Expel Keith Vaz

Keith Vaz, a middle-aged, clean-shaven south Asian man.
Keith Vaz - UK Parliament official portraits 2017

Today the Labour MP Keith Vaz was suspended from the House of Commons for six months for offering to buy cocaine for male prostitutes in August 2016 in an encounter at his flat recorded by one of the men involved and passed to the tabloid Sunday Mirror. The Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, whose complaint triggered the investigation by the Commons standards committee, said he hoped that this would be the “end of the line for Keith Vaz”: “I don’t think he’s fit to be representing anywhere in this place, I think he’s been a malign influence on local and national politics for too long”. If Parliament rubber-stamps the committee’s decision, it could lead to a recall petition and a by-election,

Personally and as a Muslim I find it disappointing that it took a sex and drug scandal to bring Vaz down. Vaz is one of the MPs who supported the event at Wembley Stadium addressed by Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India and former chief minister of Gujarat under whose leadership hundreds of Muslims and others were killed in an organised pogrom - essentially a latter-day Kristallnacht - in 2002 and many others were raped, otherwise injured or had their houses and shops destroyed by mobs. Modi also represents a fascistic ideology that envisages India as a fundamentally (rather than just predominantly) Hindu society or rashtra; under his premiership, lynchings of Muslims by Hindu fanatics have soared in number, the state has stepped up its oppressions against the people of Kashmir with curfews that have lasted days at a time and sought to expel Muslim residents of Assam by assuming anyone without the right paperwork (which few people in India have) is an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh.

The long-running campaign to purge the party of real or alleged antisemitism has seen people at all levels expelled or suspended, the criteria for which is often an ideological or sectarian definition of antisemitism which many people do not know exists, let alone understand, and which is often strained through the needle’s eye. It has been proclaimed antisemitic for someone to merely cast doubt on any claim by a Jewish individual that something is antisemitic. If the Labour party will expel or suspend long-standing activists on such flimsy grounds then open and warm approval for a fascist politician with a record of public mob violence against a minority also threatened in the UK should be a guarantee of expulsion. There should not be acceptable forms of bigotry or racism and certainly the whiff of one prejudice should not be deemed less tolerable than the stench of another.

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