Melanie Phillips on an election in Yorkshire for the House of Commons in the Mother of Parliaments in the early 21st century:
‘All praise to Allah!’ he [George Galloway] saluted his victory through a loud-hailer — having previously told a public meeting that if people didn’t vote for him, Allah would want to know why.
Indeed, declaring in one address that ‘God knows who is a Muslim’, he implied that he was even more of a true adherent of that faith than Labour’s Muslim candidate who, he suggested without a shred of evidence, drank alcohol whereas he himself had never touched the stuff.
It worked. The Muslim candidate was defeated by the Even More Muslim candidate – the Arab Spring, Yorkshire version.
I was on a TV show a gazillion years ago when “Gorgeous George” was certainly creepily opportunist but still had the air of a conventionally oleaginous lounge lizard. Today, he’s a prototype for a political genus that will become all too familiar in the years ahead. Melanie on London mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone:
In a speech last month at the radical Finsbury Park mosque in London, Livingstone more than amply confirmed such fears. For he pledged to ‘educate the mass of Londoners’ in Islam, saying this would help to cement London as a ’beacon’ for the faith.
Since when was making London a ‘beacon’ for a foreign religion a legitimate goal for any British politician, let alone a priority for a British city mayor?
Well, since London became a city where 64.7 percent of births are to couples where at least one parent was born outside the United Kingdom and where 55 percent of all Inner London primary school pupils do not speak English as a first language. When he first appeared on the scene a generation back, Red Ken was hot for gay liberation and women’s rights. Now he has other priorities:
This week Ken Livingstone was accused by Jewish Labour supporters of telling them at a private meeting that since Jews tended to be rich he wasn’t expecting them to vote for him. In a letter published in the Jewish Chronicle, they also accused Livingstone of using the word “Jewish” in a pejorative manner. And this just weeks after he described the Tories as “riddled with homosexuality”.
The Ken of the 1980s was painful to listen to, but I don’t remember him dog-whistling like that. In those days he was an ultra-liberal politician, the whining incarnation of rainbow ideology. What has happened?
Call me a cynic, but one possible explanation is that, 30 years ago, Livingstone wasn’t chasing a Muslim bloc vote influenced by raging anti-Zionists and homophobes.
As a certain notorious Islamophobe has been saying for years, the future belongs to those who show up for it. Livingstone and Galloway have got that message. Many others will follow.