The Campaign Against Antisemitism has issued what it grandly calls a “J’Accuse” against the Labour Party, and in particular its leader Jeremy Corbyn. Chairman Gideon Falter has claimed “Under Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party has been seized by racists. Jeremy Corbyn is at home amongst them, having spent his political career seeking out and giving his backing to Holocaust deniers, genocidal antisemitic terrorist groups, wild antisemitic conspiracy theorists and a litany of Jew-haters”. The CAA says Labour is a racist party.
Moreover, they have warned “The complaint will be vigorously pursued by Campaign Against Antisemitism, and our lawyers if necessary”. Well, one hates to rain on this particular parade, but I have to tell the CAA that when it comes to harbouring racism, they might just be standing in an extremely draughty glasshouse.
A perusal of the CAA’s list of Honorary Patrons shows why this might be: it includes 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.
Merely unfortunate in his choice of words is George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury. Back in 2004, the by now retired Carey found himself in hot water, as the Guardian reported: “Muslim groups yesterday reacted with dismay to a speech in Rome by George Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, in which he attacked Islamic culture, criticised the religion's leaders for not speaking out strongly enough about terrorism, and said it was a faith associated with violence around the world”.
On he droned: “Mohammed, acknowledged by all in spite of his religious greatness to be an illiterate man, is said to have received God's word direct ... from angels, and scribes recorded them later ... During the past 500 years, critical scholarship has declined, leading to strong resistance to modernity”. Carey was foolish. But the CAA has no problem there.
The litany of shame continues with the presence of one Eric Pickles, whose manipulation of racism for his own benefit is well known to anyone who observed his political rise as a Councillor at Bradford Metropolitan District Council in the 1970s and 1980s. Pickles had been a progressive Conservative in his early days, anti-racist, consensual and small-L liberal. This changed when Ray Honeyford came along.
Honeyford was appointed headmaster of Drummond Middle School in Bradford, located in an area which had a racially diverse population. While in that job, he wrote an article for the Salisbury Review, which at the time was “pro-repatriation”. Very few people read the piece, as the Salisbury Review enjoyed a very small circulation. But then someone at the right-leaning Yorkshire Post had it reprinted in that publication, and all hell broke loose.
One look at the title of Honeyford’s article tells you why: “Education and Race - an alternative view”. The contents were little short of incendiary. The local education authority decided Honeyford had to go. But Tory high command, which included then PM Margaret Thatcher, decided otherwise. In this, she was backed up forcefully by the Daily Mail, even then a force for vicious, reactionary, and borderline racist views.
Pickles abandoned his previous principled stance and became a populist. He kept his council seat, and became favourably regarded by Mrs T., by backing Honeyford - a racist, and one who was forever unrepentant. This now supposedly distinguished Tory elder statesman manipulated race issues for his own benefit.
He is not alone in the list of CAA Honorary Patrons. A veritable triumvirate of them participated in a shameless exploitation of racism in order to garner votes last year, as Zelo Street noted at the time. When the National Council of Hindu Temples launched what it called Operation Dharmic Vote last year, in the run-up to the General Election, this was noting less than the importing of Indian sub-continent racism to the UK.
They told “Say No to Caste Law … Why this should concern you … For the GE17 election, the Dharmic community needs to vote in large numbers and strategically. Political Party alliances and affiliations need to be set aside. Labour, LibDems, Greens and all the nationalist parties have supported caste legislation bar the odd MP in these parties. As you will see ALL the Prospective Parliamentary Candidates who have signed up are Conservative”. And what was this “Caste Law”, perchance?
The Wembley Matters blog quoted a local resident: “Caste discrimination is endemic within parts of the Hindu and Sikh communities in the UK - there have been instances of doctors refusing to give medical treatment to Dalits and others where Dalit couples have been refused venues for weddings. It is a discrimination which remains largely hidden to wider society”. Dalits are still referred to on occasion as Untouchables.
The Three CAA Honorary Patrons who backed Operation Dharmic Vote - thus attempting to benefit from racism to enhance their General Election returns - were Bob Blackman (Harrow East), Matthew Offord (Hendon), and Mike Freer (Finchley and Golders Green). All three participated willingly in racist politics. And, for Blackman, there was more.
The Harrow East MP hosted a meeting in Committee Room 12 of the House of Commons last October which was addressed by Tapan Ghosh, whose Twitter bio states “Uncompromising Hindu activist of Bengal. Determined to fight against Islamic aggression and expansion”. Ghosh is an Islamophobic and also anti-Christian bigot. He is a hate preacher. He has endorsed the likes of Geert Wilders.
Ghosh dressed up his bigotry in his talk “Tolerating the intolerant” as “800 years of defending human rights”. And that is not all: this talk not only took aim at “800 years of Arabic Islamic aggression” (Muslims in Bengal are not Arabs), but also “200 years of European Christian aggression”. Tapan Ghosh is as anti-Christian as he is anti-Islam. He claimed that the Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar in their hundreds of thousands are “violent”. But Blackman is welcomed by the CAA.
And finally, also welcomed by the CAA as an Honorary Patron is Richard Kemp. That’s the same Richard Kemp who attacked Sayeeda Warsi in a Jewish News column, an act that triggered a libel action and a front page apology. That apology bears close scrutiny.
“In a column written by Colonel Richard Kemp published in the Jewish News and jewishnews.co.uk on 6 April 2017, it was suggested that Baroness Sayeeda Warsi has sought to excuse the appalling conduct of the barbaric Islamic State terror group … The column also suggested that Baroness Warsi has objected to action being taken against British Muslims who murder and rape for Islamic State. We wish to make absolutely clear that these allegations were wholly untrue and should never have been published”.
Sayeeda Warsi had her costs paid, plus damages of £20,000. And this was not an isolated incident: Kemp approvingly cites organisations like the Gatestone Institute, and more disturbingly, Breitbart, an Islamophobic organisation which has also promoted white supremacists. He is a nailed-on bigot of the crudest and most blatant kind.
Yet here is Richard Kemp, proudly presented as an Honorary Patron of an organisation that is today calling “racist” on others.
Small wonder the Campaign Against Antisemitism knows all about racism. Perhaps Gideon Falter might also find it useful to consult the dictionary definition of hypocrisy.