Ahmed conspiracy theory gaffe demeans political class

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Friday, 15 March 2013 - Will Edwards

Rogue rant over 2009 jail sentence highlights wider contagious effect of arrogant statements in public life

Friday Fame or Shame

With the Conservative party and David Cameron on the back foot, this ought to be a good week for Labour to make some ground in the polls. But the latest blow to their party will likely just get them negative press instead.

Labour peer Lord Ahmed was suspended by Labour this week after apparently blaming a Jewish conspiracy for his jail term in 2009. The Times newspaper (paywall) reported that the Muslim life peer claimed he received his prison sentenced because of pressure on the courts from Jews “who own newspapers and TV channels”. The comments were allegedly made during a TV interview he took part in when he visited Pakistan last April.

This isn’t the first time that Lord Ahmed has been in trouble for his comments: in 2007 he claimed Salman Rushdie had “blood on his hands”, and in 2012 he was suspended by Labour (see a pattern here?) over allegations that he offered a £10 million reward for the capture of President Obama and former President George W Bush. Labour investigated this, and reinstated him.

Spouting conspiracy theories never ends well – you will always end up upsetting someone. A famous theorist is David Icke who appeared on Terry Wogan’s chat show in 1991 and claimed that Britain would soon be devastated by earthquakes and tidal waves – this interview led, unsurprisingly, to Icke disappearing from public life for some considerable time.

Labour made a statement saying that the party “deplores and does not tolerate any sort of racism or anti-Semitism … we are suspending Lord Ahmed pending an investigation”.

Whether their swift action to suspend Lord Ahmed once more will be viewed as a positive step by voters is hard to say. What’s more likely, though, is that this will just be remembered as another in a long line of scandals that have hit the major parties – and further damaged the public’s view of politicians as whole.

Will Edwards is managing director of media training consultancy Bluewood Training

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