An Open Letter to Revolting Labour MPs

Original article can be read here


Photo by Jessica Taylor


Dear revolting MPs

I write fiction in my spare time, and often I find that when I become engrossed in my own story, I can lose all perspective on whether my plot, my characters and my dialogue are at all convincing. At times therefore, I find it useful to get fresh eyes to look at my work and tell me if I’m going down the wrong track. To all 172 revolting Labour MPs, today, that’s what I’m going to do for you.

The central issue of your coup against Jeremy Corbyn is that he is “unelectable” as proven by a nine month history of leadership and a supposedly lack-lustre performance as part of the Labour “Remain” camp. The failure, you believe, of his leadership on this issue, is a perfect example of his failure as a leader in general. For that reason, you feel that for him to continue, with the possibility of a general election approaching, is untenable, and that a new leader, with less leftist-leaning attitudes and a more centrist approach to politics (whatever that means) is the way forward.

My problem with the above narrative, is that it’s pure fiction. Don’t get me wrong – if you were trying to write this as fiction – it would go down a treat! But I hear that you’re trying to pass this off to real human beings, with actual brains. And that’s problematic. Here’s why.

First of all, Jeremy Corbyn is evidently not unelectable, given that he was elected to leadership with the largest mandate in the history of British politics. You could argue – and many of you reading this will – that they were young, flamboyant hippies with flowers in their hair and no relation to the “old Labour vote”. You might be right, but hey, it’s a heck of a start, isn’t it? If the leader needs to unify the young left-leaning liberal and the older Labour vote, then Mr. Corbyn has already got the former, sorted. As for the older Labour vote, who better to seek that vote than a leader whose political career has been spent fighting the very de-industrialization that brought poverty and disaffection to so many of those older voters? When we consider further that after nine months of Corbyn’s leadership, the party has gone from a catastrophic general election result to being neck-and-neck in the latest polls with the Tories, we see further that it is not Corbyn who is out of touch with the public, but yourselves.

Brexit was a staggering result. It shocked everyone. But in a way, I am more shocked by the utter contempt you must have for the average Briton. Do you think that we are so stupid as to blame an entire referendum result on one man’s campaigning, especially when we see that Labour voters voted to Remain in the same proportion as SNP voters – 63%. Is Sturgeon also a failed leader, then? No, I didn’t think so.

But come now, I guess we shouldn’t let facts get in the way of a pre-planned coup. Shall we ignore the fact that in the beginning of June pre-referendum, news emerged that Labour rebels were planning to topple Corbyn by instigating a mass resignation of his shadow-cabinet? Should we ignore the fact that the instigators of this coup are organised by members of the right-leaning Labour think-tank, the Fabian society (like MP Margaret Hodge, vice president of the Fabian society, who drafted the vote of no confidence bill), which has ties to the PR machine Portland Communications, which in turn, has Alastair Campbell (Blair’s spin-doctor) and Jimmy Leach (Blair’s former head of communications) on its strategic council? Shall we ignore the fact that fifteen of the shadow secretary of states and nine of the shadow ministers who resigned, are affiliated to the Fabian society? Shall we forget that Corbyn has expressed willingness to call for Tony Blair and his apparatchiks to stand trial for war crimes? Are we meant to be surprised then, at seeing Alastair Campbell (who drafted the dodgy WMD dossier) emerge from the woodwork, calling for Corbyn to step down?

No, with the approaching Chilcot Inquiry publication on July 6th, I am not in the least surprised that you, the conservative element of the party, have triggered a coup now. However, what I am surprised by is how you have forgotten that it was a quarter of a million ordinary people like me who elected Corbyn to leadership. Let this then be my parting advice, as an onlooker with fresh eyes: you are drawing upon yourselves the disgust of a nation at a time when you should have brought it together in unity. Do not confuse airtime in the press with public approval. You are betraying the trust of thousands of your members by behaving in the most obscene and undemocratic fashion.

Trials and tribulations often expose the real mettle and character of people. This last week, we have seen how Corbyn has stood firm against a sea of opposition, unrelenting, on his democratic principles. Take heed, revolting MPs – your opposition to him is drawing not only public ire upon yourself, but public approbation and support for him.

Yours sincerely,

A disgusted citizen.



In Britain, between a rock and a hard place

Original article can be found here

Flag pic

A British flag that was washed away by heavy rains lies on the street in London on June 24, 2016, after Britain voted to leave the European Union in the Brexit referendum. Photo courtesy of: REUTERS/Reinhard Krause

(RNS) My country doesn’t know what to do. Its citizens are confused on who they are and what they stand for. It is a fractured nation, unsure about its place in the world today and its standing in the eyes of others.

I am talking about Britain, of course, but you could be forgiven for thinking that I was talking about Pakistan, my country of heritage. In a way, I’m talking about both.

The United Kingdom recently held a referendum in which its future in Europe has been voted on by around 70 percent of its population. Not a bad turnout. Fifty-two percent voted to leave the European Union, with immigration to Britain from the EU being cited as the most common reason for doing so.

Britain stands now on the brink, with many in the country embarrassed at its isolationism, realizing slowly that departure from the EU may be the end of the United Kingdom as we know it, with Scotland seeking a second referendum and some in Northern Ireland seeking a referendum to join the Republic of Ireland.

For many younger voters, there is a deep sense of violation. We feel as if our identity has been shaped by views that we do not share by a generation so far removed from us. Many of us embrace immigration, with our British identity inexorably tied to our European one, having only ever lived in a British European nation. This is especially the case since around 75 percent of those 24 or younger voted to remain in the EU.

This sense of violation is evidently new to many of my generation, but the feeling is not new to me.

As an Ahmadi Muslim of Pakistani heritage, I know full well about having your identity forcibly taken and shaped by others. In Pakistan, Ahmadiyya Islam is banned. Any Ahmadi expressing an Islamic identity can be imprisoned for three years and subject to a fine. If one’s expression is deemed blasphemous, one can be put to death under the blasphemy laws.

The reality, however, is that before the law can even get hold of such dastardly criminals, vigilante groups execute them in the cold light of day. In the last two months, three prominent of members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community of Karachi, Pakistan, were gunned down. Most surprisingly, however, is that such behavior is no longer confined to Pakistan, but has been exported to my own country – the United Kingdom.

In March 2016 a Glaswegian shopkeeper, known for his friendliness and kindness in the local neighborhood, was stabbed to death in the early hours of the morning while opening his shop. At first, the killing was thought to be Islamophobic in nature but it was quickly realized that his killer was also a Muslim. The attacker’s reason was simple: Asad Shah had “disrespected” the Prophet of Islam by virtue of being an Ahmadi Muslim. It soon emerged that leaflets calling for the death of Ahmadi Muslims had been distributed in British mosques as well as at London universities.

In the recent referendum, fears of immigration from Eastern Europe and from Muslim refugees coming freely to the U.K. were exploited by the likes of Nigel Farage. This has resulted in hate incidents such as the distribution of cards in Cambridgeshire stating “No more Polish vermin” and the graffiti of a Polish center in London with the words “Go home.”

After Shah’s killing, Ahmadi Muslims too are in a precarious position. To the indigenous British community, we are visibly and noticeably Muslim. To many other Muslims, however, we are not Muslims but Ahmadis posing as Muslims. A heretical sect in a pure religion. We are, in many ways, between a rock and a hard place.

I do not live in fear since Shah’s killing. I know, however, the road that Britain is going down and I know where it leads. I have seen it in Pakistan, where fear of Ahmadis has turned into hatred. I know that because my faith is vilified in their legislation, I would never fit into Pakistan, despite my ethnicity.

Similarly, Britain’s recent referendum result, driven principally to Brexit out of fear of other people, has made me feel that I no longer fit in today’s British society. I am a British European Ahmadi Muslim of Pakistani heritage. If home is where the heart is, then I belong everywhere and nowhere.