Why Labour should stick with Starmer – even if he loses Batley

Things could be bleak for Labour in the Batley and Spen by-election this Thursday. Throughout an ugly and dispiriting campaign all round, George Galloway’s entrance into the race has threatened to prevent a Labour victory. If the party loses, Starmer’s position will be on even shakier ground. He might even be deposed. But if that were to happen, it would be a mistake for Labour, one felt for years to come. Keir Starmer has made a lot of errors since becoming leader of the Labour party. He seemed to assume that just being presentable and not Jeremy Corbyn would be enough to see his party rise in the polls again.

Batley Grammar and the triumph of the mob

Here’s the depressing truth about the Batley Grammar controversy: the mob has won. Angry protesters who gathered at the school gates to demand teachers be forbidden from displaying images of Muhammad have pretty much got their way. Following an external inquiry into what happened at Batley Grammar, the trust which runs the school has said such images should never be used again. This affair kicked off in March, when a teacher was suspended for showing his pupils a cartoon of Muhammad during a Religious Studies discussion about blasphemy. In an attempt to resolve this surreal situation, in which a teacher in a supposedly modern secular democracy was effectively being punished for blasphemy,

In praise of the Batley binmen

If you need someone to support your right to freedom of speech, forget the teaching unions. Don’t look to the commentariat. And don’t even bother with the Labour party, many of whose younger, angrier members will often be found in the ranks of cancel-culture mobs calling for someone or other to be erased from polite society for having blasphemed against a trendy new orthodoxy. No, it’s the binmen you want to turn to. It’s the nation’s fine refuse collectors who will back you up when your liberty to speak is being pummelled. Consider the case of the Batley Grammar schoolteacher who was suspended for showing his pupils an image of

Why Muslims like me are worried about the Batley protests

To some, the persecution of a schoolteacher who showed his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed may seem like a local quarrel. Does it really matter, many Britons will ask, that a few dozen men gathered at the gates of a school in West Yorkshire? Surely it will blow over before long, goes the thinking. Alas, this view – all too common in officialdom throughout the western world – is deeply naïve. To those of us in the Muslim world who work to counter Islamist extremism, what is happening at Batley Grammar School is disturbingly familiar. What may look like a local incident is in fact one with national

Why aren’t the teaching unions speaking out about Batley?

‘Sadly, his life here in Batley is over. Even if he gets his job back, how can he possibly return to Batley Grammar School? It will be far too risky. And how will he be able to walk around the town with his kids, doing normal things knowing that he could be killed?’ These were the harrowing words of the father of Batley Grammar’s suspended RE teacher yesterday. It’s hard to believe that a professional working in a liberal democracy like Britain, whose only ‘crime’ was to use a drawing to start a class discussion, is now facing a lifetime of police protection, unable to return to work and living

The Batley Grammar school row is the perfect jihadist recruitment tool

As controversy continues to rage after pupils were shown an image of the prophet Muhammad by a teacher at Batley Grammar School, the primary beneficiaries will be violent extremists, both jihadist and far right. As a former jihadi extremist who once used similar circumstances to spew hate and spread dissension worldwide, I should know. But, here’s the truth: I couldn’t have cared less about the portrayal of the cartoon, and neither did those preachers I once worked with. In the wake of 9/11, I ran Revolution Muslim, which was described as a ‘relay station for Al Qaeda’s broader message’. Then, in April 2010, when the writers of South Park announced the show’s 201st episode would portray