The appalling Anne Marie Waters, who is a member of the National Secular Society council and spokesperson for the anti-sharia campaign One Law For All, has featured on Islamophobia Watch a number of times. (So many times, in fact, that even I’m getting bored with the subject – which is why it’s taken me a while to get round to writing this piece.)
In addition to whipping up fear and hatred of Islam through the NSS and OLFA, Waters also hoped to acquire a parliamentary platform for her views, via the Labour Party. Unfortunately for Waters, the latter ambition proved irreconcilable with her other activities. Her attempt earlier this year to win selection as the Labour candidate for the Brighton Pavilion constituency was defeated, thanks not least to Andy Newman’s admirable work (see here and here) in exposing her Islamophobic views.
Last month Waters resigned from the Labour Party, announcing her decision in an open letter to Ed Miliband that was published in the “counterjihad” newspaper Dispatch International, to which she is now a regular contributor. The reasons Waters gave for leaving the party were that she was opposed to Labour’s support for multiculturalism, to Ken Livingstone’s selection as Labour candidate in the 2012 London mayoral election, and to Labour’s “introduction of insidious hate speech laws”.
None of this explains why Waters should decide to resign from the Labour Party now, of course. The party’s position on multiculturalism hasn’t undergone any noticeable shift lately, and Livingstone’s selection as London mayoral candidate took place three years ago. The “hate speech laws” supposedly introduced by Labour are hardly a new development either, as the party has been out of government since May 2010. Yet this didn’t prevent Waters from putting herself forward for the Brighton Pavilion selection contest in 2013.
What has changed recently, however, is that the exposure of Waters’ extremist views and “counterjihad” links meant that there wasn’t the slightest prospect of the Labour Party ever selecting her as a candidate. Rather than demonstrating any stand on principle, her resignation is better understood as the result of the collapse of her hopes for a parliamentary career.
Commenting on Waters’ resignation at Socialist Unity, Andy Newman noted the significance of the fact that she had chosen to announce her break from Labour in a publication like DI. He pointed out:
Dispatch International was launched at the “2012 International Conference for Free Speech and Human Rights in Brussels” – a European counter-Jihad conference where Fjordman, among others, participated. Fjordman was a major influence upon Anders Breivik. This is company that only an extremist would keep.
Dispatch International published Anne Marie Waters’s resignation from Labour alongside an article praising EDL leader, Tommy Robinson as “the most courageous and cleverest working-class leader England has produced for many decades”.
This juxtaposition is presumably not as unwelcome as you might suppose to Waters, who has developed a continued dialogue and relationship with EDL supporters via twitter.
Waters hit back at Andy with a post on the Howie’s Corner blog last week. She declared that she had “left the Labour Party out of principle” – as we have seen, this explanation just doesn’t hold up – and she sneered that “Mr Newman and his ilk (henceforth referred to as the totalitarian left) struggle to understand such a notion”.
The phrase “the totalitarian left” recurs throughout Waters’ piece, always in italics, although she never attempts to define it. It is a term she appears to have adopted under the inspiration of her friends at Dispatch International. They applied it to the Swedish anti-racist group Slutpixlat, who campaigned for PayPal to investigate DI to see if it contravened a ban on racism and xenophobia. For DI, the left is “totalitarian” because it attempts to obstruct their incitement of hatred against Muslims and migrants.
Waters asserts that DI is “a free speech publication – another idea that is lost on the totalitarian left“. But the “free speech” DI defends is in reality just hate speech. DI‘s co-editor Lars Hedegaard was prosecuted over an interview in which he claimed that “Muslims rape their own children” (his conviction was later overturned on a technicality). His fellow editor, Ingrid Carlqvist, is more inclined towards traditional biological racism, claiming that western democracy is threatened by “this huge immigration from low IQ countries”. A recent DI editorial by Carlqvist was headed “Time to put an end to the bleeding heart attitude to immigrants”.
Under Carlqvist and Hedegaard’s editorship, DI has commissioned articles from writers who promote similar views. The first issue of the paper featured a comment piece by Freedom Party leader Paul Weston denouncing multiculturalism as “a totalitarian ideology of racial and cultural genocide”. The Norwegian far-right ideologue Peder Jensen (“Fjordman”), who as Andy Newman notes participated in the launch of DI, recently contributed an inflammatory article on the subject of “Muslim rapists”.
Waters dismisses Fjordman’s involvement with DI as an irrelevance. She writes: “I personally don’t know this person so I can’t comment, but Newman goes on to claim that Fjordman was a ‘major influence’ on Anders Breivik. This appears to the extent of his criticism. Staggering!” Yes, Waters finds it incomprehensible that anyone should criticise her for becoming a regular contributor to a far-right publication alongside a man whose writings helped to inspire a mass murderer.
Furthermore, as we have previously noted, Waters became a contributor to DI at the very time that Carlqvist and Hedegaard were under fire over their attempts to organise a Scandinavian speaking tour for the then leaders of the English Defence League. Only recently, the DI editors visited the UK to conduct a fawning interview with Stephen Lennon. In her reply to Andy Newman, Waters defends her matey relations with EDL supporters on Twitter on the basis that she was unaware of their political views. But she can hardly claim ignorance of DI‘s support for the EDL and its former leadership.
Waters’ own articles for DI consist of Islamophobic rants in which she depicts the UK as under threat from the alien Muslim communities in its midst, which are controlled by violent extremists: “In the guise of multiculturalism, Britain has encouraged an entirely separate existence for its Muslim citizens. Sharia law now governs large swathes of Muslim life in Britain…. The men who run sharia in the UK openly call for an Islamic British state and unashamedly seek stoning as punishment for adultery or pre-marital sex.”
In support of her paranoid fantasies about the Islamic threat to Britain, Waters mindlessly recycles lying right-wing anti-Muslim propaganda like this. No doubt under the influence of her friends at DI, she has even begun to introduce an explicitly racial dimension into her Islamophobia. She denounces sharia councils on the grounds that they “operate outside of the laws of the mainstream, overwhelmingly white, secular majority”. You can only conclude that, for Waters, one of the objections to such councils is that the people operating them tend to be brown.
Where will Waters go from here? Having broken from Labour, she might consider pursuing a career in the UK Independence Party, although her views on Muslims and multiculturalism are probably too extreme even for Nigel Farage. Or perhaps Stephen Lennon might find a place for Waters in the new post-EDL “counterjihad” organisation he is planning to set up? After all, the two of them have a lot in common.