Oliver Kamm of the Times has more here. He quotes from a round-robin letter sent by Sadiq Khan of the Fabians, who I should add I shared an Any Questions panel with the other week and found perfectly reasonable. In the letter, however, he said.
“To combat terror the government has focused extensively on domestic legislation. While some of this will have an impact, the government must not ignore the role of its foreign policy.
“The debacle of Iraq and now the failure to do more to secure an immediate end to the attacks on civilians in the Middle East not only increases the risk to ordinary people in that region, it is also ammunition to extremists who threaten us all.”
As Oliver says, “the letter insinuated, without quite having the gumption to state openly, that in forming foreign policy and making alliances, our country gets what’s coming to it. This went far beyond mere opposition to the Government’s policy in Iraq. No democrat ought to have signed this; no Labour MP should have given it anything but scorn”.
Sleeping on Sunder’s excitable reaction to my original Observer piece, I am struck by how far over the top he has gone. I do not accuse him of anything. All I imply is that it is telling that exposes of clerical fascism come from right-wing rather than left-wing think tanks. The Fabians are mentioned in passing in the penultimate paragraph of a 1000 word piece when I go through a list of liberals and socialists from the Muslim tradition who are profoundly disillusioned by leftish appeasement.
But disreputable manoeuvres come at a price and Labour does not notice how its tactics repel thoughtful people from the Muslim world. The pioneer in rejecting treacherous friends was Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The death threats from Islamists her espousal of feminism brought earned her nothing but insults from Dutch leftists and English liberals. She ended up working for a conservative institute in Washington because her natural allies would not offer her their protection and support.
Ullah [Anser Ullah, a Bengali socialist] unconsciously picked up on her exasperation when he told me he was a Labour party member who found the behaviour of his government mystifying. “They never want to talk to people like me,” he said. When I asked Shiraz Maher, the co-author of the Policy Exchange report, why he had not offered his work to the leftish Fabians or Institute for Public Policy Research, he guffawed. They would never print what he wrote. For this Muslin liberal, the left was no longer a home but an obstacle.
Ed Husain did not laugh but exploded with anger. “Where is the centre-left movement combating extremism?” he thundered. “Who on the left stands on the side of Muslims who want to support secularism and pluralism? Do they think that fascists only have white skins?”
I had no answer for him, but sensed that his furious questions were a better indicator of the bankrupting of the long period of Labour dominance than any opinion poll.
This fleeting mention provoked thunderbolts of rage from the normally placid Fabians. In both What’s Left? and in the essays in Waiting for the Etonians I emphasise that the betrayals of our time do not come solely from the brutes on the far left but the liberal mainstream too. As I know from confrontations with screaming BBC producers, such assertions provoke fury – a fury the Fabians now share.
Let us hope that their wild anger is also a sign of a guilty conscience and of a resolve to behave better in future.