Book Review: Unleashing Demons: The Inside Story of Brexit

Unleashing Demons: The Inside Story of BrexitUnleashing Demons: The Inside Story of Brexit by Craig Oliver

As someone involved in messaging, communications, strategy and PR, “Unleashing Demons: The Inside Story of Brexit” was a riveting read with narratives, analogy, honest assessments and a front line seat to witness what exactly took place behind Number 10 Downing Street during on the most important period of British politics.

Craig Oliver as David Cameron’s Director of Politics and Communications documents the time from January, 2016, when Cameron renegotiated a deal with the European Union, the subsequent Referendum on Europe and the immediate aftermath of the referendum. From the onset it is obvious Oliver painted a benevolent view of Prime Minister David Cameron who is perceived as a man who wanted to ship the country to a better future and end the futile bickering of Europe. George Osborne, Cameron’s heir apparent was portrayed as a man who held conviction and put loyalty to Cameron above any political ambition. Oliver however painted Michael Gove, Chair of Leave as a Machiavellian character who may have been brilliant in being a savvy political operator but at the expense of political ambition and using any way to justify the means. Boris Johnson, the other lead Leaver was portrayed as a lost soul who may have meant well but was confused. I for one disagree about Boris and his agenda, one only has to read “Just Boris” to understand the blond ambition of the man. Although Nigel Farage is mentioned disparagingly, despite the fact that he was heard everywhere in the campaign, Oliver did ignore him at his peril throughout the book.

Oliver throughout the book recalls that he understood ‘ what the man on the street’ was thinking in relation to the Referendum, but their concerns over Immigration could not be addressed, coupled by the fact that the Remain refused to engage in Tory -on-Tory differences, which Cameron refused to engage. The economy was the selling point for The Remain Campaign, yet immigration could not be overcome, and even though the master of communication himself, Peter Mandelson repeatedly raised the prospect of Cameron addressing immigration, which was often ignored. It was obvious the issue of immigration made the difference for Brexit to win.

Oliver came out with the book before most others and gave an insider’s perspective without really going into detail of the mood the country. No doubt as more publications, diaries, analysis and history books will come out with a honest and brutal assessment of David Cameron as the man who took a gamble on the future of the country in order to calm unrest within his own party spectacularly backfired. Oliver was clearly an integral part of the inner circle and admits where he felt the campaign went wrong, however don’t expect a full analysis on why Remain lost.

I did find Oliver’s fascination with Peter Mandelson interesting as it seems the Labour PM tends to leave impressions on people across all political divides. Oliver also noted in late January David Cameron making the perceptive comment: “She could be PM in six months’ time,” the rest they say is history.

Oliver’s book highlights how important it is to have perfectly crafted and realistic messaging is essential for any organisation to succeed for any campaign or cause. However hand in hand, if one does not understand the pulse of the people of whom you are trying to convince, then expect a moment of unleashing demons coming one’s way.

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Daily Mail blames foreigners for driving with phone – but why?

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As Ian Marchant who wrote on Facebook earlier today: “This is the cover of today’s Daily Mail. I think we all agree that using your mobile while driving is mental. But this is classic Mail stuff. A Polish lorry driver, we photograph 17 foreign drivers, etc.I suspect that you could just as well have taken similar photos of British drivers in the same period. But no. I realise that the guy who was convicted this week was Polish. I don’t deny that. But surely the problem is mobile phones, not ‘foreign-ness. And so the drip-drip-drip of hate goes on.”

Few pointers from me based on a messaging perspective:

1. The article and headline highlights subtle racist overtones which state that only foreign drivers use their phones whilst driving.

2. Daily Mail are taking the debate on step forward in their rhetoric. They’ve ALWAYS attacked foreigners, but in this case they’re attacking foreigners who are  doing something wrong which is demonstrating that something which white British Middle Class people don’t do (in other words use their phone and drive).

3. Rather than look at the symptom of the problem, the story is stating that foreigners who come to our country don’t abide by OUR rules.

4. Of course the “law must be toughened” is in their narrative, but again it is directed towards immigrants and foreigners, rather than the wider populace at large. The Daily Mail is always on tune with tough law and order but the law in their eyes is to protect little England from foreigners who ’cause these problems’.

I’m not racist but………………

Today James O’Brien quite rightly highlights the double standards of the Sun newspaper during and after the Brexit campaign and how they fanned the flames of xenophobia and racist attacks.

This is the newspaper which published “Muslims are not like you and I.” Similarly the Sun once went after the BBC by implying “the BBC isn’t friendly to white faces, because they have internships for minorities,” while the newspaper which blindly ignored the growing increase of attacks on minorities, yet today it had the audacity as O’Brien pointed out to condemn the growing xenophobia a day after a story which gloated that Britain got its country back.

Last Friday morning 52% of the electorate voted to take Britain out of the EU, from the 17 odd million who voted leave a small minority it seems took the words “we now got our country back” as literal. This has resulted in attacks on members of the Polish community, Muslims have been verbally and in some cases physically assaulted.

Examples of the attacks included the posting of laminated cards reading “Leave the EU – no more Polish vermin” to members of the Polish community in Huntingdon on Saturday. There were also reports of racist graffiti scrawled on a Polish community centre in Hammersmith, west London. The Muslim Council of Britain said it had compiled a dossier of over 100 hate crimes over the weekend alone since the vote. I myself know of three attacks where Muslim women were racially abused while walking in the streets of the UK, and today police are treating a firebomb incident inside a Halal butchers shop in my home town as a possible hate crime. In Birmingham, members of the far-right English Defence League gathered outside a mosque in Birmingham waving a flag that read: “Rapefugees Not Welcome”, as they shouted “f*****g p**dos” and “Allah, Allah, who the f*** is Allah?”. Police later made two arrests.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said it had detected a 57 per cent rise in reports to a police online hate crime reporting site between Thursday and Sunday compared to the corresponding days four weeks ago.

On Twitter there have been calls by bigots to send immigrants home:

Now, call me a cynic, but I do believe that certain elements of the media has allowed this so-called concern to grow into an inferno of fire known as racism. Yes, we expect the right-wing elements and their surrogate far-right friends to spew their filth, after all I don’t expect a condemnation or an apology from Nigel Farage, but the likes of the Sun should not patronise us with their hypocrisy at the same time.

I myself have experienced racism in the UK. Whether it was being called a p*** and being chased by BNP members in the streets of Perry Barr to facing some covert forms of racism in various work places. I do feel it is acceptable to be a racist, a xenophobe and an Islamophobe because it is now the norm. People can have these views as it is readily acceptable on social media and mentioned quite freely and unashamed.  Why? well because our politicians and media has allowed this form  of rhetoric to take place. During the Brexit debate the peddled lies of 80 Million Turks turning up at the UK borders, fear tactics that these hordes of brown Muslim refugees from Syria will destroy our very existence and put British women at risk of being raped were thrown around. So why then should we blame the pensioner who appeared on Channel 4 News a day after the vote in Barnsley saying he had voted to keep the Muslims out.

So what is the solution? Well, firstly the political class need to move their backsides from Westminster and engage with the British public but also condemn what is taking place and ensure bigotry and racism has no place in society. Words are not what is needed but action. Not all the 17 million people who voted Brexit are racists, but sadly many had made their minds up based on the propaganda but also because over the past forty years successive governments have let them down. The UK is not the leafy suburb of Hamstead but it is the grit of Hull and the liberals amongst us need to understand the United Kingdom is not a hub of multicultural free spirit. If their concerns are not met or engaged with the  Labour strongholds across the north and Wales which voted to leave will end up in the hands of Farage and his gang for a generation. The white working class have grievances and are the likliest to suffer in a post Brexit Britain. Unless the Labour party holds honest and pragmatic discussions on immigration and provide the white working class an identity of respect and understanding, it is an electorate that will be lost to a far-right politics of fear.

Similarly there needs to be positive action and engagement outside the echo chambers of social media, interfaith groups and liberal intelligensia forums. We need to understand that change will not come about by groups of  like-minded people holding like minded conversations with like minded viewpoints to find like minded solutions. The concept of debate and winning the battle of ideas is not with your friend who agrees with you but with the neighbour who may disagree with you after all isn’t that what is politics about? Those who believe in a free and fair society of tolerance and respect also need to get out a bit more and engage with people who may not agree with their views.

One genuinely feels that those who influence the filth of hate should be challenged and exposed. More effort is needed to hold these people to account, while organisations like tell MAMA should be supported.

Yahya Birt, the British academic wrote in his piece After Brexit, where do British Muslims go from here?  wrote:”46% of British Muslims live in the bottom 10% most deprived wards in England and so are squarely among the have-nots too,” the battle for the soul of the United Kingdom should not be about race but of opportunity, hence, why politicians need to take the lead to stand up for the betterment of all. Birt went on to write:  “This requires a radical rethink because neither of the two main parties have done enough to prevent our society becoming more unequal despite Britain’s great wealth, thus creating neighbourhoods, towns and even cities of the forgotten and the left behind. And although it is clearly a delicate and controversial subject, the impact of migration on jobs, goods and services must be diagnosed and debated in a responsible way that does not play into race politics. For this change in tone and approach to have any chance of succeeding, BAME and faith communities must now play a prominent role in this debate too.”

If we don’t take this crisis and turn it into an opportunity, we are sure as hell going to get more people saying “‘I’m not racist but……..”

 

 

David, how times have changed.

david-cameron

Earlier today David Cameron set out  his government’s strategy to defeat the “poison of Islamist extremism,” as he coined in at the school in the great city of Birmingham. Our PM pledged to tackle the extremist ideology and “the failures of integration” which he said had led to hundreds of Britons joining those nutters who call themselves Daesh.

In his speech the PM stated  “It begins – it must begin – by understanding the threat we face and why we face it. What we are fighting, in Islamist extremism, is an ideology. It is an extreme doctrine. And like any extreme doctrine, it is subversive. At its furthest end it seeks to destroy nation-states to invent its own barbaric realm. And it often backs violence to achieve this aim – mostly violence against fellow Muslims – who don’t subscribe to its sick worldview”.

Now David, as a PR man to another PR man, surely you know it is essential to understand the usage of words and values? For example the term ‘Islamist,’ is one word which can be slightly subjective.  After all in 2007 you did state: “Many Muslims I’ve talked to about these issues are deeply offended by the use of the word ‘Islamic’ or ‘Islamist’ to describe the terrorist threat we face today We do need greater understanding of the true nature of the terrorist threat. There’s too much complacency about it among non-Muslims, and too much denial of it in the Muslim community. But our efforts are not helped by lazy use of language. Indeed, by using the word ‘Islamist’ to describe the threat, we actually help do the terrorist ideologues’ work for them, confirming to many impressionable young Muslim men that to be a ‘good Muslim’, you have to support their evil campaign..”

So I guess today by using that term ‘Islamist,’ we have actually help to the terrorist idealogues’ work for them.” The term ‘Islamists’ is to broad and open ended. If I am not making sense then please watch this short explainer (yes it is attributed editorially, but I do feel it has wider reaches as well)

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Just a thought. Of course I could elaborate on other aspects of the speech and the fallout, failures and successes, but i’d rather let the experts fight it out.

Of course radicalisation is a problem and it must be dealt with accordingly, but ignoring economic issues, class, identity and the FP terminology is slightly far- fetched. But what do I know, I don’t work for Quilliam Foundation or engage in Prevent funded projects.

Finally, no doubt many experts will be writing, tweeting and commentating in relation to the speech. Personally I would recommend you read  An Open Letter to Britain’s Leading Violent Extremist: David Cameron.

How best to stop radicalisation? – Two views

Recently I came across two very different narratives on how to engage in radicalisation and extremism amongst British Muslims.

One on hand a stark warning from experts, academics and grass rooted individuals who believe Government deradicalisation plan will brand Muslims with beards as terrorists, further elaborating  it as a direct assault on freedom of speech and a move towards a police state. In an unprecedented intervention, 280 academics, lawyers and public figures claim the controversial law will make Britain less safe as it will force radical political discussion underground.  Individuals like Karen Armstrong, Baroness Ruth Lister, emeritus professor of social policy at Loughborough University, Rizwaan Sabir, a lecturer in counter-terrorism, who was wrongly arrested under anti-terror laws by Nottingham Police for downloading an al-Qaeda training manual from a US Government website he we was using to research his PHD. The letter states: “Prevent will have a chilling effect on open debate, free speech and political dissent. It will create an environment in which political change can no longer be discussed openly, and will withdraw to unsupervised spaces. Therefore, Prevent will make us less safe.”

However a few days prior to this strongly worded letter another letter appeared in the Guardian titled:  “United, we can protect our young people from extremists” which urged people of all communities, religion, government and non-government to work together to stand united against extremism. With one voice – they launched a collective fightback against those who wish to do us harm, by launching a website called Fightback Starts Here. Looking at the list of people and organisations who support the fightback , they all have one thing in common, they have all been receiving directly, indirectly or through partnerships been in receipt of a Prevent funding since 2005. Organisations on the list who have been in receipt of the funding are the Leicester based Federation of Muslim Organisations, JIMAS, Inspire, Active Change Foundation and St Phillips Centre in Leicester.

In the wake of the 7/7 attacks in London, the Labour Government stepped up the programme spending tens of millions on hundreds of schemes across the country.
But many of these initiatives were regarded by people as little more than using various community organisations who were all dependent on government funding competing with each other to the bidding on behalf of the government. The funds were used on converting the converted and in some cases used as canon fodder to gather intelligence on their local communities.

So who would you rather take advice from? A group of people who are independent of any government direction and agenda who have consistently warned people about the agenda and direction of Prevent and the danger these policies will have in the long run, or take advice from people who have made careers and businesses from Prevent who have it it in their interests to make Prevent work?

I’ll let you decide.

‘Pasty tax’ row heats up British PM

Al Jazeera

A British culinary staple finds itself at the centre of an unsavoury political row.

The prime minister claims to love them; his finance minister cannot remember the last time he had one, and the leader of the opposition prefers a sausage roll.

The hot snack in question is the pasty, a typically meat-filled pastry usually from the southwestern county of Cornwall, which has become an unlikely motif of popular dissent against budget proposals cooked up last week by George Osborne, the finance minister.

The introduction in last week’s budget of a 20 per cent sales tax on pasties and other hot foods sold by bakeries and supermarkets, now known as the, “pasty tax”, has prompted observations that proletarian foodstuffs have been targeted, while luxury edibles remain untouched.

“We now live in a country where caviar is untaxed and a hot pasty is .. go figure,” tweeted influential blogger Guido Fawkes.

Adding fuel to the fire, “Pastygate” is causing problems for David Cameron after the prime minister’s efforts to show how much he loved the pasty by recalling a large one he had eaten at Leeds railway station proved somewhat flaky.

When asked when he last had a pasty, Cameron said: “I think the last one I bought was from the West Cornwall Pasty Company.

“I seem to remember I was in Leeds station at the time and the choice was whether to have one of their small ones or one of their large ones. I have got a feeling I opted for the large one, and very good it was too.”

But the Daily Telegraph ran with the headline “Oh crumbs” after it emerged that the shop where Cameron claimed to have bought the pasty had closed in 2007.

‘Pork pie probe’

The Sun ran with the headline “PM pasty ‘pork pie’ probe,” and compared Osborne with Marie Antoinette, of “Let them eat cake” fame. The populist tabloid also offered readers a free pie, pasty or sausage roll, and urged them to protest at 1400 GMT by eating their pasty in public.

Even the Times could not resist a pun by running with a sketch headed: “Dave tries to play catch-up but it’s all pie in the sky as Mr Pasty tells a porky”, while the Guardian joined in as well asking “Who ate all the pies?”

“Pasty gate” blew up when Osborne, facing a grilling by a parliamentary committee on the decision to tax hot snacks, was asked when he had last visited Greggs, a popular high street bakery.

Osborne, who usually answers questions on fiscal stimuls or deficit reduction, looked out of his depth and said he could not recall.

Ken McMeikan, Greggs’ chief executive, warned that in current economic circumstances his company could be forced to cut jobs if pasty prices rise by 20 per cent, and attacked Osborne for being out of touch.

One tweet suggested that Osborne was probably subjected to a Treasury presentation where he was told that pasties were “similar to mini boeufs en croute,” referring to his priviliged background.

With petrol prices on the rise, causing last minute panic-buys at petrol forecourts in the UK, the Daily Mail attacked the government with the headline: “Petrol, pasties and the politics of panic.”

It said both Cameron and Osborne had conspired to plunge the government into a combination of high farce and panic.

As Cameron has been caught with a pasty in his mouth, the internet has gone viral with various humourous anecdotes to his love affair with the pasty.

The website www.cameronwithpasties.tumblr.com has created various pictures of Cameron holding, eating or even stroking a pasty.

Cornish backlash

In Cornwall, the Western Morning News, a regional newspaper, ran with the headline “Pasty battle,” and said the fight over Value Added Tax on its local product had turned personal.

Andrew George, a local member of parliament whose Liberal Democrat party is in coalition with Cameron’s Conservatives, said that Cornish people would “fight them on the beaches”.

“Pasties are not luxury food. It’s not like caviar or lobster sandwiches, which would be zero rated,” he said.

“For the chancellor to tell working Cornish folk that they can ‘eat their pasties cold’ fails to recognise the long tradition and how important this humble square meal is to working people in our country.”

Alex Folkes, a Liberal Democrat councillor for Launceston Central, used social media tools by organising a Facebook campaign, called Stop the Pasty Tax, which already has 5,000 members.

“I’m not saying that the tax means nobody will ever buy a pasty again,” says Folkes. “It would mean some people buying hot pasties less often and that could lead to job losses.”

Ann Muller, a pasty shop owner, said the tax was “basically a tax on the working man of Britain”.

“My hot pasties would go up by 50 pence ($0.79) for some people, that will make a big difference. I’m planning to put a sign up in the window: ‘Hot for the rich, and cold for the poor.'”

Not be outdone by the public mood, Ed Miliband, the opposition Labour leader, showed his allegiance to heated pastry products by visiting a Greggs bakers in Redditch, Worcestershire, and buying eight sausage rolls.

Follow Hasan Patel on Twitter: @hasanpatel

London’s burning – why or why?

Parts of London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham and Bristol are burning, shops are looted and youths in hoodies are walking around with their prizes ranging from Tesco’s own branded basmati rice or a nice pair of designer trainers.

Reading the tweets, blogs, social media and articles, opinion is split on who is exactly is to blame for the riots. London is experiencing the most destructive riots since the riots of 1981. Thirty years on as was the case in 1981, the riots took place against the backdrop of a royal wedding and an economic downturn. Some of the riots are taking place in some of the same locations with a followed pattern of events, but there is a very different tone to the riots this time around.

I grew up in Birmingham, studied and worked in Leicester, while also living and working briefly in Manchester and London. I just can’t comprehend that on the streets where I would walk and breath has become in some parts a war zone. According to the analysts from the left pockets of youth in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leicester have exploded their anger into violent action as government cuts, the withdrawal of college grants, an increase in tuition fees and rising youth unemployment all have added to the frustration, anger and isolation.

While the right believe that these youth are products of broken homes who have no responsibility and are resorting to crime and looting.

In the summer of 2010 I had spent some nights in the inner city areas of Manchester and Leicester to see for myself whether there was a perceived gang-culture within the streets which could escalate into something far sinister.

My observations which came out were that many of these young men who were aged from 15-18 were school dropouts, who had no real life mentors and were basically bored as they had nothing to do with their time. Some felt their communities had let them down, while others blamed the system, but the overall picture was they got used to hanging around in groups on street corners into the early hours of the morning, as they had nothing else to do.

A group of youth who allowed me to trace their steps told me, they felt the police would always pick on them and they had become vulnerable targets as public perception of the ‘hoodie’ was one of a trouble maker, a drug user and involved in petty crime. There was no real youth club, while others even let their anger be directed towards their community leaders for not doing enough to understand their needs and aspirations. With low educational level achieved with high unemployment the route to success for some would always be the life of crime.

I myself came across a 16 year old boy who came from a poor background and had no real relationship with his own father, who turned to selling drugs as the only source of income to fuel his expensive consumer influenced lifestyle.

The UK for a number of years as allowed this class of youth to grow in numbers, while at the same time they themselves have become disenfranchised with the system. David Cameron’s objective of ‘hugging a hoodie’ was ridiculed and supported, but the fact is perceptions of inner city youth is one of juvenile behaviour, broken homes and no real support.

Together with the lack of funding in successful programmes like youth work and family support, more and more of Britain’s youth were left on their own to make their own free time enjoyable.

David Cameron says he now wants to rebuild families and improve parenting so all children and young people grow up to become citizens who make a positive contribution to society. But from speaking to young people across the country, all they want is to be heard, respected and for their politicians to leave a better society for the future.

No doubt there are criminal elements that have exposed the vulnerabilities of a stretched police force, but many youth have just ridden on the bandwagon of carnage in order to resent the system but also get some satisfaction on the way.

The riots have become a product of the direction Britain is heading, for too long societies have been living side by side but not engaging or understanding each other. As groups of university students, faith groups and local community associations are cleaning up Britain as a way of reclaiming the streets, that in itself shows how divided the UK has become.

One on hand there is a group of people who feel let down that they continue to cause destruction and damage, and another idealistic group who urge society to reclaim a peaceful existence.

Many minority groups in an indirect way highlighted that the problems of society aren’t just race related as Sikh youth in the Birmingham suburb of Smethwick stayed awake all night to protect their community while Bangladeshi groups in East London reminded their fellow Muslims it is their duty to help their non-Muslim neighbours.

Unlike 1981 the causes of the riots can’t be just defined as black and white in definition. The riots have exposed the lives the rioters choose or feel constrained to live. Blaming the riots on individual wickedness, conspiracies or on government spending cuts is too simple for such complex issues.

Baroness Warsi anti bigotry speech at the University of Leicester

Prejudice against Muslims has “passed the dinner-table test” and become socially acceptable in the UK, that was the top line from Baroness Warsi the Conservative Party Chair at a speech at the University of Leicester’s  annual Sir Sigmund Sternberg Interfaith Lecture. Even before the lecture extracts of the speech were published in the Daily Telegraph, which highlighted “the patronising, superficial way faith is discussed in certain quarters, including the media”, for making Britain a less tolerant place for believers. Most of the criticism she received for her honest analysis came from right wing politicians like Lord Tebbit and blog sites like Harry’s Place who either are in denial or the truth may have hurt a bit.

I attended the lecture where Baroness Warsi outlined her views, most of the audience were academics, community workers and the odd self-appointed community leader who decided to use the questions and answer session to project the sound of their own voice.

The minister without portfolio warned that describing Muslims as either “moderate” or “extremist” fosters growing prejudice, which is a recruitment tool for all extremists. Faith for her should encourage debate while at the same time inspire people.  “The patronising, superficial way faith is discussed in certain quarters, including the media”. The peer described how prejudice against Muslims has grown along with their numbers, partly because of the way they are often portrayed.

The notion that all followers of Islam can be described either as “moderate” or “extremist” can fuel misunderstanding and intolerance, she went on to say that “It’s not a big leap of imagination to predict where the talk of ‘moderate’ Muslims leads; in the factory, where they’ve just hired a Muslim worker, the boss says to his employees: ‘Not to worry, he’s only fairly Muslim’.In the school, the kids say: ‘The family next door are Muslim but they’re not too bad, and in the road, as a woman walks past wearing a burka, the passers-by think: ‘That woman’s either oppressed or is making a political statement’.

She highlighted that the media were partly responsible for this swipe at Muslims,  in 2002 Muslims students on campus were granted Halal food in one of  twenty-seven canteens of the campus and halls. However, some parts of the media distorted the facts with the story of how “Muslim students demanded the removal of Pork on campus.” This particular incident brought back memories as I was one of two people who lobbied the University to provide Halal meat in 2002, and I didn’t recall ever asking for Pork to be removed.

Britain is a tolerant society, but throughout history certain communities have been subjected to an unlimited scorn. The 1828 Catholic Emancipation Act was passed, but during that era the British Catholic community were seen to be a non-integrationist sect who were disloyal to the State but blindly loyal to the Papacy and the Catholic brotherhood. The same argument can be used in 2010 vis-a-vis the British Muslim community. Lady Warsi quite rightly stated that “those who commit criminal acts of terrorism in our country need to be dealt with not just by the full force of the law,” she will say. They also should face social rejection and alienation across society and their acts must not be used as an opportunity to tar all Muslims.”

The way to deal with the issues of anti-bigotry is to firstly provide political leadership, secondly the media, politicians and academics should think harder about language and terms used, as British Muslims are British Muslims and nothing else. Labels such as “moderate” can only be decisive. Finally society itself should create a means of engagement between the wider community and the British Muslim community.

The lecture by Lady Warsi  according to a friend who attended the lecture pointed out facts which most sane minded British Muslim had on their mind but weren’t in an influential position to get their point across.

Of course the responsibility also lies with British Muslims to speak out against extremism and more should be done, but generally at the same time more should be done to empower the community as well. The difficulties involved were summarised during the question and answer session one self-appointed Muslim leader failed to read the script and rather than ask a question he merely gave statement of denial and failed to grasp what Lady Warsi had said. I for one feel that there is a crisis of leadership within the British Muslim community, some of these self-appointed leaders need to give way to a generation of British born Muslim activists, thinkers and leaders who are in touch with public opinion.

Overall the lecture tackled the thorny subject of anti-Muslim bigotry but also provided solutions to overcome the problem; Lady Warsi highlighted publicly what many Muslims privately complain about, prejudice opinions against the British Muslim community does not attract the stigma attached to prejudice against other religious and ethnic groups. 

Problems of mistrust and anti Muslim bigotry are caused by ignorance and lack of understanding so bringing them out into the public will help improve relations between members of society.

Dodgy Dodgy Dodgy

The expenses saga uncovered by the Daily Telegraph in 2009 caused a stir and a sensation as many of our elected officials were claiming for their second homes, combs, moats’ and Kit Kats. Many politicians were lambasted for exploiting the system for their own gain even though one MP defended his outrageous expenses to prune his garden citing jealousy as an example.

Nevertheless today three Life Peers have been suspended for the Lords for their expenses after wrongly claiming tens of thousands of pounds. Baroness Uddin has been suspended until Easter 2012 and told to repay £125,349, while Lord Paul and Lord Bhatia have been suspended for four and eight months respectively.

Some might say it is a witch hunt, but it doesn’t help the Asian community when some of the most high profile Peers get embroiled in a controversy with their prints all over scene of the crime.