Brendan O’Neill

Why won’t the left speak up for Sarah Champion?

Why won't the left speak up for Sarah Champion?
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Where’s the concern for Labour MP Sarah Champion? Where are the leftists demanding that this female MP stop being harassed merely for expressing her views? Where are the tweets drawing attention to Ms Champion’s plight — the fact that she now needs an actual security team because people who hate her political views want to physically harm her? In this post-Jo Cox era, I thought we were all meant to have the backs of elected politicians who are under threat from extremists. And yet when it comes to Champion — just such an elected politician — people seem to be looking the other way.

It isn’t hard to work out why. It is because Champion’s persecutors are largely Muslims, and Champion’s ‘crime’ is an unforgivable one in the eyes of the new left: she criticised the behaviour of certain parts of the Muslim community. Champion, the MP for Rotherham, committed the political and social faux pas of suggesting that Muslim grooming gangs are a bad thing, and that we should speak honestly and frankly about their existence. And so it seems that, to some on the left, she is fair game for harassment and threats. ‘Screw her’ seems to be their attitude.

Last week, it was revealed that Champion has had her security detail ‘beefed up’ after she received death threats for her comments on Pakistani grooming gangs. In an article for the Sun, Champion had made the indisputably correct statement that there is ‘a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls’ in her Rotherham constituency. This is a reference to the Rotherham grooming scandal, which has been followed by other similar scandals, in Telford, Oxford, Rochdale: situations where gangs of mostly Muslim men exploit and abuse vulnerable working-class white girls.

For pointing this out — for expressing concern about the safety of white working-class girls — Champion was subjected to hateful abuse. She was branded a bigot, an Islamophobe, a racist. Corbynistas called for her to be expelled from the party. How telling that this new, identitarian, highly middle-class left should be more concerned about the feelings of rapacious men from Muslim backgrounds than about the security of girls and women from the working class. Jeremy Corbyn heeded these intolerant cries and pressure was put on Champion to resign as shadow equalities minister, which she duly did in August last year. Cast out for being concerned for young working-class people. The absolute state of Labour.

Activists in her constituency accused her of ‘industrial-scale racism’. Jahangir Akhtar, the ex-deputy leader of Rotherham council, reportedly called her an ‘ogre’. Taiba Yasseen, a leading member of Momentum in Rotherham, who is reportedly being lined up to replace Champion if she is ever deselected as an MP, says Champion ‘betray[ed] an entire ethnic group’. The idea that criticising certain criminal members of an ethnic group is a betrayal of the entire group is perverse. Such an approach chills open and frank discussion about cultural tensions, and, even worse, it leaves in the lurch members of the ethnic group in question who would also like to address problem people within their communities. 

According to reports, it is a combination of far-left Labour members and radical Muslim activists who are heaping pressure on Champion. This speaks volumes about the new Corbynista/ Islamist alliance that brooks no criticism of the Muslim community and treats every slight against Islam as a form of racial hatred. No wonder the leftists who normally kick up a fuss about misogyny and death threats against women are saying so little about Champion, for they helped to put her in this vulnerable position by demonising her as a bigot simply for raising concerns about certain gangs. They put a target sign on her.

There is now an incredibly chilling climate around issues to do with Islam, multiculturalism and social tensions. To such an extent that an MP can be cast out and find herself subjected to hatred and threats merely for raising perfectly legitimate questions about violence by one group against another. In turning their backs on Champion, the Labour left is making clear what its priorities are: defending Islam from public criticism and preserving the ideology of multiculturalism, which apparently take precedence over being concerned for working-class girls at risk of rape or for an MP being threatened with death. Next time these leftists claim to be concerned for women’s safety, be very, very sceptical.