11/03/2016 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Kirsty Wark. Are US-UK relations in trouble? Will Self on the EU referendum.

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Tonight a Labour MP speaks out about the shocking intimidation


designed to frighten them away from political office.


In recent weeks, when I have spoken up about this issue,


I felt extremely pressured to be silent on the things that I know


to be true, the issues I have already raised.


And, I think, in many ways, it represents the culture


of our party in some ways that we need to change.


We talk to some of the women making the allegations.


Stuff was posted through my letterbox.


When I opened it, it was a picture of the page three nude


model and a picture of my head attached.


suggests David Cameron's a "free rider" over Libya.


Could this careless talk cost the special relationship?


Can a dog tell us about why the word "Elite" is becoming the insult most


So, we think Bertie here is the best creature to help us chew


through Britain's latest and most troubling


We'll puncture the semantics of the campaign so far


musician Thurston Moore looks back at 40 years of punk rock.


I want to recapture what I've found so fresh and dangerous about punk


and what lessons we can learn from it today.


The Labour leadership stands accused tonight of being unwilling to deal


with claims of systematic misogyny and the "blocking" of Muslim women


as councillors in some areas by male members of the party


In a moment, an interview with a Labour MP


who tells us he's felt pressured to be silent on things


But first our latest report on this issue.


Since Newsnight first revealed the intimidation and shaming


of Muslim women in parts of the Labour Party five weeks ago,


we have been told that some are actually being threatened


with violence by sinister elements within their communities.


by our special correspondent Katie Razzall


a number of other Muslim women have contacted us,


often under the cloak of anonymity for fear of reprisals.


We are talking about really sinister elements.


I had phone calls to say your son is five, do you want him to be six?


You're doing this interview anonymously.


I live in fear for myself and my family.


Five weeks ago, Newsnight broadcast claims by Muslim women that Muslim


men from within the Labour Party blocked them from becoming local


The charity, Muslim Women's Network UK, wrote to the Labour leader,


Jeremy Corbyn, demanding an inquiry into what it


A month on, more troubling claims have come to light.


We're talking about women actually fearing for their lives,


saying we were getting harassed, threatened with violence.


They are so scared, they don't want to go to the police,


and don't even want to come out publicly


We are calling this Asian woman Zahara.


A former Labour councillor, she makes pretty startling


allegations about some of her Pakistani-heritage former


colleagues, who are still Labour councillors today.


On one occasion, she claims the police gave councillors sexually


explicit video footage to watch before making a decision


about whether a local club should be shut down.


The decision ultimately should have been to close


the establishment down because of inappropriate behaviours


between young white girls and Asian males, that


were being shown in the video.


I was clearly told to stop questioning by a hand gesture


and a nudge by senior male councillors that were Asian,


It was a very prominent Asian businessmen that supports us.


I agree, it is very serious, but I think it is


Zahara also says those same councillors regularly


persuaded Asian women suffering domestic violence to go back


They would go to the councillors and they would be told,


Luckily those women got away because I just persevered.


Newsnight has spoken to 25 Asian women across the UK.


All complain of Labour councillors and members of Pakistani heritage


They say they block vocal independent Asian women


like Arooj Shah from entering local government,


or try to get them deselected if they do.


In some parts of the UK, like in Oldham, where Ms Shah


is a Labour councillor, the party has taken over


She says that is because they know, in her predominantly Asian ward,


there is even resistance from inside the Labour Party


There are Labour Party members who will support my


two ward colleagues who are both Asian men.


When it comes to me, will support anybody but me.


They are members of the local Labour Party.


Anyone who tries to sugar-coat it or present it in anyway is just


Some of them have come up with derogatory


comments like, she is a Muslim woman, she shouldn't


Some of us have actually dragged them onside and gone,


Where in Islam does it say a female cannot represent us?


Councillor Shah told me, influential local Labour members


spread rumours that she sleeps around, that she is corrupt,


a money-launderer, and brief against her to voters.


The regional party supports but it is


hard to gather the evidence to push through a successful complaint.


Stuff was posted through my letterbox.


When I opened it, it was a picture of a page three nude model


and a picture of my head attached to that.


That is a tactic often used to dishonour Muslim women and it has


You know, pornographic images with my face on.


Najma Hafeez was the first Muslim woman on Birmingham Council back


I had phone calls to say, your son is five, do you want him


Do you know who was making the phone calls?


It was one of my colleagues, so-called.


And, unfortunately, a member of my own community.


The only way we will stop it is by exposing this.


It is not easy for me to say this against my


own community but it is bad practice and we must stop it.


Labour has a better record than other parties on getting


The women we have spoken to say the party often turns a blind eye


when Pakistani heritage members influence


the democratic process by packing individual wards


One woman said Asian councillors were threatening


and scaring my family into getting me to step aside.


Another said, these men were capable of anything.


In the end, I was deselected, despite all


Another ex-councillor explained how she was ousted.


One of the local councillors had been recruiting family and friends


Zahara claims her deselection was masterminded by some of her fellow


councillors because she refused to give in to their demands.


It became very apparent on the night.


These were people I had never seen before.


They were told to be there by certain


senior Asian councillors, and to vote in a certain way.


It is generations of people who have done this.


There were two or three young Asian males


that found the courage to ring me up and tell me and said


I sent letters of complaint to the regional office and the head


I was told there was no case to answer.


Newsnight has seen other complaints from ex-councillors,


detailing what they claim were election flaws and misogynist


Most women told us their complaints were not addressed.


The Labour Party gave us their statement. The Labour Party has


transformed the representation of women in politics. Any complaints or


evidence of sexism received by the Labour Party are dealt with fairly,


according to our procedures and the law.


Earlier, I spoke to the Labour MP for Luton South, Gavin Shuker.


I started by asking him about his reaction to Katie's report.


Katie's film is really shocking. I feel most shopped for the women who


have had to come out and make this case. They deserve some cover from


the wider Labour Party. It is clear the stories they were telling ones


that chime with my own experience, actually. I think we have a real


problem in getting capable young women from the Asian community


selected for some it is not good enough to say we are the most


representative party. We need to uphold values and representation


procedures. I know you are not just interested in your own constituency,


but tell us about your constituency. I have worked hard to make sure each


selection at local Gottman and for the Parliamentary seat have been


done fairly. The real problem is in broadly South Asian communities and


constituencies, it is easy to sign up members of your friends and


family can get them along to meetings. This is called membership


packing and is expressly outlawed in the rules of the Labour Party. We


spoke to Najma Hafeez, who was threatened, that her son would not


reach his sixth birthday. She seemed a rest. Do you think things are


getting worse? There is a huge upward pressure of people who want


to be representatives of our party. They are consistently being frozen


out of selection process is because the other most capable on the most


threatening. I do not know if it is getting any worse but the situation,


in my opinion, for those women, could not get any worse. After you


raise this, what was the response? I raised concerns of membership


packing and what came from it which is essentially good, capable Asian


women not being selected. Since I have been a Member of Parliament,


the things I have put forward were genuinely shocking and still it


feels like there is no support in terms of tackling these abuses on


the ground. Katie got a response from the Labour Party that said we


deal individually with instances, or allegations of instances, of racism


and sexism with the proper procedures. Is that enough? I have


sympathy with dealing on a narrow points. What we are talking about is


a cultural issue that needs to be challenged on every single level.


That requires elected parliamentarians and politicians


challenging the cultured day in and day out. You talk about it being a


cultural issue. In saying that, do you feel worried you will be


fingered as a racist? I do not, personally. I feel like I am


representing my Muslim Asian members who say to me consistently we are


good, capable and frozen out. This is the challenge for the Labour


Party. It used to be we could rely on blocks and votes from


communities. I think that is less true. This is an electoral


imperatives. We cannot carry on treating the Muslim community as


balls. We need to serve up quake candidates at every level. The


community knows when abuse is apparent. Have you spoken to MPs


with large south Asian communities? I have. There is a sense of, if we


were to pick up a fuss, with anything happen? Someone who has


kicked up a fuss may be right, actually. Is that not deeply


depressing? Deeply depressing and brutal that a member of the


Parliamentary Labour Party has to come up to provide cover for women


in our community who are suffering as a result of our action. Why do


you talk about having spoken to the general secretary of the Labour


Party, what do you want to happen? You'll I have been disappointed with


the response from the Labour Party and the allegations made by


Newsnight. I have felt pressured to be silent on the things I know to be


true, issues I have already raised. I think, in many ways, it represents


the culture of our party in some ways we need to change. When people


come forward with legitimate concerns, they should be back, not


silenced. What you want Jeremy Corbyn to do? You'll I would like


robust action from the leadership, both from the NEC and the leader of


the leather party, to say, if there are these practices, we will take


time to sort them out. -- the Labour Party. We will seek to silence them


and work with them. That is something Jeremy could do.


so said Barack Obama in a forthright interview


in the latest edition of The Atlantic magazine.


feeling the loosening of the leash no doubt,


Among the free riders, France and Britain,


at least as far as the Libya operation was concerned.


Obama said that some were eager to drag the United States


into sectarian conflicts that sometimes had little to do


with American interests, and that his support of the NATO


military intervention in Libya had been a mistake,


driven in part by his belief that Britain and France would bear more


of the burden of the operation than they did.


VOICEOVER: Right now, the so-called special relationship


between the UK and the US


does not seem quite as special as it did back then.


Alas, I cannot imitate this wonderful American-English accent.


when the relationship has been bumpier.


This time, the bump in the road has been caused by Obama's frustration


in Europe's tendency to push the US to act,


and then showing an unwillingness to put any skin in the game.


became distracted by a range of other things,


The White House has been backpedalling today.


saying the President did not mean to be critical of David Cameron.


It has said that the US is also to blame for the chaos in Libya.


changes in tone depending on who is in office,


A President soon to be off the leash or a new


hard headed approach to the US's junior partner across the water.


STUDIO: Joining me now from Stanford University


former Under Secretary of State under


George W Bush and former US ambassador to NATO.


We know that Barack Obama has rowed back but were you surprised by the


tone of his responses in the magazine? I was, I have great


respect for Barack Obama, what he was trying to articulate is a


sentiment shared by a lot of Americans across both parties, the


weakening of the French military, and the cutting of the military


budget. They weakening of the military when the arable resolutions


were breaking out in 2011 and 2012 but to somehow suggest that Britain


and France let us down, I think it in another way, I think the US


should have played a bigger role in the Libya operation in 2011. There


was a clear view minute imperative to save the people of Benghazi from


colonel Gaddafi and his army, the fact the United States took a step


back was a mistake in a Nato operation. We are in this together,


we have always fought with Britain and France, we could have done


better. I know that you support Barack Obama, would you say that in


a way, this unloading was a defensive mechanism? It was part of


an extraordinary interview that he gave to the magazine, The Atlantic.


Probably the most sophisticated expression of his views on the use


of power, he went into great detail about his refusal to act in Syria.


This was the context of the remarks. My own opinion is that on both sides


of the Atlantic we are only as strong as our commitment to each


other. It is true that the United States accounts for 75% of the


defence spending of all of the Nato allies, and so to in the opinion of


Barack Obama, take them out, have them play a second role, it was not


workable. -- secondary role. If we are looking to account for the


failure of Libya, we should have stayed in, having gone in, we should


have tried to help them put their civil is Asian back together, and


neither United States nor the United Kingdom did that. Do you think that


his relationship with David Cameron is a close one, inasmuch as Barack


Obama is close to any otherworldly do? It has been said by many people


that Barack Obama does not have a lot of close relationships with


world leaders. My sense, I am an outsider, I think they have great


respect for each other, that Britain has been a great friend to the


United States in many ways. I hope the reverse is true, I hope the


British people feel the same way, about the United States. They tend


to work well together. This particular article came out of the


blue, it was surprising for a lot of people, if anything, who should we


blame for the problems of the Middle East? Iran, the Islamic State, the


jihadi groups that are wreaking havoc, but we should not blame our


greatest ally in the world. I think there is a special relationship and


Britain is still the closest friend the United States has. Thank you


very much. When Tony Blair dived into the EU


Referendum debate this morning calling for more passion


from the Pro-EU side, he also deplored


the use of the E word. He challenged the idea,


put about by many who want a Brexit, that backing Britain's membership


of the EU was the choice of


the political elite, opining that there are plenty


of elites on the other side too. and when did it become such


loaded dirty word? In a moment we'll be


discussing that, and whether the whole debate over


the referendum needs broadening, but first: here's our resident


etymologist John Sweeney. VOICEOVER: Britain's never-ending


class war has spawned a new mutation in the last few weeks. The elites


Are under attack. Who are these elites, of whom they speak, well, to


find out more, there is no better a creature than dirty, he is half a


toy poodle, and half a whippet, he has a poor in both camps, so to


speak, so we think he is the best creature to help us choose through


Britain's latest and most troubling social dilemma. Battle commenced


from Newsnight one month ago. What is very clear about the 75 year, in


this referendum, it is exactly the same, the establishment and the


elites, including this great corporation of which Devon is a


member... Are you a savage men? -- Evan Are you a lead? -- are you


establishment? Others will judge. And I do. The one-time British king,


what the Mayor of London calls wiff-waff. Two components, that the


people who got to the top did so in a rigged game, that they have the


connections rather than having the ability and working hard. Also, once


they got there are, they want to self perpetuate, give it to other


people that they know rather than the public, so there is a distance


between the elite and those who elect them. As the Euro referendum


hits fever pitch, or at least, a host of golden daffodils, Bertie and


I went in search of the elite. I asked the owner of the British


bulldog whether he was a member of the elite. It depends upon what you


are classing as an elite, there is an elite in all sorts of things.


Don't need the microphone, Bentley, please! LAUGHTER


Would you say that Bentley is a member of an elite? In the dock


while, I would say, yes. Are you a member of the elite? Certainly not!


-- in the dog world. Those who are arguing in favour of the exit are


not elite and those that want to stay our elite, what do you think?


I'm interested in remaining, it is nothing to do with economics, iron


just post-war, and somehow the idea of a united Europe attracts me more


than the idea of a fragmented Europe. We have always bred old


English sheepdog, we had the 1990 winner at Crufts. Is your dog a


member of the elite? No, he's just a pet, and me, not really. All the


people you talk to that want to stay in are getting something out of it,


I am getting nothing out of it but I do and see the point of being ruled


by Brussels. If you want to do something even in the park you have


got to get permission. Unbelievable. The ping-pong man told me that he


went to a comprehensive. Have you had elocution lessons? I have never


had elocution lessons, I would love a society where it did not matter


what kind of a jacket you walk, even if it was as hideous as that one. It


would only matter, your ability and your work ethic, not your accent,


not anything else. Bertie, give me back the microphone! Whether you are


for leave all remain, class still dogs our society. As they say, never


work with children or animals. STUDIO: Joining me to debate the


debate about Europe are the writer Will Self, and Munira Mirza,


London's Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture. We will go on to talk


about the broader Topix, in terms of the tenor of the campaign, but your


thought, leaving the EU, why do you think that calling those in the


Remain campaign the elite is an effective tool?


It reflects the way in which a lot of people feel about the EU, as


being so far removed from their lives, the decision-making is very


remote, they think it is anti-democratic. That sense that the


elite is not thinking about their interests, that is quite a potent


one. Would you use language like that? In your everyday discourse, on


the campaign, would you agree with using those sentiments? Talking


about an elite? Which wants to remain, and, as you say, having the


reins of power. You do not have the reins of power, you want to leave.


The amazing thing about the referendum is that people are being


given a choice, so fundamental to our democracy, about how we are


governed, the democracy, where we put money, borders. The idea that...


And another unelected elite may make those decisions in Brussels, the


idea that you may be able to overturned that and take control


back, that is exciting. It is becoming a bit of a catch all, this


term, it is a way of people registering... I agree to an extent,


it is a registration of a disconnection from the political


class. By pushing it further and further away, to Brussels, we can


ignore what is on the end of the fork rather than domestic league, a


disconnection within existing politics. That is why semantically


it becomes very fluid and slippery, it can be applied anywhere. The idea


of people troughing on the Brussels gravy train, that is true, I can


think of some very egregious examples in the political class,


Neil Kinnock, for example, corruption Commissioner in Brussels,


for seven years, and picked up a very generous salary, and that kind


of thing. People are angry about it. It was focused on MPs in Westminster


if you years ago. It is a free-floating dissatisfaction. You


work for Boris, he sent you an e-mail saying, signed up to the


campaign or get sacked. Nobody has been sacked, that is worth


mentioning, he said it was a mistake, able offering to speak


their mind. Look at what has happened to them overnight, he has


come out, and instantly, his rhetoric has become a apocalyptic,


in true Borisian style, he is talking about dictators and all of


this. This is a general sentiment, we can recognise, many people around


the world, not just the UK, very disengaged in politics, that is why


we see the rise of things like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. If


you say you disengaged from Westminster, they say yes, if you


say disengaged from Brussels, they say yes, they would even disengage


from some little constituency. What we are missing in the debate is an


understanding of what the issues are, it is in the interest of


neither side is to discuss the truth, it doesn't matter if you have


a vote to leave all remain, the fundamental issues of the control,


the borders, for example, and over the people control of fundamental


issues of government, will not be improved in either way. More people


in this country know the names of their MPs than their MEPs, and it is


true that British exit will not solve overnight the centre


disengagement, all the problems of democracy, but it is an important


moment, giving people the choice over some very real issues in our


society, about the money that we send over, who makes decisions about


what border should be, who prioritises... It is more to do with


the political class trying to reinvigorate its sense of purpose,


we are living in a more free trial than ever that we are living in a


world which is more febrile than ever. It is not about beliefs and


fear mongering. It is important that we have these arguments. If they are


about the right thing. People will get a chance to hear different


arguments, that is why the BBC are doing a televised debate. The think


find rather worrying, there is a lazy assumption that all the people


who want to leave our little Englanders, xenophobic, acolytes of


Nigel Farage. -- the thing that I find rather worrying. So that if you


are right thinking, you must want to remain. There is a laziness in that


thinking, there is some very good internationalist arguments,


regressive arguments for wanting to leave. I have not heard any, all I


have heard is Tory MPs action saying that he is in favour of which is


exit and his headline argument is money, money in your pocket, he is


of Ghanaian origin, but what tipped him was the issue of people from


outside the European Union being discriminated against in terms of


it. I'm afraid we have got to wrap this up, I'm sure that we will come


back to it several times over the course of the vote.


Now Artsnight, where this week's guest Editor is Thurston Moore,




40 years ago, I was an out-of-place teenager


inspired to move to Manhattan to join in the punk revolution.


Musicians like Patti Smith and the Ramones


A Labour MP says he was silenced by the party when he complained about the treatment of Muslim women. Plus, are US-UK relations in trouble? And Will Self on the EU referendum.

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