Posts Tagged ‘The Spectator (magazine)’

Peter Hitchens on Tony Blair’s Stupidity

January 16, 2023

Yeah, I know this ad hominem, but it is funny. Novara Media’s Aaron Bastani interviewed Tory iconoclast Peter Hitchens the other day. The two don’t really have much in common, but Bastani justified the interview saying that if you want to be certain in your political views, you should test them by talking to people who hold the opposite. Hitchen’s is very much a man of the right, and some of his views are odd, if not barking. He believes, for example, that we shouldn’t have gone to war with Germany as it was not in our interests. Perhaps it wasn’t, but we had signed the defence pacts with France and Poland, And if we hadn’t gone to war, I think we would have still lost the empire sooner or later. Plus we would have been excluded from a continent under Nazi domination. And this is not to mention the carnage that would have been perpetrated by the Nazis, with the Jews and Gypsies becoming extinct in Europe, followed by the Czechs and the Slav populations enslaved as peasant farmers supplying produce to their German overlords.

On the other hand, Hitchens has said that he never supported Thatcher’s sale of the council houses or the privatisation of the prison system, because justice, as a principle, should be in the hands of the state. He also states in one of his books that he was shocked into an awareness of how fragile civilisation was after visiting one of the failed African countries as a journalist in the 1980s. The country had descended into vicious gang violence, but walking through its capital Hitchens saw everywhere grand architecture and all the signs of modern corporate development. I think this gives an insight into the basis of his own Tory views. I remember reading in the Spectator years ago that the right-wing philosopher Roger Scruton abandoned the left when he witnessed the rioting in Paris during the 1968 student and workers’ protests. He was alarmed by their ‘anti-civilisational rage’.

Back to the interview, Hitchens described Blair’s spin doctor, Alistair Campbell, as being frightening intelligent. He mentioned people, who really thought for the first few months of Blair’s regime that it was Campbell running the country. He joked that it was probably because of Campbell’s mighty intellect that he was kept away from voters, as he would probably frighten them all away.

But Blair, on the other hand, wasn’t terribly bright and Hitchens doubted that he could have run the country without Campbell. To illustrate his point, he told the story of how he briefly met Blair just before the 1997 election. Blair was in Oxford, travelling in his motorcade. Hitchens was following him by bike, but as the traffic was bad, he got to Blair’s destination before him. After Blair had arrived, he was immediately surrounded by a crowd taking pictures. Hitchens wanted to talk to Blair, and so, after the crowd had finished and dispersed, he walked up to the future Prime Minister. He decided to open the conversation by asking who the crowd were. Blair replied, ‘They’re Brazilians. I’m very popular down there.’

‘Oh, you should learn Portuguese then,’ replied Hitch.

‘What?’

It turned out that Blair thought they spoke Brazilian in Brazil. Hitchens concluded that what Blair really wanted to be was a pop star, and you didn’t need to ascribe any deep ideological motives to him.

There was, nevertheless, an ideological basis to his policies. He was a product of BAP, the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, which was set up by Reagan to influence the rising generation of British politicians from both the Conservatives and Labour. Blair had started out as a supporter of nuclear disarmament, but after going on a BAP-sponsored trip to America and hearing the views of various right-wing think tanks, he came back as an opponent. He was fervently Thatcherite, believing in the superiority of private industry and strongly influenced by the American political system. Private Eye ran several pieces about the American private healthcare and prison companies lining up to donate to New Labour in the hope of getting some of that nationalised action. He took over advisers and staff from private healthcare companies as well as other businesses, and pushed the privatisation of the NHS further than the Tories would have dared. As stupid as he may have been, he set the course for right-wing Labour, and Starmer shows every indication of returning to it.

Cartoon: Boris Johnson as Gay Biker

November 7, 2022

Here’s another of my sketches in which I attempt to lampoon various politicians. This time the person depicted isn’t bald. It’s Boris Johnson, who was reported by one of the right-wing vlogs to be organising a conference to promote his legacy. Well, Johnson is responsible for many things, but mostly greed, hypocrisy, bigotry and naked self-interest at the expense of anyone who gets in his way. But I was particularly inspired by something the gays reminded him he had said about them when he tried to ingratiate himself with them years ago. Johnson had wished them a happy Pride Day. The gays weren’t impressed and reminded him that when he was the editor of the Spectator or something he had called them ‘tank-top wearing bum-boys’.

What a thing to say to decent people!

Look, the 70s were long ago, but a lot of people wore them back then. Even Lenny Henry, who made a joke on his comedy show on the BBC back in the 1980s that he had worn one at a disco and then wondered why girls didn’t want to dance with him. And there were many other fashion atrocities back then as well, which perfectly normal and decent people also thought were extremely cool, like trousers with massive flares and clothes in colours so bright they nearly glowed in the dark. So, don’t pick on people just because you think they have a weird choice in fashion.

But this stupid and bigoted remark from Johnson inspired me to depict him as a gay biker. Again, I’m not ridiculing or sneering at gay people. I’m just ridiculing Boris Johnson.

Toby Young on the Free Speech Union and Legislation Needed to Protect Free Speech

July 26, 2022

I am very definitely not a fan of Toby Young. He’s a very right-wing Tory with nasty eugenicist views. I think he’s part of the Spectator crew and something of a sleazeball, as Hill Street Blues’ officer Mick Belcher would describe him. If memory serves me right, he was one of the people behind a proposed free university, which collapsed a few years ago. Tweezer appointed him to the body that’s supposed to represent Britain’s students, despite the fact that it’s been at least a couple of decades since he was one. He got into Private Eye a few years ago for attending a eugenics conference at one of the London universities. Along with him were members of various American far right groups, who believed that race really did define intelligence and Blacks were biologically less bright than the rest of us. They also weren’t in favour of the welfare state, for the old, old reason that it’s a waste a money supporting people who can’t fend for themselves. In other words, some of the people there could be reasonably described as Nazis.

And his attitude to women leaves much to be desired. A few years ago he managed to cause mass disgust on Twitter or one of the social media platforms by describing how he watched female MPs on TV, commenting on their busts. Back in the 90s he wrote a piece for GQ about how he had been a ‘lesbian for a day’. He then revealed in the article that he’d dressed up in drag and then decided to go trolling through New York’s lesbian bars looking for a snog. He had successfully passed himself off as gay woman in two of them, before he was discovered in a third and had to beat a hasty retreat. Or been thrown out. Whatever. This is the kind of antics many lesbians are complaining about from trans-identified men, or possibly straight men claiming to be trans. They object to clearly biological men demanding romance or sex from them because they claim to be trans. There have been transwomen giving presentations on ‘Breaking the cotton ceiling’, which means getting into lesbians’ cotton underwear. Graham Linehan, formerly the writer behind Father Ted and now an anti-Trans activist, has remarked that one of the lesbian dating sites is actually full of bearded men, who are about as feminine as he is, all claiming to be trans. Well, Tobes tried this trick decades ago. But I wouldn’t like to see him as any kind of trans pioneer.

But his Free Speech Union does have a point.

Young and the others set this up to protect people from persecution because of their views. These are mostly individuals, whose views or comments are deemed offensive because of racism, sexism, homophobia or anti-trans. He appeared on a video on GB News talking about the work the Free Speech Union had done defending two such individuals. One was a railway worker, who’d been sacked because of a comment he’d posted on social media. He lived in one of the towns up north with a large Muslim community. After the lockdown was lifted, he posted that it was a relief no longer having to live in an alcohol-free Muslim caliphate. Someone complained to the company, and he was sacked. The Free Speech Union, however, took up his case, and an industrial tribunal declared in his favour that he was a victim of unfair dismissal and awarded him damages. The second case was a Christian woman, who offended woke sensibilities by stating that the Christian ideal of marriage should be the heterosexual one of a man and woman. Now I’d say that this was perfectly correct and normal, and that holding such a view doesn’t mean that you automatically hate gays or people in same-sex marriages. I’m absolutely sure you can hold such a traditional view of marriage, while recognising that gays also have the right to marry and for their marriages to be respected. But this traditional view was too much for someone, and she suffered because of it.

Now I realise that many people do disagree with these views, and particularly with the railway worker’s comments. It is islamophobic. But that’s the point. For free speech to mean anything, it has to include offensive or unpleasant speech. Free speech that only permits approved speech whether by the authorities or the populace, is no such thing. I’m not a free speech absolutist. There have to be limits, which in my opinion includes holocaust denial, the promotion of paedophilia or which urges people to commit other crimes, like incitement to riot. I’d also include real incitement to racial hatred, though my fear is that such reasonable legislation has been broadened too far to include comments which someone simply finds offensive, rather than which genuinely threatens the safety of Blacks and other people of colour. The guy’s remark is offensive and tasteless but not, I think, really worth his job.

Young explained that the Union would like to pass legislation protecting people from being sacked for their views, if they expressed them as private individuals and not as work or representatives of a company or organisation. He also talked about getting the trade unions to back such legislation, considering that the trade unions were founded to protect workers talking about their companies’ pay and conditions. Well, it was a bit more than that. They were founded to fight for workers’ pay and conditions, but yes, opposing victimisation for one’s views is part of that.

He also proposed having a two-year limit on what could be used to attack someone from their web history. Here I definitely agree with him. There have been a number of cases where politicos, celebrities and ordinary mortals have been embroiled in scandals because of something they said online a few years ago, sometimes when they were much younger. Quite often it’s people, who’ve said something unpleasant or bigoted about people from ethnic minorities and gays, sometimes when they were very young. Private Eye has done this several times. Quite often they’ve printed pieces showing that whatever such a politician, industrialist or media figure thinks now, back in the day he or she had very different views. Sometimes very far back, like in the ’80s or ’90s. People change, and don’t necessarily hold the same views they had when they were in their teens or twenties.

But another reason I’m prepared to give such legislation my approval is because it might stop some of the persecution by the witch hunters. The stock in trade of persecutory groups like the woefully misnamed Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and David Collier and the GnasherJew troll farm is going through their targets’ internet history looking for anything they can misrepresent as anti-Semitism. They’ve done it to a lot of people, many of them Jews and firm opponents of anti-Semitism. They did it to the great Jackie Walker, a self-respecting Jew by faith and blood and a very committed anti-racist activist. Jackie had been discussing the involvement of Jewish financiers – who she explicitly stated were members of her own people – in the slave trade. This is historic fact, and Jackie, as a proper historian and academic, has produced an enormous amount of mainstream scholarship by respected and respectable historians to support it. She has also made the obvious point that these financiers were working for Christian, European kings and states, with whom the ultimate responsibility lies. Again, perfectly correct. But she left out a word, which allowed the CAAS to misrepresent her grotesquely as an anti-Semite. That, and the Jewish Labour Movement secretly recording some of her perfectly reasonable comments about commemorating other groups’ holocausts, like the slave trade, during a workshop on commemorating the Holocaust, has led to her being expelled from the Labour party and receiving the most horrific abuse.

Another victim of the witch hunters was a perfectly innocent Jewish lady in Devon. She was mentioned in an online film Mike and other Corbyn-supporting peeps appeared on promoting a documentary refuting the accusation that Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite. That film opened with a group of venerable rabbis in long beards, dark coats and broad-brimmed hats stating very clearly that Corbyn was no such thing. Many of the speakers, including Mike himself, were victims of the witch hunt and what looks to yours truly as gross libel. One of these wretched witch hunting groups had posted a map of the locations of anti-Semites, and this lady and her address were on it. As a result, she not only received abuse but her car was firebombed.

This is what is called ‘stochastic terrorism’.

This is the name given to the type of online activism when someone deliberately posts comments that will rile people up against a particular group or individual to the point where they may physically attack them. But the remarks that provoke and encourage the assault are carefully phrased so that the person making them can always disavow responsibility: ‘T’wasn’t anything I said, your honour. It’s nothing to do with me and I didn’t intend anything like it should happen.’ Except, of course, they did. As in my view was the case with this lady.

Toby Young is a Tory with deeply unpleasant views. But I do think the Free Speech Union has a point and deserves support.

Especially if it prevents malign witch hunters doxing innocent people, leading to attacks on them and their property.

Professional Therapist Stephanie Winn Interviewed by Trans-Critical Author Helen Joyce about the Myth of Gender Conversion Therapy

July 4, 2022

On Saturday I posted a piece about the email I received from the chair of LGBTQ+ Labour and Anneliese Dodds about the Labour party’s proposed policies for gay and trans people and their intention to give them greater protection under the Equality legislation. I have no problem with gay equality. What does concern me is the pair’s proposals to ban trans conversion therapy alongside gay conversion therapy. Gay conversion was a brutal form of what can only be described as medicalised torture. Clive Simpson, a gay YouTuber, has described its horrors in one of the videos I put up yesterday to support some of the points I made in my reply to the Labour party. Gay conversion therapy used aversion therapy to try to ‘cure’ gay men of their sexual attraction to other men. They were given electric shocks while being shown pictures of naked men. Alternatively, they were given drugs that made them sick. They were also locked in their rooms for three days at a time, not allowed out even to go to the toilet. They were also deprived of food and water as this was also believed to make the process more effective. I have absolutely no hesitation in describing this treatment as hell, and that the people inflicting it on their patients were sadists. Such procedures have, however, been mercifully illegal since the 1970s.

There is a profound difference between gay conversion therapy and supposed trans conversion therapy. The activists demanding a ban on trans conversion therapy do not say what they consider trans conversion therapy to be. There’s thus a real fear that any such ban will mean that the only legally permitted form of treatment for gender-confused and trouble children and adults will be the affirmative model. This form of states mandates the therapist to agree with the patient that they really are of a different gender than their biological body, and must set them on the path for medical transition. This may be appropriate for some, but not all, as many sufferers who believed they were trans had underlying mental health or emotional issues which were the real sources of their confusion, and which should have received treatment instead. There is a growing community of detransitioners who believed they were trans, underwent clinical transition, but now believe they were wrong and are trying to get back, as far as possible, to their birth gender. There is an online community of 20,000 of them and its seems some of them are considering legal action against the therapists who put them on the trans pathway.

Stephanie Winn is a licensed therapist and councillor in Oregon in the US. She is also the host of this, the ‘You Must Be Some Kind of Therapist’ podcast. In this edition of the podcast, she’s interviewed by former Economist journo and anti-trans author Helen Joyce about how she came to be opposed to the affirmation-only model while treating confused teens. She speaks about the dangers of the laws in America as enacted in individual states, which seek to outlaw gender conversion therapy, as a result of which she stopped treating children and moved instead to setting up help groups for adults with children experiencing these problems. Because of this and her social media presence, she was targeted by trans rights activists and a former member of one these support groups, who complained to the board about her. She describes her struggle to combat these false allegations and her eventual success. She also goes through the specific Oregon legislation banning gay and trans conversion therapy, showing that it’s unnecessary and actually harmful in the case of trans people. She also foresees a time when the ban on trans conversion therapy will be seen in its way as savage and barbarous as lobotomy and other discredited and deeply unethical medical practices.

The blurb for the podcast reads

’11. ”Helen Joyce: Debunking the Myth of Conversion Therapy’, I recently emerged victorious from a harrowing battle and successfully defended myself against false allegations of “conversion therapy.” Part of how I got through the stress of it all was envisioning that some day I would be able to use my story to encourage and inspire others. But what I couldn’t have imagined was that I’d share it with the illustrious Helen Joyce. Under any other circumstances I would have loved to interview Helen. But in this conversation, she actually interviewed me, in the hopes that my story could help her organization demonstrate to UK officials how including “gender identity change efforts” in its “conversion therapy bans” could backfire. So today, this is my story: where I started off; my experiences as a gender-affirming therapist; what brought me around to seeing matters differently; why I decided to take a stand against gender ideology and medicalization; how I found the courage to share my views publicly; who targeted me, and why; how I defeated them; and what I want lawmakers around the world to understand about these proposed “conversion therapy bans” (hint: they’re not what they seem.) This is a very timely conversation, so I bumped it to the front of the queue and am publishing it right away. I hope to have Helen back another time to discuss her own ideas. But for now, I really appreciate this opportunity to share my story with Helen, and the world. If I do say so myself, this is an important conversation for therapists, governing bodies, lawmakers, those seeking therapy, and anyone who cares about the treatment of gender issues in today’s society. Helen Joyce is author of “TRANS: When Ideology Meets Reality”, published in July 2021 by OneWorld and in paperback since May 2022. A Times of London and Spectator book of the year, it is a UK and Amazon top ten bestseller. It received rave reviews in publications ranging from the Telegraph to the New York Times, and endorsements from, among others, Daniel Dennett (“A sane, humane book”), Lionel Shriver (“Utterly unintimidated by extremist orthodoxy”) and Richard Dawkins (“Thoroughly researched, passionate and very brave”). Helen now works as Director of Advocacy for Sex Matters, a human-rights organization that campaigns for sex-based rights. Her journalism can be found on her website: thehelenjoyce.com’.

In the podcast, Winn makes the point that the barbarous methods of gay conversion therapy are now illegal. Sexual orientation is fixed, and these methods were absolutely failures. They could not prevent gay men from still being attracted to other men, and certainly couldn’t make them attracted to women. All they could do is destroy their self-esteem. Gender-identity, on the other hand, is, in her words, incredibly mercurial. She makes the point that there are underlying mental issues with many of the teenagers experiencing difficulties with their birth gender. Sometimes these are mental health problems or mental conditions like autism, which can give some of the symptoms that may be interpreted as trans. Sometimes they’re internalised misogyny or homophobia. She talks about instances where the sufferer or their families believe it’s preferable to have a live daughter than a dead gay son. She also saw many lesbian girls, who seemed to want to transition partly out of loneliness. As lesbians they were in a narrower pool of potential romantic and sexual partners than if they were men. Part of the process of treating them involved reconciling them to the fact that as lesbians, they would have more difficulty finding partners, but that it was all right to be gay.

She makes it very clear that she’s opposed to gay conversion therapy, and that there’s nothing wrong with being gay. It doesn’t hurt anyone, except where there’s homophobia, and doesn’t cost anything. The affirmative-only model, however, sets gender confused people on a long medical process of puberty blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones and finally surgery. This has profoundly detrimental effects on the patients’ lives and health. The drugs and hormones actually shorten their lives and the treatment as whole sterilises them and leads them unable to experience orgasm, an important part of sexual relationships. She is afraid that the poor health many trans people therefore suffer will leave them vulnerable to suicide.

She also believes very strongly that the contemporary explosion of Rapid Onset Dysmorphia amongst girls is a social contagion. Previously there was only a small number of people seeking treatment as trans, and they were mostly boys. Now its a large number of girls. It looks very much to her like a social contagion, passed on by teenagers and young people reading about it on the internet. She is also concerned about children using the threat of committing suicide to force their parents and therapists into accepting that they are really of the desired opposite gender. This is another tactic kids have picked up from the Net. She talks about how she set up her support group for the parents of trans-identifying kids to reassure them that they were right and not the bigots their children and trans activists accused them of being. This, however, allowed one woman, who only attended the group once, to accuse her of malpractice. She was able to seek very capable legal advice, and the case was eventually dismissed. She also pre-empted the trans activists attack on her for what she was posting about on the Net by informing the ethics board first, resulting in their accusations also being dismissed.

She states very clearly that the affirmative-only model is not the sole method of treatment. For the majority of gender confused kids it is only a phase they go through before emerging as gay adults. And that’s fine by her. There are also plenty of other therapies and forms of counselling that can effectively treat the condition so that the sufferers do not have to transition. What therapists should not be doing is giving in to children who insist they are of different gender. These are teenagers, and no-one makes sensible decisions or knows what’s really best for them as a teenager. Many of them are uncomfortable going through puberty, and Winn asks if anyone was ever comfortable with this period in their lives. Unfortunately, the law has given these children a terrible weapon to use against those therapists who disagree with them and believe it is more appropriate to use alternative forms of therapy. She also states that if all the therapists were like her and stood up against the affirmation model, then the laws banning gender conversion would be struck down. But they’re not. Many are afraid of their patients suing them if they don’t agree with them. She concludes by saying that people must stand up as the responsible adults to this oppressive, harmful attitude. She compares it to an incident when her 13 year old son accidentally drilled into his hand. This caused a lot of pain and distress, but the injury wasn’t serious. And so, she says, into gender confusion. But she is very critical of the passage in Oregonian legislation that states that gender confusion is not a mental disorder. She states that according to the accepted medical definitions, a mental disorder is a condition that causes distress so extreme that the person experiencing it is unable to get on with their lives properly. And most trans people do indeed spend their time consumed with this problem to their great distress. She also observes that there has been a mental change in young people generally. While previous generations were more outward-oriented, geared towards others, this one has become more inward-oriented, obsessed with how they present and what others will think of them. She states that when she started off, she believed that most of the issues she would experience with girls would be about crushes. But it isn’t. She therefore spent her time treating girls by telling them that not everyone would like them, and some would even actively dislike them, but that this was normal and natural.

The pair discuss what the proposed legislation about banning gender conversion therapy may mean in England. Winn tries to answer the question by citing her experience as a therapist in Oregon. Winn states that gay conversion therapy is already banned, and all trans conversion therapy means is that someone questioned whether the patient really was a member of the opposite sex to that of their birth. She is also expresses the same scepticism towards the statistics cited in the Oregon legislation, though she accepts that some of the people cited as having experienced gay conversion therapy are probably older men, who really did go through such horrific maltreatment. When it comes to England, the pair hope that such legislation banning gender conversion will be rejected by MPs and voted down.

This is a fascinating video, as a proper, licensed therapist Winn is well worth listening to for her criticisms of the trans ideology, the affirmative-care model of treatment, and the misguided laws that mandate and support this. The podcast is, however, 2 hours and four minutes long, so if you listen to it, you may wish to do so in sections.

A Liberal Muslim’s Journey through Islamic Britain and the Dangers of Muslim Separatism

June 30, 2022

Ed Hussain, Among the Mosques: A Journey Across Muslim Britain (London: Bloomsbury 2021)

Ed Hussain is a journalist and the author of two previous books on Islam, the House of Islam, which came out in 2018, and The Islamist of 2007. He’s also written for a series of newspapers and magazines, including the Spectator, the Telegraph, the Times, the New York Times and the Guardian. He’s also appeared on the Beeb and CNN. He’s an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and has been a member of various think tanks, including the Council on Foreign Relations. The House of Islam is an introduction to Islamic history and culture from Mohammed onwards. According to the blurb, it argues that Islam isn’t necessarily a threat to the West but a peaceful ally. The Islamist was his account of his time in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a militant Islamic organisation dedicated to restoring the caliphate. This was quoted in Private Eye, where a passage in the book revealed that the various leaders Tony Blair appealed to as part of his campaign against militant, extremist Islam weren’t the moderates they claimed to be, but the exact type of people Blair was trying to combat. Among the Mosques continues this examination and critical scrutiny of caliphism, the term he uses to describe the militant to set up the caliphate. This is an absolute Islamic state, governed by a caliph, a theocratic ruler, who is advised by a shura, or council. This, however, would not be like parliament as only the caliph would have the power to promulgate legislation. Hussain is alarmed at how far this anti-democratic ideology has penetrated British Islam. To find out, he travelled to mosques across Britain – Dewsbury, Manchester, Blackburn, Bradford, Birmingham and London in England, Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland, the Welsh capital Cardiff, and Belfast in Northern Ireland. Once there, he goes to the local mosques unannounced, observes the worshippers, and talks to them, the imams and other local people. And he’s alarmed by what he sees.

Caliphism Present in Mosques of Different Sects

The mosques he attends belong to a variety of Islamic organisations and denominations. Dewsbury is the centre of the Deobandi movement, a Muslim denomination set up in Pakistan in opposition to British imperialism. Debandis worship is austere, rejecting music, dance and art. The Barelwi mosque he attends in Manchester, on the hand, is far more joyful. The Barelwis are based on an Indian Sufi preacher, who attempted to spread Islam through music and dance. Still other mosques are Salafi, following the fundamentalist brand of Islam that seeks to revive the Islam of the salaf, the Prophet’s companions, and rejects anything after the first three generations of Muslims as bid’a, innovations. But across these mosques, with a few exceptions, there is a common strand of caliphism. The Deobandi order are concerned with the moral reform and revival of Muslim life and observance, but not political activism, in order to hasten the emergence of the caliphate. Similar desires are found within the Tableegh-e Jama’at, another Muslim revivalist organisation founded in Pakistan. This is comparable to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Christianity, in that its method of dawa, Muslim evangelism, is to knock on lax Muslims’ doors and appealing to them become more religious. It’s a male-only organisation, whose members frequently go off on trips abroad. While the preaching in Manchester Central Mosque is about peace, love and tolerance as exemplified in the Prophet’s life, the Barelwis themselves can also be intolerant. Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of Salman Taseer, the governor of the Punjab, was a member of the Barelwi Dawat-e-Islami. He murdered Taseer, whose bodyguard he was, because Taseer has dared to defend Pakistani Christians accused of blasphemy. Under strict Islamic law, they were gustakh-e Rasool, a pejorative term for ‘insulter of the Prophet’. The penalty for such blasphemy was wajib-e qatl, a mandatory death. Despite being tried and executed, Qadri is regarded by many of the Pakistani faithful as a martyr, and a massive mosque complex has grown up to commemorate him. In his meetings with various imams and ordinary Muslims, Hussain asks if they agree with the killing of blasphemers like Taseer, and the author Salman Rushdie, who had a fatwa and bounty placed on his life by the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran for his book, The Satanic Reverses. Some of them give evasive replies. One imam even defends it, claiming that Rushdie deserved death because he insulted love, as represented by Mohammed and Islam. A Muslim female friend dodges answering by telling him she’s have to ask her husband.

In the mosques’ libraries he finds books promoting the Caliphist ideology, denouncing democracy, immodest dress and behaviour in women, who are commanded to be available for their husband’s sexual pleasure, even when their bodies are running with pus. Some are explicitly Islamist, written by Sayyid Qutb and his brother, the founders of modern militant Islamism. These mosques can be extremely large, serving 500 and more worshippers, and Hussain is alarmed by the extremely conservative, if not reactionary attitudes in many of them. In many, women are strictly segregated and must wear proper Islamic dress – the chador, covering their hair and bodies. The men also follow the model of Mohammed himself in their clothing, wearing long beards and the thawb, the long Arab shirt. But Hussain makes the point that in Mohammed’s day, there was no distinctive Muslim dress: the Prophet wore what everyone in 7th century Arabia wore, including Jews, Christians and pagans. He has a look around various Muslim schools, and is alarmed by their demand for prepubescent girls to wear the hijab, which he views as sexualising them. Some of these, such as the Darul Ulooms, concentrate almost exclusively on religious education. He meets a group of former pupils who are angry at their former school’s indoctrination of them with ancient, but fabricated hadiths about the Prophet which sanction slavery, the inferior status of women, and the forced removal of Jews and Christians from the Arabian peninsula. They’re also bitter at the way these schools did not teach them secular subjects, like science, literature and art, and so prepare them for entering mainstream society. This criticism has also been levelled Muslim organisations who have attacked the Darul Uloom’s narrow focus on religion. The worshippers and students at these mosques and their schools reject the dunya, the secular world, and its fitna, temptations. One Spanish Muslim has immigrated to England to get away from the nudist beaches in his home country. And the Muslim sections of the towns he goes to definitely do not raise the Pride flag for the LGBTQ community.

Hussain Worried by Exclusively Muslim Areas with No White Residents

Hussain is also alarmed at the way the Muslim districts in many of the towns he visits have become exclusively Muslim quarters. All the businesses are run by Muslims, and are geared to their needs and tastes, selling Muslim food, clothing, perfume and literature. Whites are absent, living in their own districts. When he does see them, quite often they’re simply passing through. In a pub outside Burnley he talks to a couple of White men, who tell him how their children have been bullied and beaten for being goras, the pejorative Asian term for Whites. Other Whites talk about how the local council is keen to build more mosques, but applications by White residents to put up flagpoles have been turned down because the council deems them racist. Hussain objects to these monocultures. Instead, he praises areas like the section of Edinburgh, where the Muslim community coexists with Whites and other ethnicities. There’s similar physical mixture of Muslim and non-Muslim in the Bute area of Cardiff, formerly Tiger Bay, which has historically been a multicultural cultural area. In the mosque, however, he finds yet again the ideology of cultural and religious separatism.

The Treatment of Women

He is also very much concerned about the treatment of women, and especially their vulnerability before the sharia courts that have sprung up. A few years ago there were fears of a parallel system of justice emerging, but the courts deal with domestic issues, including divorce. They have been presented as informal systems of marriage reconciliation. This would all be fine if that was all they were. But the majority of the mosques Hussain visits solely perform nikah, Muslim weddings. Under British law, all weddings, except those in an Anglican church, must also be registered with the civil authorities. These mosques don’t. As a result, wives are left at the mercy of Islamic law. These give the husband, but not the wife, the power of divorce., and custody of the children if they do. Hussain meets a battered Muslim woman, whose controlling husband nearly killed her. The case was brought before the local sharia court. The woman had to give evidence from another room, and her husband was able to defeat her request for a divorce by citing another hadith maintaining that husbands could beat their wives.

London Shias and the Procession Commemorating the Deaths of Ali, Hassan and Hussain

Hussain’s a Sunni, and most of the mosques he attends are also of that orthodox branch of Islam. In London, he attends a Shia mosque, and is shocked and horrified by the self-inflicted violence performed during their commemoration of the Battle of Karbala. Shias believe that Ali, the Prophet’s son-in-law, was the true successor to Mohammed as the leader of the early Muslim community. He was passed over, and made a bid for the caliphate, along with his two sons, Hasan and Hussain, who were finally defeated by the Sunnis at the above battle. This is commemorated by Shias during the month of Moharram, when there are special services at the mosque and the jaloos, a commemorative procession. During the services and the processions, Shias express their grief over their founders’ martyrdom by beating their chests, matam, faces and whipping themselves. They also slash themselves with swords. All this appears to go on at the London mosque, to Hussain’s horror. He is particularly disturbed by young children beating their chests and faces in the worship the night before, and wonders how this isn’t child abuse.

Separatist Attitudes and Political Activism in Mosques

He is also concerned about the political separatism and activism he sees in some of the mosques. They don’t pray for the Queen, as Christians and Jews do, but there are prayers for the Muslim community throughout the world and funeral prayers for Morsi, the former Islamist president of Egypt. He finds mosques and Islamic charities working for Muslims abroad, and activists campaigning on behalf on Palestine, Kashmir and other embattled Muslim countries and regions, but not for wider British society. Some of the worshippers and Imams share his concern. One Muslim tells him that the problem isn’t the Syrian refugees. They are medical men and women, doctors, nurses and technicians. The problem is those asylum seekers from areas and countries which have experienced nothing but war and carnage. These immigrants have trouble adapting to peace in Britain. This leads to activism against the regimes in the countries they have fled. Afghan and Kurdish refugees are also mentioned as donning masks looking for fights. Some of the worshippers in the mosques Hussain attends had connections to ISIS. In London he recalls meeting a glum man at a mosque in 2016. The man had toured the Middle East and Muslim Britain asking for signatures in a petition against ISIS. The Middle Eastern countries had willingly given theirs. But an academic, a White convert who taught at British university, had refused. Why? He objected to the paragraph in the petition denouncing ISIS’ enslavement of Yazidi and other women. This was in the Quran, he said, and so he wouldn’t contradict it. This attitude from a British convert shocked the man, as usually objections to banning slavery come from Mauretania and Nigeria, where they are resented as western interference. And in another mosque in Bradford, he is told by the imam that he won’t allow the police to come in and talk about the grooming gangs. The gangs used drugs and alcohol, which are forbidden in Islam and so are not connected to the town’s mosques.

Islamophobia against Northern Irish Muslims

But Islam isn’t a monolith and many Muslims are far more liberal and engaged with modern western society. Going into an LGBTQ+ help centre, he’s met by a Muslim woman on the desk. This lady’s straight and married, but does not believes there’s any conflict between her faith and working for a gay organisation. And in reply to his question, she tells him that her family most certainly do know about it. He meets two female Muslim friends, who have given up wearing the hijab. One did so after travelling to Syria to study. This convinced her that it was a pre-Islamic custom, and she couldn’t find any support for it in the Quran. She also rejected it after she was told at university that it was feminist, when it wasn’t. In Belfast he visits a mosque, which, contrary to Islamic custom, is run by two women. The worship appears tolerant, with members of different Muslims sects coming peacefully together, and the values are modern. But this is an embattled community. There is considerable islamophobia in Northern Ireland, with Muslims sufferings abuse and sometimes physical assault. One Protestant preacher stirred up hate with a particularly islamophobic sermon. Many of the mosque’s congregation are converts, and they have been threatened at gun point for converting as they are seen as leaving their communities. Travelling through Protestant and Roman Catholic Belfast, Hussain notices the two communities’ support for different countries. On the Nationalist side of the peace walls are murals supporting India and Palestine. The Loyalists, on the other hand, support Israel. But back in London he encounters more, very modern liberal attitudes during a conversation with the two daughters of a Muslim women friends. They are very definitely feminists, who tell him that the problem with Islam, is, no offence, his sex. They then talk about how toxic masculinity has been a bad influence on British Islam.

Liberal Islam and the Support of the British Constitution

In his travels oop north, Hussain takes rides with Muslim taxi drivers, who are also upset at these all-Muslim communities. One driver laments how the riots of 2011 trashed White businesses, so the Whites left. In Scotland, another Muslim cabbie, a technician at the local uni, complains about Anas Sarwar, the first Muslim MP for Scotland. After he left parliament, Sarwar left to become governor of the Punjab in Pakistan. The cabbie objects to this. In his view, the man was serving just Muslims, not Scotland and all of its people. During ablutions at a mosque in Edinburgh, he meets a British army officer. The man is proud to serve with Her Majesty’s forces and the army has tried to recruit in the area. But despite their best efforts and wishes, Muslims don’t wish to join.

In London, on the other hand, he talks to a modern, liberal mullah, Imam Jalal. Jalal has studied all over the world, but came back to Britain because he was impressed with the British constitution’s enshrinement of personal liberty and free speech. He believes that the British constitution expresses the maqasid, the higher objectives Muslim scholars identified as the root of the sharia as far back al-Juwaini in the 11th century. Jalal also tells him about al-shart, a doctrine in one of the Muslim law schools that permits women to divorce their husbands. The marriage law should be reformed so that the nikah becomes legal, thus protecting Muslim wives with the force of British law. And yes, there would be an uproar if prayers for the Queen were introduced in the mosques, but it could be done. Both he and Hussain talk about how their father came to Britain in the late 50s and early 60s. They wore three-piece suits, despite the decline of the empire, were proud to be British. There was time in this country when Muslims were respected. In one factory, when a dispute broke out, the foreman would look for a Muslim because they had a reputation for honesty. The Muslim community in these years would have found the race riots and the terrorist bombings of 7/7 and the Ariana Grande concert simply unbelievable. Had someone told them that this would happen, they would have said he’d been watching too much science fiction.

Muslim Separatism and the Threat of White British Fascism

Hanging over this book is the spectre of demographic change. The Muslim population is expected to shoot up to 18 million later in the century and there is the real prospect of Britain becoming a Muslim majority country. In fact, as one of the great commenters here has pointed out, this won’t happen looking at the available data. If Scotland goes its own way, however, the proportion of Muslims in England will rise to 12 per cent, the same as France and Belgium. For Hussain, it’s not a question of how influential Islam will be in the future, but the type of Islam we will have. He is afraid of Muslim majority towns passing laws against everything the Muslim community considers forbidden. And as politicians, particularly Jeremy Corbyn and the Muslim politicos in the Labour party treat Muslims as a solid block, rather than individuals, he’s afraid that Muslim communalism and its sense of a separate identity will increase. This may also produce a corresponding response in the White, Christian-origin English and Brits. We could see the rise of nationalist, anti-Islam parties. At one point he foresees three possible futures. One is that the mosques will close the doors and Muslims will become a separate community. Another is mass deportations, including self-deportations. But there are also reasons to be optimistic. A new, British Islam is arising through all the ordinary Muslims finding ways to accommodate themselves within liberal, western society. They’re doing it quietly, unobtrusively in ordinary everyday matters, underneath all the loud shouting of the Islamists.

The Long Historical Connections between Britain and Islam

In his conclusion, Hussain points out that Islam and Britain have a long history together. Queen Elizabeth I, after her excommunication by the Pope, attempted to forge alliance with the Ottoman Sultan. She succeeded in getting a trading agreement with the Turkish empire. In the 17th century, the coffee shop was introduced to Britain by a Greek-Turk. And in the 8th century Offa, the Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia, used Muslim dirhams as the basis for his coinage. This had the Muslim creed in Arabic, with his head stamped in the middle of the coin. Warren Hastings, who began the British conquest of India, opened a madrassa, sitting on its governing board and setting up its syllabus. This is the same syllabus used in the narrowly religious Muslim schools, so he’s partly to blame for them. During the First World War 2.5 million Muslims from India willingly fought for Britain. Muslim countries also sheltered Jews from the horrors of Nazi persecution. He’s also impressed with the immense contribution Muslims gave to the rise of science, lamenting the superstition he sees in some Muslim communities. He really isn’t impressed by one book on sale in a Muslim bookshop by a modern author claiming to have refuted the theory that the Earth goes round the sun.

To Combat Separatism and Caliphism, Celebrate British Values of Freedom and the Rule of Law

But combatting the Muslims separatism is only one half of the solution. Muslims must have something positive in wider mainstream society that will attract them to join. For Hussain, this is patriotism. He quotes the late, right-wing philosopher Roger Scruton and the 14th century Muslim historian ibn Khaldun on patriotism and group solidarity as an inclusive force. He cites polls showing that 89 per cent of Brits are happy with their children marrying someone of a different ethnicity. And 94 per cent of Brits don’t believe British nationality is linked to whiteness. He maintains that Brits should stop apologising for the empire, as Britain hasn’t done anything worse than Russia or Turkey. He and Imam Jalal also point out that the Turkish empire also committed atrocities, but Muslims do not decry them. Rather, the case of a Turkish TV show celebrating the founder of the Turkish empire, have toured Britain and received a warm welcome at packed mosques. He points out that he and other Muslims are accepted as fellow Brits here. This is not so in other countries, like Nigeria and Turkey, where he could live for decades but wouldn’t not be accepted as a Nigerian or Turk. And we should maintain our country’s Christian, Protestant heritage because this is ultimately the source of the values that underlie British secular, liberal society.

He also identifies six key values which Britain should defend and celebrate. These are:

  1. The Rule of Law. This is based on Henry II’s synthesis of Norman law and Anglo-Saxon common law, to produce the English common law tradition, including Magna Carta. This law covers everyone, as against the sharia courts, which are the thin end of an Islamist wedge.
  2. Individual liberty. The law is the protector of individual liberty. Edward Coke, the 17th century jurist, coined the phrase ‘an Englishman’s home is his castle’. He also said that ‘Magna Carta is such a fellow he will have no sovereign’ It was this tradition of liberty that the Protestant emigrants took with them when they founded America.
  3. Gender equality – here he talks about a series of strong British women, including Boadicea, the suffragettes, Queen Elizabeth and, in Johnson’s opinion, Maggie Thatcher. He contrasts this with the Turkish and other Muslim empires, which have never had a female ruler.
  4. Openness and tolerance – here he talks about how Britain has sheltered refugees and important political thinkers, who’ve defended political freedoms like the Austrians Wittgenstein and Karl Popper.
  5. Uniqueness. Britain is unique. He describes how, when he was at the Council for Foreign Relations, he and his fellows saw the Arab Spring as like Britain and America. The revolutionaries were fighting for liberty and secularism. There was talk amongst the Americans of 1776. But the revolutionaries didn’t hold western liberal values.
  6. Racial Parity. Britain is not the same nation that support racists like Enoch Powell. He points to the German roots of the royal family, and that Johnson is part Turkish while members of his cabinet also come from ethnic minorities. Britain is not like France and Germany, where Muslims are seen very much as outsiders.

Whatever your party political opinions, I believe that these really are fundamental British values worth preserving. Indeed, they’re vital to our free society. On the other hand, he also celebrates Adam Smith and his theories of free trade as a great British contribution, because it allowed ordinary people and not just the mercantilist elite to get wealthy. Er, no, it doesn’t. But in a book like this you can’t expect everything.

Criticisms of Hussain’s Book

Hussain’s book caused something of a storm on the internet when it was released. The peeps on Twitter were particularly upset by the claims of Muslims bullying and violence towards Whites. There was a series of posts saying that he’d got the location wrong, and that the area in question was posh White area. In fact the book makes it clear he’s talking about a Muslim enclave. What evidently upset people was the idea that Muslims could also be racist. But some Muslims are. Way back c. 1997 Yasmin Alibhai-Brown wrote a report for the Committee for Racial Equality as it was then on anti-White Asian and Black hatred and violence. Racism can be found amongst people of all colours and religions, including Muslims.

People were also offended by his statement that in the future there could be mass deportations of Muslims. From the discussion about this on Twitter, you could be misled into thinking he was advocating it. But he doesn’t. He’s not Tommy Robinson or any other member of the far right. He’s horrified by this as a possibility, a terrible one he wishes to avoid. But these criticism also show he’s right about another issue: people don’t have a common language to talk about the issues and problems facing Britain and its Muslim communities. These need to be faced up to, despite the danger of accusations of racism and islamophobia. Tanjir Rashid, reviewing it for the Financial Times in July 2021, objected to the book on the grounds that Hussain’s methodology meant that he ignored other Muslim networks and had only spoken to out-of-touch mullahs. He pointed instead to an Ipsos-Mori poll showing that 88 per cent of Muslims strong identified with Britain, seven out of ten believed Islam and modern British society were compatible and only one per cent wanted separate, autonomous Muslim communities. It’s possible that if Hussain had also travelled to other towns where the Muslim population was smaller and more integrated with the non-Muslim population, he would have seen a very different Islam.

Intolerant Preaching Revealed by Channel 4 Documentary

On the other hand, the 2007 Channel 4 documentary, Undercover Mosque, found a venomous intolerance against Christians, Jews and gays being preached in a hundred mosques. A teacher was effectively chased out of his position at a school in Batley because he dared to show his pupils the Charlie Hebdo cartoons in a class on tolerance. He is still in hiding, fearing for his life. Hussain cites government statistics that 43,000 people are under police surveillance because political extremism, 90 per cent of whom are Muslims.

These are vital questions and issues, and do need to be tackled. When I studied Islam in the 90s, I came across demands in the Muslim literature I was reading for separate Muslim communities governed by Islamic law. This was accompanied by the complaint that if this wasn’t granted, then Britain wasn’t truly multicultural. More recently I saw the same plea in a book in one of Bristol’s secondhand and remaindered bookshops, which based its argument on the British colonisation of America, in which peoples from different nationalities were encouraged to settle in English territories, keeping their languages and law. It might be that the mullahs are preaching separatism, but that hardly anybody in the Muslim community is really listening or actually want the caliphate or a hard line separate Muslim religious identity.

Conclusion

I do believe, however, that it is an important discussion of these issues and that the sections of the book, in which liberal Muslims, including Hussain himself, refute the vicious intolerance preached by the militants, are potentially very helpful. Not only could they help modern Muslims worried by such intolerant preaching and attitudes, and help them to reject and refute them, but they also show that a modern, liberal, western Islam is very possible and emerging, in contradiction to Fascists and Islamophobes like Tommy Robinson.

A Black Conservative Call for Racial Uplift Based on Entrepreneurship not Political Power

March 3, 2022

Jason L. Riley, False Black Power (West Conshoshocken: Templeton Press 2017).

This is another book analysing the plight of Black America from a Black conservative perspective. According to the book, Riley’s a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, writes for the Wall Street Journal and contributes to Fox News. But the book does quote statistics and sources, which means it’s almost certainly more trustworthy than that news network. When academics from the American universities reviewed Fox’s content, they found that people who took no news at all were better informed about the world than the people who watched Fox. America is indeed being ‘dumbed’ and Murdoch’s part of it. But this book is absolutely fascinating and, if accurate, is a much needed refutation of some of the myths about Black American history.

The introduction starts with an attack on the idea that the decline of the Black American family was caused by slavery. It’s true that slavery did destroy Black family life, as slave families were frequently split up, with fathers separated from their wives and children, children separated from the parents and so on. This, so the argument goes, has made it difficult for Black men to develop the necessary feelings of attachment to form permanent, two-parent families. As a result, most Black American families are single-parent, headed by the mothers. But Riley cites Herbert Gutman’s 1976 book, The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom, 1750-1925, examined a variety of sources to the show that the disruption of the slave family did not persist into emancipation. Looking at Confederate plantation records, the testimony of former slaves and the records of Black families in Buffalo and New York City, showed that from the second half of the 19th century to the 1920s, these communities were predominantly two-parent. In Buffalo between 1850 and 1920, the figure was 82 to 92 per cent. In New York in 1925 the figure was 85 per cent. (p. 5).

Riley’s argument is that the present poverty and misery experienced by many Black American communities cannot be blamed solely on racism and the legacy of enslavement. He and the authors he cites don’t deny that racism and discrimination exist, rather that the main cause of the present troubles of family breakdown, crime, unemployment and welfare dependency are due to the misplaced social programmes of the 1970s. Like Shelby Steele, he believes that Black Americans have taken the wrong road to uplift. Since the civil rights movement, they have concentrated on acquiring political power, resulting in the election across America of Black politicos, mayor and other officials. But these have not helped ordinary Blacks. He states at one point that Black politicians will ignore the underclass just to stay elected just as White politicos will, and cites a couple of scandals were Black politicians on their constituencies’ education boards were caught fiddling the exam results. He argues instead that Blacks should have followed the example of other impoverished communities, like the Chinese and Pennsylvania Germans, who eschewed acquiring political power in favour of economic uplift. He contrasts these groups with the 19th century Irish. These had political power, but nevertheless the Irish community itself remained poor and marginal.

Riley cites a number of other authors that show the explosion of Black entrepreneurialism after the end of slavery, as Blacks took over and entered a wide variety of professions. These scholars have argued that by the end of the 19th century Black communities also had their own business districts like White communities, as well as excellent schools. The 1913 Negro Almanac boasted of this achievement, comparing the capital accumulated by Blacks with that of the former Russian serfs. The former serfs had collectively $500 million in capital and a literacy rate of 30 per cent. Black Americans had $700 million and 70 per cent ‘had some education in books’. (74). In Chicago in 1885 there were 200 Black-owned businesses operating in 27 different fields. (75). And this trend continued, with the emergence in other areas of a small, but significant Black clerical class. At the same time, the number of Black Americans owning their own homes increased massively. Black prosperity increased during the years of the two World Wars,, when Blacks took on White jobs. They were still below that of Whites, but were catching up. As were Blacks in education. Blacks typically left school four years before Whites. But as the 20th century went on, this fell to two. Between 1950 and 1960 the number of Black doctors, lawyers and social workers expanded so that in 1953 a real estate journal called Blacks ‘the newest middle class’. (77). But this professional, educational and economic rise and expansion somehow came to an end in the 1970s.

At the same time, Riley cites the statistics to show that the American cops are not gun-happy racists bent on shooting Blacks. Rather, a study by Roland Fryer, a Harvard economist, found that Blacks are 23.8 per cent less like than Whites to be shot by the police. (63). As for New York’s stop and frisk policy, that was shown to stop Blacks 20-30 per cent below the appearance of Blacks in the description of suspects.(64). As for police shootings, these fell massively in New York from 1971 to 2015. In the former year, the cops shot 314 people, killing 93. In 2015 they shot 23 people, of whom 8 were killed. (65). He also notes instances where there was still friction between the Black community and police even when the town’s leaders and senior police officers were Black.

On a less serious note, he talks about the Barbershop films and their unsparing, humorous look into the condition of Black America. Set in a Black barbershop and with a majority Black cast, these films showed Blacks making jokes at the expense of revered leaders like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, decrying their kids’ fashion sense – trousers being worn low on the hips to expose the buttocks – and worrying about gangster culture and Black on Black violence. This upset Black activists like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, but Riley maintains that they nevertheless accurately reflected the way Blacks talk when Whites aren’t around. The same concerns are held by many other Blacks, including one mayor, Nutter, who gave a similar speech at a Black church. He advised people not to dress in a threatening manner if they wanted anyone, of any race, respect them, and called for the kids to work hard at school and pull their trousers up. The crowd gave him a standing ovation, chanting ‘Buy a belt! But a belt!’ But his speech was angrily attacked by Black liberals because it didn’t reflect their priorities of blaming everything on racism. Riley also described the way Obama was often pilloried for his outspoken comments about poor standards in the Black community, while playing the race card himself. Riley also argues that the decline in Black educational standards also has its roots in dysfunctional attitudes among Black youth. If you’re too nerdy or bookish in these communities, you’re going to pilloried for ‘acting White’. This is a controversial position, but, Riley argues, the evidence for it is convincing and solid.

Despite being written from a conservative viewpoint, there are aspects of the book that can also be embraced by those on the left. Firstly, the expansion of Black businesses, jobs, and professions after slavery demonstrate that Black America is as talented as every other racial group in America. I found it a convincing refutation of the genetic argument that states that Black poverty and lack of achievement is somehow because Blacks are, on average, biologically intellectually inferior to Whites and Asians. And the argument that Blacks achieved more when they had stable, two-parent families, would have strongly appealed to a section of the British Labour party. British socialism was influenced, it has been said, more by Protestant, Methodist nonconformity than Karl Marx. Years ago the Spectator reviewed a book on the reading habits of the British working class. They found that the favourite reading matter of a solid working class Welsh community in the teens or twenties of the last century was the Bible.

Much more questionable is the apparent link between the affirmative action programmes of the 1970s and the persistence of Black poverty. Riley doesn’t anywhere show why or how they failed, and correlation is not causation. Just because their introduction was in a period of economic decay and impoverishment for Blacks doesn’t mean that they caused it. And I wondered how much of the decline was due to general, structural changes in the American economy that have also badly affected Whites. For example, Bristol used to have a flourishing print industry. There still are printers in the city, but the industry has declined considerably from what it was and many of those skilled jobs have been lost, along with those in other industries. Many Brits and Americans were hit hard by the oil crisis of the 1970s and the consequent recession and unrest. Thatcher, and then Blair, favoured the financial sector over manufacturing, which destroyed many working class jobs. And then there’s the whole nasty complex of welfare cuts, outsourcing, zero-hours contracts and wage freezes that have kept working people in Britain poor. And the same situation is true in America. This impoverishment and economic restructuring is going to hit Blacks especially hard as the Black community is poorer and less affluent. And I don’t doubt for a single minute that there are problems causes unique to the Black community, of which racism is going to be one.

But this is nevertheless a fascinating and important book, and I think it should have its place in schools if they’re teaching Critical Race Theory. That pernicious doctrine holds that Blacks are being held back solely by White privilege, in which all Whites benefit. The government recently stated that teachers must present controversial ideas impartially and was duly denounced by activist groups and the left for doing so. But I believe the truth in this issue lies somewhere between both sides, and that, if these ideas are being taught, children should be exposed to both sets or arguments. And then make their minds up.

And then, after hearing a variety of viewpoints, we might be more successful in creating a more equal society and truly enabling Black achievement.

GB News Platforming Reform Party’s Attack on NHS

February 22, 2022

Yesterday I put up a piece about a couple of videos attacking the NHS and preparing for its privatisation from GB News, featuring Nana Akua and Calvin Robinson. GB News is, you will remember, the right-wing alternative to the ‘wet and woke’ BBC. The channel has had a troubled history. It’s main personality was supposed to be Andrew Neil, formerly of the Beeb, and chair of the company that owns the increasingly Alt Right Spectator. That’s the Tory magazine that publishes Taki and his rants against the Jews and praising the Greek neo-Nazi outfit, Golden Dawn, as just good, patriotic Greek boys. Well, I’m sure there are any number of good patriotic Greek boys, who, unlike the Golden Dawn, don’t go around beating up immigrants and murdering left-wing journalists. Neil, however, departed for pastures new, and has been replaced by Nigel Farage as the broadcaster’s leading personality. This has improved ratings in that many more people are watching Farage. They aren’t, however, staying to watch the broadcaster’s other videos or programmes. But at least the production quality has improved so that it doesn’t look like they’re filming in a darkened shipping container.

After Akua and Robinson had done their bit pushing Tory falsehoods, along came the deputy leader of Laurence Fox’s Reform Party. Fox set it up as a response to what he considers to be the woke attack on British culture and history, and it’s been duly criticised because of this. In the video, Fox’s deputy began by criticising the health service for spending £49,000 painting various crossings on its premises in the trans colours. Now I have to say that I don’t think that’s the best use of funding myself, but all the government services including the police are under pressure to show they’re inclusive and welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community. Hence there have been police cars painted in the gay flag, accompanied by gay police officers, and even what looked like a cop in a gay bumblebee outfit as part of this public relations exercise. These were criticised by the right and YouTubers like Belfield, but the cops’ reasons for staging these campaigns are entirely understandable. Even after the decriminalisation of homosexuality c. 1968, public prejudice against gays was very high and many policemen were violently prejudiced. There were ironic jokes at the police’s expense in the ’80s by Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones about police beating up gay men. There’s also a clip from the 1970s of a senior police officer, who states quite openly that he tries to arrest gay men at every chance he can get. In the 1980s there was James Anderton, the head of Manchester police, who provoked widespread outrage when he described gay people as depraved and said that AIDS was the Almighty’s judgement on them. Other organisations that have tried to reassure the gay community that they are perfectly welcome to use their services included the railways with the gay train. This was painted in the gay colours, and crewed by gays. I don’t know how many ordinary gay people were impressed by this display. I read comments by some gay people, who felt uneasy about it. They feared that what could start out as a positive statement could easily become negative through the special treatment and segregation of gays. Other gays have also commented on various vlogs that they now find the Pride marches somewhat ominous and intimidating, now that the tolerance of homosexuality and gay people is now an official policy and that the Pride marches come with sponsorship and endorsements from the big corporations. What once was genuinely radical and countercultural has now become mainstream and co-opted by the political and corporate establishment. But to come back to my main point, the NHS is merely one of a number of institutions and businesses, who feel that they have to make a gesture to reassure marginalised sections of the community.

And then came the slide. The Deputy Reformpartiefuhrer then moved on to claim that the NHS was being mismanaged. Now I agree, but for very different reasons than the Reform party bloke. There is waste in the NHS, but it’s due to the increased bureaucracy that has come with a quarter century and more of Thatcherite privatisation. The private healthcare companies, who’ve been given NHS contracts aren’t more efficient than the NHS. Indeed, in many instances they are less so – private hospitals are smaller. And administration costs have risen so that they’re now approaching the levels of the American private healthcare system of 24 per cent. The health service also receives far less funding than that of other companies, including America. But the Tories and their press are still lying to us about how it’s wasteful, inefficient and so needs more privatisation and less funding. And the Reform party, as a party of the right, are pushing that message.

Be careful, then, about Fox’s crew. They’re trying to attract followers with their opposition to ‘woke’ policies, but behind it comes the usual Tory demands and ideas. These will result in the privatisation of the NHS, with worse service, poorer health and the threat of a complete absence of care for those unable to pay.

This is what the Reform Party and GB News stand for, whatever their social conservative message. Don’t be taken in.

Never Mind Jess Phillips, How Much Are Tory MPs Paid on HIGNFY?

February 8, 2022

As readers of this blog will know, I have very little respect for Labour MP Jess Phillips. She’s a dyed in the wool Blairite, who was very open and unambiguous about her hatred of Jeremy Corbyn when he was Labour leader. She said she’d like to ‘stab him in the front’, a remark about which she was naturally questioned a few years ago when she appeared on Have I Got News For You. She’s another Thatcherite, who apparently believes that privatisation have been wonderful for the national utilities and that life must be made even harder for all those feckless people out of work because they were laid off, are long term sick or disabled. The only aspect of her that strikes me as being at all left-wing is her feminism, for which she has had more than her fair share of abuse on line. This included Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, now of the Lotus Eaters, sending her a text informing her that he ‘wouldn’t even rape her’. But now I feel I have to defend her, as she’s been targeted by mad right-wing YouTuber Alex Belfield over the amount of money she was apparently paid for appearing on Have I Got New For You.

Belfield has put up a video claiming that she was paid £15,000 at the rate of £5,000 an hour, for three hours work. He seems to have lifted this story from the Heil, which I gather has been the source of so much of his content. Belfield was annoyed that she was receiving this money on top of her MP’s salary. He felt she should have considered this simply as part of her outreach work as an MP, and just been paid expenses only.

This looks to me like a bit of tit for tat because of the way Tory MPs have particularly come under criticism for raking in the money from their second jobs. This is to me a fair criticism, especially as the amounts they are paid are well into the tens of thousands and there is often a very clear conflict of interest between their role as an MP regulating or overseeing a particular industry and their involvement through their commercial interests. This is rather different to appearing on popular television panel shows.

There’s also the issue of Belfield’s and the Heil’s selectiveness in criticising Phililips, because it’s not as if she’s the only politico who’s appeared on the programme. Not by a long chalk. Over the decades the show’s been on their guests have included politicians like Lembit Opik from the Lib Dems, Derek Hatton of the Labour party, Cecil Parkinson, a former member of Maggie’s cabinet and Boris Johnson, amongst others. My guess is that they would all have been paid the same or similar fees for their time on the show according to the pay rates at the time. I don’t see Phillips’ fee of £15,000 as anything extraordinary or remarkable.

But it does two things that please the Tories. It allows them to make it appear that the BBC really is biased towards the left and that its presenters are massively overpaid. This supports Murdoch’s demands for its privatisation. But always be aware that, as Murdoch’s networks are private, the amount he pays his presenters and executives is kept very secret.

Thus, as much as I despise Phillips, I have to say that this time she’s undeserving of the criticism that’s being thrown her way. She’s almost certainly been treated no differently than every other politician that’s been on the show.

One of whom, a former motoring journalist and editor of the Spectator, has shown himself to be far more greedy, not to mention incompetent and malign, than Phillips.

Arise Festival Online Events against Blair and NHS Privatisation

February 4, 2022

I got an email today from the Arise Festival of Labour Left Ideas about a number of forthcoming online events. Two were about Latin America and Cuba, but the two that really interested me were against Blair’s knighthood and NHS Privatisation.

The brief notices about these events ran:

“1) FORUM: No to Blair’s Knighthood – No Return to Blairism

Thursday 10 February, 18:30. Register here // Share & invite here // Retweet here to spread the word.

With: Steve Howell (Deputy Director, Strategy & Communications for Jeremy Corbyn in 2017) , Rachel Garnham (Campaign for Labour Party Democracy) & Sami Ramidani (Iraqi anti-war campaigner.)

Tony Blair’s knighthood has provoked a massive backlash – come & find out more about Blairism – & what it represents & means today. With plenty of time for questions & discussion.

Hosted by Labour Outlook. Kindly streamed by Arise – A Festival of Left Ideas.

2) DIARY DATE: Ending NHS Privatisation – For a National Care Service.

Monday, 21 February 2022, 7pm  Register here 

The Second of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs online policy seminars being organised throughout 2022 – in partnership with the Labour Assembly Against Austerity and Momentum – looking at the key policies we need to be raising and how we build the movements to win these policies.”

I haven’t registered for them yet, but I think I probably will as I strongly support both these causes. Blair took us to war against Iraq on a lie, a lie intended to justify the plundering of Iraq’s oil and state industries for the benefit of the American and Saudi oil conglomerates and American multinationals. There’s footage of Gorgeous George Galloway angrily telling one of the New Labour women who cheered and organised the Labour benches for this war that she’s responsible for the deaths of a million people in Iraq. I’ve got mixed feeling about the Glesgae bruiser. Sometimes he says things that are absolutely brilliant, at other times he acts like a self-centred publicity seeker. This time I think he was spot-on. Innocent people died, including our best and bravest in the armed forces, not to defend our great nation from a real threat to be get the already bloated rich even richer and more bloated. It destroyed what was, by middle eastern standards at least, a relatively secular welfare state. A society where women could safely pursue careers outside the home. It created a monstrous society instead where Sunni and Shia Muslims had to be separated in Baghdad by peace walls, as in Northern Ireland. There were sectarian deaths squads running amok with the connivance of the American proconsuls running country, and the mercenaries brought in as peacekeepers ran drugs and prostitution rings. Oh yes,, and they killed ordinary Iraqis for sport. The situation was so dire that one American diplomat went home and gave public interviews denouncing the occupation.

A million or two severely normal Brits marched against the invasion. I think it was the biggest mass protest ever. One of those was one of my parish priests at the time. The satirists Bremner, Bird and Fortune attacked the warmongering prior to the invasion. The Tories opposed it, which was a first. I suspect this was simple opportunism, but in some cases it was genuine. The right-wing journalist, Peter Hitchens, continued to attack Blair for wasting the lives of British servicemen and women. A friend of mine even read the Spectator for a time because of its anti-invasion stance.

And Blair ignored it all. The result was a wrecked country, which allowed the expansion of Iranian influence there and, with the rest of the Neo-Con policy in the Middle East, created the conditions for the emergence and expansion of Daesh and their campaign against civilisation.

Millions of people have either died or been forced to flee their homes, contributing to the migrant crisis. The economy was destroyed, people thrown out of work, women forced back into their traditional role and businesses destroyed. But Starmer wants to bring Blairism back, telling everyone that it’s going to be a vote winner.

It ain’t. Blair’s popularity at the time declined and its suffered even worse in the intervening years as more people have woken up to how harmful so many of his policies were. Not just in Iraq, but on the economy, industry and the NHS. Because Blair shared the Tory desire to privatise the health service.

If this country is ever to have a government that genuinely respects and cares for ordinary people, and which pursues a sane, just, humane policy in the Middle East, it’s only going to be through genuine socialist values and the vision of Jeremy Corbyn.

The Tories must go, and Blairism must be consigned to the dustbin.

Starmer Insults Working Class, Makes Rachel Reeves Shadow Chancellor

May 11, 2021

In his flailing attempt to win voters back to the Labour party after the humiliation of last week’s elections, Starmer has decided on a cabinet reshuffle. He’s taking full responsibility for the debacle by placing all the blame on his underlings, like Angela Rayner, who he sacked as the party’s chair. He blamed her for the loss of Hartlepool, despite the fact that she had absolutely nothing to do with it. The choice of candidate and the selection of May 6th as the date of the by-election was that of his personal private secretary, Jenny Chapman. Rayner is due some payback for her betrayal of Corbyn, but she doesn’t deserve to be sacked from her post for something she didn’t do. Except possibly she hasn’t been sacked. Faced with a wave of criticism, Starmer said something about her being kept in the cabinet with a ‘more enhanced role’.

He was also rumoured to be bringing in a number of other members of the party’s extreme right, like the toxic Wes Streeting and the noxious Hilary Benn. And yesterday Mike put up a post reporting that Starmer had appointed as Shadow Chancellor the vile Rachel Reeves. She’s the woman, who’s so left-wing, that she and her fellow right-wing Chucklehead Jess Philips went to a party a few years ago celebrating 100 years of the Spectator. This is the increasingly Alt Right Tory rag that publishes pieces by Taki, a Greek playboy. Unlike Corbyn, who was simply critical of Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians, Taki really does have some vile anti-Semitic opinions. And in one of his pieces for the magazine he praised the neo-Nazi Greek organisation, the Golden Dawn. This is the outfit that beats up illegal immigrants, hands out food to the poor and unemployed, but only if they’re Greek, and whose leader was sent to prison for the murder of a left-wing journalist. But that isn’t the only time Reeves showed her highly selective attitude to real anti-Semites. A few years ago she joined former premier Theresa May in paying tribute to Nancy Astor. Astor was the first woman MP, and obviously a feminist political pioneer. But she was also a vicious Jew-hater and fan of Hitler. So when it comes to anti-Semitism and her attitude to her former party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, she could fairly be called a hypocrite.

But Corbyn wasn’t the only target for her vindictiveness. She also hates the unemployed and people on benefits. Back when Ed Miliband was leader, she declared that Labour would be even harder on the unemployed than the Tories. This was because Labour was the party of working people. This was when dodgy Dave Cameron was demanding that unemployment benefit should be cut even further in order to ‘make work pay’, and justified this spite by claiming that hard-working people didn’t like to look out each morning and see the closed curtains of the unemployed. It was another example of Blairite Labour looking at what the Tories were doing, and then trying to appeal to their voters by being even worse. It was very much an attempt to win over the kind of people who read the Heil and Depress and believe their wretched nonsense about benefit scroungers. It’s bound to fail because, while Murdoch was prepared to back Blair, the Mail resolutely held out against him. Which shows that the terrible rag does have some kind of twisted, political integrity amid all the lies and bigotry.

Many people were really worried about the direction New Labour’s hatred of the unemployed would take. New Labour had introduced workfare in the form of Blair’s New Deal, in which the unemployed were sent to work for charities and the big supermarket chains or else they didn’t get their benefit. It was a way of giving these organisations cheap labour and showed more than a little similarity to the use of forced, slave labour in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Stalin industrialised his country through the massive use of the unfree labour of people arrested for alleged treason and anti-Soviet activities. The heads of various industries and enterprises gave the KGB lists of the type of workers they needed, and the KGB then went out and arrested them. Nazi Germany also expanded this systems of voluntary work the Weimar Republic had started to combat unemployment into the Reichsarbeitsdienst, a compulsory period of unpaid service for all German citizens. The SS also used the slave labour of skilled Jewish artisans and craftsmen to produce a range of luxury goods, available through catalogue. One of the great commenters on this blog wondered if, under Reeves and co., Labour would also develop similar systems of forced labour. In the 1930s, for example, the party had also opened a number of labour camps which were intended to teach the unemployed the habit of working properly. I don’t think Labour would go that far in today’s political climate, but given the way Boris is dragging this country towards real Fascism, I think someone like Reeves would try to get as close as possible.

As well as showing Reeves’ vindictiveness towards the poor and out of work, it also showed how out of touch her comments were with the reality of work today. Thatcher famously declared that she was ending the old culture where someone had a job for life. Under her, it became much easier to fire someone and companies started taking on workers on short term contracts. Blair and Brown were very keen on making sure that the labour market remained fluid, and that companies could take on and sack staff as and when they wished. And Dodgy Dave, Tweezer and the rest of the Tory governments of the unspeakable have pushed this even further. We now live in the gig economy, where large numbers of workers have very precarious employment. When this process was just beginning in the 1980s, right-wing politicos, economists and hacks raved about how workers could make themselves attractive to employers through compiling ‘job portfolios’. Presumably this was lists of the various jobs they done under short-term contracts. In the 1990s the Financial Times stated it was a rubbish idea, and it mercifully seems to have vanished. But punitive policies towards the unemployed also harm the workers in the gig economy, those without proper workers’ rights, who are on zero hours contracts and the rest, who are under enough pressure already without the fear of further humiliation and punishment if their bosses sack them and they are forced to seek what help they can from the DWP.

Reeves’ appointment as Shadow Chancellor shows that Starmer is overtly moving to the extreme right. He’s promoting people who are still clinging to the lies of Thatcherite economics, unaware that it’s failed and is responsible for the real poverty and deprivation now affecting Britain’s working people. Corbyn’s policies – a strong welfare state, fully nationalised and funded NHS, proper rights for working people, strong trade unions and a mixed economy, were popular, despite the devastating effect Tory propaganda had on the image of Corbyn himself. They’re also what the country needs.

But obviously not what Starmer and Reeves want. They want to ingratiate themselves to the rich and the employers at the expense of working people, while copying the Tory attempts to brand themselves as the true defenders of the working class.