Tories,  Your View

In Defence of Lord Janner

This is a guest post by Harry Putther

It is outrageous for Marjorie Thompson who is the chair of the Conservative Cooperative Movement to besmirch Lord Janner by claiming that he had not signed up to the All Party Parliamentary Group looking into Islamophobia in good faith.

According to the JC, she said

It strikes me that Greville Janner joined the group to directly sabotage it.”

But after further inspection, I noticed that she was speaking in the capacity as spokesperson for Engage, the organisation behind the controversy. Here we have a person who is leading the charge for David Cameron’s Big Society representing an organisation that at the very least is sectarian, and supports banned extremist hate speakers as well as Islamist political networks and organisations – so soon after the PM’s speech in Munich.

As the Muslim Labour peer, Lord Gulam Noon says “Greville Janner has always fought all forms of racism, including Islamophobia”.

In fact Lord Janner has fought racism for decades including et al

  • Being a war crimes investigator in the British army at the end of WWII
  • Was one of the prime public figures  that welcomed Asian immigrants to Britain
  • In his constituency in the 1970’s, as a Labour peer, helped newly arrived Asian immigrants to establish themselves and combat the discrimination they faced – including leafleting all-white estates with anti National Front leaflets.
  • He established The Holocaust Educational Trust and led the campaigns for the prosecution of Nazi war criminals in the UK
  • As vice-president of Board of Deputies, lobbied vigorously for the 1976 Race Relations Act
  • He founded the Coexistence Trust with Prince Hassan of Jordan for the explicit intention of improving Muslim/ Jewish relations

Ms Thompson’s organisation Engage, on the other hand have (et al)

  • Opposed the exclusion from the UK of Islamist activists and hate preachers (here and here) such as Ibrahim al-Musawi of Hezbollah and Dr Zakir Naik of which the High Court agreed with the government that his presence was “not conducive to the public good”
  • · Oppose the exclusion of the extremist group Hizb ut Tahrir on University platforms that according to Student Rights, have speakers that have been known to condone suicide bombings and support Islamist movements which undertake terrorist acts such as Islamic Jihad.
  • · Believe that when credible journalists expose extremists amongst our communities – they are conducting awitch hunt against all Muslims
  • When the Labour govt and the Conservative party decided to break links with the MCB due to its  then deputy chairman  attending a Hamas-aligned conference in Istanbul, and signing a declaration that the presence of “foreign warships” enforcing the Gaza ceasefire “must be rejected and fought by all means and ways” (Prime Minister Gordon Brown had promised British naval support for such action) – Engage argued that the government was trying to intimidate the MCB and that Hazel Blears has started to treat Muslims as if she was still living in the days of the British Raj.
  • Regularly attack other Muslims who do not support their world view
  • One of the Directors is on the record claiming that a Jewish conspiracy (at 3:46) controls the United States.
  • Constantly peddle UK Zionist conspiracy theories against all Muslims.

Lord Janner and Kris Hopkins were absolutely right in their decision to withdraw their support, as Vice Char and Chair, as long as Engage are retained as the secretariat as there is a real danger that given their track record, they could seek to prevent non or anti-Islamist Muslims from participating in the APPG. The APPG could be used as a platform to attack those that do not hate Muslims but are critical of Islamists political parties. Such developments would undermine the potentially important findings and recommendations of the APPG.

With the vast experience that Lord Janner has accumulated over decades of fighting racism and xenophobia, he has probably realized that there is a need for an independent, credible and effective APPG on Islamophobia and not one that is delegitimized by the presence of an Islamist advocacy group and its well-documented support for sectarianism, anti-Semitism and extremist political networks.

Marjorie Thompson should reconsider her comments about Lord Janner and delve a little further into the organisation that she is representing and as to whether its involvement will sabotage a credible APPG on Islamophobia.

Furthermore, given Lord Janner’s track record in anti-racism, if Marjorie Thompson and Engage were serious about tackling Islamophobia, they would show some respect and humility and listen to his concerns properly instead of insulting him.