Quisling row escalates in West Hampstead
I GUESS there’s no point of saying sorry if you don’t mean it, and a Labour Party deadline for former councillor Neil Fletcher to provide a written apology for using the word ‘quislings’ about local councillors in both the CNJ and Ham and High passed at 4pm yesterday without the demand being met. Labour party organisers have warned that a formal investigation by the Executive Committee will now begin.
In response, Fletcher is understood to have told the party enforcers that he would not be apologising as the Oxford English dictionary simply defines the word in general use as meaning traitors among other things, adding: “I give no assurances about any further articles I might write, and will as always choose my words with care and precision. If quisling fits the bill I shall continue to use it!”
Fletcher, who is critical of the Labour council’s redevelopment plans in West Hampstead, is also said to have questioned why it appeared to him that a councillor had taken seven weeks to decide they were offended enough by his article to make a complaint against him with branch organisers.
His critics say ‘quisling’ is still directly linked to the puppet Norwegian leader who did a deal with Hitler, and Labour councillor Richard Olszewski’s internal complaint is understood to read: “My parents were from Poland and suffered directly at the hands of the Nazis; my father was imprisoned in a concentration camp and my mother was forced to work for the SS. I, therefore, find it personally deeply offensive to be referred to, even indirectly, as some sort of Nazi collaborator. There is a place for invective in politics, as people can feel strongly about their points of view and seek to express them forcefully. There is, however, a limit on what is acceptable language. I think that Neil’s use of the term “Quisling” went way beyond what is acceptable by way of political argument and disagreement.”
If Camden are happy to have a Cecil Rhodes house, offending many black people of African (particularly South) origin, it is a bit rich for people to get offended about being called quislings.