|Marcus Fysh MP|
I thought, having recently written about the need to engage with our elected representatives, that I should put it to the test, stress-test the concept so to speak, and meet my own Member of Parliament for a face- to-face discussion about that most contentious of issues, the one that in far too much of polite society and all of broadcast television, even now, barely dares to speak its name, other than in a whisper.
The “trigger” for this (and yes, I was “triggered”) was a tweet by PJW, decrying a recent proclamation by our beloved Home Secretary, Amber Rudd.
This prompted me, out of the blue really, to tweet my MP. I think I finally reached the point, having written the earlier article, where I could no longer put up with it without making a fuss.
As I mentioned in an earlier article, I’ve previously been in contact with him, and found him willing to engage. So, immediately following the tweets, I sent him a direct message requesting a meeting, and waited for a response, which came within five minutes. Saying yes, he was concerned, and yes he’d already seen other tweets I’d tagged him on, and taken them on board. Call this number for an appointment.
There were three things I wanted to discuss, all related. Islamic Terror, the UK Government’s response to it since 2010, and the recent acceleration of establishment efforts (by which I mean government and media, police and judiciary, schools, university, the whole shebang) to limit and penalise free speech, where this threatens to challenge the approved narrative.
This is the narrative that insists that none of the many terror events we have seen have anything to do with Islam, and that in any case, Islam is a religion of peace, and thus one entirely beyond criticism.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect when the appointment fell due. After all, I’d witnessed one MP after another in the House eagerly fall into line with the Conservative Rehman Chisti’s June 2015 plea to refrain from calling Islamic State, “Islamic State”, and as eagerly, practicing their newfound Arabic language skills, replete with misplaced glottal stops, to use instead the deceitful term “Da’esh”, an Arabic acronym meaning exactly the same thing, “Islamic State”, a term supposedly mildly insulting to Muslim terrorists, but one having the additional, very handy benefit of removing the word “Islam” from the earshot of sensitive parliamentarians.
I did take some comfort in the fact that my own MP is a declared Brexiteer. As a newcomer, Fysh displaced the Liberal Democrat MP and former cabinet minister, David Laws in the 2015 General Election, and then went on to triple his majority in the 2017 election, neither of these mean feats, given that the seat had been continuously held by Liberals and then Liberal Democrats since 1983.
He’d also been willing to engage with me on social media and by phone, so I was clearly on to something. Add to that, the perfect qualification from my point of view– Fysh is roundly detested by every single Liberal Democrat in the constituency – and you might then see why I was looking forward to the meeting.
When I knew it was going to take place, I trailed it on these pages in the comment section (the one that no-one reads), and sought questions. I got a lot of these, many of them very good, but because of time constraints, I’m afraid to say I didn’t get to ask very many. The meeting did not last long, around 20 minutes. An MP typically will get many requests for meetings from constituents, especially on Friday afternoons during parliamentary sessions, most of them addressing local concerns rather than national ones; Marcus was running late, there were people wanting to see him behind me in the queue, and so I decided it would be better to stick to generalities about a specific, rather than specifics about the generality. That said, the questions are still valid, and I will be raising them with him in written form at a later date.
I told him that we feel that the strongest voices against Islamic terrorism are the ones most likely to fall foul of the law as trailed by Rudd in the Guardian article (http://bit.ly/2xW8D8E), for the act of looking at “extremist” material. The question then must be asked: who gets to define “extremist” … to which government official do you award that power, the right to determine what words you’re allowed to read and what images you’re allowed to view online? Marcus said that he has had similar concerns expressed by others, and he shares those concerns.
Marcus then went on to say that he has concerns about Islamism, with an emphasis on the “ism”. He said that it is a “nihilistic, twisted view of Islam”. Having an MP saying this came as no surprise to me at all, but for the very first time, I had the opportunity to push back.
I said that we have become disinclined to draw any distinction between Islam, Islamism, Extreme Islam, Shar’ia, Jihad and so on, regarding all permutations of these terms (other than the first) merely as exercises in verbal gymnastics, designed to distract and deflect attention away from the core issue, that of a religion that is apparently incapable of reforming itself. He did acknowledge that from the jihadist perspective, their many acts of barbarism are entirely congruent with the religion’s core message.
I realise that it is, for the time being at least, difficult for a Member of Parliament, and particularly a government back bencher, to commit any further than he did that day. The culture in the House is still inclined toward normative policing of the free speech of its members whenever the thorny subject of Islam comes up. That said, I did come away with the feeling that Marcus Fysh MP does have a good grasp of the issue that most concerns us.
Critically, he pre-empted a question I was planning to ask, and said that he has concerns about how the future looks. He is aware of the demographic issue, although I’m not sure if he had previously heard it put as bluntly as I do. I outlined it to him per my recent article for GP, which at the time of the meeting was yet to be published: if the current demographic trend remains unchecked, the United Kingdom will inevitably become a Muslim majority country by the late 2040s or early 2050s, France and Germany probably much sooner.
I cannot emphasise enough, how important the unambiguous presentation of this scenario is to me, and how this should be the case for everyone who genuinely has a grasp of the issue. I am convinced more than ever now, that it is vital that we get parents and grandparents informed, thinking and talking openly about it. This is the only way we will have any hope at all of bringing change about. If parents become concerned enough about the core issue, then the clamour for change will be irresistible.
It is for this reason that we must resist, with full force, the drive toward greater censorship and self- censorship that currently infects our broadcast media and increasingly, our social media. We must also mount a determined resistance to the kind of utter stupidity we saw on Twitter by Avon and Somerset Police last week. We must, must, must ridicule this nonsense, whenever it emerges. We must not allow ourselves to be intimidated by it at all. We have to speak up, now, more than ever before.
It is imperative that we prevail. We must win this battle, or we will, without doubt, go under.
We went on to talk about the crisis that Angela Merkel has triggered. I told him of our concerns that Merkel, through her reckless, suicidal pursuit of the European Union’s Common Asylum policy has, entirely needlessly, made an already bad situation far, far worse. I said that we now view the Visegrád-4 countries as being the main defenders of European culture, and that we now see the global situation vis-à-vis Islam and Western, non-V4 governments’ response to it as very much part of a wider culture war, a war that is worsening in its intensity, an intensity that will never diminish, if we continue on the path that our leaders have committed us to. I said that we see the crisis, as far as the United Kingdom is concerned, as the result of a series of gross public policy failures, stretching back to at least the Blair years, and possibly long before.
I told my MP that I didn’t want to put him on the spot or embarrass him, but that we see Theresa May as having been a disastrous Home Secretary and her successor to that post as, if anything, even worse. I told him that we find it to be nothing short of an act of the worst form of criminal stupidity on May and Rudd’s part, to allow 23,500 known extremists to roam free, literally wherever they will, this even before we consider that between 400 and 800 of these are known to have perpetrated, or at the very least participated in, in Iraq, and in Syria, acts of unimaginable cruelty and barbarity.
I told him that this thinking is rapidly becoming mainstream small-c conservative opinion. To back this up, I gave him printed copies of the following two articles, the links to which appeared on BTL comments here at Going-Postal a few days before our meeting.
If you haven’t yet read these, I urge you to do so.
I came away with the impression that Marcus Fysh is, broadly speaking, supportive of our views on the freedom of speech issue and shares some of our concerns about the politicisation of Islam in the public arena. How much influence one relatively new Tory back bencher can bring to bear remains to be seen.
I will say this: the encounter was important to me, because I see it very much as an awareness-raising exercise, a tool we must use more often. I wanted to make sure that my Member of Parliament was aware of the core issue (he is), that he would not duck it (he isn’t doing) and I also wanted to make him aware that we, as individuals coming from many different backgrounds and walks of life, have these concerns, and that we do not currently feel that nearly enough is being done to address them.
I cannot recommend the exercise highly enough. I said in a previous article that we must engage across the board and at different levels, if we are to prevail. I have put the concept to the test, and it has passed that test.
Please consider doing the same. Please make the effort to engage with your own Member of Parliament, regardless of whichever party affiliation he or she claims. We can no longer afford the luxury of fence- sitting on this issue, either for ourselves or those that we elect to represent us. The price for failure is simply too high.
More from MM here.