Catherine Fieschi Resigns From Demos

Sunny has the news first, but I understand that it is being announced more generally today.


Catherine Fieschi explains why she resigned in the New Statesman:

I’ve passionately loved my time at Demos and working with some of the brightest and most dynamic people one could wish for as colleagues. But the hard lesson is that, no matter who’s in an organisation, organisations seldom love you back as much as you love them.  

I wish Demos nothing but the absolute best, but a sense of après moi, le déluge has a certain appeal when you’ve been slugging your guts out for a couple of years. Does harbouring a secret longing for an inept successor, possibly unpleasant, maybe even scarily unattractive, make me a terrible person? Well, this is only a measure of my attachment to the place. And in any case, I have a feeling this is not to be – Demos deserves the best and the clean slate it needs to thrive. (I’ve wrestled my evil twin Skippy to the floor now, can’t you tell?)

Uh huh. Pushed rather than jumped.

I won’t go into a detailed exposé of why Demos refused to pull out of IslamExpo; suffice to say that the events we held were challenging and pandered to no one. Nor are we blind to the political complexities of such gatherings and the difficulties involved in discussing strands of political Islam in such a context. Which is more than can be said of many of the people who turned up (including someone on our panel). Trying to get any kind of consistency (never mind coherence) on how we talk about political Islam feels like a losing battle, and the semantic maelstrom we’ve created really doesn’t help. This isn’t about being pedantic – but in this context words matter: proof of that (if any were needed) was that we made no headway in our main discussion, in great part because we talked completely past each other. One of the American panellists, Robert Leiken, was so disappointed and frustrated that he shared his depressed surprise with the entire audience.

Leiken was disappointed and frustrated? Excellent. He is a self-deluder.

Robert Leiken is a man who believes that we should be promoting the Muslim Brotherhood, domestically, as some sort of bulwark against Al Qaeda. This is a strategy which the Muslim Brotherhood and their enablers have been urging strongly. It is obviously doomed to failure. Promoting one form of violent sectarianism to outflank its more violent sibling is a recipe for disaster.

Let’s hope that Leiken’s disappointment and frustration stemmed from a realisation of how flawed his strategy actually is.

I’m not surprised that the panelists in a “How Liberals Can Make Friends With Clerical Fascists” talked past each other. I’d hope that they would.

What do genuine liberals have to say to honest Islamists? The different political values which each side cherishes are irreconcilable. They should be.

Let’s hope that the only liberals that the Islamists can hoodwink are those who spend their time wrestling imaginary evil twins called “Skippy”.