Kipper MEP Racially Insults Muslim SNP Politico as ‘Abu Hamza’

This is a thoughtful and insightful blog.I could not say anything in any clearer way frankly. TIM WILSON

though-

The story did not seem to me to be “a non-story” and Coburn and Farage compound the original insult by referring to it as a joke however crass or tasteless they may describe it. these people deserve to be thoroughly and mercilessly ridiculed until they sit up and pay attention. It is time they understood and appreciated what a joke can be!

James Gillray is one of my heroes

George III and Queen Charlotte

this is what the UKIP spokesman said at the time:

Glenn Campbell, BBC Scotland political correspondent

UKIP said David Coburn had apologised to Humza Yousaf.

They said he would be making no further comment on what a spokesman described as a “non-story”.

But that’s unlikely to be the last word on the matter.

Mr Yousaf said he was taking “legal advice” to see if he could pursue a complaint under legislation against race or religious hatred.

It has also emerged that the Scottish government is inviting MSPs to vote to express their disapproval.

Cabinet minister Alex Neil has tabled an amendment to a motion celebrating Scotland’s diverse communities.

It says parliament “unites in condemning the recent comments by David Coburn MEP”.

MSPs will decide on Wednesday whether or not to endorse that rebuke to Scotland’s most outspoken Euro MP.

Beastrabban\'s Weblog

David Coburn

David Coburn, the openly gay Kipper MEP for Scotland, is in the Groanoiad and Scottish Daily Mail for allegedly referring to Humza Yousaf as Abu Hamza in an interview with the latter paper. Yousaf is the MSP for Glasgow, and the Minister for Europe and International Development in the Scottish parliament. Yousaf and Coburn were due to take part in the BBC’s Big Immigration Debate, but Yousaf did not arrive. Coburn said of Yousaf’s failure to appear, “Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza, didn’t seem to turn up.”

SDM Yousaf Insult

His remarks have been condemned by Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, the Conservative’s leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, and Kezia Dugdale, Labour’s deputy leader north of the border. Coburn, however, has said that the remark was supposed to be private, while the Kipper’s Scottish chairman, Arthur Misty Thackeray, said he had simply got the name wrong through a…

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The Observer piece on Farage

nigel's plans

Rachel Cooke can barely restrain her contempt for Mr Farage as she pens this rather fascinating article in the magazine section of the Observer today. I am sure it was set up by the media boffins in the Dorset HQ of UKIP with the thought that Nigel is the party’s greatest asset, but he is a bit like Marmite. I have never really liked Marmite. And I get the impression from this article that he is actually a bit out of his depth. He is running a National election with a sticking plaster and a rubber-band. Whatever your views about his policies, hats off to him for his spunk.

Given my own recent brush with the powers of UKIP, I thought it would be interesting to analyse the main points in the piece.

Firstly there is a photo which is captioned, “Whatever my faults, I have some principles.” Certainly not any ones I would admire, Mr F! Not anymore. My eyes have been thoroughly opened (and incidentally, I am still waiting for a response to my letter!)

But what is interesting about the article is that, given Rachel’s evident dislike of the man’s policies, he comes across as someone we would all enjoy meeting, actually someone we might actually like. He describes himself as a “sentimentalist” and as a man who wants to watch lots of theatre when he retires – I certainly hope he has booked himself into plenty of shows after May 7th, then- She does her level best to do him down “looking at his weary face, clammy and puce”, but for all her efforts, what I felt by the time I finished was a wave of sympathy for a man against the odds. And I liked his observation that politics is full of “corruption and laziness.” Having had a brush with it, I concur.

I remembered  the awful pictures taken of him getting out of the plane wreck, as I was reading Rachel’s article and urge you to check above his brilliant summary of what happened and the way it has affected him. Then, of course, there was the terrible melee last week when his family was attacked by the “hope not hate” people. Also, I realise I must know some of his contemporaries at Dulwich. There are moments, certainly for me, when the Farage image moves from marmite to something rather more all-embracing, and there is undoubted warmth. He has the theatricality and actually the charisma and “common touch” to appeal to a much wider audience, but something stops him doing that.

There was a bit where Rachel pressed him about his family, and I felt his discomfort. (“his absolute refusal to wheel out his family. .. I won’t even let you through the front gate.”) But then, he tells us that his wife would pass the Australian migrant points scheme, and that made me cringe.

Some of the points he makes are blatantly wrong of course – he claims that Blair is responsible for the influx of “hard-working Polish builders”. It was not Blair, but John Major who signed the Maastricht treaty and Blair was simply following the inevitable progress of the Brussels juggernaut. The treaty guaranteed European Citizenship over and above National citizenship. This allowed for freedom of movement within the community, the right to vote and stand for elections in the country of residence and the right of petition to the EU parliament and of complaint to an ombudsman. It also provided for monetary union. A number of subsequent treaties (including Nice, Lisbon and Amsterdam) may have had some Blair input but they were essentially tinkering with what was set up in 1992.

thatcher

Mrs Thatcher rejected Maastricht saying that she “could never have signed that bill”. And the rebellion against Maastricht formed the centrepiece in the Government of Mr Major, with famously the approval of the Maastricht agreement inching through the Commons with a majority of only 18 votes.

But despite the title on the front page, Rachel does not really draw any conclusion about “what drives Farage”, though I certainly have my suspicions.

Apologies Chuka! there really is racism

high ukip rankers

A few months ago, I wrote a blog-piece here in response to claims by Chuka Umunna who said there was racism at the heart of UKIP. This is a party I know well and I was, until two days’ ago the Parliamentary Candidate for South Northants.

Review of recent events

humza

About 10 days ago I learnt of a comment tossed off by David Corburn, UKIP’s only MEP in Scotland, who compared the Scottish Minister for Europe, Humza Yousaf to convicted criminal Abu Hamza, a man who is serving a life sentence in New York for terrorism. I immediately requested a meeting with Mr Farage which was denied- I am too much of a small-fry! I was told to go through the hierarchy and approach my “Regional Organiser” whose name is Paul Oakden. Oakden had already revealed himself to be a thug who threw his weight around, and never returned telephone calls. Time dragged on and I spoke to Humza early the following week to ask what I could do to help, talked to the Daily Mail and found myself resigning. For the next few days, I was at the centre of a media circus that was actually located somewhere in Edinburgh.

Bits of the furore tricked down to Northampton, and Oakden went in for the kill, accusing me on live radio of behaving like a brat, throwing his toys out of the pram. He questioned my competence as a candidate and so on, which meant I was obliged to answer back and the thing duly had a more local manifestation. But I was at pains to stress I had no evidence nor suspicions about any member of the local party being racist, homophobic or prejudiced.

And then came Adam Collyer’s blog which was a nasty attack on my partner- suggesting that he was not the victim of a torture event in Greece but probably the aggressor. It undermined my integrity, of course, and seriously upset my partner who had suffered 11 years’ of a legal battle for proper redress through the ECHR.

adam

Adam Collyer, like David Coburn is an elected UKIP politician, one of the current high ranking and experienced leaders of the party. As a UKIP ranker, I think he must be held to higher standards than ordinary members who might aspire to but have not attained elected office. In other words, he is on the same rank as David Coburn and I hold him to the same standards. If he wants to lambast me, well I am fair game of course, but if he wants to attack my family, he should check his facts first and also make sure that what he writes is unambiguously clear.

One significant fact was wrong: Necati did not enter the UK as an asylum seeker. Another fact was presented in such a way as to be misleading: here is the offensive phrase: “… Necati Zontul, a Turkish asylum-seeker who has been involved in allegations of torture against the Greek police.” I was first alerted to this by a Greek friend who sent me a message : Κάποιος κύριος γράφει άρθρα σε “blog” για εσάς και τον Necati. Αυτός ο άνθρωπος δηλώνει πως Ο Necati δεν είταν’ το θύμα αλλά ο κατηγορούμενος της υπόθεσης. Αυτή την εντύπωση μου δίνει.
This person tried to leave comments on the blog, but was unable to do so. Adam does not like feedback.

Two points: firstly I am proud of what we did to bring Necati’s case to a successful conclusion – against the odds and under serious pressure to keep silent, and secondly, I do not doubt that Adam might have intended to write something else, and I agree what he writes is also open to a number of interpretations, but one of them is utterly wrong. We are in the business of using words to change people’s lives: that is what we do in politics. It’s also what we do when we make films and work in the media. That gives us a responsibility to do the job properly. We cannot make stupid jokes and get away with it. We cannot write things and say we did not mean it. People have lost their jobs for less- and today a bad tweet can cost us everything. Adam and Coburn just were not careful enough…And moreover, there was no reason at all to bring the story of Necati’s torture back into the public arena.

Anyway, where does this lead us?

The bottom line is very simple- the ordinary activist in UKIP may not be racist or homophobic, but it is quite clear that senior UKIP rankers will do anything they can to seize or hold on to power, often with personal abuse or inuendo. They are also equipped with the sort of thuggish views that should never be expressed or even considered – and Farrage will endorse the lot! Roger Helmer was excused for making a series of homophobic comments, Coburn was excused for making his racist attack on Humza, Collyer remains undisciplined for attacking a torture victim and on it goes.

Westminster

These people are ready to pontificate about our lives, and look set to be thoroughly electable, many of them have already been elected to represent us in Brussels. UKIP will achieve a powerbase in Westminster in May. I wanted to ensure that among those elected were some reasonable individuals and they certainly exist too- I have met many of them. Douglas Carswell is a fine example, Tom Rubython, Rose Gibbins, Michael Gerard – all people who I am sure are as appalled at the racist stuff emerging from the ill-toothed mouth of Coburn, and yet I was the only one to resign.

This is it: the thugs have bullied their way to the top and they are the ones who, regrettably, control the destiny of the party. And racists attract racists – we should not be surprised by some of the astonishing things written on pro-UKIP websites and facebook pages. Bile against Islam features prominently.

The Black hole and personal Regret

My great regret about resigning the other day is this- that the media storm focused a little too much on the resignation rather than the reason. I thought I might stimulate debate on racism, but what happened was alot of questions about why I took this so seriously when Farage did not. I take it seriously because it is almost the most important thing in life- to have respect for the person sitting next to you. Humza and Coburn may be in different parties, and be political opponents but Coburn does not have the sense or the prudence to realise he is in the same business – and that fact alone should command proper respect. Coburn used his mass and stupidity in an attempt to belittle a good, no a great man. If we take an astronomical image, Humza is the rising star and Coburn is a black hole and the sooner he implodes completely, the safer we will all be.

Chuka Umunna

Apologies 

So, apologies Chuka – you are not entirely wrong. But racism is not found at the heart of UKIP, it is found at the head (the Greeks say the fish smells from the head). The heart of UKIP, I think, beats with a passion that questions the wisdom of Brussels and the efficacity of the Brussels bureaucracy, something any Greek would be eager to applaud. But the UKIP rankers look down from their turreted fortifications – oddly for the most part in Brussels not the UK- and wince when they hear people on the train who do not speak english, whose skin is a different colour, whose religion is not anglican. There really is a danger that these people will have power.

And across the way will be the Scottish nationalists – I cannot say I favour a fractured Kingdom at all, but I have never met an SNP politician I do not like. It’s odd- it’s obviously nothing to do with being Scottish- because I detested Gordon Brown in a way I can barely describe in words. (I will add a picture of him in a few minutes to entertain). I think it is something about being fresh and having a very specific message. It does not matter whether we like that message- we have to admire the way it is presented. Now, UKIP also is relatively fresh and focuses on a single message. In so many ways, there are parallels, except that UKIP is top-heavy with racist, homophobic “has-beens” and the SNP is quite free of these. Even Alex Salmond is endearing. And just think back to the speed of his resignation: that is a picture-book demonstration of honour and integrity.

We hear all this nonsense these days about the importance of policies, but UKIP has yet to publish a manifesto and the election inches forward. I rather fancy making my mind up on the basis of who is the most polite, the most honourable, who has the most integrity and is the most personable. I think I would fill the whole of Westminster with the SNP!

Coda:

Despite claims by Adam Collyer to have resigned and to have left UKIP, after a short illness during which he said he felt his family was under attack, he has returned to work as usual. He was assisted in this process by none other than Paul Oakden.

Screen shot 2016-03-08 at 10.11.39

 

David Coburn

I will write more in the next day or so. For now, here is the man whose comments have made me face the National media. We will see how it plays out. Coburn2

But Mr Wilson told the Mail: ‘What Coburn said is unforgiveable – it’s racist abuse. It doesn’t matter whether it was a private comment, or a public comment, this man has public office and he needs to filter the ridiculous thoughts that come from his brain.

‘He should be dismissed from UKIP and held to account.’

He added: ‘Mr Farage cannot dismiss something like this as a joke. You can’t toss this thing off as a joke with a pint of beer. It’s unacceptable.

‘If a leader cannot understand that it is the effect of his words not his intention that matters then maybe he too needs to consider his position and I would be the first to welcome Mr Farage into the political wilderness.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3009799/Fresh-blow-Farage-Ukip-candidate-quits-protest-MEP-compared-Muslim-minister-Abu-Hamza.html#ixzz3VLUBDi00 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

I feel a bit sorry for Ms Atkinson. Wasn’t there an idea of being innocent until proven guilty? But when it comes to money issues, Farage seems intent on acting fast. That is the impression. The speed of this exit had the fury of a Brian Rix farce. I almost expected to see Farage with his trousers round his angles struggling to get down a ladder. But in contrast, his toleration of Helmer’s homophobia and Coburn’s racism is remarkable. In those cases, the issue seems clear and yet there is none of the flapping around about them. No, Farage is all smiles and excuses for the lads with the wayward tongues. Surely more offence is caused by messrs Helmer and Coburn than could ever be caused by Atkinson’s wayward thriftiness- even assuming she condoned/ approved or was otherwise involved in the alleged fraud. So here she is, as the Queen of Spades. Other playing cards in the UKIP deck will follow in later posts.

queen

If more of the top-ranking UKIP lot were to resign and if the thugs who are littered around the party’s inner machinery were advised to mentor and assist rather than bully and gag, then I think UKIP has an interesting future. I worry that while it is spearheaded by one man and a support-act of cronies, there is an inherent problem that it can go off the rails, which in fact is what happened a while back with the Humza Yousaf affair over which I resigned. The mud-slinging in my direction after that simply served to make me more determined to fight back. Once the party involved Necati of course I was incensed. But there we are: I await an apology from Farage which will not come, and I would hope in time he will apologise properly to Humza which also probably will not happen.

Coburn and Onan:

Something by the way, has strick me forcefully. Conburn allegedly said this, “Humza Yousaf, or as I call him, Abu Hamza, didn’t seem to turn up.” Doesn’t that mean he was often saying this? Not to Humza, at least, so where was he doing this “calling” and who was he addressing when he “called”? Apparently, also, his first excuse was that the remark was private. So does he say this to himself while he is sitting on the loo – like some form of buddhist incantation, a perversion maybe of the Jesus Prayer? Is he a Hesychast or is he somehow distracted? I hate to think of such an ugly man taking a dump, but then again, the image is so tempting, I am sure it will emerge as a drawing soon… How private is it? And how often does he do it? On his own- or with others? This foul-mouthed elected MEMBER has been playing with himself for far too long.

 Here is a youtube video of a radio interview Coburn did. It is astonishing.

Is there racism at the heart of UKIP?

Chuka Umunna

This is a claim made today by Labour’s shadow business Secretary Chuka Umunna, a man I admire and who was I think unreasonably attacked a few years ago by my MP Chris Heaton Harris for criticising so-called celebrities posturing in the West End. I should clarify reasons for my admiration because he is not a natural bed-fellow. I was particularly impressed with the way he handled a recent Sky interview- on a subject, about Eric Pickles’ letter to muslim leaders which I felt was misguided and which I have already discussed: here is Chuka’s response to the Sky bullying.

Today, he speaks in response to Mrs Rozanne Duncan’s absurd comments today about the “problems” she faces sitting next to black people. The lady’s problems are astonishing, of course, and the biggest problem she has- quite apart from her inability to recognise racism- is her apparent inability to filter things that emerge as thoughts in her brain and then pop unaccountably into her gaping mouth. Fish would have more common-sense. Now here is the warning- because what she says is deeply offensive, but – Do listen to her comments if you are brave enough to do so- because, once she starts, she seems unable to stop. Pity is really my first response for her and for anyone who is forced to listen to her. Is it a form of Tourette’s syndrome or is it simply rank stupidity? I don’t think she intended harm, and I suppose that is why she is so astonished anyone would accuse her of racism, but she caused harm because (a) she did not take care over what she said and (b) what she said and how she justified it was simply obnoxious. When one reflects that she is an elected Councillor, then pity must turn to rage that this is someone who wields power in our name. duncan

Would I sit next to her? Oh, most certainly I would, and I would tell her very clearly that she is a stupid bigoted woman who should immediately resign her office. I certainly trust she will be replaced in May. Mr Farage is right to expel her without any further pause.

She says she does not regret saying anything.

She went on: “I used the word ‘negroes’ as you would do Asians, Chinese, Muslims, Jews. It’s a description, it’s not an insult – in the same way as you would say, ‘What do you mean by Jewish? Well, they belong to a community, they have got a certain faith, they have usually got noses that have got a bit of a curve to them, married women – if they are orthodox Jews – wear wigs.’ It’s description.” No, this is the sort of thing said by the Nazi authorities at the height of the Shoah. It just gets worse. And as for the word “negro”, it is worth taking a moment to reflect- this is not an innocent word. It comes from Spanish or Portuguese and was used specifically to describe slaves being transported across the Atlantic. It is a word imbued with prejudice. And to refer to the Latin word for black is again to get into a linguistic muddle, because the Romans had a word for “African”. It was “Afer”. So Mrs Duncan, the word used is not “a description.” It is definitely “an insult”. She understands neither english nor history.

Then she complained she had been expelled “without being offered the courtesy of a right to reply via a disciplinary hearing”. 

So much for Mrs Duncan.

But what Chuka Umunna says is more worrying. I think there are a number of loonie activists in UKIP as in any party, and the focus of the media is on them. Certainly, the moment UKIP knew of Duncan’s outburst, they seem to have hurried to expel her, which was the right thing to do. But I would like to think this is more than damage limitation- this is because UKIP is not racist at all. After all, Stephen Woolfe, Winston McKenzie, the current Commonwealth spokesman, and even Amjad Bashir who has now gone over to the Conservatives, have all stood under the UKIP banner and Winston McKenzie even stood for leadership of the Party. This is what Stephen Woolfe said, “I am a proud Englishman, I am a proud Briton, I am a proud mixed race person and I am a proud member of Ukip.”

But there must be racists in UKIP. As indeed there have been stories of racist slips in the labour camp (remember Mr Lavery’s son? or more recently there was a so-called Labour twitterer who claimed UKIP was  full of “evil money grabbing Jews” and then another twit who accused Mandy Boylett, who is herself Jewish and a prospective candidate for Stockton North, of being anti-semitic) and probably also in the Conservatives. Some of this is historical but much of this is simply a result of stupidity and narrow-mindedness. Not right at all, but I think it can be corrected.

Just think how far we have come in the last 50 years!

And that really is the point. I salute the fact that UKIP is exposing instances of racism today and bringing up a national debate about racism and how unacceptable it is. Because, if that debate is ever silenced or forgotten, there is a chance that our children will think it is right to make racist comments and that such comments are wholly innocent. They are not. They cause offence. They betray gross ignorance and they cheapen our society.

We are a society of individuals, each of us worthy in our own right of proper consideration. We are not defined by our race, colour, religion, gender, age, or our disability. That said, we might also elect to celebrate all of these features. But that is our decision and should not be imposed on us. We are not ciphers.

The Musical South Pacific put forward the idea that racism is something that is “taught” by an abusive society, “A mean little world”. I am not so sure, but certainly we need to be reminded and taught that racism is wrong.

So the debate about racism must be stirred up occasionally and I wrote to Mr Umunna to see what more we can do. This is not a subject about which anyone can afford to be complacent.

Amjad Bashir

amjad Here is a paragraph from today’s Spectator: It is part of Nigel Farage’s diary: It is entertaining and informative.

our conversation throughout the night was dominated by Amjad Bashir and our growing concerns about him, especially the rumours beginning to permeate about a gerrymandered selection in Keighley. Dan Hannan, the MEP who took Bashir as a defector into the Tory party, had no idea that a number of serious allegations against him had been coming to a head for some time. Bashir knew we’d had enough of him, and decided to jump. And I was relieved that he went, too. He was the basis of numerous furious rows in MEP meetings. His political agenda appeared to be different from ours, and now he can lobby for an expansion of EU foreign policy including Turkey joining the EU, and for Palestine to be recognised as a state, from within the Tory party. Perhaps he’ll also get a more sympathetic hearing for his views on Pakistani blasphemy laws. I joked on Friday to Paul Nuttall that Bashir knew the end of the road had come, and that the other parties were welcome to him. I never for a second thought that the Tories would accept him. Caveat emptor.

I am sure there is alot waiting to spill out about this man. I worry when someone shifts too often and Bashir is clearly a bit shifty. However, some of the issues he has raised are valuable. We must never dismiss what someone says because he is himself unreliable. Bashir has some reasonable concerns about Palestine and maybe he has something to say about Pakistan: I do not know what his views on the blasphemy laws might be. Mine, obviously, tend towards the liberal, though of course I wince at the thought that one might ever cause another offence by taking the name of God in vain or mis-representing the Prophet. I certainly do not think such activity merits the death sentence or is an excuse to bomb people, That is absurd- God gave us intelligence to use it to convince our friends and our enemies to change their minds and change their behaviour. And the told we have at our disposal: come on- they are better than bombs: wit, academic scrutiny, questioning, analysis, humour, memory. Wow! What an arsenal!

There is an issue, however, that lies behind this paragraph and that needs attention. I worry that people still misunderstand the nature of Islam and try to impose a 19th Century western critical apparatus on the Koran- those verses we can and cannot “accept”. This is in fact what marks out the extraordinary letter sent by Eric Pickles in the wake of the Paris attacks to Imams throughout the UK and I wrote rather pointlessly to the Times about this. But let me repeat-

pickles

Two points need criticism in Pickles’ letter: What is missing from the letter is a reassurance that, while free speech is protected and promoted in the UK, it also comes at a price. Free speech is only truly possible when it is accompanied by mature responsibility and kindness (انظر أيضاً  or חסד /XSD in Hebrew). Without these qualities, free speech can easily be abusive and descend into a form of bullying. Secondly, and maybe more worryingly, it should not be necessary for anyone who lives here by right to define or defend their “Britishness”. I am not even sure what Pickles even means by “promote a positive image of British Islam”. Not since the dark days before the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829 did a group of British subjects have to prove they were not “5th Columnists”. And years later, when Pugin designed and decorated the Palace of Westminster, that was never quite enough, was it! Yet today, the Queen reads her speech from the throne he created.

(I thought about this a bit and realised a few things: the first is that, left to its own devices, the Catholic Church in England has embraced many of the features assumed to be distinctive of the Anglican communion, as well as a particularly english form of triumphalism. Check here for a video of Benedict’s entrance to Westminster Cathedral. It is a stunning piece of music by James MacMillan, quintessentially British, though admittedly with a touch of Hammer Horror about it all.

and on the subject, check out this setting of Lux Aurumque: simply stunning and, I would argue, absolutely British! Do remember that Latin was the sacred language of the West and that Queen Elizabeth I was an expert , holding conversations and reading in Latin! In other words, here is a manifestation of a faith that  shows “a positive image of British Catholicism”, but it was an organic development, not a packaged promotion. Pugin’s churches, likewise, promote “a positive image”, though the language that he used to promote this in “contrasts” was written when he was still an Anglican. This is about faith, not about a supermarket selection, and Pickles is absolutely wrong in the way he writes and what he expects. It is insulting, demeaning and futile. It serves only to breed resentment. By definition an British imam in a British Mosque is already “promoting a positive image of British islam”. In a way, he has to do nothing more.)

Here is the man who designed the Houses of Parliament. His son fought an uphill battle to get his father recognised as the designer, but until the 20th Century it was barely acknowledged by the establishment. A great shame.

pugin

Now, of course, there are 5th Columnists hiding in the Muslim community, but they are hiding in plain sight- and it should not be necessary for all Muslims to “prove” themselves because of the activities of a minority. Instead, the majority should be given support, not forced on to the defensive to say how they are promoting a “positive image”. Should we bother to read what are promoted by liberals as worrying texts of the Koran in context and within the context of helpful hadiths and commentaries, then we would never have a problem with Islam at all.

Today, it seems to me that Islam is going through a transition and there are three distinct forms of “interpretation”- the Wahabi (which we might see as a puritanical sect but which is also influenced by its cultural context – and of course is very wealthy), the Iranian model (which goes well beyond Shia and fuses radical politics with a fairly aggressive and expansionist ideology) and a version of Islam which has already reconciled itself to co-existence with the West and which the West long-ago accepted. We owe our Renaissance and advances in Astronomy and Medicine indeed to the links we already had 1000 years ago with Islam! There are various sub-catagories of course; the least “fundamentalist” of these is the Iranian version which interprets so much, it manages to reconcile the impossible- elevating the idea of “sahid”/martyrdom to such a level that it obliterates the absolute command in the Koran against suicide and against injuring women, children and the sick; that ignores appeals for peace. Islam is the only world religion that has a specific prohibition in the primary scripture against suicide.

What we need to do today is to encourage the third way- and to accommodate any group that fosters what Blair called “moderate” Islam. The Wahabi model and the Iranian model are, however, influencial and so appeal to a community that feels pressured. So, in this context, any links that can be fostered with Turkey are to be encouraged. Turkey is an example of a State that espouses the “third way”, and while some of its discussions seem arcane (the headscarf thing, for instance, which is actually, in part, a political statement- you can tell which party someone belongs to by the way she wears her scarf), it is on the right track and has dealt well with business. Indeed, it only took Turkey 4 years to build an excellent High speed rail link from Istanbul to Konya, further I note than the link proposed between London and Birmingham! Links with Turkey are within the UKIP remit which is to set up our own bilateral agreements rather than to have these agreements and associations imposed by the EU. Would we want Turkey in a wider trade association of European states- certainly, but would we want Turkey to be part of the EU as it currently stands? I think even Turkey has reservations about that one! Should it be treated by Brussels in the way it is currently treated? Absolutely not! But then Brussels treats too many nations with utter contempt – and the Greek debacle is the natural result (more on that later). To push Turkey aside is a silly and short-sighted vision, and in the end, the more it makes Turkey wait, the weaker the European project (in whatever form it finally emerges) will become. Turkey has a natural home within the European community- and we desperately need Turkey’s help if we are to deal with Islamic terrorism.

As for the Keighley thing- it is quite astonishing the way little people run around causing chaos when they are given a bit of power. Even without looking at the specific allegations, the range of Bashir’s affections from Galloway to UKIP is astonishing. Our job in politics is to create harmony and to get things done. Amjad Bashir has misunderstood his job and it augurs ill as Nigel Farage says that the Tories now want him.”Buyer beware” indeed!

We must find a more positive voice to speak about Islam and to promote those forms of Islam, in fact the dominant forms, that have co-existed with us already for so long and that today are threatened especially by the Iranian interpretation of Islam. This means that we must have a better relationship with Palestine and Pakistan as well as with Turkey. Only when we speak in one voice with Islam can we ever hope to confront the dangers of the Iranian experiment and the surge towards terrorism.

Here is a report by Will Kilner on the original allegations made in Yorkshire:

ALLEGATIONS of interference in UKIP candidate selection in Keighley are at the centre of a continuing row between Bradford businessman Amjad Bashir and his former party. An investigation is currently underway into the selection of UKIP’s local election candidates in the three Keighley wards at a hustings event held last week. E-mails outline how there were a dozen new membership applications at the beginning of the month, and there were question marks over a dozen new faces who appeared at the event claiming to be members. This saw complaints about “infiltration” by people not committed to UKIP and led to an internal party investigation over the selection process. Confirmation as to who will represent UKIP in the Keighley Central, Keighley East and Keighley West seats at May’s Bradford Council elections is expected in the next week. It comes as Yorkshire and Humber MEP Mr Bashir was suspended by UKIP over allegations of a “grave nature” shortly before announcing his defection to the Conservatives on Saturday. UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: “The final straw on Friday, was the hustings meeting that took place in West Yorkshire where gerrymandering appears to have taken place.” When Mr Bashir’s denials were put to him Mr Farage added: “He can deny that, but I tell you what he can’t deny and that’s his continuing association with political extremists from Pakistan despite us saying please, please, keep away. “Whichever way we look at this, he had reached the end of the road with us, he knew that.” Mr Farage expressed his surprise that the Conservative Party had accepted him, but Chancellor George Osborne insisted he was “not aware” of any reason why the Tories should have turned Mr Bashir away. Mr Bashir has dismissed his former party’s move as a “desperate attempt” to smear him to distract from the news of his decision to join the Conservatives and said there was “not a shred of truth” to the claims. Meanwhile Respect MP George Galloway has also claimed that Mr Bashir once joined his party, but was de-selected as a candidate for Bradford Moor prior to the council elections in May 2012 after concerns were raised about his fitness to stand. The Bradford West MP would not specify what the issues were, “but they were sufficiently grave to make us realise that he was not a fit and proper person to represent Respect. Clearly both UKIP and the Tories have lower standards,” he said. Mr Galloway has also tabled a parliamentary motion calling on the Government and Conservatives “to declare to the voters of Yorkshire and the Humber that Amjad Bashir’s relentless party switching and misrepresentation of his past makes him unfit to represent them, whatever party’s colours he temporarily wears”.

There is perhaps one final point: earlier I made reference to “5th Columnists” and this needs qualifying because while the Muslim Community is not harbouring or even encouraging a secret Cabal of terrorists in this country, it is quite true that many terrorists use the language of Islam and hide behind some of its doctrines. We will not find these people by shining a torch of suspicion on the whole community. That is childish and absurd. The only way we can eradicate this terror is to enlist the support of people who understand what Islam is about and who themselves would be shocked at the way it is perverted. It is as absurd to accuse Islam of harbouring terrorism as it was to accuse Catholicism of harbouring the IRA throughout the 1970s. Of course, there were links, and of course religion was used as a tribal weapon- of course most IRA were catholic as the UDA would have been Protestant, but religion itself was an incidental element in the troubles and as a British Catholic boy, I did not feel I had anything in common at all with the people planting bombs in London or Belfast.
I worry that in the West, Islam has been pushed into a position of defensiveness and I worry that because of media manipulation, many people have confused the tragedy of the Palestinians, for instance and the assault on Iraq with some sort of Western attack on Islam. What is more likely, of course, is that the West is indifferent to Islam in the same way that it has become largely indifferent to Christianity. There is no crusade here! There is certainly misunderstanding but, believe me, no crusade at all. I will write more on this at a later stage, but it is high time Western leaders stood up and saluted Islam for its persistence in the face of  secularism.
 

Farage and Palaiokostas and Lazy Brits

camillo

I had intended to write something about animation today, but Farage presides over a UKIP conference as I write and the BBC ran a frankly scurrilous article in their web-edition about the scoundrel Palaiokostas this week. Both characters call for comment.

FARAGEPOSTER

I think Farage gets a raw deal in the press. The impression is given that he is a racist , a sort of “BNP light”. This seems to be so wide of the mark as to be laughable, but the image somehow has stuck as nasty images tend to: do people not realise his wife is a foreigner?? Nevertheless, the image was not helped by a poster campaign during the last election, which led the Telegraph to say, “UKIP are not the fascist foot soldiers of the BNP. They’re worse.” The poster campaign called on voters to “Take back control” and nothing wrong with that. Indeed, the conservatives have been calling for the same thing- and for far longer! The tag line on the poster, which showed a finger pointing a la Kitchener, reads, “26 Million people in Europe and looking for work. And whose jobs are they after?” The problem is that this is a catchy question that does not really reflect reality. There are no British builders or stock-market analysts on the street, and despite the jokes, precious few european plumbers who have actually stolen british jobs. The miserable fact is that alot of British people don’t want the jobs that are routinely taken on by Romanians and Poles. A case in point would be the seasonal vegetable-picking in Lincolnshire which is now threatened because many of the temporary foreign workers have stopped coming, and the local Brits simply do not have the stamina or the will to pick peas in the frost. (think of Tess of the D’Urbervilles picking potatoes on the hillside after she gets dumped by Angel. No one seems willing to do this any more. It is still a part of our agricultural livelihood) A recent report from the NFU said that unemployed Brits were unwilling to get up at 6am. This is what the leader of the Framers’ union, Meurig Raymond, said, “The whole work ethic and discipline that is required with harvest work needs to be improved a lot in parts of the British workforce. It’s the benefits system and years of inactivity. They will do it for a few days, but they won’t continually stick at it. A lot of farmers are not going to plant next year’s crops if they are concerned they are not going [have the workers to] harvest them. It’s a huge conundrum.” That is quite a threat.

Expulsions and deals

The days of illegal foreign workers are largely over. Films in 2002 like “Dirty Pretty Things” exposed what had been happening in cheap hotels and at about the same time, the then Home Secretary, David Blunkett expelled 6000 undocumented migrants. Meanwhile, seasonal agricultural work relied heavily on illegal workers. They may have been illegal, but they were reliable, hard-working, flexible and cheap. More recently, a scheme that helped migrant workers exactly like these to secure legal jobs -and pay tax- working the land has been closed. Instead of singing in the streets because we have closed an immigrant loophole, we should, instead, be worrying about the loss of British jobs and the rise in the cost of home-grown vegetables and produce. Because the sorry reality is that without these workers, we cannot harvest what we have grown and farmers and farm-linked industry will go out of business. This has led to calls from the National Farmers’ Union and threats by local farmers to stop growing vegetables that are difficult to pick. If farmers stop growing stuff, we risk losing all the British jobs that are currently there to support that industry.

So, the 21,250 Romanians and Bulgarians that came to the UK every year under the scheme for a maximum of 6 months will no longer be coming. This scheme provided 1/3 of our current agricultural workforce. Instead, these same people can now look for longer-term employment as fully-fledged members in their own right of the EU. They no longer need this scheme to come here. The NFU had appealed, instead, to the government to extend the scheme to cover Turkey, Russia and the Ukraine, or to target students outside the EU, but insisting their immigration policy was sound, the whole scheme has been scrapped by the current Government.

This is madness. The immigration minister, Mark Harper, said about this, “Our view is that, at a time of unemployment in the UK and European Union there should be sufficient workers from within those labour markets to meet the needs of the horticultural industry.” But he is living in cloud-cuckoo land. 

mark harper MPa

Harper got into trouble for suggesting that many disabled people were shamming, and lazy. Then he was discovered to have employed an unregistered immigrant.

Whoops! We might think of Hamlet!

For ’tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petard, an’t shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon. 3.4

So, in a year when there have been bumper harvests in grain and brassica, there is every chance that next year Lincolnshire farmers will be producing less; we may even see the return of fallow land. We have come a long way from the self-sufficiency of the war years. UK prices have tended to rise above those in the EU and abroad, meaning that cheaper foreign food makes it into the supermarkets and on to our tables. The last 10 years, for example, have seen a 20% decrease in consumer demand for British vegetables. At greatest risk are things like cauliflowers, runner beans and pears. A shame, because I like pears, and not the huge imported pears, but the little British ones! A fear of genetically modified crops and the ban on pesticides, without providing a suitable and equivalent way to control and protect our crops has also had a catastrophic effect. Farmers in Brazil and Paraguay are not constrained by these rules and are doing much better. It’s not that we need to follow what the farmers are doing in South America – it’s that we need to stop bashing the people who are trying to do an honest job here in the UK.

I cannot understand how any Conservative government can preside over schemes to limit business by some bureaucratic bluster about immigration, or by some geographical boundary. Business thrives on merit and fair competition. If we need the best, we get it no matter where it might be.

This brings me to Mr Farage and the CAP, or Common Agricultural Policy. In simplistic terms, the UK pours £18bn into the CAP fund and takes rather a small handout while in contrast France contributes relatively little and takes alot. This seems unfair. But is it then appropriate to scrap the CAP and duck out of the EU? Actually, for all our griping, we depend quite a bit on EU funding. Without the EU subsidies, framers would be entirely at the mercy of the supermarket chains, and our farms are simply not up to that challenge. Also, the EU invests in the wider Rural economy.

The UKIP position on the EU is that our links with Europe would continue after we left, for the simple fact that the British market demands it. We buy more from the EU than they buy from us. “We should run our own country and our own agriculture,” says Farage. But our agriculture is in shreds from years of Brussels’ bullying and mismanagement. To add to the misery, we have shot ourselves in our bucolic foot to satisfy the media’s anti-immigration lobby. If we want to pull out of the EU, whether we wave a Conservative flag or a UKIP one, we need to get our farmers working effectively first!

Immigration

But there is more than just preparation. The thorny issue remains immigration, and all the current parties assume the same solution – to close the door, or add a turnstyle. The problem with immigration is that people have become obsessed with numbers and have forgotten that they are really talking about people- and people who for the most part came here to work, bringing skills we no longer have, and need. It is not always easy to determine what you do not have, so blustering about arranging immigration to fill the “gaps” does not work. We have to change our way of looking at this issue completely.

To counter the threat of immigration, we need to think differently. We need to think less of letting people into the Uk and more of making sure that such people use their time here wisely while they are here, pay tax, learn english. Labour, we are told “oversaw the fastest and largest wave of immigration in this country’s history” but the Conservatives have not really changed this and both have focused on number-counting and bureaucracy, attacking those people who are documented rather than seeking those who are not. My great concern is that students, the most well-documented of the lot, face a misery of visa demands when many would happily pay a bond to stay here without the fuss for the duration of their academic career, and most plan to return home to take the skills they have acquired here back to their own country anyway. They face that visa- misery incidentally because they are well-documented and they are an easy target for a lazy inflated bureaucracy. What is needed are immigrants who will work hard and contribute to our society. If we give them a good example too, we will know that when they return home, they will take our values with them. This was the old theory of the Raj when we had a much more open-door approach and far less abuse, as well as far less resentment than we see today. A nice example of how the UKIP approach is distorted was a report in the Huffington post that wanted to see hypocrisy in the employment of East European canvassers who were working for a firm called “Fast leaflet” and who were caught delivering UKIP literature during the European elections. But, the fact is that these three east Europeans were working hard. I have delivered leaflets. I know how hard a job it can be! What is needed is a different perspective on the “problem”. Ideally jobs would be given to people in the UK, but if that is not possible, then it seems absurd that I should be constrained to offer the same job only to people in the EU. Why not offer it to people from Turkey or Russia who might be better qualified, or even to members of the Commonwealth to whom we really owe a great deal more, and with whom we share so much common history, though currently these people are geographically and politically challenged by their exclusion from the EU club. National borders do not make good business sense: instead, we should offer a job to the best person available, whatever background that may involve. Merit and excellence are the only way to ensure success. As for immigration control, what we need are less pen-pushers and more front-line security staff.

Parallels with school policy in the 1970s

crossland and wilson

The calls to throw immigrants out of the UK is a negative knee-jerk response and appeals to the baser elements in our society. Also, be in no doubt that it will lead to racism, if it is not racist in its basic call. It parallels the knee-jerk baying of the labour party in the 70s, that called for the destruction of the English Public school system in the belief that such destruction would bring equality, eradicate the class system and lead to an improvement in standard state education. The destruction of the Grammar school was the beginning of this negative crusade and we are still suffering the effects of this today. Comprehensive education has meant dumbing down in general, whatever social benefits it might offer in terms of integration… and that, only when it works as well as it can! Thankfully wiser minds have prevailed and today we are beginning to see a softening of the boundaries between the private and State sectors and the reintroduction of “selection”. A negative does not automatically usher in a corresponding positive. In all likelihood, destruction brings more destruction as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. What we need now is care and control. Not necessarily a knee jerk response, but considered action. Unfortunately, as we stand at the moment, Brussels does not allow us either care, or control, and this is not a UK problem alone. Most European countries realise we are in a muddle- too many people milking the system and not enough contributing. Back to simple farming imagery. You cannot have milk without a decent herd. A herd of cattle needs proper controls. I hesitate to use the term “cowboy” but if we do away with the fences, we are left with cowboys!

Greece and the BBC

Now, a few days ago, there was a lengthy article on the BBC website about Palaiokostas. This is a man who has been in and out of gaol, notably the infamous Korydallos Prison from which he escaped twice by helicopter and continued to live the life of Riley on the run, with an Albanian sidekick, Alket Rizai, robbing occasional banks, kidnapping industrialists and donating some of the money to the poor. The BBC played up the Robin Hood image but I think it needs to be checked. A man who robs you at gunpoint is still a frightening criminal and certainly to the bank clerk who is threatened. The bottom line to this surely is that “a thug is a thug”, and I have never had much time for Robin Hood.