It is not in Labour's own interest to stay in government

I’m enjoying seeing the Left build castles in the air this morning, as they desperately try to think up some sort of deal that could keep them in power. You should never say never in politics, so I’m not going to. But here are my eight reasons why it’s very unlikely.

1. Labour hasn’t got the numbers. Even with the Lib Dems, they are still 8 short of an effective majority (given that Sinn Fein’s 5 MPs will not take their seats.) Cobbling together some sort of understanding with the Greens and the Nationalists would look desperate, last about five minutes, and make the government vulnerable to every piece of petty SNP or Plaid Cymru blackmail.

2. Labour hasn’t got the votes. They got 29 per cent of the popular vote, only 0.7 per cent more than Michael Foot managed in 1983, and less than John Major in the 1997 Tory wipeout. Even before this election, Gordon Brown lacked legitimacy. His authority now would be virtually nil.

3. Labour has lost the election. They went backwards. The Lib Dems went backwards. It is very hard to defend a loser being propped up by another loser.

4. It would discredit electoral reform. You can’t make a fundamental change to the political system as part of some cobbled-together deal to keep yourself in power and lock out the others. Labour’s eleventh-hour conversion to the noble cause of PR, after 13 years opposing it, is largely opportunistic and would look like the crudest form of gerrymandering.

5. There’s an economic crisis. Trying to stitch together unlikely coalitions and fretting about PR, a second-order issue for most voters, would look like navel-gazing to the public at a time when the greatest need is for the most stable possible government.

6. Clegg can’t go back on his refusal to deal with Gordon. Labour would have to get another leader. Even if that could be arranged in less than a few months, it would look too contrived. Could the country tolerate a second unelected prime minister in a row, a prime minister who has played no part in the TV debates?

7. The longer Labour refuse to recognise reality now, the harder it will be for them in the future. Labour is nothing like as finished as many people thought they’d be. They have a basis on which to rebuild. But if it looks like they’re clinging on, that could cost them far more than they’ve already lost. And, most importantly for Labour…

8. It simply isn’t in Labour’s interest to be in government now. The next year or so will be a world of pain for whoever’s in charge. Hugely unpopular decisions will have to be made by a government without much of a mandate. This is a good time for Labour to sit it out, elect a better leader, hope the Tories won’t last long, then capitalise on their unpopularity at the ensuing election.


Pawn of Islamism? One Tory has a big decision to make

In describing the Islamic Forum of Europe’s infiltration into British politics, I’ve concentrated so far on Labour and Respect – because it’s those parties who have the most immediate problems. But the IFE’s cleverness, and its cynicism, is that it is working on the Tories, too.

Peter Golds, the Tory leader on Tower Hamlets council, bravely stood up with the Muslim moderates and against the IFE fundamentalists in my Channel 4 documentary. But his colleague Tim Archer, the Tory parliamentary candidate for Poplar and Limehouse, is rather different.

I’ve known for a while that Mr Archer has quite close and interesting relationships with the IFE’s headquarters, the East London Mosque. I’ve been prepared, until now, to put this down to the usual naivety of the white political establishment. Maybe, I thought, like so many others, Mr Archer believed the mosque’s spin about its commitment to “community cohesion” and “tolerance.” Maybe he didn’t realise the major inconsistency between what they say to the likes of him, and the hate and extremist speakers they regularly host.

But Mr Archer must by now know what has gone on at this mosque. As an active politician in Tower Hamlets, he must be aware of the stories that the Telegraph, Channel 4 and this blog have run over the last few weeks.

So I can draw only one conclusion from his decision to appear at an IFE event on 30 March at the East London Mosque whose purpose is to attack “media smearing of Muslim organisations” (code, no doubt, for our investigations). That conclusion is as follows: Mr Archer is perfectly willing to allow himself to be used as a pawn by Islamists if he thinks there might be a few votes in it.

Mr Archer will be appearing alongside a number of other speakers who have, shall we say, a famously friendly relationship with Islamism: Bob Lambert, the former head of the Met’s Muslim Contact Unit; Oliver McTernan, director of “Forward Thinking;” and that celebrated figure, George Galloway – who owes the IFE, in his own words, “more than I can say, more than it would wise for me to say.” Nobody, interestingly, from the Labour Party. But there will be Muhammad Habibur Rahman, recent former president of the IFE.

Mr Archer’s opponent in Poplar is another brave witness against East End Islamism, Jim Fitzpatrick (also invited to the event, but I fear unlikely to attend!). Perhaps the IFE is whispering in Mr Archer’s ear that if he stands with them, they will stand with him to oust the evil Fitzpatrick.

But there are some things that democratic politicians simply should not do to win votes. Among those things, I’d suggest, is legitimising a group opposed to everything your party is supposed to believe.

Just to remind Mr Archer one more time about his hosts. The IFE states: “Our goal is not simply to invite people and give da’wah [call to the faith]. Our goal is to create the True Believer, to then mobilise those believers into an organised force for change who will carry out da’wah, hisbah [enforcement of Islamic law] and jihad [struggle]. This will lead to social change and iqamatud-Deen [an Islamic social, economic and political order].”

The IFE tells us that it is dedicated to changing the “very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed … from ignorance to Islam.” It “strives for the establishment of a global [my italics] society, the Khilafah … comprised of individuals who live by the principles of … the Shari’ah.”

The IFE’s “primary work” to create this state, the document goes on, “is in Europe [my italics] because it is this continent, despite all the furore about its achievements, which has a moral and spiritual vacuum.” Though they have spent the last three weeks doing a great deal of huffing and puffing about our “media smears,” the IFE has been totally unable to deny that these are its words.

And just to remind Mr Archer about some of the people to whom the IFE has previously given a platform: Gharait Baheer, spokesman for the Afghan warlord Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, whose forces have fought alongside the Taliban against British troops; Bilal Philips, an unindicted co-conspirator in the World Trade Center bombing; and Anwar al-Awlaki, spiritual guide to two of the 9/11 hijackers, the Fort Hood murder and the attempted Detroit plane bomber.

I have just a slight feeling that if Mr Archer does join that illustrious company, it could do him more harm than good. There are more opponents of Islamism in Poplar and Limehouse than there are supporters of it. If he gets on that platform, it is certain to be brought up during the Poplar campaign, in which I shall be taking a close interest. And how ironic it would be, even if Tim Archer were elected, that he achieved that distinction as the next George Galloway, the next figure who owes “more than he can say” to the IFE.