AT THE beginning of the year, Ken Livingstone spent public money on commissioning a report on Islamophobia in the media. Fair enough, you might think. London Muslims are on occasion discriminated against or attacked simply for being Muslim. Our civic leaders surely have the right to investigate journalists who incite hatred.
Yet though the report is finished, it has been sat on for weeks. A source in the mayor’s office said it could never be published because it’s ‘libellous’ and ‘plain daft’. I’m sure it’s both, but I think a second contact was closer to the mark when he told me publication would reveal how far out to the right Livingstone has moved.
If you find the idea of an alleged socialist flirting with the far-right novel, you haven’t been paying attention since 9/11.
Livingstone is just an extreme example of a shameful turn in liberal-left politics. He’s embraced the Muslim Council of Britain, which essentially consists of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jammat-i-Islami, whose best friends wouldn’t call them progressive
For instance, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s chief theologian, whom Livingstone welcomed to London, believes that death should be the punishment for Muslims who decide to convert to another religion. He discusses whether homosexuals should also be murdered, and supports female genital mutilation, wife beating and the killing of Israeli children.
To say that opposing such extremism is racist is like saying that opposing theBNP is ‘anti-white’. But this is the trick Livingstone’s people have tried to pull. They have turned their backs on Muslim liberals, feminists and socialists in Britain and beyond and decided that criticism of the MCB is ‘Islamophobic,’ as is criticism of Iran.
British Muslims who loathe the Muslim Brotherhood and the Muslim Iranians in London who loathe what the mullahs have done to their country are, according to Livingstone’s demonology, ‘Islamophobes,’ without realising it.
Tellingly, Livingstone’s report directs its fire at investigative journalists who follow the highest standards rather than real racists. It condemns Channel 4, the Observer and New Statesman for publishing leaks from a Whitehall mole which showed how the Foreign Office was appeasing of radical Islam. The revelations helped persuade the Labour government to change course, dump the MCB and support Muslims who supported liberal values rather than those who did not.
This wise U-turn was spoilt only by the absurdity of the attorney general allowing Derek Pasquill, the civil servant accused of leaking the documents, to face an Official Secrets Act prosecution.
But let’s stick with the absurdity of Livingstone today. His suppressed report strikes me as a clumsy attempt to bring the MCB back into the fold by accusing the critics of bigots of being bigots. There are more Labour supporters in London than you may realise who are sick of his betrayals. The opposition parties don’t seem to know it, but we will vote against Livingstone with relish.
CHANNEL 4 has Newham as the 3rd most dreadful place to live in Britain and Islington as the 7th. I’m sure you know the reasons –unemployment, crime, useless hospitals, worse schools… they come up all the time. I wouldn’t mention them if the debate about the south-east’s taxes being diverted to fund Scotland’s lavish welfare state wasn’t missing the main point.
It is usually presented as rich southerners vs. poor northerners. But as any Londoner can see, there’s terrible poverty here, which could be tackled if tax revenues were spent closer to home.
Incidentally, Channel 4 decided that the best place to live was – you guessed it – Edinburgh.