Monday, 25 July 2011

Why we shouldn't dismiss Anders Breivik as a "lone wolf"

Right-wing pundits are now very keen to tell us that the Norwegian terror attacks were not caused by right-wing anti-multicultural ideology.

The fact that Anders Breivik quoted Daily Mail articles in his manifesto and forged links with the same anti-immigration groups lauded by our tabloid press is apparently neither here nor there. 

He was just a lone nutter okay? And besides, if it wasn't for multiculturalism, then there wouldn't have been a problem there in the first place.

Boris Johnson takes a similar tack today, telling his Telegraph readers that:

"It wasn’t about immigration, or Eurabia, or the hadith, or the Eurocrats’ plot against the people. It wasn’t really about ideology or religion. It was all about him... There is an important lesson in the case of Anders Breivik. He killed in the name of Christianity – and yet of course we don’t blame Christians or “Christendom”. Nor, by the same token, should we blame “Islam” for all acts of terror committed by young Muslim males."

We shouldn't blame right-wing politics for right-wing terrorism, says Boris, just as we shouldn't blame Islam for Islamic terrorism.

Right-wing politics isn't the problem. Islam isn't the problem.

Except that Boris used to say that Islam very much *was* the problem.

Here he is in The Spectator shortly after the 7/7 bombings:

"That means disposing of the first taboo, and accepting that the problem is Islam. Islam is the problem. To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia — fear of Islam — seems a natural reaction, and, indeed, exactly what that text is intended to provoke. Judged purely on its scripture — to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques — it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers... What is going on in these mosques and madrasas? When is someone going to get 18th century on Islam’s mediaeval ass?"

Back then Islam definitely was the problem for Boris, just as he thinks that the right-wing fear-mongering pushed by the likes of his colleagues and friends definitely isn't the problem now.

The difference between the two cases is not one of principle but of politics.

Boris did not feel implicated by those who blamed Islam for the 7/7 attacks but he does feel implicated by those blaming right-wing politics for the Breivik attacks.

When Islam was in the dock, Boris wanted it detained without charge, but now that right-wing ideology is in the dock, he wants it released, no questions asked.

It's a sly trick, but it's one that he shouldn't be allowed to get away with. 

Islamic ideology had questions to answer after 7/7 and the hard-right ideology pushed by certain pundits in the press has questions to answer now.

The Anders Breivik of this world do not emerge from nowhere, just as the English Defence Leagues of this world do not emerge from nowhere. 

They are fostered by an ideology legitimised by screaming tabloid headlines and the fear-mongering of politicians who really should know better.

And unfortunately whilst Breivik's actions were the actions of a nutter, he is not the only nutter out there.

Three years ago 54 explosive devices and 12 firearms were found at the home of BNP member Terence Gavan.

Like Breivik, Gavan saw himself as defending his country from Muslim immigration, and like Breivik he was dismissed as a "lone wolf" whose ideology we didn't need to worry about.

And yet from lone wolves, larger packs are formed.

So whilst we shouldn't entirely blame right-wing ideologues for helping form those packs, we shouldn't entirely absolve them from their responsibilities either.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Conservative London Assembly Members storm out of meeting

The London Assembly descended into almost Ukranian style disorder yesterday when three senior Conservatives stormed out, slamming desks and hurling abuse as they went.

The statutory Deputy Mayor Richard Barnes, Deputy Mayor for Policing Kit Malthouse and the Chair of the London Fire Authority Brian Coleman all clashed with the two elected Chairs of the Assembly.

Brian Coleman's microphone was cut as he began one tirade and the camera quickly panned away as the leader of the Conservative group James Cleverly unsuccessfully tried to calm him down.

He was later seen jabbing his finger and remonstrating with City Hall lawyers off screen about the dispute.

After a second clash between Barnes and Jennette Arnold, all three men left the chamber with Coleman turning to accuse Deputy Chair Dee Doocey of "never being in this building" since accepting a peerage.

Doocey described this as a "complete and absolute lie" and is believed to be considering a complaint against him.

This is the second time that the un-ennobled Coleman has clashed with the newly ennobled Baroness Doocey. He has also regularly clashed with other members during meetings.

Last year a complaint was submitted against Coleman after he was accused of reducing a member of the canteen staff at Fire Brigade headquarters to tears.

The woman concerned later decided not to pursue the issue.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

What Boris Johnson really thinks about phone hacking

Boris Johnson is terribly concerned about wrongdoing at News of the World and takes the whole scandal "extremely seriously."

This evening he described the allegations as "blatant intrusion," "callousness," "corruption" and said that:
"Even if only a small number of people were implicated, these allegations have to be taken extremely seriously and investigated ruthlessly and openly."
Yes Boris takes it all extremely seriously. In fact so seriously that just three months ago he joked that celebrities actually wanted their phones hacked.

And so seriously that last year he told the London Assembly the phone hacking saga was...
  • "a load of codswallop cooked up by the Labour Party" which was
  • "patently politically motivated" and
  • "a politically motivated put up job" and
  • "completely spurious and political" and
  • "a song and dance about nothing" which had been
  • "whipped up by the Guardian and the Labour Party."
No doubt he'll instruct the Metropolitan Police to take their investigations extremely seriously indeed.

-Update 08 July- BBC London report on this from last night: