Some post-Question Time clarifications

For those of you who seem intent on getting the wrong end of the stick . . .

I'm not sure which I enjoyed more – appearing on BBC1's Question Time last night or following the Twittersphere's reaction to it as the show went out at 10.35pm. Once again, it seems, I am the Marmite panellist – people either loved me or hated me. (From the tweets, it seems as if the "lovers" edged out the "haters" – phew!)

And I was amused to get – almost at the same time – tweets/texts/emails of the "We're so proud of you for sticking up for Muslims" variety and tweets/texts/emails of the "You're just an evil extremist Islamist" variety; tweets/texts/emails of the "Great to see an articulate lefty" variety and tweets/texts/emails of the "You're an embarrassment to the left" variety. Hilarious.

Question Time is a fun show to do but I'd be the first to admit that it doesn't lend itself to nuance or depth and doesn't allow panellists enough time to unpack their views and opinions in any detail. There's been some confusion on Twitter, and in the texts and emails, about the various views that I expressed and positions that I took – and, of course, some of the confusion is a result of the deliberate misrepresentation and distortion of my views by my critics on the right. So I thought I'd take this opportunity, like last time, to offer some brief post-QT clarifications:

1) On prisoner voting: I don't support giving every prisoner the right to vote but I am opposed to a blanket ban. It might be considered right, proper and proportionate to strip serious criminals – murderers, rapists, paedophiles, armed robbers, etc – of their right to vote but the vast majority of prisoners in this country are not serious criminals. On what basis can it be said to be proportionate to remove the right to vote from a shoplifter or a drug offender or someone who has breached the terms of their Asbo? And this is not some odd or extreme position. Italy, Malta and Poland, for example, ban only those deemed to have committed serious crimes from exercising their right to vote. In Greece, anyone sentenced to life receives a permanent voting ban. Let's be clear: I'm not advocating giving killers such as John Hirst the right to vote in prison – and nor was the European Court, despite Douglas Murray's factually inaccurate claim to the contrary on the programme last night.

2) On multiculturalism: I didn't equate David Cameron with the EDL or "smear" him, as Tim Montgomerie and others have claimed. I pointed out that the English Defence League and the French National Front welcomed Cameron's remarks (and that even the BNP's Nick Griffin, while also welcoming the comments, pointed out the "provocative" timing of the speech in Munich, given events back home in Luton). Am I expected to ignore their comments? As a member of an ethnic minority, should I not be bothered that far-right racists who wish me and my family harm are claiming the PM's speech – or, at the very minimum, the media spin around it – as a vindication of their views/opinions? Am I supposed to pretend that politicians never "dog-whistle"? (For more on my views on Cameron's speech, see my column in this week's New Statesman.)

As for the "forced marriages" issue, which the oddball right-wing blogger "Archbishop Cranmer" seems to have seized upon in his rambling blog post this morning, I didn't say there weren't any forced marriages in the UK or that forced marriages were a "myth" – I pointed out that it was ridiculous for Murray to pretend (a) that multiculturalism is responsible for forced marriages and (b) that I've yet to come across a single politician, community leader or religious spokesman who defends forced marriages or excuses them on the basis of "multiculturalism". It is just ridiculous and dishonest to make such a claim. "Cranmer", who constructed his entire blog post on the basis of something I didn't say, says my "ignorance is astonishing"; I find his inability to understand simple English "astonishing". He really should pay attention.

3) On Egypt: There is no inconsistency to supporting the popular and peaceful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt while opposing the Anglo-American military intervention in Iraq. Arabs should be allowed to choose their own leaders and decide their own destiny; the west should neither prop up the despotic dictators in the Middle East – as we did with Saddam Hussein (until 1990) and Hosni Mubarak (until last week) – nor set out to remove them through "shock and awe" – as we did in Iraq, without UN backing and with bloody consequences.

4) On the "big society": I was amazed that Francis Maude could pretend that the draconian cuts to spending on charities and voluntary groups could be avoided if councils reduced their "costs" and "overheads". Conservative ministers have made some pretty disingenuous claims in recent weeks but this one takes the biscuit. The fact is that councils, which are having to make unprecedented and front-loaded cuts to their budgets of roughly 27 per cent over the next four years, "made savings of more than £3n between 2005 and 2008 and a further £1.7bn in 2008-2009. In 2009-2010 councils made efficiency savings of more than £4.8m every day." As David Cameron himself admitted, in opposition (on 8 September 2009): "Local government is officially the most efficient part of the public sector." He added: "Councils achieve well in excess of the sector's spending review targets, beating central government savings by a country mile." And much ink has been spilled in the tabloid press about "fat-cat" local council bosses but a "reduction in the chief executive pay bill of 50 per cent would only yield 0.35 per cent of the savings needed to fill the £6.5bn funding gap for 2011-2012, and equates to only 0.05 per cent of total employee expenditure". Bad luck, Francis.

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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After the European referendum campaign, Jeremy Corbyn needs to go

We can't go on like this, says Mary Honeyball MEP. 

The Labour Party is in an existential crisis. Jeremy Corbyn’s corrosive leadership has brought the Labour Party close to the edge, and tragically the Party I know and love is now in imminent danger of imploding all together.

This, of course, follows the referendum result, but that is not the only cause. Corbyn’s referendum effort was the strangest political campaign I’ve experienced in over 40 years of Labour Party activity.

It was lacklustre at best, and contrasted markedly with the Brexiters who put heart and soul into their anti-European endeavours, campaigning cross party, side-by-side with the likes of Labour MP Gisela Stuart never far from Boris’ side. It was, evidently, a winning ticket.

Also faced with leadership issues, the Tories are behaving in a formal and business-like way. What a contrast with Labour’s self- indulgent omnishambles.

So what is the immediate future of the Labour Party? There is a real possibility of Corbyn getting on the ballot paper and being re-elected. At that stage 200 MPs may form a new party. And if need be I will join them.

Jeremy Corbyn is a stubborn politician. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this, his strongly held, inflexible beliefs are not helpful in the leader of a political party which aims to form a government.

We have heard much about democracy during the last month. Democracy must mean listening to the people, taking their hopes, fears and aspirations on board. When the facts change a politician should change his or her mind too, while, of course, maintaining political integrity,

Corbyn has clearly failed to do this. As has become ever more apparent, there are millions of people in Britain who are concerned about immigration. Unfortunately, the Leader of the Labour Party has not done anything to address or allay concerns.

Where was Jeremy Corbyn’s straight talking honest politics on Europe? If that’s what Labour Party members really want, and there’s overwhelming evidence that they do, why didn’t their leader seek to expound this and passionately argue the case for staying in the European Union,  the greatest decision for a generation and beyond.

It is essential to be committed and enthusiastic to win any kind of political campaign. Corbyn was neither.

Our ties of kinship, community and prosperity are tied up with neighbours. Peoples jobs, holidays and relationships are greatest with the countries nearest to us so we should want to preserve these links.

There was nothing ordinary about the first plenary session of the European Parliament following Britain’s referendum on Brexit last week. The usually business-like European Parliament was interrupted by unprecedented emotional turmoil when it met. It’s difficult to properly convey the range of emotions inside the European Parliament. There were tears, embraces, anger-some sat with their backs to Farage as he got up to speak-presumably they couldn’t bear to watch his gloating face or to listen to his goading, ungracious and insensitive speech.

Farage revelled in triumphant jubilation, of course, and couldn’t resist provoking fragile colleagues further by saying “most of you have never done a proper job in your life”.

Labour went into the EU referendum weakened by a leader who wanted out, a conviction politician who cannot make a case for anything outside his narrow belief system.

Mary Honeyball MEP, Labour spokesperson in Europe on gender and equality. www.thehoneyballbuzz.com