It looks as if Andrew Neil is another of our National Treasures who automatically equates antisemitism with Islamophobia. Here he cross-examines his guest Sahar Al Faifi over her definition of Islamophobia. (at 19:56)
“I’ll let you have the last word,” says Neil to Sahar Al Faifi. She has her last word.
Government rejects definition of Islamophobia created by cross-party group of MPs— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) May 16, 2019
“We have to differentiate between the freedom of speech and the freedom of hate and bigotry” Sahar Al-Faifi from Muslim Council of Wales#politicslive https://t.co/YozpreqZ5m pic.twitter.com/m8ZXEbCRRt
Unable to extract a direct answer from her, he turns to his guest Paul Scully MP to berate the Tories for not doing enough to address Islamophobia, using the Labour Party’s antisemitism problem as a model.
“We’ll move on, but before we do, Paul Scully, Labour have been much criticised for antisemitism. They’ve now published their numbers on those disciplined and those expelled over antisemitism, why haven’t the Conservatives done the same for Islamophobia?
I don’t know the numbers myself but…
(interrupting) Well, you’re vice-chairman of the party?
We’ve had a, erm, erm process in place…
(interrupting) But we want to know the results
For complaints and actually, what we’ve had, we’ve had an um a few people that have been um, a few people that have been investigated, suspended, and then um other issues raised, whether it’s retraining, or anything like that, um...
(interrupting) How many have been expelled?
Well there’ve been a lot of people that are purporting to be …. some people have said “are they party members?” so maybe they…
(interrupting) Well, Labour’s faced those problems too. How many have been expelled for islamophobic remarks? Andrew, as I say I don’t have those numbers.
You’re the vice chairman of the party, and this is a crucial issue. Your party has been going for Labour on its antisemitism, don’t YOU need to get your house in order?
I don’t … what I do know - because we’ve got an independent process, it actually goes outside the party. It goes outside the party, this is not something that sits within Conservative central office…
But you’re chairman - your boss promised there would be full transparency about the numbers and you haven’t done it. We still can’t find out. So why? What are your…?
What we’ve got, we’ve got a transparent process…
It’s not transparent if you cannot give me the numbers.
People will make a complaint, they will be dealt with swiftly with an independent committee and dealt with at that appropriate time.
Well, hang on, one of your councillors, and there’s not an argument that he was - he was a Conservative councillor in Nottinghamshire, Mick Murphy, he shared a post on social media comparing Muslim children in burkas to rubbish bags! He was suspended and then let back into the party.
Over what time period would that be, Andrew?
A couple of months!
A couple of months, so I would anticipate the fact that within that suspension that he would have had a sense of retraining and talk about diversity, talk about the sensitivities that we’ve just been discussing...
Why wasn’t he just expelled?
I can’t comment on specific issues, I don’t know…..
So you cannot say that you’re actually dealing properly with this problem.
You give me two lines on a specific example on the other side of the country to the one I represented so I can’t …
So what’s, you’re only vice chair for a part of the country?
Yes, that’s right. London, actually, yes.
So what happens elsewhere really doesn’t…
(Talking over each other)..regional vice chairman..
I mean every one of your answers shows, I would suggest, that you’re just not taking it seriously...
No that’s not true because Madeline (Grant) talked about “Tell Mama” what we’ve actually done works closely with Tell Mama, to actually work out how we can have a sensible message to explain to members, elected representatives of every level, how to um, involve ourselves with um the Muslim community and wider communities of um all types of diasporas whether it be of Pakistani Muslims, whether it be Sunni, Shia or even Ahmadiyya Muslims as well of which there are a number in my area.
But your party chairman has told members that if they share Islamophobic content online they will be allowed back into the party after six months if they just apologise. I thought we were into a zero tolerance for these things. Your party has been demanding zero tolerance from Labour over antisemitism, why don’t you show zero tolerance on this instead of saying oh well, if you apologise you’re back in.
It depends what their comments are. if it’s someone inadvertently does something at the bottom of a thread 'cos they really don’t understand the context of it themselves, in which we need to pretty quickly explain it to them, um and if it’s something that is malicious then yes they should be expelled.
Then Ed Vaizey wades in to declare that this needs to be taken as seriously as antisemitism is, and Andrew Neil responds thus:
It’s part of my contract that I don’t join any political party in their campaigns… it’s also part of my contract that I don’t have to be in favour of antisemitism. But I don’t get involved in your campaign. My job is to test your campaign.
[…] About rehabilitation……
On that hopeful note — of Pol Pot’s re-education camps being the way forward, let’s move on.