I have this morning sent this message to Tommy Robinson:
Nigel was my hero.
I loved him for how, almost singlehandedly, he had rescued the country from the controlling clutches of Jean-Claude Junker and the power-mad dead-hands in Brussels.
I respected him for how, single-mindedly, he had toured the country for 20 years speaking against our membership of the EU. I first heard him in a Tottenham backstreet ten years ago before I joined UKIP. The meeting had been organised by Winston McKenzie, then UKIP’s Commonwealth spokesman, but it was a cold wet night and only 10 people attended. Nevertheless Nigel was charismatic, passionate and funny. I was impressed.
I admired him for how he was so committed to the cause that he rolled with the punches, took insults, opprobrium and debilitating ‘racist’ accusations on the chin, and still came back for more – usually smiling and with a pint in his hand.
I even defended him when he resigned as party leader immediately after the 2016 referendum, leaving the party bereft and adrift. “Nigel has given his all,” I pointed out to his UKIP critics. “He has earned a holiday and a break from politics.”
The first inkling that Nigel wanted to stay involved in UKIP internal affairs despite his resignation came when he agreed to be Henry Bolton’s political referee during the September 2017 party leadership election. I was David Kurten’s campaign manager and was frustrated that Nigel should give this huge and unfair boost to Henry, alone of all the candidates.
My jaw also dropped with disappointment when, in January this year, Nigel argued that there possibly should be a second referendum to stop the whining and whingeing of Remoaners like Nick Clegg and Tony Blair. It seemed like betrayal. After all UKIP’s hard work, Nigel was now wobbling under pressure from lightweight busted flushes Clegg and Blair. My hero’s halo was beginning to slip.
But the show-stopper came in February when Nigel again publicly backed the incompetent lothario Henry Bolton. Bolton’s antics and arrogance were destroying UKIP before our eyes, yet Nigel fatuously compared him to Jeremy Corbyn and said Bolton could be the reforming saviour of the party.
Fortunately members ignored him and at the Birmingham EGM the same month they voted for Bolton to pack his bags. Nigel’s nominee was sacked after just five ineffective and embarrassing months in the job.
The party, though, was left a laughing-stock and nearly bankrupt. And Nigel’s halo was hanging by a thread.
Without personal ambition and from an honourable sense of duty, Gerard Batten stepped into the breach and promptly raised enough money to save the party and force London Mayor Sadiq Khan to eat his spite-fuelled words. He appointed a new chairman and treasurer and new deputy leaders, and started to clear up Henry’s mess and steady the ship.
And as the party’s former Brexit spokesman, he ensured exiting the EU remained the party’s core issue and his personal priority.
But Gerard is also known as a proponent of free speech and a critic of Islam, although he will never countenance any form of Muslim-bashing.
In this context former Islamic extremist and founder of the Quilliam Foundation, Majid Naawaz, draws an important distinction between Muslimophobia (hating Muslims as people) which is not acceptable, and Islamophobia (hating Islam the religion) which is. It’s a distinction that is vital in a democracy, and one that I suspect Gerard strongly supports.
When Gerard tweeted recently that ‘Islam is a death cult’, his Twitter account was immediately suspended and his free speech curtailed. But it’s a valid if contentious view about Islam that ought to be open for free debate, not closed down.
And indeed, if Gerard had instead described Christianity or Communism as a death cult, nobody would have batted an eyelid. Read for instance the extraordinary abuse that celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins heaps on the Jewish and Christian God in his best-seller, ‘The God Delusion’- insults he repeats on stage and screen while chortling at his own cleverness. I’ve seen him.
And read the Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan stinging critiques of Communism.
The blasphemy laws that protect Islam alone from criticism and that prevail in official circles and the media as well as on Twitter, have caught others in their net too. Lauren Southern was banned from the UK as a result of the adjectives she applied to Islam’s Allah – adjectives that are much milder than those Dawkins applies to Christianity’s God.
And when Tommy Robinson held up a Quran on Piers Morgan’s Good Morning Britain TV show and said it is a violent and accursed book – which is virtually exactly what Dawkins says about the Bible – Morgan went apoplectic, the media went into meltdown and the show was referred to Ofcom.
More recently Robinson was banned from Twitter too. Gerard decided therefore to join his ‘Day of Freedom’ protest outside Downing Street on 6th May to speak up for free speech and the right to criticise Islam freely as we do other religions and ideologies.
Robinson is no saint and certainly he has in the past strayed into Muslimophobia which is utterly unacceptable. Muslims are our fellow citizens and deserve respect like everyone else.
But the aim of the protest was right so Gerard spoke powerfully from the platform. He also spoke at last weekend’s massive (and global) #FreeTommy protest after Robinson was suddenly arrested, convicted and jailed all within five hours at Leeds Crown Court.
Some party members are wary of the UKIP association with Robinson and the apparent tilt of the party towards the free-speech Right. Jim Carver MEP quietly resigned. Other members have emailed Gerard their concerns and anxious senior colleagues have no doubt spoken to him in private. That’s the right route, and I have little doubt the leader will take on board what they say.
But Nigel does party allegiance differently. He has toured UKIP branches openly criticising the association with Robinson and objecting to any anti-Islam stance – views that were rapidly republished on social and old media .
Any private suggestions or quiet words of advice from the former leader to the current one? None. Instead it’s the Farage foghorn, sounded with the deliberate intention of stirring up party disunity.
Having nearly destroyed the party by foisting Henry Bolton on us, it looks like Nigel is having another go with his wrecking ball by publicly undermining the leader who rescued us from that disaster.
Yet he could instead do something really constructive and useful. Brexit is in crisis. He might follow the example of Gordon Brown during the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum. The former prime minister came out of political retirement, toured Scotland with a series of barnstorming speeches and, by various accounts, turned public opinion and saved the day. Nigel could do likewise for exiting the EU and we’d love him for it.
Meanwhile his halo now lies in the dust and my hero has made himself zero.
If Nigel cannot show some loyalty to the party and its present leader, he should renounce his party membership and butt out.
Living in a post-truth society means that we are not only easily susceptible to fake news but also to mass delusion. The latest delusion among the political class is the cruel deception that we can change our sex. I want UKIP to be the boy who points out that the Emperor has no clothes.
My article below was published recently by UKIP Daily:
All cells in a person’s body have the same XY or XX chromosomes so we are either male or female. It’s clear. It’s not complicated. And exceptions are so rare as to be statistically irrelevant.
But scientific facts, like truth, are unimportant to the regressive liberal left who want to remake humanity according to their own Orwellian ideology. Deception is everything, so these cultural marxists – as well as their useful idiots in the wider political class – promote their dystopian society by following the Joseph Goebbels dictum that if you tell a big enough lie and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.
Transgenderism is part of leftists’ political strategy, and it is a big lie.
It is a lie when they insist we can choose or change our biological sex. Our sex is fixed at birth and we can no more change our chromosomes than we can change our date of birth.
Just because, say, an eighty five year old suffers from acute thanatophobia (fear of death) and therefore insists he is actually twenty five in order to postpone his approaching demise, this does not mean we must buy into his delusion. Nor do we let him fight for his country, drive his car without the triennial over-seventy licence renewal or play football for the local under-thirties team. Rather, if we are compassionate, we call for a psychiatric counsellor to help ease his distress.
And if a five-stone teenage girl suffers from pocrescophobia (fear of gaining weight), insists she is obese and refuses to eat, the sensible response is not to affirm her in her delusion and withhold food from her. She has a psychological disorder and the caring response is to arrange professional treatment.
It is a similar deception or disorder when people claim they are the opposite of their birth gender. And when they demand that we buy into their dishonesty or delusion we should not simply roll over. We cannot agree to call a man a woman or vice versa just because they say so, as it is biologically and factually untrue.
No sane society would allow a convicted serial sex offender and rapist serve his sentence in a women’s jail just because he has decided to self-identify as a woman. Neither would anyone with common sense allow an eighteen year old youth to join the Girl Guides and go camping – sharing tents, showers and toilets – just because he has insisted on coming out as a girl.
They have even marched into Downing Street. The Prime Minister has signed up and sanctioned their delusion by informing us that “trans is not a (mental) illness”.
And, like bullies, the cultural marxists and their fellow travellers are targeting our kids, especially the younger ones.
As politically correct as her boss, the Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening is pushing and promoting her Children and Social Work Act that makes sex education, including the teaching of transgender issues, compulsory in primary schools. And earlier this year the largest teachers’ union in the UK, the National Union of Teachers, demanded that transgender issues should be taught in nursery schools to toddlers as young as two. Yes, really: two.
As one educationalist told a conference recently, the teacher’s role is becoming that of “sowing confusion about gender identity” and policing “the values, thoughts and language of children to bring them in line with one particular ideological position”.
So it’s no longer about education. It’s about messing with young minds and, it seems, the younger the better.
Historically the number of young children with genuine gender dysphoria issues is minuscule; in 2009/10 just 19 of the nation’s primary school age children were referred to the relevant NHS specialist units in London and Leeds.
But the educational establishment’s strategy is to push their transgender agenda onto schoolchildren of all ages including the very young; to confuse them about their sexual identity; to get Ofsted to commend primary school staff that label four year olds ‘transgender’ because they want to dress up as the opposite sex; and then triumphantly to declare that – surprise, surprise – gender dysphoria is a rapidly growing issue.
The consequence of this indoctrination is that numbers of primary school children referred – though still miniscule – had quadrupled by 2014/5 and is rising.
The attack on children’s impressionable minds is relentless. Recently we have seen that drag queens are now being invited into nurseries to give transgender lessons to toddlers. And a government-funded LGBT organisation is avidly promoting colourful cartoon books for nurseries that provoke three year olds to question their gender.
This is tantamount to child abuse. Certainly it is massive state-authorised manipulation of young minds. Yet alarmed parents and horrified grandparents up and down the country feel they have no say and cannot protest or protect their children. To question the trans agenda is to risk being labelled ‘transphobic’, ‘bigoted’ or ‘hateful’ and cast into the politically incorrect darkness – as UKIP’s Welsh Assembly Member Gareth Bennett discovered this week.
So step up UKIP. This is exactly our territory. We have never been cowed by the politically correct. Rather, it is our calling and duty to represent the voiceless and powerless against the arrogant establishment.
We did it over mass immigration. We did it over Brexit.
We can do it too over the transgenderisation of our children – and we may even find ourselves moving up the opinion polls once again.
Kippers arise! The hour to defend our kids has come.
As readers of this blog will know, I have sometimes sat in the gallery of the House of Lords listening to debates, and a couple of times I even sat in the Clerks’ Box on the floor of the House right by the Monarch’s throne which was cramped but enjoyable. This was usually in connection with my work with crossbench peer Baroness Cox on her private members bill that tackled gender discrimination in sharia courts.
Recently I listened in on a debate about Islam initiated by UKIP peer Lord Pearson. My take on the debate, below, was first published by Kipper Central:
You’ve got to hand it to Lord Pearson of Rannoch. The former UKIP party leader doesn’t mind standing alone.
For years he has stood virtually solo in the House of Lords against hostile peers who are overwhelmingly pro-EU and Remain.
Now the Brexit referendum has been won he is turning his attention to Islam. And it’s clear that this too is unpopular amongst the political class who invariably mention the religion in hushed and deferential tones.
So once again his Lordship finds himself ploughing a lonely furrow and swimming against the politically-correct tide. In other words, Lord P is a true Kipper.
On Thursday he forced a Lords debate about some major tenets of the Islamic religion because, he said, no one is willing to talk openly about the nature of Islam. “You can say what you like about the virgin birth, the miracles and the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” Lord Pearson said at the beginning of the debate. “But you get into serious trouble if you try to touch at all on the subject of Islam and what it really is.”
He mentioned the high Muslim birth rate and “the spread of sharia law whereby a Muslim man can have four wives.” Whenever people try to raise these issues, he continued, “we are told… we are spreading hate towards the Muslims”
Which is exactly what happened to him.
“The way Lord Pearson uses his ill-informed narrative to demonise the great religion of Islam and blame this religion for all the ills of the world actually fuels anti-Muslim sentiments that lead to hate crime,” railed Lord Hussain, illustrating Lord Pearson’s point.
“I begin by expressing my disquiet and resentment at the wording of (the debate motion),” protested Lord Sheikh. “I received numerous complaints from Muslims when it became known that this debate had been tabled. Islam is indeed a religion of peace… I feel that a debate such as this… can create discord and lead to further problems.” This peer proved Lord Pearson’s point too.
“The deliberate concept of the mischievous Muslims who can have four wives in the UK is nonsense,” remonstrated Lord Ahmed. “Nobody is allowed to have four wives.” His assertion flew in the face of recent Muslim research which found that 67% of Muslim women in the West Midlands say their husbands have more than one wife, and 7% claim their husbands have the full four wives permitted by Islam.
And by playing the Nazi card, Lord Ahmed also accused Lord Pearson of using hate speech: “Saying that Muslims are breeding more children and will take over is using the language that Nazis used against Jewish communities.” This is the same Lord Ahmed who four years ago blamed a Jewish conspiracy for the jail term he received for a dangerous driving offence after a fatal accident.
The debate achieved what Lord Pearson wanted – it got their Lordships talking about Islam and in the event not all were completely hostile. A Labour peer even complimented him: “The thing about Lord Pearson is that everyone thinks he is wrong, but he wins in the end – as he did with Brexit – so we have to listen to him carefully.”
It was progress, and the UKIP peer was having a good week. The previous day, he had intervened forcefully in the Lords during a discussion about hate crime.
There is widespread concern that the bar for recording hate crime falls lower and lower. You can now be reported to the police for a hate crime if a person – or even a bystander – merely feels you are hostile to or prejudiced against them on grounds of their race, religion, ethnicity or other protected characteristic. No hard evidence of hostility or prejudice is required.
A few years ago a report by the independent think-tank Civitas argued that hate crime legislation is reducing freedom of speech and has effectively introduced by the back door a blasphemy law that protects Islam from animosity and robust criticism. Police and prosecutors, it further claimed, are unfairly singling out alleged hate crimes by the majority population – termed ‘white’ or ‘ Christian’ – while ignoring other similar offences by minority groups.
Lord Pearson grasped the religious bull by both horns. “Will the Government confirm unequivocally that a Christian who says that Jesus is the only Son of the one true God cannot be arrested for hate crime or any other offence, however much it may offend a Muslim or anyone else?”
The Government minister flatly refused to give any such assurance.
In the light of this, Lord Pearson indicated later that he is deeply concerned that Christians’ freedom of religion is being curtailed and that Christians in the UK can now be arrested for simply preaching the Gospel as they are in Saudi Arabia, Iran and China. He made it clear to colleagues that he intends vigorously to pursue the Government on the issue.
So watch this space…
My post here was first published by Kipper Central:
“If you compare Jesus Christ who had so much influence on the Western world, and Muhammad who has had so much influence on the Islamic world, and look at their teachings and their lives and lifestyles and so on, it’s game, set and match to Jesus.”
The audience at the celebrated Conway Hall, high temple of humanism and self-styled ‘landmark of London’s independent intellectual, political and cultural life’, erupted with clapping and cheers.
I was participating in a recent public debate entitled ‘This House believes Islam and the West have irreconcilable differences’ and, given the irreligious nature of the audience, the warm response to my comment about Christ was unexpected.
Alongside me as proposer of the motion was Anne Marie Waters, founder of ShariaWatch UK, former Council member of the National Secular Society, and lately a high-profile controversial candidate for the leadership of UKIP.
The opposition were Sheikh Dr Muhammad Al Husseini, Senior Fellow in Islamic Studies at the Westminster Institute; and Dr Michael Arnheim, practising Barrister, author of books on religion, law and government, and former Professor of Classics and Sometime Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge.
So the academic qualifications were clearly on the side of the opposition; but the audience and the weight of the argument were on ours. The full debate can be viewed here.
I have real differences with Anne Marie over how to respond to the rise of aggressive Islam but on the night she and I made a good team. She tackled Islam as a social and political force and critiqued it from a human rights, women’s rights and freedom of speech point of view, whereas I tackled it head-on as a religion.
I did so by comparing Islam with Christianity as the origin and cradle of our western civilisation.
I was free to undertake this exercise because, while the second half of the 20th century saw an increasingly aggressive secularisation of society and a growing hostility to Christianity, 9/11 changed the world. Since then we have found ourselves reaching for our religious identity both as an acknowledgement of our roots and as our distinctive against rising Islam.
Professional unbeliever Richard Dawkins today happily calls himself a Christian atheist or cultural Christian. Similarly political commentator and fellow atheist Douglas Murray told a Canadian interviewer recently that we are all Christians whether we like it or not, that rational secular atheists all “dream Christian dreams and have Christian thoughts” and that our universal human rights are derived directly from Christianity.
My argument in the debate was straightforward: Islam and the West have irreconcilable differences because Islam and Christianity have irreconcilable differences.
Theologically, Islam flatly refutes the historical crucifixion of Christ which is at the heart of the Christian faith. And if, as Islam says, Christ was not crucified, then there is no true Christianity – which of course is Islam’s contention. The cross on our war memorials and in our graveyards, on our village church steeples and atop the Queen’s coronation crown – these all represent a fake event according to Islam, and consequently are a huge deception at the core of the UK’s heritage and culture.
From a political and social perspective too, the contrasting lives and teachings of the founders of the two religions are profound and irreconcilable.
Muhammad – the perfect role model for all mankind according to Islamic orthodoxy – was a religious leader, governor, lawmaker and military chief who slaughtered enemies of Islam as well as personal opponents, and who installed a state theocracy at Medina as a prototype for his followers. Even today Muhammad’s swords are proudly on display in the Topkapi museum, Istanbul.
Jesus, on the other hand, was interested in hearts and minds not physical territory, and in the power of persuasion not political power and military might.
From a rule-bound legalistic Judaism he inaugurated a new grace-fuelled spiritual religion (“the Kingdom of God is within you”), separated church and state (“render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s”), taught that love is a prime ethic (“love your enemies”), and refused to allow his followers to use force to defend him or promote his new faith (“put away your sword for those who live by the sword will die by the sword”). The only violence during his ministry was that done to him not by him.
Consequently, I argued, Muhammad and his teachings in the Quran are irreconcilable with Jesus and his teachings in the New Testament. And the values and cultures of Islamic societies based on the former are incompatible with western societies based on the latter.
Anne Marie is not religious so she, of course, took a different approach in the debate. For her the West is characterised by freedom: freedom of speech, expression and religion; equal rights before the law; and science and reason. The blasphemy laws with death penalties in Islam and the subjugation of women into second class status are, for her, ample illustrations of why the West and Islam are incompatible.
She is a persuasive speaker and she argued her case powerfully. I admired her cool too, as she knew that, late on the same evening after the debate finished, ITV were to broadcast a biased and brutal character assassination job on her led by the lefty hatchet men from Hope not Hate, Nick Lowles and Matthew Collins.
It was entitled Undercover: Inside Britain’s New Far Right www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IM4wtEr4No, and Lowles and Collins were paraded across the programme as neutral “experts”, and in the credits as “consultants”.
The analysis was incoherent and low-level which may explain why ITV scheduled it for a late time-slot. And, despite an undercover reporter following Anne Marie for months, there were no condemning new revelations.
In the end the programme could only resort to smearing her, and did so by including her in the same broadcast as an investigation into real militant extremists, the banned anti-Semitic Hitler-praising occasionally violent Nazi group, National Action.
It was damnation by slur, defamation by association.
Hope not Hate – funded by billionaire global financial market-manipulator George Soros – tries to silence anyone who refuses to dance to its regressive lefty political agenda. For years it has directed its bile against patriotic, anti-establishment, anti-EU, anti-globalist, pro-localism UKIP – including during this year’s general election.
And Lowles and Collins have regularly pilloried Nigel Farage personally too. Based on his experience with them, Farage reckons Hope not Hate “are among the most hateful people in modern Britain”.
Now vilified by them as well, Anne Marie is in good company.
Since the successful Brexit referendum in June last year UKIP has, inevitably, been struggling to find a new purpose and political identity.
There is much internal party debate, and one of the current hot topics is about how the party should respond to the rise of Islam as a religio-political force across the UK. My contribution was published last week on the blogsite ‘UKIP Daily’, and now here:
Recently UKIP Daily has hosted a number of articles about issues such as halal slaughter, Sharia courts and jihadi terrorism. It is good to see the party is beginning to get to grips with the rise of Islam in our society.
But it seems we are still tip-toeing around the topic and trying to avoid giving offence. One of the contributors even wrote that we should be careful about going too far when discussing Islam in case our political enemies “have us promptly branded as BNP-Lite, or similar” – as if it matters what our opponents say about us.
We cannot do policy by worrying about tomorrow’s headlines.
Islam now saturates our political landscape and dominates the public imagination in the way that, say, Communism/Marxism did fifty years ago, and the UK is being increasingly Islamised. UKIP must therefore develop a coherent approach to the issue if it wants to be a serious political party.
I offer two key principles to guide us:
First we must fully respect Muslims as our friends, neighbours and fellow British citizens who have the same rights and freedoms as the rest of us. Stupidly stereotyping them, insulting them or slagging them down as people is unacceptable.
But, second, we must insist that we are free to challenge all aspects of Islam, unconstrained by political correctness and with nothing off-limits. Nonsense accusations of racism and Islamophobia must not be allowed to shut down necessary debate.
I’ve tried these principles and they work:
In 2005 a fundamentalist Islamic group called Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) announced that they planned to construct one of the largest mosques in the world, with a capacity of between 45,000 and 70,000, at West Ham in east London just a mile from my home and half a mile from the London Olympic stadium. TJ intended to build this as a massive showcase mosque for the 2012 London Olympics and as a global centre to propagate their hostile form of Islam across Europe and North America.
I decided to oppose it without personal animosity towards the Muslims behind the project. Indeed I often subsequently defended their right to propose their mega-mosque just as I defended my absolute right to oppose it. That’s how democracy works in the UK even if not in Saudi Arabia.
Before I started the campaign I tried to meet with the TJ elders in order to explain my opposition. Although they refused, I regularly extended the right hand of neighbourliness to them to show I had nothing against them personally or as Muslims. However they continued to refuse to meet.
I was also ruthless in publicly exposing the political ideology of the group and their underlying hostility to British society, with no holds barred. In my view it would have been utter madness to allow them this huge platform to propagate their anti-social beliefs across the UK and wider.
I launched the campaign via BBC TV in July 2006 and immediately ran into a storm of vitriol and bile, mainly from the Left, with the inevitable accusations of race-hatred, bigotry and Islamophobia. Jonathan Bartley, now joint-leader of the Green Party and that party’s leading UKIP opponent, was one of the first out of the blocks with uninformed and typically knee-jerk comments.
Muslim mega-mosque supporters too attacked me. One even issued a death threat by publishing my obituary on social media.
But as I respect Muslims and am not Islamophobic, I was able to campaign together with moderate British Muslims who also opposed this monstrosity. Our campaign co-operation was telling and in due course the message got through. Newham Council, which previously had been 100% in favour of the mega-mosque, took note, changed its mind and in December 2012 it rejected the TJ planning application. The government followed when in November 2015 Secretary of State Greg Clark MP rejected TJ’s appeal.
A personal warmth towards Muslims, together with an iron determination to publish the unpalatable facts about Tablighi Jamaat and their mega-mosque no matter the cost, were both vital to the success of our campaign.
Islam is a theocratic religion, that is, both a political ideology and a religious belief system. Also, like Communism/Marxism, it wants to take over the world. In our democracy we primarily challenge such take-overs by disputing their ideas and contesting their policies. We must maintain therefore that we are completely free to dispute the Quran, to expose hypocrisy in the Hadith and to rubbish Sharia, for example.
Further, at the heart of Islam lies Islam’s prophet Muhammad whom every stream of Islam claims is the ‘Role Model for All Humanity’.
It is our democratic duty to put Muhammad under the microscope and see what he has to offer UK society.
For instance, he had nine wives, the youngest of whom was aged six when they wed and with whom he consummated the marriage when she was just nine. If our increasingly Islamised society begins to accept Muhammad as a role model for the UK, will this necessarily change our collective view (and, ultimately, our legislation) about polygamy, paedophilia and child brides to a more Islamic approach?
UKIP is a bold radical party that rejects the soggy truth-denying political correctness of the political class. We must be willing, if necessary alone, to raise tough issues, ask hard questions and champion unpopular causes.
And from now on Islam, but not Muslims, must be on UKIP’s agenda and in our political sights.
A couple of weeks ago I made my seventh visit in as many years to the persecuted church in northern Nigeria, this time accompanied by a British writer and commentator who wanted to see for himself what is happening there. (I’ve blogged my previous visits, for instance here, here and here.)
Together we talked with many people, and it was as distressing as ever to hear the stories of Christians and other minorities who are being crushed by the iron fist of Islam – a fist wielded in the north east corner of Nigeria by the madmen of Boko Haram, and across the north and ‘middle-belt’ of the country by murderous Fulani cattle herders.
Nonetheless some of the stories were inspirational.
In one IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp we met a woman who, together with her husband and a 30-strong group of others, tried to escape Boko Haram violence by crossing into neighbouring Cameroon in early 2014. They were caught by the militants at a river bank. All the men were slaughtered and the women and children were carted off to the now infamous former game-reserve, Sambisa Forest, where the Chibok girls are believed to be held.
During a captivity that lasted two years she was forcibly converted to Islam and married off to a young Boko Haram fighter, with whom, she says, she quarrelled incessantly. Once she received 80 lashes across her back when she and other women tried to escape. In the end they were rescued by Cameroon soldiers who defeated the Boko Haram militants in a fire-fight; the militants ran away and the abducted women were left free to return home.
At eight months pregnant by her Boko Haram ‘husband’, she in due course gave birth to a baby boy whom she breast-fed as she told us her story. When asked how she felt about the boy, she told us quietly that she had been taught by her Pastor to love even in the most difficult circumstances; she felt nothing but love towards her son despite his brutal Islamist father.
We were profoundly moved by her dignity and courage.
Other people’s stories were informative.
We met with the elderly wife of a Pastor who had ministered for decades in and around Gwoza which borders on Sambisa. Boko Haram has decimated the thriving Christian community there, killed or injured many believers, destroyed dozens of churches and, in August 2014, declared Gwoza town the headquarters of their Caliphate in Nigeria along the lines of the Mosul headquarters of the Islamic State Caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
The causes of the rapid rise of Boko Haram have been much debated. Although Boko Haram’s official Arabic name when translated means ‘People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad’, most authorities refuse to blame any form of Islam. Some, like the US State Department, prefer to cite poverty, bad education and “poor government service delivery”. Others reckon it is the malign influence of armed Islamists crossing the border from West African states such as Mali, Chad and Niger. Yet others identify locals’ adverse reaction to foreign influences such as decadent Western secular lifestyles and to the residual impact of British colonialism (Nigeria gained its Independence in 1960).
We asked the Pastor’s wife what she thought. She was clear: fifteen years ago or so Afghan men dressed like the Taliban arrived unexpectedly in Gwoza and started taking young Muslim men away for education and training. That is when local Muslims became radicalised, she said, and previously good relations between many Muslims and Christians cooled noticeably.
So at the territorial centre of its operations, Gwoza, Boko Haram arose out of a radical Islam imported from a country nearly 4,000 miles away. I haven’t read that in the mainstream media.
Yet other interviewees were insightful and prophetic.
“I said it would happen,” explained the charismatic if diminutive Archbishop of Jos, Ben Kwashi. We were discussing the recent slaughter of Christians by armed Fulani herdsmen in southern Kaduna. “This persecution of Christians came from the north and started here in and around Jos in Plateau State,” said the Archbishop. “I forecast then that the Fulani violence would spread south, as it has done now into southern Kaduna. I further forecast that Niger State will be next. They will not stop, you mark my words.”
The Archbishop also pointed out that in 2015 many Christians voted for Muhammadu Buhari for Federal President even though he is a committed Muslim; he had a reputation as a former military hardman and he said he would be tough on terrorism. They have been disappointed, the senior cleric told us, as government inaction over the slaughter of Christians is difficult to explain apart from the fact that Buhari himself is Fulani.
I returned to the UK sickened once again by the Islamic and Islamist violence and inspired by many Christians’ grace under pressure and persecution.
Christmas came early this month for Dutch politician Geert Wilders, just ahead of the country’s general election in March.
During the autumn he has been dragged through the courts by Dutch authorities and a couple of weeks ago they successfully secured his conviction for ‘inciting discrimination’ and ‘insulting’ Moroccan immigrants.
Wilders is an anti-establishment, anti-Islam, anti-EU politician who, at huge personal cost to himself and his wife, is articulating popular discontent at the country’s entrenched elite and the growing Islamisation of the country.
The authorities’ inadvertent seasonal gift is the spike in popularity of Wilders’ PVV party (Party of Freedom) that resulted directly from the the court case. In the final opinion poll of 2016 PVV is ahead of prime minister Mark Rutte’s liberal party.
Wilders argued throughout that this was a political trial about free speech brought by the country’s politically-correct establishment who want to control and undermine what he says about Islam and immigration, and there is evidence he is right.
Although state prosecutors could have demanded a jail sentence for – as they claim – a serious hate crime against an immigrant community, in the event they balked and requested only a symbolic 5,000 euro fine.
The judge, Hendrik Steenhuis, went further and refused to impose any sentence at all in the belief that conviction alone will sufficiently blacken Wilders’ name. It’s clear too that Steenhuis wanted to avoid creating a pre-election martyr.
So it seems the Dutch legal establishment prefers playing to the gallery and massaging public opinion rather than imposing proper punishment. Although they’re not competent in implementation, their strategy might have come straight from a Blair/Campbell/Mandelson New Labour handbook on the dark arts of spin.
And the Dutch judiciary has form on this. Wilders was subject to even more blatant official skulduggery in his previous 2010 trial.
He stood accused then of inciting racial hatred against Muslims. Backed by what the media cited as ‘soaring’ popular support, he argued that his hostility is against Islam not Muslims, and certainly the case against him was so weak that the Dutch public prosecutor did not want to pursue it.
However a Dutch court of appeal led by Judge Tom Schalken insisted, and in January 2010 the trial started.
Early on in the trial Wilder’s lawyers attempted to remove a judge for bias when the court president Jan Moors, faced with Wilders’ assertion of his right to remain silent, had commented idiotically that the politician was known for making bold statements but avoiding discussion, and that “it appears you are doing so again.” It was unjudicial sniggering knockabout, but the judiciary closed ranks and refused to replace Moors.
Then, on 6th May, Wilders’ lawyers were due to call their expert witness on Islam, retired Arabist professor Hans Jensen, in order for him to verify the injunctions to violence written into in the Quran.
But three days earlier on 3rd May, Jensen had been invited to an informal ‘dinner of friends’ by the organiser of a pro-Palestine committee of academics and professionals. By design but unknown to Jensen, Judge Schalken was invited too. At the dinner, according to Jensen, the judge repeatedly engaged with him about Wilders, Islam and the trial in order to persuade him that the legal proceedings were justified.
Nobbling a witness is a serious crime of which the mafia are acknowledged experts. It is not however expected of a senior judge.
This time the mud hit the fan. Following disclosure of Schalken’s dinner party intervention, a legal review panel was convened and the case was dramatically terminated due to this “degree of (judicial) bias”. However although judges had been guilty of prejudice and the public prosecutor remained firmly against pursuing the case, the panel farcically ordered a retrial.
This took place the following year and, as widely anticipated outside court, Wilders was acquitted of all charges. The fiasco irreparably damaged Dutch judiciary’s reputation for competence and neutrality.
As highlighted in my previous post, the political tide has turned across the western world. While in the past Dutch authorities could use anti-discrimination and hate-speech legislation to close down debate and silence opposition, they’ve been exposed as fraudulent and now find themselves preaching their message to a shrinking choir. People outside their circles are no longer listening.
Wilders’ court appearances have boomeranged back on the authorities and become a potent badge of honour for the politician. He will of course appeal the conviction in order to milk it for all it’s worth, so the case may run and run.
It’s a welcome Christmas present and boost to his chances of becoming prime minister following the elections in March.
It was an off-the-Richter-scale earthquake, followed by an even bigger – because American – aftershock. Brexit, followed by Brexit plus plus plus. History before our eyes.
When it comes to forcing new realities upon disconnected political elites, Donald Trump’s election victory in the US is the biggest thing since 9/11 and Nigel Farage’s Brexit victory in the UK is bigger even than the 1956 Suez debacle.
For decades politically-correct liberals – of all parties – have succeeded in every skirmish and won every battle in the culture wars. They’ve established their hegemony and new morality right across the institutions.
They’ve done this so effectively that, when it came to the highpoint of trendy right-on progressive gestures, gay marriage, they were able to impose it on society without electoral mandate, popular support or, in the UK, statutory consultation or proper debate.
But almost single-handed, the two unashamed unapologetic older straight white males have taken on the political establishments, said the unsayable, spoken for the sidelined masses, and won.
The shock-waves will reverberate for years. The elite will fight back of course and no doubt win some battles. But the lights have come on, the tide has turned and the hypocrisy, shallowness and manipulation of the politically-correct has been exposed for what it is.
One benefit is that freedom of speech is being restored. The abusive language through which the liberal elite controlled discourse and confined debate, has been shown, in the event, to be so overused and misapplied as to be rendered powerless. ‘Racist’, ‘fascist’, ‘misogynist’, ‘homophobe’, ‘Islamophobe’, ‘hate-fuelled’, ‘bigot’, ‘prejudiced’, ‘uneducated’, ‘narrow-minded’ – the list of insults intended to shut down discussion and cast outsiders back into outer darkness is endless.
But now thanks to Farage and Trump these epithets are bouncing off like Teflon and have little effect, at least amongst the electorate. Indeed they are becoming a badge of honour and success.
“UKIP are closet racists,” railed David Cameron. He’s gone, thanks to Farage.
“Love Trumps hate,” campaigned Hillary Clinton. She’s gone too, thanks to Trump.
Not just powerless and a badge of honour, but hypocritical as well. The poisonous post-referendum torrent of social media bile towards Brexit voters was a vivid illustration of metropolitan Europhiles’ authoritarian intolerance and rejection of ordinary patriotic Brits’ majority decision. Liberal, open-minded and charitable they are not.
Luvvy Bob Geldof is a well-heeled millionaire from southern Ireland. His invective and visible loathing for out-of-work fishermen from English east coast ports whose livelihoods have been destroyed by the EU, rivalled Labour MP Emily Thornberry’s famous tweet for contempt and condescension.
And furious feminist Grace Dent’s anti-Trump anti-men tirade – published centre-page in a self-described ‘concise quality newspaper’ and complete with expletives – is a public window on her partisan soul.
So the liberal elites’ emperor is wearing no benevolent tolerant clothes after all, and their fangs have now been pulled by Farage and Trump. While they rant and rave in protest, a new day of freedom to discuss real issues has dawned for the rest of us.
During the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act in 2013, doubters were intimidated into silence by Peter Tatchell of OutRage! who claimed across the media that anyone who opposed gay marriage (which then included Nigel Farage and UKIP of course) was “homophobic”. Ben Summerskill, then CEO of Stonewall, merely damned us as “bigots”.
However, following Brexit and Brexit plus plus plus, and embracing this new freedom of speech, I’d like to see the gay marriage debate reopened:
There is now credible peer-reviewed evidence that same-sex parenting is damaging to children compared with that of still-married heterosexual biological parents.
There is credible evidence too that sexuality is fluid, orientation is not fixed from birth and therefore people are not necessarily ‘born gay’ – the claim that was the central plank of gay marriage campaigners’ platform.
Also, since the legislation was passed in 2013, the prestigious but liberal Royal College of Psychiatry has been forced by the facts to concede that “post-natal environmental factors” at least partly determine sexual orientation.
In the light of this and for the sake of our children, I personally reckon we should resurrect the gay marriage debate and consider repealing the same sex marriage Act.
And if this means that the gay Tory LBC Radio presenter Iain Dale yet again abuses his position and calls me a homophobic bigot on air, it doesn’t matter. He is yesterday and on the wrong side of history.
The rise of the gender-bender agenda, recently highlighted by the ‘bathroom wars’, is the latest phase of the ongoing sexual revolution. It is, like previous phases, imported from the US and entirely top-down and media driven.
It sees gender identity as a social construct rather than a biological given. It claims our gender is fluid, should be chosen by ourselves as we grow up and may change if we wish; it is not settled by nature (or God if you are a believer) at the time of our birth.
It is also dangerous nonsense. But it is coming your way.
It came my way this week when a polite young woman from LBC Radio contacted me. Oxford City councillors are introducing the gender-neutral option of Mx – pronounced “mix” – to official forms with a view to phasing out the conventional Mr and Ms: “Do you have views?” she asked.
Half an hour later I found myself on LBC’s Iain Dale show together with trans journalist and equality campaigner Paris Lees. (If you want to check out our chat, it’s the first item on the 16/08/16 show here (£)).
Paris’ arguments were excruciatingly unpersuasive. The stronger the binary male-and-female gender identities, she claimed, the greater the violence against women. The solution is to “blur the boundaries between men and women”, she said – happily ignoring inconvenient facts like, for instance, the high level of lesbian and gay same-sex violence which some consider has reached epidemic proportions.
For my part, I welcomed the good sense of Oxford Pride chairman Rob Jordan who stated he doesn’t mind Mx as a simple addition to the current available titles, Mr and Ms. If Oxford Council wants to add a gender-neutral title in order to increase choice and inclusivity, that’s OK.
But of course it doesn’t stop with this apparently innocuous change to council paperwork. Indeed the sexual revolution does not stop anywhere. So the Oxford councillors have determined that next they want to drop Mr and Ms because these titles “are not inclusive of transgender people”.
In other words they are, wittingly or otherwise, promoting a gender-destruction ideology which reduces choice and, uninvited, imposes a gender-free framework on everyone: all Oxford residents will be titled Mx on all council forms.
The wider gender ideology is a cancerous virus that is creeping across the western world. It is destroying foundational categories such as ‘man’ and ‘woman’ and helping undermine time-honoured healthy family structures and relationships.
And gender activists like all sexual revolutionaries are targeting our kids. They insist even pre-pubescent childen have the right to question – and receive medical help to change – their gender identity.
Fortunately for once some influential professionals have stood their ground. The American College of Pediatricians recently issued an important statement called “Gender Ideology Harms Children”. It’s worth reading in full, but I quote here excerpts that should be read out loud to Oxford City councillors at their next council meeting:
“Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: ‘XY’ and ‘XX’ are genetic markers of sex, male and female respectively… The norm for human design is to be conceived either male or female. Human sexuality is binary by design with the obvious purpose being the reproduction and flourishing of our species. This principle is self-evident…
“Human beings are born with a biological sex… People who identify as “feeling like the opposite sex” or “somewhere in between” do not comprise a third sex. They remain biological men or biological women.”
I thank God for this rock of sanity and common sense that stands out against the West’s rising tide of sexual madness and gender muddle.