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Why I’m rooting for Boris

Boris Johnson MP. Image from https://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/645695/Boris-Johnson-never-be-Prime-Minister-David-Cameron-EU-renegotiation-Brexit-Nigel-Farage

The hottest topic in politics at the moment is the Conservative party leadership contest. And why shouldn’t it be as this will decide who succeeds Theresa May in the premiership. The future of the United Kingdom is at stake and we are at risk of having Boris Johnson as our leader. How did we get here? 

The last three years since the Brexit vote has turned our parliament upside down. The 2016 referendum result has divided the county and the main priority, other than Brexit, is uniting the country. 

It seems every election in the last ten years or so, the same thought process comes to mind for the a lot of the electorate, that is we are voting for the lesser of two evils. The same has happened this time where Boris Johnson, former Foreign Secretary and Jeremy Hunt current Foreign Secretary have somehow ended up as the last men standing. Now obviously we the commoners cannot vote, that entitlement is given to Tory party members only. But it’s really the Tory MP’s that have got us into this mess. Firstly by holding a questionable referendum motivated by selfish reasons, then with their total incompetency in delivering Brexit, and now by voting and leaving us with either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt as our prime minister. In less than one month, on the 22nd July 2019, one of these two will be our prime minister. That is a scary thought, but personally I’m hoping for a Boris victory.

Why I hear you say! Because if he becomes prime minister then a general election is on the cards pretty imminently. And that’s because everybody knows Boris will be hopeless and there are also rumours that votes of no confidence will be put forward as soon as he takes office.

As the candidate with the highest public profile, we know Boris Johnson’s history of blunders. There was the purchasing of water canons at a cost of over 350 thousand pounds to the taxpayer, which were actually banned from being used. The Garden Bridge vanity project where over 50 million pounds was gratuitously spent on the bridge that never got made. Let’s not forget the incident with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe whilst he was Foreign Secretary where he pretty much told the Iranians she was guilty. Currently her and her husband are on a hunger strike. 

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. Image from https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48721239

This is all before delving into his private life which is tarnished with affairs and secret, illegitimate children, not to mention the recent fiasco of his neighbours calling the police after hearing him fight with his girlfriend Carrie Symonds. Following that it’s now come to light the photograph of him looking lovey-dovey with his girlfriend was not only taken weeks ago but was most likely given to the press by his PR team and is not even copyrighted. 

Before this recent kerfuffle, Boris’s PR team were using the strategy of damage limitation, meaning the less he speaks in public the better it is for him. So if Boris doesn’t make many appearances, then the less goof ups he’ll make. This is working against him as the public naturally want a potential prime ministerial candidate to be put under scrutiny. If he can’t handle questions from the public and media now, how will he cope in the top job? Answer is, he won’t. Evidence of this is in this morning’s remarkable interview on LBC with Nick Ferrari. It was the exact reason his PR team don’t want him doing any interviews. Support is falling amongst Conservatives for Boris according to polls but all the MPs who supported him at the last vote know his weaknesses. The only reason they’re backing him is because they think he’ll be able to beat Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn is like Kryptonite for the Tory party. They are so scared of him they will do anything to make sure he doesn’t become the next prime minister even if the alternative is Boris Johnson. Surely MPs don’t really think he will make a competent leader? Yes he’s funny (both in a haha and  strange way) but let’s face it, he’s not honest with the public and he’s only ever put his own ambitions first. I’d put money on the fact that him becoming prime minister is a long standing bet he made with David Cameron in their Bullingdon days. 

But what’s really worrying is that the poll of Conservative party members that was published on Monday showed alarmingly worrying signs of Islamophobia. 45% of those asked believe the myth that, “There are areas in Britain in which non-Muslims are not able to enter.” 43% of Conservative Party members, “Would prefer to not have the country led by a Muslim.” There goes Sajid Javid’s chances (he is from a Muslim background, his name and brown skin are enough of a deterrent though).

With such suspicion and hostility, voting in a leader who is known for his controversial anti-Muslim comments whether likening Muslim women to bank robbers and letterboxes or those comments about removing children from potential Muslim ‘extremists’, is a prospect which doesn’t fill me with joy nor does it make me want to vote for the Conservative party in the next general election.

The fact that neither of the candidates have addressed this poll is disconcerting. The one good thing that has come out of this leadership contest is that last week, during a debate Sajid Javid made the other four candidates agree to an inquiry into Islamophobia live on television. Whether this will happen remains to be seen but it’s a start.

As for Boris’s opponent Jeremy Hunt, whose name is synonymous with the NHS for all the wrong reasons, I think of how NHS workers despise him after his stint as Health Secretary. I remember how he falsely promised 10 billion to the NHS and who can forget junior doctors striking for the first time in this country because of the new contracts he made up? I think of how he wanted to privatise the NHS,moving towards an American style model. This is laughable, as one of the worst things about living in America is their healthcare system and how it’s grossly unfair to anyone who can’t afford private health insurance. That’s not the country we live in and I’m pretty sure most Brits hold the NHS very dear to their heart. It’s the one thing that we have which is unique and has outdone any other healthcare system in the world. How can we let Jeremy Hunt or Donald Trump meddle with it?

Despite this, Jeremy Hunt is known as the ‘sensible’ candidate but he is a Remainer and is going to be no different to Theresa May. Whatever deal he brings to the table is still going to be rejected by the vehement Brexiteers. Jeremy Hunt is dangerous as he would go the distance, but would champion all the policies like austerity that have helped made the Tory party referred to as the nasty party.

One thing is clear though, who ever wins this contest has no mandate from the public. Firstly by virtue of being the leader of a ruling party that didn’t win with a majority back in 2017 and is only in power because of the DUP, and of course down to the fact that the public does not get to choose which of the two should be prime minister But hey who am I to question British democracy? And that’s why folks, Boris is the best option as he will accelerate the downfall of the Tory party much faster than any other man.

By Sharmeen Ziauddin

She is passionate about politics and faith and you can find her tweeting about these things @britpakgirl.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.


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Islamophobia in the Conservative Party: A Politics of Double Standards

Boris Johnson MP was accused of Islamophobia after comparing Muslim women to bank robbers and letter boxes

The Brexit debate and the Labour anti-Semitism row have fueled polarizing headlines on the back of accusations of racism, xenophobia and fragmented party loyalties.

At a time when the UK public is already uncertain about the future, multiple MPs announced their exit from Labour to create a new bipartisan group, citing an environment of anti-Jewish sentiments within the party, and the failure of Jeremy Corbyn to address the growing discrimination.

The media has investigated the (frankly, shocking and reprehensible) reports of attacks against the Jewish community, but has largely overlooked another brewing scandal: the normalisation of Islamophobia within the Tory party. 

A PARTY OF ANTI-MUSLIM HATRED

During the 2016 London Mayoral Elections, Richmond MP Zac Goldsmith, engineered one of the most controversial campaigns against his opponent Sadiq Khan. From distributing letters in the Tamil, Sri Lankan and Indian community, spreading falsities that Sadiq Khan supported a wealth tax on family jewelry, to baselessly tying Khan to extremists and preachers, and a seal of approval from far-right demagogue Katie Hopkins, this political contest was a no-holds barred quest for power for Goldsmith. His campaign was a blatant display of dog whistle-racism, insinuating that London was unsafe in the hands of a Muslim mayor. 

This vitriolic smear campaign was condemned across the board in the UK. Journalist Andrew Grice compared it to ‘Donald Trump’ tactics. Peter Oborne observed thatZac Goldsmith is responsible for the nastiest political campaign since the homophobic hatred of Bermondsey 1983’

Yet this was just the beginning. In 2018, Tory Councillors Ian Hibberd and Linda Freeman were suspended for condoning internment camps and posting the racial slur P*** on social media. 

Boris Johnson attracted widespread criticism after stating that women who wear the burkha ‘look like letter boxes’, garnering praise from white nationalist Steve Bannon. 

London Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey retweeted a picture of Sadiq Khan labeled as ‘the mad mullah of Londistan’

MP Bob Blackman was accused of spreading and endorsing Islamophobia after reposting an article with the headline ‘“Muslim Somali sex gang say raping white British children ‘part of their culture’.” 

Former Conservative member, Shazia Awan-Scully, wrote a first-hand account of her experience witnessing anti-Muslim behavior within the party in an interview with the New Statesman.

This year, fourteen Tory party members were suspended for posting threatening, racist and Islamophobic posts on a Facebook group, dedicated to frontline Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg. The string of abusive posts contained content ranging from calls to ‘turf all Muslims out of public office’ and to ‘get rid of all mosques.’ One individual said that he could not vote for Home Secretary Sajid Javid, because that would equate to a vote for ‘Islam to lead this country.

It has since emerged that the Conservatives reinstated a former Councillor, Mick Murphy, who was previously expelled for reposting racist, anti-Islam and far-right memes from militant group pages such as Pegida and Britain First. 

This sends a conflicting message to the population regarding the party’s stance on Islamophobia, and proves that the party leadership has tolerated the rise of Islamophobia. 

A BUSINESS OF ISLAMOPHOBIA 

These are not isolated incidents, but rather point to the Tory party’s links to the lucrative Islamophobia industry, a minacious space that has created an intellectual dark web, riddled with racist anti-Muslim abuse, and steered by a dangerous network of extremists.

Nathan Lean, author of ‘The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims’ argues that the Islamophobia industry is a global network of private groups, not-for profits, conservative bloggers, right-wing talk show hosts, evangelical religious leaders and politicians. All of whom are united in their quest to convince their compatriots that Islam is the enemy, and having the backing of hundreds of millions dollars behind them. See the Bridge Initiative for more information.

A transnational network, the Islamophobia industry is promoted by mostly far-right European and American key players such as Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Laura Loomer, Debbie Schlussel, Brigitte Gabriel, Milo Yiannopoulos, Tommy Robinson, Geert Wilders, and ex-Muslims such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali. They use channels such as social media, fringe news outlets, public poster/billboards, marches, right-wing conferences and mainstream politicians to advance their political cause. 

In 2016, it was reported by the Guardian that a staggering $206 million went towards bolstering anti-Muslim rhetoric. In 2018, an investigation by Al Jazeera uncovered how millions had been paid by anonymous donors to six leading anti-Muslim organisations with a direct link to the current Trump administration.

This anti-Muslim narrative has perilous ramifications for the Muslim communities where Islamophobic hate crimes have increased in the UK and US.

Tell MAMA, a monitoring anti-hate charity presented some grim statistics in 2018. The 2018 annual report, by hate crime monitoring charity Tell MAMA, finds a rise of 26% from the previous year in recorded incidents of harassment, intimidation and attacks.

Gendered violence specifically targeting Muslim women due to their visibility has surged. Six out of 10 victims of Islamophobic hate crimes were women, while eight out of 10 perpetrators were men, mainly aged between 13-18 years old. Many anti-Muslim attacks were reportedly triggered in the aftermath of a terrorist attack or an incident involving extremists.

There has been an increase of 36% in far-right activity related referrals to police in 2017-2018. In that same report, it was noted that Islamist related activity referrals were down 14% This indicates a dangerous shift in political discourse, with a prominent far-right presence growing in the UK. Since 2017, there has also been a 56% increase in anti-Muslim vandalism from the previous year of 2016.

No wonder that a report by Hope Not Hate concluded in February 2019 that the Tories are ‘signaling that Islamophobia is acceptable’ and as a party have repeatedly refused to properly tackle anti-Muslim hatred within their own ranks. 

CALLS FOR AN INVESTIGATION

Whilst many within the Conservative Party do not acknowledge the extent of rampant Islamophobia, one consistent politician has been vocal on the issue. Former Tory chair Baroness Sayeeda Warsi has appealed to current Tory chairman, Brandon Lewis, to tackle the ‘very widespread’ Islamophobia within the party and has called for a full inquiry.

On this subject, Baroness Warsi also stated that Theresa May has turned a blind eye to the growing bigotry and accused the Prime Minister of ‘burying her head in the sand’.

She also said that her party was going through a process of ‘re-UKIPification’ of itself.

Latest revelations by  Buzzfeed, show a leaked document detailing how Downing Street was forced to intervene with a private apology, after two Tory officials, Ajay Jagota and Gerard Leake, quit the party. They had accused chair Brandon Lewis of failing to tackle the growing Islamophobia and ignoring their complaints for several months.

To add to this, there have been repeated calls from the Muslim Council of Britain and 350 mosques have urged the Conservatives to investigate the numerous incidents contributing to a hostile anti-Muslim movement. Yet no official inquiry has been launched so far.

Though Brandon Lewis states that there is a ‘zero-tolerance’ party policy on Islamophobia, the evidence is antithetical to his claim. 

Whether it is anti-Semitism or Islamophobia, hatred in all its heinous forms should be rooted out. There has been an exponential growth in far-right activity across Europe and many nationalist groups are looking to monopolise the contentious Brexit debate for political gain. This is the time for society to come together. 

However, what complicates matters is when those in commands of authority and responsibility, practice a politics of double standards and dictate the terms and conditions of what minority group deserves coverage. A culture of Islamophobia has been able to metastasize through the Conservative party’s culture of denialism.

Even though alt-right writers such as Douglas Murray have long perpetuated the misconception that Islamophobia is a ‘crock’ term that doesn’t exist, the reality of targeted attacks on Muslims is a statistical and national crisis.

These hostilities were not created in a vacuum. They have been fortified by political agitators exploiting visceral fear, with an aim to marginalise, demonise and ultimately expel Muslims from the western world. 

It is now apparent that there are reputable figures in mainstream political parties that are sympathetic to these fascist causes, and endorse prejudice and disunity. These zealots seek to pit communities against each other and work in opposition to the interests of British society. Perhaps, we now need strategies that defenestrate those in positions of influence seeking to standardise hatred and violence to promote personal agendas.

By Saira Mirza

Follow her @saira_a_mirza

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website

*this post was updated on 13.03.2019 to reflect that Shazia Awan-Scully has now left the Conservative Party.