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Monday, January 26, 2004
Holy Moley!

Jackie D reports:

Interesting item in today's Mail on Sunday about Hughie Rose, the youth coordinator for the Liberal Democrats' Ethnic-Minority Liberal Democrats (EMLD) Executive. According to their investigation, he's leader of the New Black Panthers in London, a black separatist organisation that critics of the group -- including a key member of the original Black Panthers -- have accused of being racist vigilantes who have "embraced the terrorism of September 11th".

Apparently Mr Rose, who has shared a platform at the Lib Dem conference with leader Charles Kennedy, has been using Lib Dem mailing lists to recruit new members for the group. He also helped to organise a lecture tour last year by Professor Tony Martin, author of The Jewish Onslaught, which describes "the Jewish role in the Black Holocaust."

The Liberal Democrats have never been home to the most sensible people in British society, but events of the last week really take the biscuit. And this isn't just about Jenny Tonge or Hughie Rossie. In Brent East a few months ago, the party received the enthusiastic endorsement of radical extremist groups like MPAC-UK and the Muslim Association of Britain, which wants to execute any Muslim who loses his faith. The party was never as mainstream or cuddly as it was perceived to be, but it now seems to be becoming a place where extremists who would overturn our democracy and civil rights in a second can feel comfortable. There's something very wrong at the heart of the Liberal Democrats, and suspicious as I am of any internal purges (which historically seem always to have been about a failing leader scapegoating others for his own underperformance), I think the party has to ask if it wants to await any more incidents like those of the last week before taking action against other unsavoury types who may be in their midst.

Similarly, those at the top of the party need to examine its message very closely and ask themselves what the effect is of promoting its BBC/Independent style of politics. When Lib Dems promote a radical, sexualised agenda, when they plot to give rapists the vote, empty the jails of burglars and fill them with those who defend against those burglars, when they show themselves wary of any harshness even towards the Taliban or Robert Mugabe, is it any wonder they are so good at attracting the support of the wrong sort of people? It's not just about embarrassment in the media - it's a matter of whether those policies really are right given the rats they attract. Good ideas do not have such appeal to bad people. When you are getting the support of black separatists and hateful religious fanatics, it's a useful indicator that the message itself is wrong.

The Lib Dems might also ask themselves if the reason the party is so good at winning over extremists like this is the same reason it is so bad at winning the support of a mass of the British people.

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