The ‘last Muslim left in UKIP’ castigates former leader, Paul Nuttall, on his “self-serving” statement of resignation from the party.
I am Seamus Martin, UKIP branch chairman, Co-Chairman of UKIP in Greater Manchester and a UKIP approved parliamentary candidate. I am also a Muslim. To the best of my knowledge, I am the very last Muslim parliamentary candidate left in the party from the more than a dozen members of my faith community who were once proud to stand under the UKIP banner at the 2015 general election in support of both Brexit and the inclusive civic nationalism which UKIP then championed, as evidenced by our fielding more ethnic minority parliamentary candidates than either the Liberal Democrats or the Green party. That is the UKIP I joined, that is the UKIP I cherish and, despite our party’s current abject state and largely self-inflicted wounds, that is the UKIP I am still striving to restore and resurrect.
Specifically, as a Muslim, I find it quite sickening that former UKIP leader and Northwest MEP, Paul Nuttall, has resigned from UKIP claiming that it was because of our party’s current “clumsy, blundering approach” and “hard-line anti-Islam messages”. This is so disingenuous. Nuttall is seeking to absolve himself of the blame and wash his hands of the responsibility he himself must bear for setting UKIP on the morally reprehensible and electorally ruinous course from which he now seeks to distance himself.
Not so fast, Mr. Nuttall. You are not getting away with that. It is not just UKIP’s present association with the English Defence League founder, Tommy Robinson which will “appall many moderate Brexit voters”, as you put it in your self-serving resignation statement. The explicitly anti-Muslim policies which you chose to put front and centre when you were UKIP leader did that already, as shown by UKIP’s abysmal performance on your watch in last year’s general election. Four out of five people who voted for us in 2015 turned away from UKIP, many in disgust, at what you now refer to as our party “being taken in a direction harmful to Brexit”, Following your defeat in the Stoke Central parliamentary by-election, it was you who set UKIP upon the very direction which you now claim to condemn.
It is not as if you were not warned about where this would lead. I cautioned you privately in advance via your right-hand man that such a direction was both inherently wrong and would end in moral condemnation and electoral disaster for UKIP. When you chose not to listen, I felt compelled to speak out publicly at the time. Alas, still to no avail. You wilfully, clumsily and shamefully blundered on.
So, convenient as it may be to blame the current UKIP leader, Gerard Batten, for all our party’s ills, and many do, we must remind ourselves who was party leader when all this started – when UKIP launched its 2017 general election campaign, leading with the stridently anti-Islam Integration Agenda, a policy document which called, among other things, for a moratorium on state-sector Islamic faith schools and a ban on Muslim religious law and the tribunals which administer it. It was none other than one Paul Nuttall.
What I find so incredibly galling and uniquely unforgivable is that Paul Nuttall set UKIP on its current anti-Muslim trajectory within barely two months of the then many Muslims still in UKIP going above and beyond the call of duty to win votes for him among the sizeable and, as it turned out, rightly sceptical Muslim community at the Stoke Central parliamentary by-election in March 2017. Nuttall, who claimed during the campaign itself that he wanted to dispel the “myth” that our party was racist and Islamophobic, soon thereafter proved what many had suspected all along and effectively kicked in the teeth Muslims like UKIP’s former Stoke-on-Trent South parliamentary candidate, barrister Dr.Tariq Mahmood, Muslims like our 2015 Bradford East candidate, intelligence and security expert Owais Rajput, and Muslims like me.
I personally came up with the idea of an official UKIP leaflet aimed specifically at Muslim voters in Stoke. I wrote the first draft and went door-to-door with a large group of Muslim UKippers from Stoke itself, putting the finished article through local letterboxes in street after street. And Owais Rajput used his personal contacts and called in favours to get the two of us appearing as interview guests on a popular talk show on a Manchester-based British Asian satellite TV channel which is broadcast on Sky. We extolled Paul Nuttall as a fair-minded and decent man who recognised the contribution Muslims had made to Britain in both world wars and since, and assured British Muslim viewers and voters that they would be in good hands with a libertarian UKIP led by Paul Nutall, future MP for Stoke Central.
Other Muslims in UKIP also put their personal reputations on the line among their ethnic and faith communities, arranging face-to-face meetings for Paul Nuttall with Muslim business, community and religious leaders in Stoke. And Muslim rank and file members of UKIP in Stoke campaigned tirelessly day after day on Paul Nuttall’s behalf including standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him outside City Central Mosque, lending him vicarious credibility as he sought votes from Muslim worshippers coming out from Friday prayers. Our reward? Utter betrayal by Nuttall. We gave him our all, yet what fools he made of us! What acute embarrassment and loss of face he caused us!
Of course, many other UKIP activists from all faiths and none descended upon Stoke Central to assist Paul Nuttall in his by-election campaign, so we Muslims were not seeking any special recognition. But we did expect to be shown some basic consideration, respect and loyalty, not the gross betrayal Paul Nuttall subjected us to soon after his by-election defeat by turning his and UKIP’s crosshairs and rhetorical firepower against us Muslims, our wider faith community and our religion of Islam itself, something which has now lamentably gone into overdrive under present UKIP leader, Gerard Batten.
Yet as much as I profoundly disagree morally, ideologically and electorally with Gerard Batten on the virulently anti-Islam direction in which he continues to take UKIP, much to the detriment of what should be our resolute focus at this pivotal moment in history – Brexit – I nevertheless give Mr. Batten credit for being completely open since at least 2006 about his loathing towards the religion of Islam and practicing Muslims. I can actually afford some grudging respect to an honest ideological adversary who consistently stands up for what he believes in, no matter how wrongheaded I may find it. And with Batten’s career-criminal and street-thug protégé, Tommy Robinson, we Muslims also know exactly where we stand, as this Momentum video so vividly illustrates.
But I cannot, do not and, short of a full public apology and contrition on his part, will never be able to afford any respect to Paul Nuttall. For he willingly accepted the hand of friendship and an abundance of practical assistance offered to him by Muslims in UKIP during his Stoke by-election campaign. He smiled at us to our faces when he thought he could use us to help get him over the line in his quest to become an MP. But then he had no hesitation about stabbing us in the back when, very mistakenly as it turned out, he had the bright idea that betraying the Muslims of UKIP who had done their best for him, demonising our faith community and vilifying our religion itself would provide a sure-fire route to a subsequent electoral breakthrough.
Thank goodness that the vast majority of non-Muslims Britons, whether on the left or right of the political spectrum and whether Leavers or Remainers, are also actually thoroughly decent people who are not swayed by demonisers, be they crass ideological extremists or just unscrupulous, opportunistic charlatans. The British people invariably mercilessly punish such hate-mongers at the ballot box, and deservedly so.
So, good riddance to Paul Nuttall. Our party is most definitely better off without the man who was the first UKIP leader to debase our once noble enterprise and steer UKIP in the hateful direction he now purports to condemn, a direction which has predictably and inevitably led directly to our current electoral devastation and near disintegration as a party. And at the very moment when, with Brexit in peril, Britain needs an effective, functioning and focused UKIP like never before.