UK Politics

Martin Bright on the “Clash” Conference

Martin Bright blogs on Ken Livingstone’s faux academic conference, World Civilisation or Clash of Civilisations, at which he spoke:

I spoke on the daft subject “Is there an Islamic Threat?” with Tariq Ramadan and Salma Yaqoob. Of course the answer is no and yes. Islam is not in itself a threat, but there are certain deranged individuals who believe they are driven by Islam to kill people in the West. That is a something of a threat. I argued my usual line about the dangers of courting the Muslim Brotherhood and its front organisations in Europe and America.

I promised myself I would not lose my temper but there were times when I nearly did. Salma accused me of calling her a dangerous Islamist and saying that George W Bush was the lesser of two evils, neither of which I have ever said or written. Ramadan insisted on talking obsessively about Daniel Pipes and then waving his hand towards me, which was baffling.

The conference was entirely misleading in its very conception: ostensibly all-embracing and generous, but, in fact, designed to set people against each other. I went home with a feeling of delayed shellshock.

Ken Livingstone’s spin doctor Joy Johnson was unimpressed by Martin Bright’s tone, and has emailed the Staggers editor, John Kampfner:

Subject: FW: Martin Bright on Civilisations conference.


Is this really what your political editor thinks of the Mayor of London and his administration? This was a serious conference – I know blogs are not meant to be that serious but as trivial as this?

… so Martin Bright patiently explains precisely why the Clash conference was a sham:


I’ve just been forwarded your note to John.

The conference was a disgrace. It was a set-up for panellists who didn’t parrot the Ken line on radical Islam. It was genuinely discourteous to people who happened to dissent, who had given up their Saturdays to be shouted at and insulted for over an hour. The chairing of my session was miserable.
Unlike just about everything I have been asked to talk at for free including Islamic groups, I was not so much as thanked for my appearance let alone dropped a note (which is what reputable organisations such as the Fabians and the Social Market Foundation always do). The panel I was on (including the chair) were all opposed to my position, which does not make for an informed and balanced debate. The same was true of several other panels.

The conference was a vastly expensive exercise in right-wing Islamist propaganda. I think it was shameful that the people of London had to pay for this. It was a total sham.

In future why not email me direct or comment directly on my blog.

Click here to find out Joy’s response.