Monday, September 12, 2005

Oona King

The Berliner Grauniad has an interview with Oona King after the battle of Bethnal Green. She discusses reasons for losing her seat:
There was legitimate anger about her support for the war in Iraq, she says, which cut great swathes into her 10,000- strong majority. "It's rational to be incredibly angry about what's going on in Iraq, and there are many principled arguments against it. Having said that, my opponent possibly wouldn't know a principled argument if it hit him over the head."

But she says there were other, less legitimate reasons for her unpopularity, too. "When you graft racial stereotypes and bigotry and religious stereotypes on top of everything else ..."

What does she mean, racial stereotypes?

"We have a huge amount of Islamophobia in this country, and possibly as a response to that we have a huge amount of anti-semitism." ... "And that [anti-semitism] was used really effectively during the campaign in a way that didn't exactly shock me, because I'm aware of its existence, but in my life it had always been the black part of me that attracted the most prejudice. And suddenly it was the Jewish part of me."

She says that bizarre rumours kept surfacing, during the campaign, that she wanted to ban halal meat. "And this was on top of the usual, exaggerated Jewish conspiracy theories. A similar thing happened in 2001, when there were rumours spread that I was funded by Mossad. I used to laugh with my assistant that, given we sent people out to nick stick-it notes, they weren't funding us very well. Then in this election I realised that people were taking it really, really seriously. That was confirmed to me when my Muslim assistant knocked on the door of a Bengali man who said, 'I voted for her both times before, but I just can't do it this time.' She said, 'Is it Iraq?' And he said, 'No. I'm very angry about Iraq, but what I cannot stomach is that my member of parliament thinks it's all right to spend her parliamentary salary on paying the Israeli army to bomb the Palestinians.' And that's where rational debate ends."
Yes, the end of rational debate, as advocated by Madeleine Bunting, also in the Grauniad.
erstwhile left-wing liberals ... raise their standard on Enlightenment values - their universality, the supremacy of reason and a belief in progress.
And that's a bad thing?

For a discussion of Bunting's article see Marcus at Harry's Place.

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