of Planning for Peace, which he established in 1983. More recently, according to its own website, Thring was a founding member of the Ministry for Peace (MFP) in 2003 and has consistently traded on the seeming legitimacy this lends him. MFP describes itself as “an organisation working for the creation of structures within government, e.g. a Ministry for Peace, to transcend violent conflict” and includes several MPs and academics among its supporters. Although there are no references to Thring or his work on its website since 2003, MFP published a pamphlet by Thring called Peace With Iran in July 2006 and earlier this year in a letter to Foreign Secretary William Hague, Thring was still claiming to represent the MFP. Thring has also claimed to be a founder of Legal Action Against War although it is thought he is also no longer involved in that group (if it still even exists).
Given Thring’s documented activities with the extreme right, it is clear that he has no place in any left-leaning peace or anti-war movement. We call first of all for Lord Ahmed to make a public statement distancing himself from Thring and for all genuine peace activists and campaigners such as Stop the War to have nothing to do with him or his associates.