In today’s Daily Mail Peter Oborne has written a very interesting article that does well to capture the events of the past few weeks and related issues. Yes I know, it’s the Daily Mail. But I find the analysis quite compelling and worth examining. After all it is the pulse of Middle England.
I’ve highlighted the main points in red. My brief comments are below them.
Until only a few months ago, mainstream British politicians were extremely cautious about articulating the fears and resentments felt by many ordinary people on the subject of mass immigration.
“This self-restraint has now vanished. Practically every day for the past two weeks, another minister has insulted the customs, habits or religious beliefs of Britain’s Muslim minority.
The second part is true but I find the conflation with mass-immigration quite silly. The only mass-immigration currently into Britain is of white Eastern-European men not Muslim women wearing niqabs.
It seems every day now brings forth news of an outrage allegedly perpetrated somewhere by a Muslim. Many of the stories… may well turn out to be fabrications.
“But cumulatively this litany of condemnation has turned into an anti-Islamic crusade. I am a practising member of the Church of England and if we had come under the same wave of condemnation for our practices and traditions I would by now be affronted beyond belief. If I were Jewish, with the experience of the 20th century to look back on, and came under the same weight of hostility I would be terrified.
Needless to say I agree. I wonder what Melanie Phillips will say now the Daily Mail has green-lighted the same concerns, given she tried to mock India Knight last week for saying the same.
There is a whiff of the lynch mob about the wave of attacks over the past fortnight, and it is no surprise to learn that the new national mood sparked by Jack Straw and sanctioned by Tony Blair has indeed led to a number of assaults on British mosques, including one firebombing. There have also been reports of a sharp rise of physical assaults on Muslims.
… but I think three main factors lie behind Labour’s campaign against Islam. The first is a genuine belief that it is extremely difficult to reconcile Muslim fundamentalism with full membership of British society.
“My guess is that Labour strategists have now calculated that the Muslim coalition of voters, which was so stalwartly behind the party in 1997 and 2001, is now lost for ever as a result of the Iraq War. Rather than try to win them back, Labour has cut its losses, and decided instead to stir up racial tension as a means of appealing directly to the white working-class vote.”
“…Labour has now moved directly into the ground vacated by the Conservatives, only with far greater assurance. It is now engaging with issues that Michael Howard would never have dared even to mention.
His analysis of Labour is bang on. Any delusion that the Labour party is any less willing to use the race or religious card to demonise minority groups for votes should be dispelled. It was quite obvious during the Local Elections anyway, when they did very little to challenge the BNP.
So far the Conservative response has been impressive. To his credit, David Cameron has braved internal criticism by refusing to join in some kind of bidding war with Labour.
Agreed. If Muslim groups were clever they would abandon Labour and switch support to the Conservatives, which should be their natural home anyway. That may also get Cameron willing to fight their cause.
The other fact is that in a stunning role-reversal to the 1997/2001/2005 elections, David Cameron is playing the optimist card while Labour is forced to pander to people’s prejudices in order to win votes. And we know how that turned out in the past. People may initially fall for Labour’s scaremongering but I believe they’ll ultimately go for Cameron’s optimism.
Now Tony Blair has allowed a campaign that is bound to undermine moderate Muslims and encourage extremism, whether from white supremacist parties like the BNP or within Islam itself.
It is quite the nastiest and most irresponsible politics I have seen from a mainstream political party in my life, and we will all pay a horrible price for such cynical opportunism.
You can say that again. It does feel odd applauding a Daily Mail editorial and arguing that the Conservatives may be our new friends, but from where I’m sitting it makes sense.
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