Violent leftwingers are the alt-right’s useful idiots

Melanie Phillips

Published in the Times 15/8/17

It is a caricature of what happened in Charlottesville to call Trump and his supporters racists

President Trump has been on the defensive over his remarks about the disturbances in Charlottesville, Virginia, at the weekend. Clashes between fascist types and their opponents over the city’s removal of confederate monuments turned deadly when a presumed white supremacist drove a car into the counter-demonstrators, killing one person and injuring many others.

In response, Trump condemned the “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides”. His failure until yesterday to single out the white supremacists for censure has provoked a storm of criticism, not least from Republicans.

Trump’s response was indeed inadequate. Much more worrying, though, was what actually happened. For this was not, as widely portrayed, a clash between fascists and anti-fascists. It was between two groups each of which perpetrate hatred and intolerance, stand against freedom and seek to impose their views of society and human nature by force.

The “unite the right” demonstration brought on to the streets neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other racist extremists. The sight of them marching with swastika flags and flaming torches was stomach-turning. But ranged against them were the “Antifa”, self-designated anti-fascists who are anything but. They have a record of unprovoked violence, rioting and thuggery. Their Black Lives Matter offshoot includes racists who incite violence against white people.

Since Trump’s ascendancy, there have been repeated outbreaks of violence, mostly perpetrated by Antifa against ordinary Republicans and other conservatives, either at pro-Trump rallies or on other public platforms. These people have been either stopped from speaking or physically attacked by Antifa and other left-wing demonstrators.

In June the House Republican whip, Steve Scalise, was shot and almost killed by a Bernie Sanders-supporting Democrat who opened fire on a group of Republicans at a baseball practice. A New Jersey Democratic party activist, James Devine, posted on his Facebook page that he had “little sympathy” for Scalise because he opposed gun restriction policies. Another Democratic party official in Nebraska was fired after saying he was “glad” that Scalise had been shot.

The real target is mainstream American values and culture

The Democratic establishment dismisses such people as mavericks with no significance for the left-wing causes they support. Yet a double standard operates against President Trump, who is held to be personally defined by the unacceptable nature of a tiny minority of his supporters.

The fact that the former Ku Klux Klan “grand wizard” David Duke, who was at Charlottesville, claims to support Trump’s agenda (that is, when he’s not in the next breath condemning him) is being used to smear Trump himself as a white supremacist.

It is grotesque to equate Trump’s pledge to “make America great again”, which was endorsed by the 63 million Americans who voted for him, with the bigotry of white supremacism. The former is driven by people wanting to uphold core American values they deeply cherish and share with each other. The latter is driven by loathing of racial and ethnic groups deemed to be inferior.

In last year’s presidential campaign Hillary Clinton was endorsed by Will Quigg, “grand dragon” of the Ku Klux Klan’s California chapter. He claimed she had a “hidden agenda” and that if elected she would come out for gun ownership and sealing America’s borders. Quigg’s support of Clinton was rightly dismissed as either mischief-making or barking mad. Yet when such people support Trump, this is held to define him.

There are various possible reasons why initially Trump didn’t specifically condemn the far right in Charlottesville. He may resent being bullied into stating what he considers should be obvious: that he thinks such people are vicious extremists. He may believe that both warring sides had unconscionable agendas.

Whatever his reason, his generalised remarks were ill-judged. As US president, he inescapably delineates the contours of what is socially acceptable and what is beyond the pale. He should therefore have specifically denounced white supremacism as having no place in American society. At the same time, he should have specifically condemned the hatemongering ideology of left-wing identity politics.

Such a response was not just morally but politically necessary. For the left’s real target is not the far right but mainstream conservatives who want to uphold American values and culture: the people who brought Trump to power. Defending national identity, however, is denounced by western progressives as white racism.

The result is an unholy alliance between the left and the far right. A white supremacist called Richard Spencer invented the blanket term “alt-right” to associate his ilk with conservatives seeking merely to defend American identity and core values. Through this tactic, Spencer intended to boost the far right and simultaneously smear and thus destroy regular conservatives.

The left has seized upon this smear with unbridled joy, routinely using the “alt-right” term to try to destroy the national identity agenda by bracketing it with white supremacism. The result is a powerful boost for the far right. From deserved obscurity, they suddenly find the left are transmitting their every utterance to the world. The phrase “useful idiots” comes inescapably to mind.

Charlottesville was but the latest front in what has become America’s cultural civil war. It won’t, alas, be the last.

Corbynites don’t see this as real democracy


Labour’s leader and shadow chancellor believe the people’s will is expressed on the street and shopfloor more than parliament

‘Is democracy working? It didn’t work if you were a family
living on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower. Those families, those individuals, 79 so far and there will be more, were murdered by political decisions taken over recent decades”.

You know those police dramas, where the detective stares at a clue for ages before suddenly realising he was looking in the wrong place and missing the real story? I experienced just such a moment while pondering John McDonnell’s remarks at Glastonbury.

At first, like everyone else, I thought the most important part of his statement came at the end, with his use of the term “murder”. And then it came to me. The most important part of what he said was at the beginning.

The shadow chancellor didn’t question if austerity is working. Or if capitalism is working. Or if the government is working. His attack instead is on democracy. The deaths, the “murders”, happened because democracy isn’t working. This, I think, is the key to understanding his approach and that of Jeremy Corbyn.

Let’s begin at 12.15 on Thursday April 11, 1974, an important moment in the history of modern socialism. Sir Anthony Part, permanent secretary of the department of industry, has come to see his secretary of state, Tony Benn, relatively recently appointed to his post. In his diary, Benn records his version of their exchange. Part “hummed and hawed a bit and then said, ‘Minister, do you really intend to go ahead with your National Enterprise Board, public ownership and planning agreements?’.”

When Benn, who regarded himself as the author of these policies, responded “Of course”, Part pressed him on whether he was serious. Because if he was, he could count on a massive confrontation with business, a campaign of resistance. And with that, Part tabled a paper suggesting ways in which his policy might be relaxed.

The encounter took its place in the left’s mythology as Benn cited it in many speeches over the coming decades. It symbolised the way in which a socialist programme would be resisted by the establishment, by the institutions that controlled the system. Jeremy Corbyn, who regarded Tony Benn as his intellectual father and was one of his closest political friends, will have heard the tale many times.

The programme that Part, acting “simply as a mouthpiece for the CBI”, was attempting to obstruct was one that Benn regarded as truly democratic. At its core was control of industry by the people who work in it and the direction of strategic investment by the state, acting on behalf of the working class. The real expression of democratic will was not through parliament and the government but on the shopfloor and on the street.

The Bennite idea was to borrow to invest in the shares of strategic industries. The government would then use this ownership, and other laws, to conclude planning agreements between the state, the unions and management. These agreements would direct investment, and meanwhile government would assist those workers who wished to take over their companies, some of whom would simply occupy their workplaces.

The Bennites also advanced the notion of industrial democracy, going beyond the German model of participation on supervisory boards, insisting instead that executive boards should have more than 50 per cent worker representation.

Democracy is not parliament voting on laws after an election every few years, it is control by working people of their own lives, of the means of production, of the management of their workplaces and of the capital invested in businesses. It is always democratic to insist upon these rights, even if it involves breaking laws made by parliament.

So when John McDonnell calls on a million people to rise in protest on the streets and force Mrs May out of office, he regards it as baffling that anyone should suggest this is undemocratic. Because the demand by protesters that the establishment should yield power can never be undemocratic. And the idea that a government that controls central institutions and governs in the interests of capital can ever be truly democratic he regards as laughable.

It is wrong to argue that he wants violence. Violence is what he thinks the controllers of the state and capital use in order to enforce their domination. What he wants is a surrender to democratic ideas and forces, without anyone having to
use violence.

I don’t think this is a caricature of his position. It is not intended as such. It is an attempt to understand and explain the things that he and Jeremy Corbyn say and believe.

The support Mr Corbyn shows for people like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, his appearances hosting phone-ins on Iranian state television, or his dealings with Hamas and Hezbollah are much easier to understand when it is recognised that he doesn’t see Britain as a real democracy. The voices of protest and resistance are what he regards as really democratic.

This grassroots socialism was the brainchild of intellectuals of the New Left, people like Ralph Miliband and Robin Blackburn who linked up with Corbyn and Benn in the 1990s through the Independent Left Corresponding Society. It replaced the centralisation of orthodox communism — which they saw as leading to Stalinism — with a pluralistic society of street-level democracy.

What Labour is building now through a mass party and social media should be seen as much more than a formidable election machine. The New Left has always believed that the party should “pre-figure” the society it is trying to create. So the anarchism and equality of social media and the enthusiasm of crowds enjoying rock festivals is a model for the sort of society Jeremy Corbyn wants to create.

I can’t pretend that I see this as anything other than hopelessly naive. I believe it will impoverish us all, the vulnerable most of all. I think it will be more tyrannical than democratic. I think it would collapse in lawless chaos. But I also accept it as a powerful and radical idea that deserves to be explained and debated. And if Mr McDonnell and Mr Corbyn would rather not, we must demand that they do.

To consider Jeremy Corbyn’s challenge as being merely on the levels of spending or corporation tax is to miss the point entirely. As Mr Corbyn put it when speaking to his constituency party: “Our job is not
to reform capitalism, it’s to overthrow it.”

If we are going to have a big public argument about Corbynism let’s at least ensure it’s on the right topic.

Europe Signs its own Death Warrant

With the continent wrestling with mass immigration and losing faith in its traditions and beliefs, its civilisation faces collapse

Douglas Murray

April 30 2017, 12:01am, The Sunday Times

Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide. Whether the European people choose to go along with this is, naturally, another matter. When I say that Europe is in the process of killing itself, I do not mean that the burden of European Commission regulation has become overbearing or that the European Convention on Human Rights has not done enough to satisfy the demands of a particular community.

I mean that the civilisation we know as Europe is in the process of committing suicide and that neither Britain nor any other western European country can avoid that fate, because we all appear to suffer from the same symptoms and maladies.

As a result, by the end of the lifespans of most people currently alive, Europe will not be Europe and the peoples of Europe will have lost the only place in the world we had to call home.

Europe today has little desire to reproduce itself, fight for itself or even take its own side in an argument. Those in power seem persuaded that it would not matter if the people and culture of Europe were lost to the world.

There is no single cause of the present sickness. The culture produced by the tributaries of Judaeo-Christian culture, the ancient Greeks and Romans, and the discoveries of the Enlightenment has not been levelled by nothing. But the final act has come about because of two simultaneous concatenations — sets of linked events — from which it is now all but impossible to recover.

The first is the mass movement of peoples into Europe. In all western European countries this process began after the Second World War due to labour shortages. Soon Europe got hooked on the migration and could not stop the flow even if it had wanted to.

The result was that what had been Europe — the home of the European peoples — gradually became a home for the entire world. The places that had been European gradually became somewhere else.

All the time Europeans found ways to pretend this influx could work. By pretending, for instance, that such immigration was normal. Or that if integration did not happen with the first generation then it might happen with their children, grandchildren or another generation yet to come. Or that it didn’t matter whether people integrated or not.

All the time we waved away the greater likelihood that it just wouldn’t work. This is a conclusion that the migration crisis of recent years has simply accelerated.

Which brings me to the second concatenation. For even the mass movement of millions of people into Europe would not sound such a final note for the continent were it not for the fact that (coincidentally or otherwise) at the same time Europe lost faith in its beliefs, traditions and legitimacy.

More than any other continent or culture in the world today, Europe is deeply weighed down with guilt for its past. Alongside this outgoing version of self-distrust runs a more introverted version of the same guilt. For there is also the problem in Europe of an existential tiredness and a feeling that perhaps for Europe the story has run out and a new story must be allowed to begin.

Mass immigration — the replacement of large parts of the European populations by other people — is one way in which this new story has been imagined: a change, we seemed to think, was as good as a rest. Such existential civilisational tiredness is not a uniquely modern European phenomenon, but the fact that a society should feel like it has run out of steam at precisely the moment when a new society has begun to move in cannot help but lead to vast, epochal changes.

Had it been possible to discuss these matters, some solution might have been possible. Looking back, it is remarkable how restricted we made our discussion, even while we opened our home to the world.

A thousand years ago the peoples of Genoa and Florence were not as intermingled as they now are, but today they are all recognisably Italian, and tribal differences have tended to lessen rather than grow with time.

The current thinking appears to be that at some stage in the years ahead the peoples of Eritrea and Afghanistan too will be intermingled within Europe as the Genoans and Florentines are now melded into Italy. The skin colour of individuals from Eritrea and Afghanistan may be different, their ethnic origins may be further afield, but Europe will still be Europe and its people will continue to mingle in the spirit of Voltaire and St Paul, Dante, Goethe and Bach.

As with so many popular delusions, there is something in this. The nature of Europe has always shifted and — as trading cities such as Venice show — has included a grand and uncommon receptiveness to foreign ideas and influence. From the ancient Greeks and Romans onwards, the peoples of Europe sent out ships to scour the world and report back on what they found. Rarely, if ever, did the rest of the world return their curiosity in kind, but nevertheless the ships went out and returned with tales and discoveries that melded into the air of Europe. The receptivity was prodigious: it was not, however, boundless.

The question of where the boundaries of the culture lay is endlessly argued over by anthropologists and cannot be solved. But there were boundaries. Europe was never, for instance, a continent of Islam. Yet the awareness that our culture is constantly, subtly changing has deep European roots. We know that the Greeks today are not the same people as the ancient Greeks. We know that the English are not the same today as they were a millennium ago, nor the French the French. And yet they are recognisably Greek, English and French and all are European.

In these and other identities we recognise a degree of cultural succession: a tradition that remains with certain qualities (positive as well as negative), customs and behaviours. We recognise the great movements of the Normans, Franks and Gauls brought about great changes. And we know from history that some movements affect a culture relatively little in the long term, whereas others can change it irrevocably.

The problem comes not with an acceptance of change, but with the knowledge that when those changes come too fast or are too different we become something else, including something we may never have wanted to be.

At the same time we are confused over how this is meant to work. While generally agreeing that it is possible for an individual to absorb a particular culture (given the right degree of enthusiasm both from the individual and the culture) whatever their skin colour, we know that we Europeans cannot become whatever we like. We cannot become Indian or Chinese, for instance. And yet we are expected to believe that anyone in the world can move to Europe and become European.

If being “European” is not about race, then it is even more imperative that it is about “values”. This is what makes the question “What are European values?” so important. Yet this is another debate about which we are wholly confused.

Are we, for instance, Christian? In the 2000s this debate had a focal point in the row over the wording of the new EU constitution and the absence of any mention of the continent’s Christian heritage. The debate not only divided Europe geographically and politically, it also pointed to a glaring aspiration.

For religion had not only retreated in western Europe. In its wake there arose a desire to demonstrate that in the 21st century Europe had a self-supporting structure of rights, laws and institutions that could exist even without the source that had arguably given them life.

In the place of religion came the ever-inflating language of “human rights” (itself a concept of Christian origin). We left unresolved the question of whether or not our acquired rights were reliant on beliefs that the continent had ceased to hold, or whether they existed of their own accord. This was, at the very least, an extremely big question to have left unresolved while vast new populations were being expected to “integrate”.

An equally significant question erupted at the time around the position and purpose of the nation state. From the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 up to the late 20th century the nation state in Europe had generally been regarded not only as the best guarantor of constitutional order and liberal rights but the ultimate guarantor of peace.

Yet this certainty also eroded. European figures such as Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany in 1996 insisted that “The nation state . . . cannot solve the great problems of the 21st century.” Disintegration of the nation states of Europe into one large integrated political union was so important, Kohl insisted, that it was in fact “a question of war and peace in the 21st century”.

Others disagreed, and 20 years later just over half of British people who voted in the EU referendum demonstrated that they were unpersuaded by Kohl’s argument. But, once again, whatever one’s views on the matter, this was a huge question to leave unresolved at a time of vast population change.

While unsure of ourselves at home, we made final efforts at extending our values abroad. Yet whenever our governments and armies got involved in anything in the name of these “human rights” — Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011 — we seemed to make things worse and ended up in the wrong. When the Syrian civil war began, people cried for western nations to intervene in the name of the human rights that were undoubtedly being violated. But there was no appetite to protect such rights because whether or not we believed in them at home, we had certainly lost faith in an ability to advance them abroad.

At some stage it began to seem possible that what had been called “the last utopia” — the first universal system that divorced the rights of man from the say of gods or tyrants — might comprise a final failed European aspiration. If that is indeed the case, then it leaves Europeans in the 21st century without any unifying idea capable of ordering the present or approaching the future.

Europe has little desire to reproduce itself, fight for itself or even take its own side in an argument

At any time the loss of all unifying stories about our past or ideas about what to do with our present or future would be a serious conundrum. But during a time of momentous societal change and upheaval the results are proving fatal. The world is coming into Europe at precisely the moment that Europe has lost sight of what it is. And while the movement of millions of people from other cultures into a strong and assertive culture might have worked, the movement of millions of people into a guilty, jaded and dying culture cannot.

Even now Europe’s leaders talk of an invigorated effort to incorporate the millions of new arrivals. These efforts too will fail. If Europe is going to become a home for the world, it must search for a definition of itself that is wide enough to encompass the world. This means that in the period before this aspiration collapses our values become so wide as to become meaninglessly shallow.

So whereas European identity in the past could be attributed to highly specific, not to mention philosophically and historically deep foundations (the rule of law, the ethics derived from the continent’s history and philosophy), today the ethics and beliefs of Europe — indeed the identity and ideology of Europe — have become about “respect”, “tolerance” and (most self-abnegating of all) “diversity”.

Such shallow self-definitions may get us through a few more years, but they have no chance at all of being able to call on the deeper loyalties that societies must be able to reach if they are going to survive for long.

This is just one reason why it is likely that our European culture, which has lasted all these centuries and shared with the world such heights of human achievement, will not survive.

As recent elections in Austria and the rise of Alternative for Germany seem to prove, while the likelihood of cultural erosion remains irresistible, the options for cultural defence continue to be unacceptable. Even after the tumultuous years they have just had, the French electorate go to the polls next weekend to choose between more of a disastrous status quo or a member of the Le Pen family.

And all the time the flow into Europe continues. Over the Easter weekend alone European naval vessels collected more than 8,000 African migrants from the seas around Italy and brought them into Europe. Such a flow — which used to be unusual — is now routine, apparently unstoppable and also endless.

In The World of Yesterday, published in 1942, the Austrian writer Stefan Zweig wrote that in the years leading up to the Second World War, “I felt that Europe, in its state of derangement, had passed its own death sentence.” Only his timing was out. It would take several more decades before that death sentence was carried out — by ourselves on ourselves.

© Douglas Murray 2017

Extracted from The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray, which will be published by Bloomsbury on Thursday at £18.

Many Muslims Want Help to Look Outwards – Maajid Nawaaz

Another great piece by one of our most insightful commentators on the challenges of Muslim integration in the West. (published in the Times on 25/7/16)

The case of the ‘Trojan horse’ school shows that Britain was wrong not to expect minorities to embrace liberal values

For years in Britain there has been a pernicious trend to shy away from making a case for our liberal values among minority communities. As these values continued their march unabated among the mainstream, certain multiculturalists assumed that to assert them among minorities would be deemed offensive, perhaps racist, and in the Muslim context even Islamophobic.

The successful turnaround of the “Trojan horse” school Park View — now Rockwood Academy — couldn’t have proved this view more wrong. Two years after the scandal, the school has surpassed expectations, with cadet recruitment, after-school drama classes, counterextremism workshops and trips to Wimbledon. Those who worried about a more active integration policy alienating the Birmingham school’s predominantly Muslim students really needn’t have. So why did they?

Our 1990s-era multiculturalism was intended to bring about diverse communities. Instead, it brought about monocultural ghettos that gave rise to state schools such as Park View broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer from their loudspeakers. Two complementary trends arose together that culturally disintegrated Britain. Within my own Muslim communities, Islamism, a theocratic ideology, which sought to impose a version of Islam over society, emerged practically unchallenged to insist that we were Muslims to the exclusion of every other identity. Meanwhile, among mainstream liberals, multiculturalism came to mean diversity between, rather than within, groups.

Due to these two trends, as a country we celebrated our cities as they self-segregated into isolated cultural ghettos. Division in areas such as Dewsbury and parts of Bradford was hailed as diversity. Self-segregation was supported as cultural tolerance. Disintegration was championed as integration. Those of my fellow liberals who promoted such policies believed they were doing so to help us Muslims. Yet this “help” couldn’t have been more disempowering.

Failing to advocate for liberal values within groups and not merely between groups led to a stifling of creativity and a lack of diversity among Muslims. Rebel voices who needed our support inside these communities suffered the most, and feel betrayed by liberals to this day. I call these the minority within the minority: feminist Muslims, gay Muslims, ex-Muslims, secular Muslims and anyone else deemed to be heretical or not Muslim enough.


With progressive Muslim voices being abandoned by wider society, while simultaneously being stifled within by the Muslim “community leaders”, it is no wonder that by 2015 a BBC survey of British Muslims found that 11 per cent expressed sympathy with fighting against the West. Twenty per cent said that a western liberal society could never be compatible with Islam, and a quarter sympathised with the Charlie Hebdo “blasphemy” attacks.

Self-segregation was championed as cultural tolerance

Meanwhile, Muslims in today’s Britain find it difficult to gain employment, are falling behind educationally, are disproportionately represented in prisons and among terrorist groups, while also remaining behind the rest of the country in our attitudes to civil liberties. Instead of integrating with wider society, many Muslims in Britain turned in on themselves, integrating more with their co-religionists globally while pulling away from the society into which they were born. British Muslim attitudes on key cultural milestones such as homosexuality, blasphemy and religion in politics now have more in common with global Muslim opinion than with liberal Britain.

As a country we ended up living together, apart. By allowing minorities to isolate themselves, the very people my fellow liberals wanted to help were suffering the most. It is no surprise then that such disintegration created a breeding ground for Isis recruiters. The liberal values that we came to expect from everyone else we shied away from advocating among Muslims. It is as if we Muslims were simply incapable of embracing secularism. And as we weren’t even expected to be liberal, or in many cases as our illiberalism was celebrated, we naturally grew further and further apart from wider society. I call this the bigotry of low expectations.

If mainstream society had woken up to this earlier, much more could have been done to prevent this polarised and incohesive state in our communities. And though I emphasise that it is not only Muslims who may be isolated in today’s Britain, and obviously not all British Muslims live like this, too many do. Culture is never homogenous, and has always been a hybrid. Any artificial desire to preserve the past was not only bound to fail but was destined to fail minorities primarily. Instead of defining communities primarily by their religious identity, we must support policies that encourage diversity not only between groups but within and among groups too.

The success at Rockwood Academy highlights that it never had to be this way. Identities are by definition multiple. So yes I am a Muslim, but I am also English, a secular liberal democrat of Pakistani descent, I was born in Essex and I am British.

When a chance was given instead of denied, when aspiration was encouraged instead of withheld, when integration was expected instead of disparaged, and when social mobility was promised instead of rubbished, the children and parents at Rockwood Academy rushed to it, and excelled. They embraced it all. Indeed, why wouldn’t they? There was finally an expectation that they could be just like anyone else.

Maajid Nawaz is an author and the founding chairman of Quilliam

Labour is sneering at ‘the wrong kind of voter’ – Rachel Sylvester

Rather than seek power through ‘big tent’ politics, the left is driven by an ideological purity that is electoral suicide

Lord Levy knows that antisemitism can occur anywhere. Once, as he was taking a guest into the House of Lords, he heard a Tory peer mutter: “Who’s the Jewboy bringing in now?” At the moment, though, it is his own party that most worries Tony Blair’s former fundraiser and Middle East envoy. After a string of antisemitic comments from Labour councillors and activists, culminating in the suspension of Ken Livingstone last week, the Labour peer told me: “I don’t think there’s much question that many in the Jewish community will now find it hard to support Labour.”

It is no coincidence that antisemitism is spreading like a virus through the party — from the Oxford University Labour Club members who described Jewish students as “zio”, to the Twitter trolls who posted pictures of the Jewish MP Luciana Berger with a hooked nose and a yellow star along with the hashtag #filthyjewishbitch. Mr Corbyn may not be antisemitic himself but a strain of the hard left is. Driven by an anti-western, anti-capitalist world view, which lumps Israel in with America as imperialist oppressors, these hardliners confuse hostility to the Jewish state with hatred of Jews. They left the Labour party under Tony Blair because they disagreed with the direction in which he took it, but many are now rejoining it. The leftist fringe is becoming mainstream.

The attacks on the Labour leader are not a “smear”, as Diane Abbott suggests, because this is part of a wider political and cultural problem. Labour defines itself as the party that stands up for the vulnerable, but there is a hierarchy of victimhood on the hard left. Instead of championing equality across the board, the ideologues categorise oppression into deserving and undeserving causes. Jews are the “wrong sort of victim” rather as British Rail used to blame late-running trains on the “wrong type of snow”. Roger Cohen, a columnist on The New York Times, recently described how at one US university, the Holocaust had been dismissed as “white-on-white crime”. There is a similar attitude in some left-wing circles on this side of the Atlantic. The white, wealthy, Jewish community is seen as a minority that does not merit support. As one moderate Labour MP says: “It is antisemitic because in their view of the world they can never see Jewish people fitting into their category of victim.”

This categorisation of oppression also explains the misogyny on the hard left. Women are not as deserving of sympathy as, say, welfare claimants. During the Labour leadership election, Mr Corbyn’s supporters repeatedly described his rival Liz Kendall as “sexy” on social media, tweeting that they would like to “f***” her even if they would not vote for her. Members of the left-wing Labour Representation Committee harassed a young female candidate at the general election, distributing leaflets with her face superimposed on to topless photos. Such sexism is allowed to flourish because, as former deputy leader Harriet Harman says, women’s rights have always been a “distraction” from the class struggle for the far-left. Under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, Labour has held segregated meetings in Muslim areas. Gender equality is a secondary concern but “top of the tree,” says one MP, “is Islamophobia”.

There are other examples. The National Union of Students recently declared that gay men were not sufficiently downtrodden to merit their own place on the representative student body. Instead, it claimed that they were guilty of “misogyny, transphobia, racism and biphobia” within gay and lesbian student societies. Although gay men still suffer discrimination in this country and abroad, they have slipped down the left’s league table of victimhood.

Different factions have competing priorities: the tensions between Mr Corbyn and John McDonnell stem from the fact that the Labour leader is part of the anti-imperialist brigade, whose focus has historically been foreign policy, whereas the shadow chancellor’s focus is anti-capitalist class war. What unites the camps, though, is the sense that equality is not fought for universally — it is bestowed upon noble cases by the high priests of the left. The political caste system this creates is every bit as divisive as Bullingdon Club snobbery on the right. Favouring the “right kind of victims” is as elitist as promoting those who went to the “right kind of school”. There is even a virtue-signalling vocabulary on the left that echoes Nancy Mitford’s separation of “U” and “Non-U”: instead of “loo” versus “toilet” it’s “Zionist” instead of “Israeli” or “cis” rather than “gay man”. The arrogance and moral superiority are astounding.

Politics is about balancing competing interests, not deciding between deserving and undeserving causes. But there is a self-righteousness among the Corbynistas that makes them blind to their own prejudices. “They have an incredibly powerful sense of their own virtue,” says one moderate MP. “That gives them licence to be nasty to people. They tell themselves ‘you are a good person so if you say this it must be all right’. There is an almost religious belief that they alone are virtuous.”

The same myopia leads to troubling alliances. As a senior Labour figure puts it: “If you are opposed to America or Israel you are an honourable victim. That leads them to associate with people who have said some terrible things and to believe that you can call Hamas and Hezbollah friends, but you don’t allow McDonald’s to come to the Labour party conference.”

It’s impossible not to consider the consequences for Labour’s electoral fortunes, ahead of the local elections this week. Leftwinger Neal Lawson suggested last year that the “wrong kind of people were voting Labour” when it won a hattrick of elections under Mr Blair. But parties win by appealing to everyone they can, not by separating the electorate into those they approve of and those they don’t. Justin Trudeau, Canada’s new Liberal prime minister, insists that “the Conservatives are not our enemies, they are our neighbours”. The Corbynistas would disagree because they see anyone who has ever voted Tory as immoral.

Pat McFadden, a former minister, says Labour should be promoting “co-existence, not a hierarchy of victimhood”. Instead, as the antisemitism row shows, the party is pursuing the electorally suicidal politics of division. The hard left wants nothing to do with the “wrong kind of victim” or the “wrong kind of voter” and will be punished at the polls.


True Labour Supporters No Longer Have a Party

With the left’s antisemitism laid bare, many progressives are no more keen on a Corbyn government than a Cameron one.

It is an ugly phrase, “told you so”. No one likes Cassandra shaking her head, with that jarring mix of disappointed and smug. But on Thursday, as “Hitler” and “Labour party” were twinned in every bulletin, as Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension of Ken Livingstone was undermined by his “why-the-hell-do-I-have-to-do-this” mien, as a Labour MP wrote an article begging long-standing Jewish members not to leave, I wanted to charter a plane and fly a banner across the sky: “Told you so.”

This was not a conspiracy drummed up, as Corbyn claims, by “people concerned about Labour’s strength at a local level”, a Blairite plot or an MSM (mainstream media) hatchet job on a radical socialist programme. Nor even was Ken’s Nazi media tour a quixotic one-off. This grinding of Labour’s reputation into the filth live on TV was foretold, it was encoded in the Corbyn victory’s DNA. And across Britain, thousands of Labour supporters found no satisfaction in being proved right; only despair.

Our political home has been squatted in by careless, incompetent fools, too arrogant even to see what harm they do. “Racism is normally an attribute of the right,” said Jon Trickett, MP, a Corbyn ally, on Newsnight. Yes, the left are the good guys; no need for a party inquiry, to look into our souls. We are the righteous; ergo everything we do is right. You could see it in Livingstone as he stomped about on the Holocaust: I’m truth-telling here, you Jews are just having “feelings”.

So often, the Labour leader — after hours of backstage prevarication with spin doctor Seumas Milne striving to find him an opt-out — has issued a crisis statement as if someone had him in a half-nelson. OK, if a Paris-style attack was under way in London, I’d let police kill terrorists. Fine, I support party policy to remain in the EU. The shortfall between his words and delivery is comical to behold. And even as he promises to tackle antisemitism his zero intent is clear. How could it be otherwise? His three-quid army, many — like him — from the angrier fringes of the pro-Palestine lobby, are the well-spring of Labour antisemitism. Moreover, Corbyn, like Ken, was connected with Labour Briefing, the far-left group, during the early 1980s when it held meetings exploring how Hitler was a Zionist. He may as well suspend himself.

Labour MPs need to stop hand-wringing and organise

Yet the frustrating thing for non-Corbynistas is we can see a way forward. And Naz Shah, the young Bradford MP, suspended for suggesting Israeli Jews be transported to America, could, curiously, be part of it. Her abject, thoughtful apology was a realisation that such unthinking, tribal antisemitism was part of the same “left-wing” Islamism that allowed George Galloway to use her own forced marriage to shame her. Shah could be a brilliant ambassador for secular, progressive politics in Muslim communities. Whereas Ken, who fêted extremists for mayoral votes, sees no need for change.

Indeed, “abhors change” should be the motto of the Corbyn left. Why bother recalibrating the world-view that all Muslims are oppressed, downtrodden by the imperialist West just because Islamic State is now removing heads? Hence, on one of the most pressing, modern social problems — the rise of a misogynist, homophobic, orthodox credo that wishes death to apostates and brainwashes British teenagers into jihad — Her Majesty’s Opposition has nothing to say.

What does it have to say on anything? Pipe down and let the “new politics” settle in, Corbyn fans told those of us who voted for the admittedly uninspiring alternatives. And we hoped for a Chauncey Gardiner miracle. That somehow the inflexible, aspic-preserved politics of “Thatcher’s Britain” could find traction now. But the PMQ gimmick of putting questions from “Clare in Stroud” or “Kevin in Barnsley” was quickly abandoned. It turns out that Jeremy Corbyn can’t slay, or even shame, a slick, sharp Tory government just by the laser-beam of his political purity.

Shadow ministers have to be clever and competent, speeches need to be pungent; the single, snarky question that’s fine from the back benches seems infantile up front. Corbyn isn’t even fielding a B team, more like interns gussied up in suits and ties. I never thought I’d miss Ed Balls. Dammit, I miss Nick Clegg.

It has felt for months now that Labour faces a Tory majority of, say, 100, not the reality of a working majority of 18. Even riven by Europe, at war with junior doctors, retreating on disability living allowance and forced academisation, with David Cameron’s dubious tax affairs, the Tory citadel seems unbreachable. Only in the talent and gravitas of former ministers — as when Yvette Cooper lobbies for child refugees — or in a few bold voices on the whips’ “hostile” list, such as Wes Streeting and Jess Phillips, does there seem to be any opposition at all.

As the May elections loom, Labour activists are despondent. While they ponder how to tackle doorstep questions about Hitler, the Corbynistas, who rarely deign to campaign, squat on Twitter berating stalwarts with leaflet rounds as “Bliar-ites” and Tories. Corbyn can deny it, but this week has precipitated a crisis.

Longstanding, instinctive Labour supporters are wondering where to put their crosses. These politically displaced persons will now vote in a more ad hoc way: for good Labour candidates, but not all. Feminists, who smelt misogyny on this 1970s left men’s club from the start, will look to the Women’s Equality Party: it won’t win seats, but could scupper Labour in marginals. And now, scales tumbling from eyes, many progressive people have realised they want a Corbyn government no more than a Cameron one. Labour MPs need to stop hand-wringing and organise. This cannot hold.

Livingstone Must Go! – commentary from Phillip Collins in the Times


This is the last straw. Livingstone must go

The former mayor of London has a history of objectionable views that cannot be allowed to poison Labour any longer

Just after the turn of the century I attended one of the finest speeches by a Labour politician I can recall. At the Labour Friends of Israel annual lunch, Gordon Brown, who was then chancellor, moved his audience to tears, me included, with stories of visiting Israel as a boy with his father, a Church of Scotland minister, to celebrate the Jewish return to Zion that was prophesied in the Bible. Mr Brown spoke without notes, with barely controlled emotion and an impressive command of the historical facts. He did not spare the Israeli government of the day but he paid his dues to the terrible past. I felt proud to be a member of a party in which this man was a leading figure.

Yesterday, Ken Livingstone, the former Labour mayor of London, said on the BBC’s Daily Politics programme that antisemites don’t just hate Jews in Israel, they also hate their neighbours in Golders Green. It is, apparently, possible to hate (I stress the word hate) Jews in Israel and not be antisemitic. Last week, Channel 4’s Unreported World showed the penury in which some Holocaust survivors live in Israel. It is, according to Mr Livingstone, possible to hate those people and not be thought antisemitic. To be a member of this party on such a day, in concert with such a man, is to feel pride’s opposite, which is shame. How did it ever come to this?

It came to this because the party elected a feeble incompetent as its leader and all the filth has swept in. Jeremy Corbyn did not create antisemitism on the left, nor does he seek to foster it. But all leaders have an ambit, a space around them in which some beliefs are licensed and others are proscribed. A life on the fringe left of British politics steeps its student members in the ignorant loathing of America and Israel. Under a serious leader these people are nowhere near the seat of power. Under Mr Corbyn one of them is Seumas Milne, the director of strategy, who allows a terrible story to run for hours with no comment at all from the leader. There is an adage that, in modern politics, you are either quick or you are dead. Labour adds a third category: zombie.

The chief zombie, stretching back years now, is Ken Livingstone. It is no surprise to anyone who has followed his career that Mr Livingstone is full of bilious ignorance. The only surprise is that he has lost his political touch to the extent that he is no longer concealing his bigotry behind the façade of bonhomie. The political professional in Mr Livingstone would never have told an interviewer that the forcible deportation of the Jews (Naz Shah’s charming suggestion) was no worse than “rude”. Even if he agreed with the sentiment, he would have spotted the trap and declined to fall into it. One really does have to wonder if he isn’t becoming a little unhinged. Even if he is, these remarks are merely the rising to the surface of a nastiness that has always lurked below the water-line. Now that Mr Livingstone has been suspended by the party pending an investigation into his conduct, let us prepare the charge sheet.

As leader of the Greater London Council, Mr Livingstone was chief culprit in the infantile Labour politics of the 1980s in which gestures and postures took the name of action. This was the London of the nuclear-free zone and funding for Babies Against The Bomb. Every strike supported, no matter the merits of the case, a relish for taking spending decisions to the courts in defiance of basic Micawber principles of finance, an indefensible advocacy of perpetrators of violence in Northern Ireland.

In recent times, Mr Livingstone’s adolescent view of the world took him to City Hall where he fastened on the bright idea of buying oil from the egregious Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. Despite the preening self-righteousness that allowed him to denounce tax avoiders as “rich bastards who should not be allowed to vote”, Mr Livingstone established Silveta Ltd, into which he paid his freelance earnings, so as to minimise his tax bill. Too large a fraction of those earnings came from Press TV, a channel owned and controlled by the government of Iran, a theocratic regime that denies the truth of the Holocaust and advocates stoning for adultery and homosexuality. Those are causes also taken up by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Mr Livingstone’s friend, who supports female genital mutilation, suicide bombing in Israel and the whipping of homosexuals.

Soon people will not be able to look Labour friends in the eye

The prejudice was there all along. During preparation for the Olympics Mr Livingstone told two Jewish businessmen, David and Simon Reuben, to go back where he believed they came from, which was Iran (though in fact they were from India). Door-stepped by Oliver Finegold, a Jewish reporter on the London Evening Standard, Mr Livingstone compared him to a guard at a concentration camp. During his failed bid to be re-elected mayor in 2008, Mr Livingstone suggested he could do without the votes of Jews because they were all stinking rich.

This is all bad enough but yesterday was the end. A member of Labour’s national executive committee toured the broadcasting studios to say that, in 1932, Hitler’s policy was to deport the Jews to Israel (a non-existent country). It is not worth the effort to begin to unravel either the historical stupidity or the unconscionable offence.

Just get rid of this superannuated fool. The investigation can be done in days. It all happened live, on LBC and the BBC. Until he hid in a disabled toilet, Mr Livingstone was parading his venomous ignorance all over town. The evidence is in. There can be no equivocation, no tiresome distinctions between Zionism, Israel and antisemitism. Just get out, Ken, and take your poisonous entourage with you.

There will soon come a time when people like me cannot look good friends in the eye if we remain members of a party that includes the likes of Ken Livingstone. This is not the centre of gravity in the party, of course it’s not. John Mann, MP, spoke for Labour when he denounced Mr Livingstone as a Nazi apologist. Yet a London mayoral candidate has just had to interrupt his campaign to denounce his predecessor as a racist. How could it have come to this? How could it ever have come to this?

In his autobiography, Mr Livingstone writes that joining the Labour party in 1968 was “one of the few recorded instances of a rat climbing aboard a sinking ship”. That is only half right; Labour stayed afloat. It will sink, though, under the weight of this prejudice because good people will leave. The first move is to expel Ken Livingstone. He can retire and write another autobiography. He can call it My Struggle.

Self Love is not selfish!!

I am posting a wonderful little Blog from a therapist called Margaret Paul. In it she beautifully dismantles the corrosive idea that to develop self-love is somehow selfish and narcissistic. Originally posted on the MindbodyGreen website under the title ‘The 1 thing that can make or break your relationships’.

When I was growing up, the idea of self-love didn’t exist. In fact, people who “loved themselves” were called selfish, self-centered or stuck-up. I was taught that being selfless and sacrificing yourself for others was a great quality. The general understanding was that relationships thrived when each person was focused on making the other happy.

Both of my parents were selfless, self-sacrificing, and devoted to making each other happy. But no matter how much they gave of themselves, no matter how hard they tried to please each other, neither of them was happy. So, I went looking for answers. Here’s what I found.

No matter how much another person loves you, if you don’t love and care for yourself, you will not be happy. If you ignore your own feelings, or judge yourself harshly, or turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to avoid experiencing and dealing with pain or discomfort, you are abandoning yourself. The hard truth is that self-abandonment will always make you unhappy, no matter how many people love you.

Love vanishes in the face of controlling behavior.

When you relinquish responsibility for your own sense of self-worth and inner safety, and for your own pain and joy, instead making your partner responsible for your feelings, you will feel constantly unworthy. That’s because when you reject responsibility for your feelings, you are actually rejecting yourself – rejecting your inner child, who is the part of you feeling these feelings.

When you reject yourself by avoiding responsibility for your feelings, even if you don’t realize it, you start expecting your partner to give you what you are not giving to yourself. The more you abandon yourself, the more you try to manipulate your partner into giving you the love that you are not giving to yourself.

The more you try to control your partner – with anger, blame, withdrawal, compliance or resistance – the more your partner also tries to control you. Love vanishes in the face of all this controlling behavior.

This is what I saw happening with my parents and what I continue to see in the relationships of the many couples I work with as a counselor.

The more you abandon yourself, the emptier you feel within. You don’t have love to share with your partner because you feel empty inside. Instead of being able to share your love with your partner, you are trying to get love to fill the vacuum.

If you want to change this pattern, it’s crucial that you internalize and act on the belief that self-love is not selfish. Abandoning yourself and expecting others to sacrifice their needs in order to replenish you, regardless of the consequences, is selfish.

Loving yourself is about learning to value who you really are — your true soul self, your beautiful inner child — and treating these parts of you with the same caring and respect with which you would treat an actual child.

This means acknowledging painful feelings with a desire to understand what they’re telling you. These feelings carry important messages about how you are treating yourself and how others are treating you. Don’t suffocate them with self-judgments and unhealthy coping mechanisms.

It is only when you take responsibility for your own happiness, pain, inner safety and self-worth that you have a well of self-replenishing love that you can share with your partner. When both of you have this source, and share it with each other, you create the most wonderful experience in life — a circle of love.

Amen to that!

And just to prove this isn’t just new-age psycho-babble. 2,500 years ago someone in India realised much the same thing:

Feminists are betraying their Muslim sisters – by Janice Turner


Cameron’s right: women who can’t speak English are kept voiceless in the family and society – and the left turns a blind eye

A friend talks sadly about communicating with her mother who speaks only Urdu, a language the daughter didn’t learn. For basic “mum stuff” — what’s for dinner, family news etc — they get by. But discussing matters of depth and nuance is impossible. Her mother has lived for decades in Britain but can’t follow a radio debate, struggles in shops and could never work. Imagine a whole life isolated even from your kids.

David Cameron’s announcement that the government will target language classes at 190,000 British Muslim women who speak poor or no English was dismissed as racist across the left. What about Costa-living Brits who don’t speak Spanish, eh? (And true, they should damn well learn.) But there is a difference. They have economic muscle, freedom, choice. A Pakistani bride brought to Britain, kept at home caring for her husband’s parents, unable to understand the world or earn her own money, call the police or brief a lawyer, does not.

But never mind. “In the Muslim homes I have visited it was clear the women were extremely busy cooking and caring for many family members,” wrote feminist Madeleine Bunting in The Guardian, deriding the PM for noting that 60 per cent of Muslim women are economically inactive. He was guilty of a colonialist “white man saving brown women trope”.

Yes, better return to the white men (and women) letting brown women go to hell trope. The left specialises in that. Asian feminists entreated the Blair government to make forced marriage illegal. Too divisive, they were told, it would breed community mistrust. And so hundreds of girls disappeared from schools each summer, parents unpunished, until the coalition in 2014 made it a crime. Speak to campaigners against FGM and you won’t find a Tory among them, but they salute the coalition for bringing in compulsory reporting by teachers and medics.

Or read recent Ofsted reports, commissioned by Nicky Morgan, damning private faith schools — orthodox Jewish and evangelical Christian as well as Muslim — exposing their barren, religious curriculum, social isolation and dire standards. Labour had sent in the inferior Bridge Inspectorate which did not balk at girls being taught that husbands were entitled to beat them. It was Islamic culture — who were we to judge? — and these were, after all, only brown girls.

Under Labour a network of Sharia courts, where imams deny religious divorces to women in violent marriages, daughters are granted less inheritance than sons and a charming solution to female infertility is that a man should get a second wife, grew unchecked. Only now has the Home Office grown the balls to instigate a review. In Iran, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan secular campaigners are murdered for questioning Islam, for demanding women’s rights to education, to dress as they please and enter the public sphere. The enlightenment, anti-clerical battle, upon which all our freedoms are founded, is being replayed. Yet this time people who purport to be progressive sit at the theocrats’ side.

Labour is hamstrung by its need for Muslim votes: fearing conservative male community leaders who deliver victory, it holds gender-segregated hustings. But the left is also afflicted by a crass, reductive liberal guilt: Islam is practised mainly by brown people thus those who fight its encroachment into the public sphere must by default be racist. So when Maryam Namazie, the Iranian human rights activist, spoke at Goldsmith College atheist society and her talk was disrupted by Islamic Society men who shouted, banged doors and turned off her PowerPoint projector, the university’s feminist and LGBT groups issued their support — for her assailants. Namazie’s challenge to Islamism and blasphemy laws made Muslims feel “unsafe”.

Naturally David Cameron’s stated support for schools that ban the full-face veil was damned as white men telling brown women what to wear. When really such rules safeguard the choice of all girls. If the bar of “modest” Muslim attire is raised, others will feel pressured to follow. The veil is not just another garment, a neutral choice: it is a deliberate erasure of the public female self. What feminist can ever endorse that?

True, the PM’s demand that Muslim wives learn English sounds harsh, targeted and a juicy bone for his party’s right. His record of slashing English teaching is laughable: he needs to funnel proper resources to prove he is sincere. But it is also designed to address a particular injustice. Pakistani village brides are chosen over spirited British Muslim girls with their western ways, education and knowledge of their rights. Unable to speak English, foreign girls are under a man’s control.

Campaigner Saira Khan said she had never met a Muslim woman who didn’t want to learn English: it’s the imams and menfolk who stop them. A friend who taught Pakistani women at home longed to take her students to a café or shop to practise, but husbands always said no. Threatening to deport wives after two years for not learning English is ugly — and probably unenforceable — but it is a warning blast at controlling men.

Being voiceless — in society and within your family — is a desperate, lonely fate: you are infantilised, politically impotent and ignored. The suicide rate of British Asian women is twice that of white women. Not speaking English channels you into sharia, not secular British law, and makes you vulnerable to violence. How can you tell if your children are being radicalised, let alone intervene? Routing out economic inactivity is not a Tory trick to make us all wage slaves — an income is a key index of women’s freedom. If Muslim women want to retreat to the home, to speak only of “mum stuff”, let them. But, as it is for the rest of us, it should be their choice.


Nice One Dave!

Article by Cameron, liberated from behind the Times paywall for anyone who’s interested. Rather excellent stuff if it actually has any follow through. Been reading a bit of Hirsi Ali by any chance Dave??

We won’t let women be second-class citizens

David Cameron


Forcing all migrants to learn English and ending gender segregation will show we’re serious about creating One Nation

Where in the world do you think the following things are happening? School governors’ meetings where male governors sit in the meeting room and the women have to sit out of sight in the corridor. Young women only allowed to leave their house in the company of a male relative. Religious councils that openly discriminate against women and prevent them from leaving abusive marriages.

The answer, I’m sorry to say, is Britain. Last week, I chaired a meeting of a group of brilliant Muslim women role models. And while I heard great examples of so many women who are flourishing in our country, some painted an alarming picture of forced gender segregation, discrimination and social isolation from mainstream British life.

Of course, this does not describe the life of every British Muslim woman. Nor are these problems unique to Muslim communities. And it cannot be said often enough that the fear of Islamophobic hate crime — for instance, the disgraceful pulling of women’s headscarves in the street — is widespread and incredibly threatening, as well as being completely disempowering for women. But these problems are being consistently brought to our attention by Muslim women, and we have a duty to them to speak out — and to act. That must begin by understanding the root causes. Some are, of course, cultural. But the standing rebuke to our society is that we have allowed this to continue. All too often, because of what I would call “passive tolerance”, people subscribe to the flawed idea of separate development. Ed Husain put it brilliantly last week when he said that our political correctness stops us from identifying this separatist mentality — terming it “the racism of low expectations”. It helps explain why, for instance, some so-called progressive politicians see fit to host gender-segregated political meetings.

It is time to change our approach. We will never truly build One Nation unless we are more assertive about our liberal values, clearer about the expectations we place on those who come to live here and build our country together, and more creative and generous in the work we do to break down barriers. And this is a challenge that government cannot meet on its own. I do want every part of government to play its part — health visitors, jobcentres, nurseries, schools — but we all have a shared responsibility to tackle prejudice and bigotry, and help integration.

Why does this matter so much? Because we don’t just need a strong economy to thrive, we have to build a strong society. Segregation drives us apart, not together. And tolerating the development of parallel communities can also mean failing to get to grips with appalling practices such as FGM and forced marriage.

There is also an important connection to extremism. I am not saying separate development or conservative religious practices directly cause extremism. That would be insulting to many who are devout and peace-loving. But they can help a young person’s slide towards radicalisation. Think about the young boy growing up in Bradford. His parents came from a village in Pakistan. His mum can’t speak English and rarely leaves the home, so he finds it hard to communicate with her, and she doesn’t understand what is happening in his life. At the same time, as a teenager he is struggling to identify with western culture. Separate development and accepting practices that go against our values only emphasise differences and can help prompt the search of something to belong to. When that happens, the extremist narrative gives him something — however ridiculous — to believe in.

So what can we do about this? First, we need some clear thinking. This is Britain. In this country, women and girls are free to choose how they live, how they dress and who they love. It’s our values that make this country what it is, and it’s only by standing up for them assertively that they will endure. In Britain, men are not frightened of women’s success; it is celebrated proudly. So we must take on the minority of men who perpetuate these backward attitudes and exert such damaging control over their wives, sisters and daughters. And we must never again allow passive tolerance to prevent us from telling the hard truths.

We also need a clear and positive policy agenda. So we will review the role of religious councils, including Sharia councils. We’re teaching British values in our schools because I want every young boy and girl growing up here to feel proud of our country and properly connected to it. And we’ll end the forced gender segregation, as we issue clear guidance to local authorities to stamp out this practice.

We must also make more progress on English language. It is at the heart of solving this. Consider this: new figures show that some 190,000 British Muslim women — or 22 per cent — speak little or no English despite many having lived here for decades. 40,000 of these women speak no English at all. So it’s no surprise that 60 per cent of women of a Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage are economically inactive.

This has to be tackled head on. We’ve already introduced a language test for new migrants, but I believe it’s time to be much more demanding. Yes, we have responsibilities to migrants, but they have responsibilities too. At the moment, someone can move here with very basic English and there’s no requirement to improve it over time. We will change that. We will now say: if you don’t improve your fluency, that could affect your ability to stay in the UK. This will help make it clear to those men who stop their partners from integrating that there are consequences.

We’ll also fund a dramatic improvement in the way we provide English language services for women. With a new £20 million programme, we’ll make sure every woman from isolated communities with no English at all has access to classes, whether through community groups or further education colleges.

Britain has a claim to be the most successful multi-faith, multi-racial democracy on the planet. We got here because we fought and won those long struggles for liberty, equality and mutual tolerance. But the job of building a more cohesive country is never complete. With English language and women’s empowerment as our next frontier, I believe we can bring Britain together and build the stronger society that is within reach.

Skip to toolbar