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After spending years torturing itself over the definition of antisemitism Labour signed up to the government‘s controversial definition of Islamophobia with alacrity

Everywhere you look, the principle of free speech is under the cosh. The self-censoring failings surrounding the child-grooming scandal in Rotherham are not simply being forgotten – they may soon be cemented into law. Approving liberal left activists meanwhile wantonly denounce everyone and anyone as ‘white supremacist’ just at a time when a flinty eyed far-right is beginning to shoulder its way through the populist throng. Even by the standards of an increasingly out of touch Left, to insist on screeching wolf when real wolves are about is a dangerous and appalling new low.

Offensive Trump-Netanyahu cartoonA day or so after the bombings in Sri Lanka, BBC presenter Nick Robinson suggested that it might have been ‘Buddhists’. While it is true that Buddhism is the majority religion in the country, it’s not as if the monks have an extensive track record of suicide bombings or the targeting of Christians on such a scale. On the other hand there were nearly 300 Islamist inspired suicide attacks with 8,000 either killed or injured worldwide in 2018. But instead of making the obvious connection Robinson saw fit to present the massacre as a real head scratcher.

Meanwhile, the UK government is being urged to adopt a definition proposed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims which says “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” Naturally, Labour, which spent months if not years torturing itself over the definition of anti-Semitism, signed up with alacrity.

So all Robinson was doing with his Buddhist speculation was attuning himself to the type of asinine observation that may soon be mandatory. The failings from Rotherham, where the authorities self-censored, are not being simply forgotten: in the not too distant future they may well be cemented into law. Accordingly, even a passing reference to the veil, burka, forced marriage, female genital mutilation or honour killing, not to mention grooming gangs or suicide bombers, could easily be classified as hate crime with prosecutions to follow. Reportedly a number of Islamic advocates are acting as advisors in drawing up the proposals. This makes sense. After all, who else would conjure something so wonderfully Orwellian as the APPG proposal which states “that accusing Muslims of exaggerating Islamophobia” should itself be deemed Islamophobic, were it not legislation designed not for moderate much less secular Muslims, but by Islamists for Islamists.

And yet it is not without precedent. Here is the National College of Policing’s definition of a transgender “hate incident”, which is already operational: “Any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice, against a person who is transgender.” That might be draconian enough, except it goes further and instructs that “hate incidents” must be recorded “irrespective of whether or not there is any evidence to identify the hate element.” In other words a hate ‘incident’ no longer actually requires a hate ‘element’. Islamists take note.

Freedom of the press is under pressure already. Democracy is leaking credibility. According to the Hansard Society more than half of people surveyed recently “wanted a strong leader who would be prepared to break the rules”. And now freedom of speech is under the cosh. Not too long ago liberals would instinctively have defended all three, but are now just as often on the other side of the argument. Labour MP Jess Phillips for example, has suggested that ‘candidates ought to be vetted by the Electoral Commission’, a government appointed body, prior to being allowed to stand in elections. Activists meanwhile have zero qualms about denouncing everyone and anyone not totally au fait with the very latest twists and turns of the new liberal orthodoxy as ‘white supremacists’ and driving them from the public space, or as they put it in their juvenile and slightly fascistic way, ‘cancelled’.

Maduro in uniform flanked by generals

Recently, an old fogey type philosopher, Roger Scruton, was sacked from a government housing quango as a result of a New Statesman ‘exposé’ which the journalist in question celebrated on Instagram with a bottle of champagne. A liberal opponent of Scruton described the “misrepresentation” that had led to his dismissal as “indefensible journalism” but went on to attack him anyway. At the same time and from pretty much the same political quarter, succour is being offered to the Maduro regime in Venezuela against what is regarded as an attempted ‘coup’ when just one look at Maduro, a portly former bus driver dressed in military type fatigues of his own design but flanked by bone fide generals, would cause any true democrat would realise the coup had already occurred.

Taken together with the ongoing Jew-baiting scandal (which, instructively, has also surfaced within the Democratic party in America) it’s clear that the liberal-left has lost whatever moral compass it ever had. A recent cartoon in the New York Times depicting Netanyahu as a dog with a Star of David dangling from his collar leading a blind Trump managed to echo not simply liberal but white supremacist and Islamist propaganda as well.

So precisely at the time when a flinty eyed ethno-nationalist far-right are beginning to shoulder their way through the populist throng, it’s the existence of a populist upsurge itself that the liberal left opts to condemn. And whilst it is true that the populist right can enable the fascists (although it can work the other way round too) it is liberal over-reach – a direct consequence of the conscious uncoupling from the working class – which is enabling the populists. Wantonly screeching wolf with real wolves about is simply the cherry on top.

This article first appeared on the Independent Working Class Association facebook page on the date given above and has been transferred here in August 2019.

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