Friday, August 18, 2006

 

"It's better that you weren't in the country": MP's "BNP talk" to disaffected Muslims sparks New Labour battle

The immigration debate came full circle on August 15, 2006, when one of the Government’s own MPs told legal migrants to go home. The Asian Labour MP for Dewsbury, Shahid Malik, speaking on his regional BBCTV news, called for British resident Muslims who don't like living here and think it’s better in Muslim countries that ‘it’s better that you weren’t in the country’. This met with an immediate reaction from the very moderate Asian Labour dignitary, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, who (speaking on the same programme) described Malik’s statement as ‘BNP talk’.

In fact, such a policy would be extreme even for the BNP. The BNP certainly advocates repatriation of legal migrants, but only voluntary repatriation and, at least in public, does not admonish migrants to return home. Malik said nothing about choice and was referring not so much to recent arrivals as second- and third-generation Asian Muslims — those from families long established here — which research byNOP/ Channel4 Dispatches only the previous week had revealed as those most likely to give passive or active support to Islamic fundamentalist terrorism.

Such a pronouncement, one might imagine, would be political suicide for any MP, let alone a Labour MP; but presumably because he was Asian himself, Malik thought he was protected. It will be lost on no-one that the Government has vilified as racist anyone who simply raised the immigration issue, let alone anyone making such incendiary comments. Me, for instance, when I outlined simple facts, not controversial proposals or rhetoric like this. Why is the one labelled ‘racist’ and the other merely as talking ‘as if’ racist? How do we know that Malik is not racist or ‘xenophobic’ re other Asian or Muslim groups other than the one he is a member of himself? We know that some of the worst bad feeling is between different Asian and different Muslim populations. I was falsely accused of racism for exposing an Eastern European immigration scam; the fact that East Europeans are white Caucasian — my own race — did not stop anyone jumping to a pejorative conclusion. So why is Malik exempt? Why is the law for the rest of us not the law for the political classes?

Well, it seems that Mr Malik does believe that the political classes should not be exempt; and especially not Labour MPs. Two years before he had slapped down a fellow Labour MP, Phil Woolas, who was trying to draw attention to another form of black-on-white racial violence (see pages 130-131, below). Malik said: ‘The comments feed far-right organisations like the BNP who hijack the remarks … Mr Woolas has no basis for his view and is clearly out of line with Labour Party thinking.’

What a beautiful, ironic illustration of the ongoing hypocrisy over immigration!


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