I believe the Conservative Party is institutionally racist.
He then went on to make various allegations against Tory MEP Dan Hannan, who he clearly believes is racist too. He cites some quotes from a piece about Barack Obama without providing any context. He also omits to say that Hannan supported Obama. The New Statesman later removed the article from its website, but it can still be seen HERE. I thought it deserved a light fisking. His words are in red (as well they might be)...
The cat is well and truly out of the bag.
Is it? How? Do explain. Are you sure you don't mean that the white hoods have come off?
In the past, there has often been an element of fogginess to rows about Tory racism as they erupt (though in this area, there is never smoke without fire).
Two cliches in one sentence. Where's the sub? Evidence please.
What exactly is the relationship between the anti-immigration Monday Club and the Conservative Party?
There isn't one. Iain Duncan Smith removed them as an affiliated organisation some years ago. But you probably didn't know that. Or if you had, you'd have mentioned it. Well, wouldn't you?
Does hailing Enoch Powell amount to closet racism?
He was a good parliamentarian, after all.
Nice of you to admit it.
Is a racist joke a sign of true feelings about the matter?
It might be, or it might not be. Is telling a joke about the Irish racist, even when they do it themselves?
I believe the Conservative Party is institutionally racist. I always have done.
Good of you to set out your stall. Evidence please.
I have witnessed too many "jokes" or sideways looks when talking about immigration with Tories -- and done too much research into racism in the party over the years -- to think otherwise. But many would disagree.
Indeed they would. Of course there are racists in the Tory Party. There are, whisper it, also racists in the Labour Party and the LibDems. Try walking into Wallsend Labour Club if you're black and observe the reactions. That doesn't make the Labour Party "institutionally racist. Do try harder...
I would ask those people to read Daniel Hannan's blog for the Telegraph (not some dodgy recording at a Monday Club meeting, but words written down by him), on the question, raised correctly by the former president Jimmy Carter, of whether the rows in the US over President Obama's health-care plans are fuelled by an unspoken racism (which they are).
Yes do read it, because you would then see that Hannan was agreeing Carter, saying that some of the opposition to Obama's healthcare plans is driven by racist motives. You'd have thought
Macintyre would have welcomed Hannan agreeing with his own view. But oh no...
Hannan neatly proves Carter's point by saying: "Barack Obama has an exotic background and it would be odd if some people weren't unsettled by it."
And this is evidence of racism? Oh perlease. Is the word exotic the supposedly racist word? Send round the thought police now. Obama is not out of the typical US President mold. It's not just his skin colour, it's his family background, employment background etc. People are always fearful of the unknown. That's all Hannan was saying.
"[Obama seems to] have family on every continent".
Er, yes, that's a fact. Again something rather different to your average US President and likely therefore to cause comment.
"[I]t could hardly fail to leave a chunk of people feeling that Obama wasn't exactly a regular guy."
Er, yes, and that's evidence of what exactly? Don't tell me; racism. Oh dear. Is that the best evidence on offer that Dan Hannan is racist? Which particular Labour SPAD fed you all this guff?
So, who is Daniel Hannan? He has been in the news lately for running down the National Health Service on American television. Is he an obscure MEP? No. David Cameron rewarded him for the fallout over the NHS row with a new frontbench European job on legal affairs.
No he didn't actually. It was nothing to do with Cameron, and as a political correspondent you ought to know that. The job was given by the leader of the new grouping.
But are they close? Yes.
Actually, no. But don't let an inconvenient fact get in the way.
Like Michael Gove, Hannan is a former newspaper columnist (you may remember he tried to smear me in the Telegraph, a subject to which I will return in future weeks) in whom Cameron invests reliance.
Ah, now we're getting down to it. So this is all done to get back at Dan Hannan for something he wrote in a column about you. Diddums. Get over it. Rise above it. Grow up.
Reports claim the next Tory election manifesto is even being inspired by his 2008 book The Plan.
Yes, and so it should. It contained a number of excellent ideas, some of which, whisper it, are beign adopted by Labour - David Miliband in particular.
Now I know this post will result in howls of fury and clever-stupid ridicule from various partisan Conservatives pretending to be neutral truth-seekers. I will be dismissed -- as I was by Hannan -- as a "Labour spin doctor". But please, just reread those quotes, take a deep breath, and think about those words.
I have, I did, and I still think you're talking bollocks.
Many other bloggers have rightly called Macintyre to task for his comments. I was tempted to write a knee jerk denunication too, but decided instead to put some questions to him and get his side of the story. It was done by email so I will print my questions and his responses in full..
Q. What on earth were you thinking of?
A. What I was "thinking of" was that I believe the Tory party to be institutionally racist. I stand by that and look forward to the opportunity to expand on it.
Q. Did you know Hannan supported Obama and still does?
A. Yes I knew Hannan "supported" Obama for whatever that was worth. It makes no difference at all to his comments justifying racism towards him.
Q. Why was the article removed, and was it done with your knowledge?
A. No comment.
Q. Seeing as it was removed, would you like to offer a public apology to both Dan Hannan and the Tory Party?
A. No. Would Hannan and other Tories like to apologize to me for their smears?
Q. Why have you told another blogger that you can’t comment? Either you stand by your words or you don’t.
A. I stand by them. The "no comment" was about the removal of the post.
Q. Have you and or the NS been threatened with legal action?
A. No legal action threatened to my knowledge.
This, of course, begs more questions. He seems to be standing by his comments completely but sheds no light on why his article was removed from the NS website.
In his short time with the New Statesman Macintyre has become known as the most partisan political correspondent the magazine has employed in its recent history. Despite excellent pieces like THIS article about the McBride affair, he's seen by some as too close to some of his political friends. THIS somewhat nauseating piece about the wonders of Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander is a case in point. It lends weight to the view of some that he's not a "political correspondent" by any normal definition of the term - he's an opinionated commentator. Nothing wrong with that at all, but why not admit it? However, whatever one thinks of his reporting style, his interviews are excellent - full of good questioning and insight. If I were his editor I'd get him to stick to interviews.
So what's the fallout from this? I cannot see how any Tory politician will want to speak to Mr Macintyre in the near future, let alone be interviewed by him, if he really does believe the party they represent is 'institutionally racist'. At a time when the NS is trying to cosy up to the Tory Party it is a shame to say the least that this storm has been provoked, and I suspect this was the real reason the article was pulled.
Could it be because the NS co-chairmen Mike Danson and Geoffrey Robinson read the riot act due to the timing? Two weeks tomorrow, for the first time I can ever remember, the New Statesman is holding a reception at the Conservative Party Conference. If I were James Macintyre I might discover I had a subsequent engagement in my diary...