Whatever happened to rational debate?

Muslim Tory peer pelted with eggs by "idiots"

Sayeeda Warsi, the Conservative frontbencher -- and "Britain's most powerful Muslim woman", as the BBC helpfully reminds us -- has been pelted with eggs during a visit to Luton.

From the BBC report:

Baroness Warsi was taking part in a walkabout in the Muslim Bury Park area of Luton when she was confronted by a group of protesters.

The male protesters accused her of not being a proper Muslim and supporting the death of Muslims in Afghanistan.

Baroness Warsi, who was hit by at least one egg, debated with the men.

I wouldn't wish a trip to Luton (!) on my worst enemy, so I can't help but feel sorry for Warsi, whom I've praised in the past.

But here's the main point: regular readers of this blog will know that I disagree with Warsi and the Tories -- as I disagree with Brown and Labour -- about Afghanistan.

Nonetheless, why is it that so many young British Muslim hotheads, born and schooled here, think irrational, yobbish and pointless acts, such as chucking eggs at a female politician, are the best way of protesting, or objecting to an ill-conceived or immoral policy? Whatever happened to rational debate and discussion?

Notice the key line in the BBC report: "Baroness Warsi . . . debated with the men." What's the point? Such people -- "idiots", as she later described them -- are not interested in debate; they're interested only in pontificating and posturing. They do a disservice to their (anti-war) cause, and to Britain's Muslim communities.

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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