The Campaign Against Antisemitism was in bullish mood yesterday as it continued to accuse the Labour leadership of racism. Sadly, though, as I pointed out, this organisation has assembled within its list of Honorary Patrons at least six individuals who have either exhibited racist behaviour, used racism for their own ends, or been singularly unwise in their choice of language in areas concerning race.
One of those Honorary Patrons attracting attention by using racism for his own ends was Harrow East’s Tory MP Bob Blackman, who exploited prejudice against Dalits, sometimes also called Untouchables, in order to secure the backing of the National Council of Hindu Temples in the run-up to last year’s General Election. He was not alone in indulging the racism of the Indian sub-continent to garner votes. But there was more.
Blackman had also hosted a hate preacher in a meeting at the House of Commons. Tapan Ghosh, who is not merely anti-Islam but also anti-Christian, has endorsed Geert Wilders. And there has been more bad news for the CAA: this less than distinguished Honorary Patron endorsed a figure - Tapan Ghosh - who “praised the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Burma, and said Muslims should be forced to leave their religion if they come to a western country”. Yet the CAA has no problem with Blackman’s presence.
Perhaps they will think again after yet more unfortunate news about the Harrow East MP came to light overnight. To its credit, once more it is the Murdoch Times which has called him out, telling readers “Tory MP Bob Blackman attacked for anti‑Muslim Facebook post … A Conservative MP has been accused of giving a platform to bigots by sharing a story from an anti-Muslim website on his Facebook page”.
Bob Blackman MP
There was more. “Bob Blackman shared a story titled ‘Muslim Somali sex gang say raping white British children “part of their culture”’ late on Sunday night but had deleted it by yesterday morning. He has apologised for his ‘error’ in posting the piece from the anti-Muslim website Hardcore News USA”. “Error”? Blackman deliberately shared that post. Is he pretending that his fingers somehow slipped several times to cause him to do so?
Worse, in order to share that post, he would have had to know where to find it, or have gone looking for it. Was Hardcore News USA part of his news feed? If you Google “Hardcore News USA Facebook”, that page does not come up in the first dozen results. How did Bob Blackman know where to find it? This is genuinely disturbing.
The only thing Hardcore about Bob Blackman is his nailed-on bigotry. He exploits racism for political advantage, and revels in Islamophobia. Yet the Campaign Against Antisemitism is happy to use him as part of its fig-leaf of respectability. And yes, this morning, Bob Blackman was still there in its list of Honorary Patrons, as was the raving Islamophobe Richard Kemp. Some kinds of racism are clearly OK for the CAA.
Perhaps Gideon Falter would care to address this minor inconsistency in the approach of some of his Honorary Patrons to racism. But don’t hold your breath.