Another article about “The Search for Common Ground” report for the GLA. Interestingly, a lot of the report was cut before publication much of which – in my opinion – was highly dubious anyway and didn’t deserve to make the final cut. Even some of that which has made the final report is also questionable.

There has been too much ‘politic-ing’ going on in the background and it’s a shame – as this article suggests – that the credibility of the sound research that underpins some of the chapters (mine included) is being overshadowed by the associations being made to certain certain groups and/or individuals.

Sadly, I have no option but to agree with some of the comments made in this article…

Watching Ken Livingstone at the mayoral press conference yesterday was like watching an old bare-knuckle fighter. Horrible, but you had to admire his nerve.

He spun away from danger so adroitly you could blink and miss the trickiness of the foot movements. He landed low blows and then turned to the referee as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.

Ostensibly he was releasing a report by “leading academics and experts on Islam” on Islamophobia. He had a poll which showed that Muslim Londoners weren’t very different from other Londoners, which was fair enough, and descriptions of the prejudices Muslim journalists face. These revelations were merely the build-up to the shocking news that “leading academics and experts” had found that 91 per cent of articles on Islam “were negative in their associations”.

Ninety-one per cent! Imagine. I knew there was bigotry, but not the “torrent of Islamophobic demonisation” Livingstone described. Where could we get further particulars?

We couldn’t, initially. Although Livingstone had sat on the report for weeks, no copies were available before the conference – “problems with couriers”, apparently. It arrived while Livingstone was speaking and as we skim-read we learned that it was giving Islam “negative associations” to report that the Iranian regime was holding a conference of Holocaust deniers. Muslim democrats in Iran opposed it. Livingstone and his ” leading academics” could not. Meanwhile, journalists – including me – conveyed “negative associations” when we wrote that Jack Straw was standing up for the rights of women when he criticised the full veil. Muslim feminists oppose the veil. Mr Livingstone and his “leading academics and experts” cannot.

The worst of it was that a large chunk of the report was a devious attack on a Panorama expose; of the Muslim Council of Britain by John Ware of the BBC. As luck would have it, Ware was at the press conference and able to point out that all the criticisms of the MCB that he broadcast came from liberal-minded British Muslims. Were they, like Iranian democrats and Arab feminists, Islamophobes as well?

Then he looked at the press release and noticed that one of Livingstone’s nine “leading academics and experts” wasn’t an academic or expert at all but Inayat Bungawala of the MCB. Later I discovered that two others were also from the MCB. At a cost of £30,000 to the taxpayer, Livingstone was allowing the MCB and its friends to rubbish a well-sourced and balanced documentary and dressing up the results as an impartial study.

I’ve written a book on why the Left is going along with the Islamist Right and won’t go over it all again here. The point is that while the Labour government has cut links with the MCB, and announced that no organisation will receive public money until it explicitly opposes extremism, Livingstone can’t admit a mistake. He never explains, never apologises and always attacks.


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