Ann Marie Waters, ex board member of the National Secular Society (NSS) and ex left-wing Labour politician, added to her outspoken non-PC infamy when she recently announced joining UKIP as a prospective candidate in the upcoming UK parliamentary election.
What’s that all about?
How does a “left-wing-to-her-soul” – “ex-Irish-catholic, culturally-British-Christian, lesbian, feminist, freedom-and-equality-rights-activist” – follow such a trajectory? Worth listening carefully to her answers.
[Post Note – A year on, Feb 2016 – Since this time @AMDWaters has moved on to Pegida and joined forced with “new era” Tommy Robinson. Same convictions, different political vehicle. Most interesting to follow the internal personal battles between the various high-profile individuals in this free-left, free-thought, humanist, secularist space – draft post in progress on settling tactical differences and emphasising agreed strategic objectives.]
She came to talk to the LAAG (London Atheist Activist Group) last night .
Her topic was Islamism and the Left, but we got the whole deal.
Disillusionment with the left is widespread amongst left-leaning libertarians – as most thoughtful humanists are by nature – paralysed by political correctness and unable to grasp intellectually and express practically any policy necessary to even address serious issues. To the point of being paradoxical, even hypocritical. (And it’s not new, think of Kinnock berating the Liverpool labour politicians, long before we get to analysing the demise of states built on variants of socialism, and the legacies of the “New Labour” project. Post Note – and as if to prove the point we now get brother Corbyn’s crass and juvenile not-even-attempts at “left” policy. Jeez.)
As Anne-Marie puts it, having believed left-wing politics stood for the freedoms and equalities of individuals she (still) holds dear – she discovered that in practice it was dogmatically ideological on internationalism, effectively totalitarian on deciding debate topics and agendas.
Struggling with her own conscience against political careerism and policies of “economic equality” – as much for already advantaged “white anglo-saxon male” roles, as for culturally disadvantaged individuals and minorities – she concluded the left was never really associated with human rights generally, nor with women’s rights and feminism specifically. Even talk of “women’s rights” is patronising to some extent but, for her, women’s rights around FGM, forced marriage, wearing the veil, patriarchal dominance and their Islamic context are the topical exemplars – matters of principle here and now.
Addressing these not only to Islam head-on but, given her more recent allegiance to UKIP, also to Immigration head-on, is the recipe for her incendiary reputation. Vilified in the mainstream media, abused on social media, death-threats in person and unemployable in the legal career she has clearly sacrificed.
Stepping down from her role in the NSS, was less to do with any dissatisfaction with that organisation (though here too there is the dominant left-wing libertarian culture), but primarily a matter of secular loyalty to protect the broader secularist agenda from the inevitable reaction to her current narrower political focus within UKIP.
On Islam, both current practice in states with majority Muslim cultures, and expressly in infamous passages from the Quran, women are second class citizens, reduced effectively to invisible slaves and property in many aspects, and non-Muslims are enemies simply for being so.
[She recited many examples – from the Quran, from the media, from surveys and reports – all previously reported, some are memes in their own right, many already referenced here, but many, as in many. Only a few I’ll note here.]
She contrasted Quranic and Biblical accounts of the stoning of the adulterous woman (let he who is free from sin cast the first stone) and the marriage of the prophet (Aisha was wed aged 7 and “consummated” at 9.)
She contrasted statistics and surveys of freedom and equality for women in states around the world, where unsurprisingly the Scandinavian & Nordic countries come out best, yet where non-home, non-date rape cases are (a) the highest in the world and (b) predominantly “Muslim immigrant” men assaulting local women (*). [Such inflammatory claims need careful checking beyond anecdotal evidence, but this is clearly the extreme end of the more general point. In that sense, she is stating “extreme” views.]
What is interesting is Waters’ take on #nothingtodowithislam and the “TME” meme (the problem is The Minority of Extremists). She sees these as “pathetic and dangerous”. I’ve been clear on my take. The truth lies somewhere between “it’s nothing to do with Islam” and “it’s everything to do with Islam”. Or as “moderate” Muslims would plead “Islam, we have a problem“.
There are problems, some of which are driven by Islamic culture. The extreme “terrorist” problems by extremist minorities, others – the particular women’s rights topics of Waters’ agenda – by wider, more deeply ingrained aspects of the culture. The tangled web covers everything from the historical religious influences on those states and cultures, to prejudiced pretexts and scholarly readings of the holy texts, not to mention the qualities and motivations of the scholars and the regimes enacting the political influences. But.
The problems of Islamism are a problem with Islam.
A problem better addresses than denied.
So why Immigration and why UKIP?
Immigration is quite straightforward here. It’s a policy against open borders, against unconditional immigration. (It may be a straw man to imply such a state exists, but) why would you welcome immigrants espousing a culture that actively denies the rights and freedoms of half of our existing citizens. Why import such beliefs. Why admit expectations that legal (eg Sharia) exceptions will be made for cultural content that directly conflicts with “our” human rights?
This is quite simply saying immigration should be conditional (which it probably already is) and the conditions of undesirability should include such direct conflict with cultural values on rights and freedoms (which it almost certainly currently is not). Highly non-PC but logically a no-brainer. Codifying and enacting such conditions would clearly require technical skill and political competence, but that’s no argument against against the core point.
Why UKIP? That’s trickier. For Waters, it’s a question of priorities and practical opportunity for turning principles into policy. Whatever other policies UKIP may have formally, or may appear to have according to media hype, or may contain due to individual members’ cultures and behaviours, does any other UK political party – expressly support secularism; real (non-PC) support for women’s rights as equal human rights; and the (non-PC) concept of a British culture beyond “multi-culturalism”? Waters clearly believes not, and she’s probably right, though frankly I don’t know.
On the “I” in UKIP – Independence, the third-I – Waters claims that she (and UKIP) are actually all for a UK within a culturally unified Europe, the independence is really from the existing EU institutional arrangements – which have evolved to be inefficient, unworkable and effectively “corrupt and evil”.
What is clear is that Anne Marie Waters is sincere and candid, and is a conviction & issues (ie non-careerist) politician. Her specific agenda on women’s (& LGBT & other) freedoms, Islam and Immigration, whilst far from PC, is nevertheless clear and rational. And, whilst her focus is on the necessary and the possible here and now – (ie she’s not the Irishman who wouldn’t start from here) – she clearly has a deep appreciation of the historicity of the religious, cultural, nationalist, colonialist, east-west guilt-and-responsibility snake-pit in which we find ourselves.
The question is – does UKIP have any more like her?
[(*) Post Note : Actual Norwegian NRK1 TV Dagsrevyen Nyheter interview with police chief in 2010 – all 41 cases over 3 years by “non-Western immigrants” – not specifically “Muslim” but explicitly from male dominated hierarchical cultures. We lived in Oslo 2009 – 2011 and enjoyed frequenting the ethically diverse east-end – food stores and restaurants in Grønland & Tøyen – a good deal in the final few months. Well-educated Norwegian colleagues certainly expressed concerns over immigrant population. Breivik was spring 2012, specifically targetted against labour left “tolerating” multiculturalism.]