When “former race tsar” Trevor Phillips spoke out “On abuse it's time to call a spade a spade” it caused a mere ripple. Did his words carry less weight that Sarah Champion’s?
What about Trevor Kavanagh? The backlash from his “Islamophobic” piece in the Sun mainly concerned his ‘extremely poor choice of words’. His critics felt “The Muslim Problem” sounded a little too much like “The Jewish Question” and by implication, well, everyone knows how that ended up.
Sarah Champion has received much publicity, mainly praise and support, for what turned out to be a short-lived bout of truth-telling. Her subsequent apology for her ‘extremely poor choice of words’ and resignation from her post in the Labour Party (did she jump or was she pushed) was equally welcomed and derided.
Is she weak for caving in or was she strong for speaking out? We who will not be divided, are divided.
I thought we were done with Sarah Champion, but no. The affair still simmers. People who agreed with what she said in the Sun are still praising her for having the courage to speak out, despite her subsequent resignation and, if I may say so, imprecise apology. Exactly which words were the extremely poor choice? All of them? We should be told.
Most people assume she was silenced by Jeremy Corbyn, but 'they would say that wouldn’t they' because they choose to see her as a political martyr rather than a vacillating self-publicist.
For the record, I too agree with what she said in the Sun and I don’t doubt that Jeremy Corbyn welcomed her resignation and probably encouraged it, yet I still see her as a vacillating attention-seeking self publicist. I’ll just have to accept that if it takes a vacillating, attention-seeking self-publicist to initiate a taboo-busting debate about the relationship between Islam and ‘British values’ I’ll have to lump it. But I don’t much like it.
Sarah Champion’s initial fifteen minutes of fame came about via the documentary ‘Inside the commons.” The cameras followed her rushing eagerly round the HoC learning the ropes and getting to grips with being a new MP. She was entertainingly portrayed as energetic and driven; ready willing and able to ‘do good’. Fantastic free publicity for the brand.
I repeat, many people agreed with her Sun piece; it was about time someone came out with it, and as she herself said in the Sun:
“British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls… and it’s time we faced up to it”.
Or did she? Not quite sure - later she was to claim it was the Sun wot wrote it. Maybe the Sun fiddled with the original content, who knows, (they deny it) but assuming she did write, in the body of the piece:
“There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?”
No-one who has seen her on YouTube castigating Israel over ‘the Palestine issue’ and telling an audience of Pakistani men just how passionate she was about the Palestinians could accuse Sarah Champion of being an Islamophobe. The video was so good I posted it twice. I thought it was remarkable, partly because of the inappropriate way she was 'exercising her right to bare arms' and almost flirtatiously flaunting her ‘immodesty’. Goodness knows why she would do that, when simply denouncing Israel would have been enough to guarantee unanimous support from that particular audience - some sort of committee of local councillors. Rotherham folk.
Her disgust for Israel was peppered with references to herself: “to me” or “for me”- a habit that surely begs a psychological diagnosis.
Even if the only MP brave enough to say so is an attention-seeking opportunist, the truth is that there are issues (as Jeremy Corbyn might or might not put it) with British Pakistani men and underage white girls.
Of course the term ‘Pakistani men’ is a euphemistic one. It’s an improvement on the BBC’s default ‘Asian men’, but technically inaccurate since the perpetrators in the Newcastle case were not solely British Pakistanis; some originated from elsewhere; the elephant in the room is their religious/cultural backgrounds. They’re Muslims.
If Sarah Champion was genuinely brave, she might have called them ‘Muslim men’, but either way, be it Pakistani men or Muslim men, it did turn out to be an ’extremely poor choice of words’, or extremely unwise words from an MP whose constituents are predominantly Pakistani and Muslim.
Shortly after expressing pleasure at the way the Sun presented her article, she rowed back, claiming the Sun had fiddled with it, apologised for the article and promptly resigned as ‘Shadow Secretary of State for women and equalities’.
If you’ve got that feeling of deja vu all over again but are wondering why, it’s probably because Sarah Champion has form when it comes to resigning when she sees fit.
For example, when she thought Jeremy Corbyn was unelectable, she quit - and when that particular bandwagon appeared to be hurtling off piste she ‘unresigned’ again, resuming her post as “Labour’s domestic violence spokesperson” (officially “Shadow minister for preventing abuse and domestic violence) first-hand experience, evidently, qualifying her for the post, though her role as perpetrator rather than victim would ordinarily seem something of a drawback.
Because of my dismay at Sarah Champion’s shameless sucking up to antisemites (call me paranoid) I have probably monitored her roller coaster political journey with more interest than absolutley necessary, and I know I judge her negatively / see her through a negative prism and so on.
However, praising her courage for speaking out, and for ‘saying the unsayable’ is easy. For one thing it provides cheap ammunition against Jeremy Corbyn - as if more of that was needed.
It’s just a pity that there was so little praise for the courage of people whose words can genuinely be taken at face value on the numerous occasions they have spoken out and said ‘what Sarah Champion said’.
Can one unequivocally praise Sarah Champion for her courage without her track record diminishing the impact of her words? Former MP Denis McShane believes so, for example. Accuracy may not have been Denis McShane’s priority; for example he wrote:
“My plea was triggered by a young South Yorkshire Muslim, groomed by British-based Islamists, who blew himself up in Tel Aviv in a failed terrorist mission.”
Correct me if I'm wrong, but was he referring to the 2003 terrorist Omar Khan Shariff who I understand hailed from Derby?
In 2004 Denis McShane was a Foreign Office minister representing the same Rotherham seat where Sarah Champion is a presently “hard-working Labour MP”, and he believes she was badly let down and harshly treated by her political masters. Here is a passage from his Times article:
“No one came to me when I was an MP to speak about the awful sex crimes committed against local children by groups of men whose family roots lay, as is the case with much of the British Pakistani community, in rural Kashmir.”
Read on for more of his thoughts about the incredibly difficult question of sexuality in the Pakistani Kashmiri community.
However, according to Mr McShane, he learnt about the situation in 2012, “when years of failure by Rotherham’s child-protection authorities to act against known abuse gangs” was exposed by “painstaking journalism” in The Times.
But Sarah Champion was MP for Rotherham at the height of the abuse. To quote from an earlier article about Denis McShane in the Telegraph “I was too much of a ‘liberal leftie’ and should have done more to investigate child abuse”.
Surely if Denis McShane felt he should have done more to ‘burrow into’ the problem then, it might have occurred to him that Sarah Champion could also have done some burrowing, or that she appeared positively blinkered by showing far more concern about Palestinian children than about what was being done ‘right now’, by Muslim men to children under her nose. Did no-one at all in Rotherham raise the matter with their MP while all this was happening?
I still see Sarah Champion as opportunistic, vacillating and irresolute, but her antics have attracted publicity to the malevolence of Corbyn’s Labour Party and that’s almost enough to forgive her for everything. Almost.