Brendan O’Neill

Labour will regret its shameful treatment of Trevor Phillips

Labour will regret its shameful treatment of Trevor Phillips
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Many of us suspected the Labour party was on a suicide mission. Now we know for sure.

The party’s suspension of Trevor Phillips over allegations of Islamophobia feels like a turning point. It is surely one of the final nails in the coffin of irrelevance that has been enveloping this party for a few years now.

The casting out of Phillips confirms two things about Labour under the baleful, Stalinist rule of the Corbynista left.

First, that they will brook no dissent. No questioning of their deathly creeds of identitarianism and multiculturalism — a questioning Phillips has pursued with great clarity and purpose in recent years — will be tolerated. Dissenters from woke orthodoxy will be punished, branded ‘phobic’, erased from the party record like those old commissars who irritated the big boss.

And secondly it confirms that Labour right now has no intention whatsoever of recommitting itself to the values of community, solidarity and nationhood — values that Phillips and others on the sensible wing of the party have been discussing and defending with vigour.

No, Labour will remain dominated by the divisive, destructive ideologies of the over-educated metropolitan middle classes who now make up its membership and its leadership. That Red Wall drifts farther away.

Writing in today’s Times, Mr Phillips reveals that he has received a bureaucratic missive from his party informing him of his ‘administrative suspension’.

‘[M]any people living under authoritarian regimes first encounter [tyranny] in the dry language of a bureaucrat’s warning’, Phillips writes. And so it felt to him when he received the 11-page letter instructing him of his banishment from the Labour community for various speechcrimes and thoughtcrimes. ‘I am accused of heresy, and threatened with excommunication’, he writes.

Phillips is forbidden from divulging the accusations made against him in secret by Labour’s internal version of the Star Chamber.

But in his Times article, he hints at what Islamophobic ‘sins’ he may have committed. And people familiar with his work in recent years will be able to make a very educated guess as to why he has been so ungraciously unpersoned by the Corbyn machine. It’s because he has raised pressing questions about the crisis of integration, the failings of multiculturalism, and the problematic behaviour in certain sections of the Muslim community.

Phillips, a former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has become known and much celebrated for putting his neck on the line on the thorny issues of multiculturalism and identitarianism and the way these ideologies grate against the kind of integration that could tie all people, including immigrants and their descendants, into a sense of national belonging.

In his Times piece, he hints that his ‘Islamophobia’ is related to his criticism of the authorities’ failures over Pakistani-Muslim grooming gangs.

In his 2016 essay ‘Race and Faith: The Deafening Silence’, he pointed to the Pakistani-Muslim backgrounds of many of these grooming-gang members in Rotherham and elsewhere and said we needed an honest discussion about why such men were abusing large numbers of white working-class girls. For this he was, predictably and depressingly, branded racist.

If this is one of the reasons he has been suspended from Labour, it wouldn’t be surprising. After all, Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, was unceremoniously dumped from the shadow cabinet after she wrote an article on the problem of Pakistani gangs preying on mostly white working-class girls. She, too, was demonised as a racist.

The extraordinary thing here is that Labour, in the ideological grip of the wokerati, seems more keen to protect Pakistani gangs from public discussion than it is to speak up for working-class girls who, according to one official report, suffered ‘profound’ abuse.

This is the terrible trade-off that has been made by the identity-politics brigade: they see preserving their ideology of multiculturalism as more important than protecting young women from abuse. So keen are they to quash discussion about the discontents of multiculturalism that they will even demonise anyone who dares to talk about he widespread rape of working-class girls.

It’s Islamophobic, you see, to raise any criticisms whatsoever of Islam, Islamic practices or problematic behaviour in sections of the Muslim community. Indeed, Phillips hints that it is also his criticism of the use of the term Islamophobia to shut down legitimate public debate that earned him the ire of the censorious identitarians who now run the Labour party.

Phillips has criticised the new all-party definition of Islamophobia as ‘a kind of racism’ hostile to ‘Muslimness’. As he points out, Islam is not a race, and the woolly concept of ‘Muslimness’ suggests all Muslims agree on matters of doctrine and dress. This definition of Islamophobia green-lights the censure and punishment not only of real anti-Muslim bigots but of anyone who raises questions about problems of integration within the Muslim community.

And that’s exactly what Phillips’ suspension confirms — that the term Islamophobia is now used as a silencing tactic, a means of demonisation, a way of shutting down those who are concerned about the excesses of multiculturalism.

Phillips’ ‘sin’ was to challenge the woke strictures against honest, open debate and to put forward a vision of Britain that emphasises national solidarity over identity sectionalism, and frankness about community tensions over the elitist, chilling lies promoted by a new left that turns a blind eye to social fragmentation, grooming gangs, and violent radical Islam.

He is far more in touch with working-class voters’ concerns than the Corbyn machine is. Many traditional Labour voters abandoned the party over its anti-Brexit extremism and its embrace of eccentric woke nonsense — the party’s treatment of Phillips will make them realise just how right they were to have done this.

Written byBrendan O’Neill

Brendan O’Neill is the editor of Spiked and a columnist for The Australian and The Big Issue.

Topics in this articlePolitics