‘Not my president’, nearly everyone in the United States has shouted in recent years. But Donald Trump was the president and Joe Biden is, no matter how much anyone tries to deny it. And thus, as much as I would like it not to be true, Rupa Huq is my MP.
Ms Huq, the member for Ealing Central and Acton in West London, made an ass of herself at the Labour Party conference, telling a fringe meeting that the Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng was only ‘superficially’ black. After Guido Fawkes made public a recording of her comments, Sir Keir Starmer suspended her from the Labour Party and Ms Huq apologised. She remains suspended from the Labour parliamentary party and there’s speculation as to whether she will have the whip restored. After all, she was one of the MPs who nominated Jeremy Corbyn to be leader, so Sir Keir may see this an opportunity to rid himself of a troublesome leftie.
Ms Huq would like us to believe that her remarks were the result of an unthinking spasm. Yet the audio revealed her seeking confirmation at the start of the meeting that ‘Chatham House rules’ applied, in other words that anything said in the meeting would not be attributed to the speaker. So what we actually got to hear was what Labour politicians think when no one else is listening. Nor were Ms Huq’s remarks tangential to the subject under discussion at the meeting, which was ‘What’s next for Labour’s Agenda on Race’.
She didn’t just have a dig at Kwasi Kwarteng. She took shots at several other non-white Conservative MPs: ‘Ok, superficially they’ve had four brown Chancellors and that. But when you have a little brown guy who . . . and also the leadership contest I think that I’d say alludes to that. When there was say Suella Braverman, Kemi Badenoch, all these people in it superficially “oh look it’s a multicultural leadership race”.’
I’ve never met Ms Huq, but Ealing Tories who have report that she is polite while still being a proper loony leftie. She has supported the censorship of peaceful pro-life campaigning within the vicinity of abortion clinics, decrying them as ‘weaponising rosary beads’. She attempted to defend her colleague Naz Shah’s anti-Semitism and said, before issuing a retraction, that a Labour Government could apologise for the creation of Israel.
One of her biggest weaknesses is a delusion that she is an intellectual. However, having a PhD in cultural studies and being a former lecturer in sociology at Kingston University does not make you a Jordan Peterson. For someone supposedly so intelligent she has a remarkable facility for not thinking through her comments. She dissed Kwarteng not only for being superficially black but for being privately educated, apparently not considering that her own private education might make this a topic better left alone.
She joins a long line of left-wing politicians seeking to use race as a political weapon. Diane Abbott (‘White people love playing divide and rule’), Clive Lewis (telling James Cleverley and other black Conservative MPs they had ‘had to sell your souls and self respect‘ to be in Boris Johnson’s cabinet), Dawn Butler and David Lammy (too many instances to list). This sort of behaviour is at least as common in the United States; Joe Biden told people during the 2022 presidential campaign that if you weren’t sure who you would vote for, you ‘ain’t black’. But Rupa Huq’s words and suspension haven’t stopped others echoing the sentiment. The following day, Slough MP Tan Dhesi accused Boris Johnson of ‘getting somebody of Asian heritage to do his dirty work‘. Mr Dhesi has not had the Labour whip removed, having had the good sense to make his remarks when they would not distract from his leader’s Conference speech.
The left are tacitly admitting that people from ethnic minorities are not destined to support them. As much as new Labour hoped to ‘rub the right’s nose in diversity‘ through mass immigration, it isn’t working out quite like that. Labour still command a lead among ethnic minority voters, but it’s not a given. Asians in particular are moving to the Conservatives, often having more socially conservative views and supporting leaving the EU in greater numbers than was commonly expected. Donald Trump garnered more black and latino votes than previous Republican presidential candidates, a trend that appears to be continuing.
The comments of Rupa Huq and other Labour MPs are a recognition of a threat to their electoral coalition of ethnic minorities. This coalition is much more fragile than they dare admit, as the recent street battles between Hindus and Muslims in Leicester have shown. The left are also outraged at the supposed betrayal of people who they believe owe them their support. The rise of black and Asian MPs in the Conservative Party shows that ethnic minorities can succeed without the aid of big government or self-proclaimed ‘community leaders’.
There is nothing new in this kind of attempt to silence conservatives who don’t fit the left’s racial stereotype. The 19th black American educator Booker T Washington noted that ‘there is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.’ And so there is the implicit message in the comments of Rupa Huq and her colleagues: if you’re black or Asian, know your place and don’t be a Conservative.