By Ben Pensant
As the dust settles on Keith Vaz’s forced resignation for committing the harmless act of buying drugs, having unsafe sex with prostitutes and impersonating a washing machine salesman, one consequence the media have ignored is the future of the Home Affairs Select Committee of which he was chair and the huge gap that now needs to be filled. As anyone who has followed his career knows, Vaz is more than capable of filling huge gaps. Indeed it’s been said for some time in Westminster if you need a huge gap filled Vaz is your man (assuming Peter Mandelson is busy).
But his departure has left a question mark over the fate of the committee and it’s unlikely a replacement will be found with Vaz’s enthusiasm for wearing different hats and taking on challenging roles (colleagues didn’t used to say he reminded them of a young Olivier for nowt). It’s laughable that our racist press are so desperate to smear anyone connected to the Labour Party they’re framing his parliamentary role on issues such as prostitution and legal highs as being undermined by his use of prostitutes and legal highs. As is the dumb idea that offering to buy cocaine is a conflict of interest with his role on a committee that is responsible for reviewing drug laws. Next thing they’ll be telling us Jeremy Corbyn has no authority to talk about stamping out anti-Semitism within Labour given that he’s spent his entire career defending and supporting anti-Semites.
Which makes it all the more galling that a man who has served his country for nearly thirty years should be cruelly discarded over something so trivial as buying drugs, cheating on his wife and spending nearly 400 grand in cash on a flat to bone Romanian prostitutes in. Indeed, it’s become clear that Vaz may have not even known what he was doing that fateful night. His claim that he was drugged holds plenty of weight when you consider he’d had several previous meetings with these prostitutes. Who’s to say he wasn’t drugged and forced to pay for sex on those occasions too? And if he was then who better to spot the signs? Anti-Labour homophobes will pathetically ask why he didn’t go to the police and why he carried on texting one of the Romanians days after being drugged by him. But that typically avoids the nuance and complexity of the situation, nuance and complexity I have no intention of explaining because if Tory trolls are too dumb to see it then tough titty . I’m not doing your homework for you.
So amazingly, as well as doing nothing wrong he probably did nothing at all, other than be in the wrong place (his own property) at the wrong time (a Saturday evening) with the wrong people (two blokes he invited over). All things considered it’s clear this was a cynical tabloid sting orchestrated by the Tories and the PLP, just like everything bad that happens to Labour is. Just look at the disgraceful way Emily Thornberry was humiliated by Dermot Murnaghan on Sky news for not knowing the name of a French politician who seconds earlier she said she was intending to visit. These plotting ponces expect the earth from Corbyn’s cabinet but when Keith Vaz – a man who does give the earth, as well as a fair bit of muck – is shown to be human he’s hounded out of his job before you can say ‘Hitler supported Zionism’.
But the scariest thing is the establishment appear blissfully unaware how important Vaz’s role in the Home Affairs Select Committee was. Not just his dedication to getting to know his subject, although it has to be said, outside of Charlie Sheen not many know the world of prostitution better than Vaz. Not just his penchant for making untrue allegations against police officers he doesn’t like or his tireless work in securing passports for corrupt businessmen. And not even his knack for casting a judgemental eye over those who’ve failed to meet his high moral standards, such as journalists, coppers and anyone else who could theoretically make life difficult for a married MP who enjoys fiddling expenses, purchasing drugs, expanding his property portfolio and having unprotected sex with rent boys.
No, by far Vaz’s greatest contribution to British life has been his solid work in reaching out to Muslim communities and their representatives. Of course, like all regressives, Vaz deliberately rejects the advice of ex-Muslims, liberal Muslims, reformist Muslims and indeed any group of Muslims who don’t fit into the box the modern left have assigned them marked ‘victim’. No House Muslims or Uncle Toms for Vaz, something he made clear back in 1989 when he intervened in the Salman Rushdie affair.
Younger leftists may struggle to remember the scandal of The Satanic Verses. Indeed, many older leftists do too, though this tends to be because they choose not remember it as it destroys their narrative. As do Sharia courts, forced marriages, the Cologne sex attacks, female genital mutilation and the child grooming gangs in Rochdale, Rotherham, Blackpool, Oldham, Sheffield, Skipton, Manchester, Bradford, Preston, Derby, Telford, Ipswich, Birmingham, Oxford and Barking.
But those not suffering from identity politics-induced selective amnesia will recall how Rushdie found himself under 24 hour police protection after the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie because of supposedly offensive content found in a book he’d never read. Needless to say, none were successful in offing Rushdie, though Yusuf Islam FKA ‘Peace Train’ songsmith Cat Stevens proved himself exactly the kind of Muslim liberal commentators love by condoning the death sentence and pondering burning Rushdie alive. He subsequently apologised for these comments but has never retracted them, not even when appearing on such liberal BBC shows as The One Show and Later…With Jools Holland. All credit to the Beeb too for refusing to give in to Islamophobia and smear an innocent man by repeating stuff he’s said.
While Cat may never get to experience the thrill of killing a blasphemer (though he’s only 68 and the way the French have been whining on the last few years you could hardly blame him for wanting to pop his cherry), plenty of other offended followers of the Religion Of Peace had a bloody – and I mean bloody – good try over the years, with numerous murders and attempted murders specifically targeting people both involved in publishing the book and with bugger all to do with it. It seems obvious now but the West could have saved themselves a load of bother if they’d learnt back then that the only way to stop the spread of Islamic extremism is to give in to the whims of murderous religious fanatics and stop saying stuff they don’t like.
But Keith ‘Trailblazer’ Vaz was on the right page from the off. As news of the death sentence emerged Rushdie received a call from the then 33 year old new kid on the block. Vaz would get to know many new kids on many blocks over the following years but it was with this phone conversation that he cemented his position as a man the Muslim community could trust. Though when I say ‘Muslim community’ I don’t mean those normal, peaceful Muslims who assimilate and contribute to the country they are part of without wanting to kill novelists. Because as every modern liberal knows, a Muslim with no victimhood is as much use as a fish without gills. We spent years fixing the Premiership Table of Oppression to put Muslims at the top; the last thing we need is for them to start integrating, thinking for themselves and rejecting their vulnerability. We gave them that vulnerability for a reason and if they want to see what happens to groups who stop being oppressed just look at the working-class. Can you see them? No, of course you can’t because they’ve been sliding down the table ever since they rejected communism and socialism. They only clung on for dear life because we needed them during the Thatcher/Major/Blair years and finally got relegated after showing their true racist, uneducated colours by blindly voting to leave an unelected, anti-democratic bureaucracy obsessed with austerity and privatisation. The ungrateful wretches. So you might be top dogs for now, but think on this, Muslims: so were the Jews once and they’ve dropped so far they might as well be in the Evo Stick Northern Premier First Division (South).
But back to Vaz and how he became someone whom the important – ie ‘Islamist’ – part of the Muslim community could trust. But not before assuring the Islamophobe Rushdie that the Ayatollah’s fatwa was ‘absolutely appalling’ and assuring the writer he had Vaz’s ‘full support’. Which he did, until a fortnight later when the Labour MP attended a rally in protest at the publication of The Satanic Verses attended by 3,000 Muslims. Vaz called it ‘one of the great days in the history of Islam in Britain’. And quite right he was, though thanks to delightful events such as Al Quds Day and progressive groups like Sharia For UK this has now been surpassed several times, to the point where demos and marches organised by religious fascists in league with left-wing politicians have been commonplace in Britain for years, invariably attended by Jeremy Corbyn or George Galloway. Though not as often they’d like as Jezza has his hands full at the minute fretting about the scourge of after work drinks while Galloway is focussing on hobbies old and new – suing people, modelling The Incredible Hulk’s contact lenses and turning his head into a bust of Genghis Khan fashioned from old ladies’ sun-burnt tits.
But a joyous day it was and a crucial one too in mainstreaming the love affair between the left and radical Islam, a love affair which today burns stronger than ever thanks to the tireless work of pretend moderates like Tariq Ramadan and Mehdi Hassan, cowards and appeasers like Theresa May and Barack Obama and useful idiots like Owen Jones and CJ Werleman. Of course, it’s always been an unrequited love affair as Islamists tend to despise liberals and want to destroy everything they represent, such as supposedly left-wing values like equality, freedom, tolerance, democracy, secularism and human rights. Which is a shame as we’ve given them so much love it’d be nice to get a little sugar in return. Someone – perhaps Charlotte Church? – really should have a word with the Islamists and tell them they’ve got nothing to worry about because the modern left doesn’t actually share those values anymore. They were long ago sacrificed on the altar of identity politics and replaced with victimhood, puritanism, scaremongering, authoritarianism, censoriousness and moral relativism. They need to be made aware before they start thinking we’re just a bunch of middle-class half-wits doing their PR for them, laughing their cocks off every time one of us chirps ‘nothing to do with Islam!’ before thanking us for all our help once the caliphate arrives by cutting our heads off, setting fire to the corpses and putting it on YouTube under the banner ‘LEFTIES ARE THE PROPHET’S BITCH’. Which will, of course, be all the West’s fault. It always is.
Predictably the Islamophobic media of the time showed their true colonialist colours and pounced upon the fatwa. By siding with a British novelist exercising the freedom to write whatever he likes without fear of being murdered – and ignoring the hurt feelings of less than 2 % of the population and an evil gang of theocrats in the middle-east who hang homosexuals from cranes – the British press set out their stall for years to come. And Keith Vaz, the true liberal, has been fighting them all the way. Indeed, only last November he was still building bridges with faith communities by pledging to the Muslim Council Of Britain he would have ‘no problem’ with the UK re-introducing blasphemy laws. Where such reactionary measures would leave a married man who sniffs amyl nitrate and pays money to have unprotected sex with prostitutes is anyone’s guess. Though I’m sure those particular Muslims he showed solidarity with back in ’89 – the ones in favour of criminalising blasphemy and executing novelists – would treat him with tolerance and forgiveness, two cornerstones of the Qur’an. When I say ‘the Qur’an’ I don’t mean the proper one; I mean the Qur’an that exists in the heads of apologists. It’s far nicer than the real-life version as it contains not one reference to jihadism, homophobia or misogyny and no calls to violence or exhortations to murder whatsoever. As a result it has zero influence on all the actual jihadism, homophobia and misogyny that exists in the Islamic world and is not in the slightest bit connected to any violence or murder carried out in the name of Islam. You should read it. Or rather don’t read it, just ignore the actual Qur’an, convince yourself of the existence of this fictitious one and repeat the phrases ‘religion of peace’ and ‘nothing to do with Islam’ over and over again until your brain is as ideologically fried as Nathan Lean’s.
All of which leads us to Vaz’s crowning glory, the moment in March 2015 when he hauled the Metropolitan Police before the Home Affairs Select Committee and forced them to apologise to the angry parents of three Muslim schoolgirls furious at the police for allowing their daughters to run off and join ISIS. This came mere weeks after Jihadi John was unmasked as Muhammad Emwazi, a harmless jack-the-lad turned vicious killer after being repeatedly victimised by MI5, suffering constant Islamophobic abuse in his adopted homeland and having to face the horror of living in an oppressive country where bare-armed women are allowed to drive cars and Jewish gays roam freely without a care in the world. It’s a stain upon this supposedly tolerant nation that we force Islamists to live in such conditions without considering how these abominations make them feel. And then we have the nerve to be shocked when they start decapitating people. Will we ever learn?
Right on cue the representatives of CAGE jumped straight to Emwazi’s defence, calling him a ‘beautiful young man’, casting doubt on whether he really was Jihadi John and putting the blame for his decision to become a murderer squarely on the Security Services. Because when it comes down to who’s to blame – and when you’re a regressive leftist everything comes down to who’s to blame – the logic is simple; if a young man runs off to Syria to rape children and cut people’s heads off it’s the fault of the authorities for harassing them. When three schoolgirls run off to marry men who rape children and cut people’s heads off it’s the fault of the authorities for not harassing them. This is such a simple conceit and frankly Vaz should have been knighted for highlighting it. Yet the right-wing press were determined to ignore the truth and pass the blame onto such unconnected factors as the girls’ religion or the fact that Abase Hussen – father of one of the girls – had a habit of taking his child to Al-Muhajiroun rallies attended by Lee Rigby killer Michael Adebolajo at which American flags were routinely set on fire. Amazingly this was suggested by The Daily Mail as a bigger factor in why his impressionable daughter harboured dark thoughts about Burkas and beheadings. Seriously. A man on a flying horse can see the main reasons were Islamophobia, Western foreign policy, Islamophobic Western foreign policy and the fact that the Met couldn’t spare the manpower to spy on Hussen’s children just in case they ran away to join the circus, the Salvation Army or a terrorist group who burn pilots alive and throw gays off tower blocks.
Still, as heartbroken Hussen sat in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee clutching his daughter’s enormous teddy bear – in stark contrast to the footage of him chanting in Arabic flanked by black flags vowing to ‘avenge the prophet’ – few could fail to be touched and enraged at the predicament he found himself in through no fault of his own. But as ever, we have the honourable Keith Vaz to thank for holding the police to account, shining a light on this terrible injustice and scarpering sharpish when word got out that the stuffed toy-clutching father of Amira Abase wasn’t quite as cuddly as we thought.
Yet thanks to a cruel Fleet Street sting Vaz’s position on this vital committee is no more. And he’s left a huge gap just waiting to be filled by an eager young buck. Which, of course, would suit Vaz down to the ground. But we could be in for a rocky few years unless his replacement is every bit as ethical, dedicated and keen to placate Islamists as Keith. Who knows, they might appoint a successor with an equally dubious record of fiddling expenses, threatening landlords and purchasing luxury apartments. And they may even find a candidate who, like Vaz, has been splashed with more Romanian fluids than Dracula’s chin. But we need someone as excited about the nitty gritty as the fun stuff; someone just as comfortable entertaining businessmen as he is pandering to extremists.
It’s not going to be easy to fill Vaz’s gap but rest assured the longer he stays in semi-retirement the bigger that gap is going to get.