For a new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid did not take long to ditch the subtlety and diplomacy that one might expect a holder of one of the great offices of state to deploy, and go in with both feet on an organisation which has raised legitimate concerns about the Tory Party. Moreover, Javid chose his inquisition before the host on The Andy Marr Show (tm) this morning to make what looked like an ill-advised move - except it wasn’t.
Marr asked Javid about Islamophobia in the Tory Party, a reasonable question given the amount of it, and the apparent lack of action against it. He put Sayeeda Warsi’s comments, telling “there is a simmering anti-Muslim underbelly of Islamophobia within the party” to Javid. Did he agree with her? “Well, I’ve got a lot of time for Baroness Warsi, but I do not agree with her”. Why? “Just look at who the Home Secretary is”.
So the Tories said goodbye to sexism and misogyny when Mrs T won the leadership in the mid 1970s? Rubbish. Worse, Javid then suggested Islamophobia was not a Tory problem. “That said, there are issues with anti-Muslim hatred in the country, as there are issues for example with anti-Semitism, all types of hate crime are wrong at every level”. The thought enters that his Labour shadow would not have got away with saying that.
What, then, asked Marr, about the need for a new investigation? Javid suddenly became rather animated, and not a little defensive. “Who’s said this? It’s the Muslim Council of Britain. They’ve written recently to the chairman of the Conservative Party making these allegations. The Muslim Council of Britain doesn’t represent Muslims in this country. You find me a group of Muslims that thinks they’re represented by the MCB”.
There was more. “And secondly, I’d be very suspicious of anything that they’ve got to say, because under the last Labour Government and continued by us, we don’t deal with the MCB. We don’t deal with it because too many of their members have had favourable comments on extremism and that’s not acceptable”.
Well, I hate to bring bad news for Sajid Javid, but his attitude to the MCB does not mean all those instances of Islamophobia within his own party suddenly stop being Islamophobia. Moreover, as Miqdaad Versi of the MCB points out (see the Twitter thread HERE), both the Observer and Times have backed the call for an independent inquiry into Tory Islamophobia. And so has Conservative Home.
But what Miqdaad Versi is missing is that Sajid Javid did not just go into rant mode against the MCB. Those words were carefully and deliberately chosen. And they were chosen in order for Javid to address his intended target audience - the right-wing press. That was his signal to the Mail, Sun, Express and even Telegraph (plus the Spectator, no doubt) to obscure Tory Islamophobia by creating a fog of abuse directed at the MCB.
There will be editorial lines being sharpened, pundits like Kavanagh and Littlejohn being briefed. The Tories’ Islamophobia problem will be as nothing compared to the abuse and smears that will be thrown at the MCB. And the truly sick element of this carefully and deliberately choreographed move is that it is a Muslim who has fired the starting gun.
When confronted with the choice between doing the right thing and political expediency, Sajid Javid did not hesitate. And that’s why he’s part of the Nasty Party.