The death at the age of 86 of the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, marks the passing of a strong proponent of free speech.
Of the 2005 Muhammad cartoons, Westergaard's, below, was by some measure the most controversial, as it showed Muhammad with a bomb in his turban.
Despite death threats and a serious attempt on his life, Westergaard continued to express himself freely. That, as I write for spiked, makes him a true champion of free speech. You can also download a pdf of my article below:
I neglected to post my final comments for Spiked on Labour's eventual victory in the Batley and Spen by-election.
You can read it on the excellent spiked website, here.
I also place the article as a pdf below. Perhaps the most significant development since the result has been the Labour MP for Bradford West and Shadow Minister for Social Cohesion, who spoke in the Commons of the need to protect Muslims from the 'hurt' of insults to Muhammad. It is hard not to see a connection between the by-election result, and Ms Shah's intervention. It bodes ill for the direction Labour is taking.
It seems likely the Conservatives will win the Batley and Spen by-election on 1 July. There is even the possibility of George Galloway's Workers Party of Britain beating Labour into third place.
As I discuss for spiked, having played the game of identity politics, abandoning the Batley Grammar school teacher in the process, Labour now risks being outplayed at their own game by Galloway. You'd need a heart of stone not to laugh.....
"Men posing as female weightlifters isn't the biggest problem western civilisation faces, but it's an ominous symptom of deeper rot. When the people in charge retreat into fantasy, and demand that everyone else join them there, society itself becomes impervious to reality. The entire population develops the habits of fact-avoidance and lying. After a while, no one can see a crisis, or even admit one exists."
Iran pursues its interests in the UK, and seeks to build and maintain influence, in two ways.
The first is through perfectly legal outreach work and inter faith initiatives. The second is a much more underhand campaign of online disinformation and skullduggery. I set out some examples of both in an article for The Levant, available here.
The Batley and Spen by-election on 1 July is one of the most exciting in years.
My latest article for Spiked considers the challenge of George Galloway's Workers Party of Britain, the backdrop of threats and violence that have scarred the constituency in recent years, and the candidacy of several pro-Brexit parties, who are searching for political space in the pro-Brexit era.
You can read the article here, and find a pdf below.
I am the author of a new report on Iranian influence in the United Kingdom. You can read the press release and find a link to the report here.
The report looks at seven areas of interest: political networks, religion, the media, cultural networks, the Iranian diaspora, education and academia, and finally, the fields of business and finance. The bulk of the focus, however, is in the fields of politics and religion.
Following the inquest into the killing of Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt in the November 2019 terrorist attack at Fishmongers Hall in London, I have written a short piece for Spiked on the question of whether the attack could have been prevented.
On Wednesday I had a short piece published by Spiked covering the fallout from Pimlico Academy in London, which earlier this year took down its union flag after complaints from parents and pupils.
Schools in parts of England are now experiencing a wave of protests in support of the Palestinians, and many of those deeply uncomfortable about the sight of the union flag, are now seeing colours displayed that they are sympathetic too........
A link to the article on the Spiked website is here. A pdf can be found below:
In football, traditions matter. I feel the display of a Palestinian flag at Old Trafford by Paul Pogba and Amad Diallo was outside the traditions of the club.
It is hard to imagine it happening in an earlier era, especially when United worked so hard as a club not to be seen as partisan with regards to the Northern Ireland conflict. You can read my article arguing against sectarianism in football on Spiked, and also as a pdf below.
It is not sure exactly when it will happen, but a by-election in the west Yorkshire constituency of Batley and Spen appears inevitable, after the sitting MP, Tracy Babin, was elected as the new Mayor for West Yorkshire.
The central issue in the by-election that brought Ms Babin into office in 2016 was the fascist terror attack which saw Jo Cox MP murdered by Thomas Mair. This by-election will occur to the backdrop of threats of violence to a teacher at Batley Grammar, who is in hiding after threats from Islamists. In an article today for Spiked, I argue standing up to the aggressors in this case must be a central issue when the by-election is held.
It is very good, although I fear that the people who need to read it, and to learn from it, will not. Embery risks that cruellest of fates, being a Prophet in his own land, destined only to be heard from those outside his own tribe.
These are some of the lines on which he finishes the book:
We have learned that any drive to create an 'open' 'diverse' and 'progressive' nation will alienate a large part of the populace if it is forced upon them too rapidly, violates their sense of order and belonging, and comes at the expense of social solidarity and stability.
The British working class has found its voice. Politics in our country is realigning at speed as the old tribalisms crumble. The Left, if it is to halt the slide towards irrelevance, had better start listening.
I suspect this overstates the extent to which life may be breathed into a corpse. But that politics is realigning, is self-evident. And it is genuinely exciting.
On Tuesday 22nd December I will be chairing an online event at 1500 for the Henry Jackson Society entitled 'President Macron's Response to Islamism and Jihadist Terror: Lessons for Other Nations'.
The discussion should last for about an hour, with three leading researchers in the field - Liam Duffy,Dr Tommaso Virgili and Simone Rodan-Benzaquen. There will also be a Q and A session. Sadly, as the event is online, the anticipated mince pies and glasses of sherry will have to wait until next year.
To attend, all you need to do is register online with HJS, and you will receive an emailed link to join the event as it starts.
I was one of over 600 people to take part in the trials for this in Corby, Northamptonshire. Finishing off the tests on Thursday, I was told only 5 people had negative reactions to the jabs, none serious. That is less than 1 percent.
It seems appropriate to be deeply pessimistic about the future. The economic hit we have suffered from Covid has not been fully grasped. The gap between the security and status of public and private sector workers is deepening, and may get worse. The civil liberties lost at times this year, and the cultural revolution that piggy backed on top of the George Floyd protests in America, disastrous. There is not much point having a parliament full of human rights lawyers if, as I found, the police stop you playing football in the park with your children. On race, Britain is not the United States, no matter how much our woke warriors wish it to be.
Internationally, China is greatly strengthened by the events of 2020, the west economically weakened and culturally divided. Those cultural divisions will accelerate in 2021.
But this vaccine is a sign of progress, in the middle of reaction. It is green shoots sticking out of the concrete, and for that we should be grateful.
One of the issues in the in-tray of Home Secretary Priti Patel, is the question of whether to revoke the ban on the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers organisation.
In the page of the Indian newspaper the Sunday Guardian, I argue strongly against this. It would be a poor way to treat our allies, but would also send a dangerous message to other militant exiled groups who are, regrettably, exiled here in the UK.