Editorial Intelligence’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown likes to think of herself as ‘plain-speaking’ and controversial’ so we shall respond in kind. She is a writer for The Independent and the Evening Standard; known as the ‘Yazzmonster’ (and worse) in blogland she is Senior Researcher at the Foreign Policy Centre (patron Tony Blair and run by MI6’s Baroness Ramsay) and was previously Research Fellow with the IPPR which published her ‘True Colours’ on the role of government on racial attitudes— her own true colours can be gauged from the fact that Tony Blair launched the book in March 1999.
Supposedly she has an ‘analytical eye for systematic abuses of power’ but puts on shades when it comes to her earners. An obsessive self-publicist she managed to ride on the back of the Steven Lawrence campaign to ‘serve’ on the Home Office Race Forum. At the FPC she proved able to lecture any culture (about which she has no expertise) in a twisted attempt to support the government’s hatred of even the minor acquiescence of devolution:
“Yasmin headed the Centre’s Global Britons programme and could be seen across the country instigating debate over the devolution process: a process she opposed as she felt that the establishment of regional governments in Scotland and Wales would unleash a dangerous form of nationalism that would further exclude Britain’s ethnic minorities.”
No one in Scotland remembers much about that. But the Scottish trip (did it even take place?) was on the pitiful pretext that she is immune from racism and the Scots are a lesser species. Here she joins a collective of people (associated with Demos, IPPR and the FPC and so forth) occasionally sent up to Scotland who are paid by the government (in some shady and roundabout manner) to run what is fundamentally a propagandistic psychological operation. Yasmin shows her own true colours and usefulness to the Home Office line in the ‘Global Britons’ stunt: a white person saying what she does would be laughed to scorn. Only uselessly lenient political correctness and a timid fear of being labelled racist protects her from more trenchant criticism. This report also states that Brown opposes ‘nationalism of any form’ — which lacks all subtlety and insight: so Nicaragua should have caved into to the US in the 80s because the idea of the nation of Nicaragua is predicated on anti-US racism?
But that didn’t stopped her accepting and MBE in 2001, then, after a process which took two years she noticed the ‘Empire’ bit at the end and who the old woman in the diamond hat who gave it to her was. Her line is to police liberals, feminists (and anyone who’ll listen). A member of the British American Project (headed by Paul Wolfowitz — yeah that’s right Yasmin, Paul Wolfowitz), although they probably regret it, hey aren’t America and Briton nations?
Her Independent columns have been mercilessly (and rightly) mocked.
The convolution (it is almost a style of ‘convolutionism’) involved in her prose is a tad mind-numbing. On Iraq she has confessed that “I am ashamed to admit that there have been times when I wanted more chaos, more shocks, more disorder to teach our side a lesson.”
As the blog notes: “Just think about some of the human detail lying behind those three nouns”. Brown’s self pity and self-obsession can surmount the thousands of dead and national catastrophes. One can see her as a useful idiot representing a purportedly left-wing coconut in a shy for fellow FPC and Editorial Intelligence goon John Lloyd to knock down. Her big message is that Britain will be a better nation when it includes ‘something’ like her. What is that ‘something’ — a Sky News pundit?
Every literary opportunity is one to puff herself although a very little of her goes a long way, and this could be said of all the people gathered in EI. They are grossly overpaid and the circulation of the newspapers they work for is dropping alarmingly because of the content. Brown’s self pity is rivalled by her ego which she now even parades (seriously) on stage with her one-woman show (much of her work has the feel of solipcistic melodrama).
Vice President of the United Nations Association, UK remember that ‘nationalism in any form?’ She has the writing ability to tailor her stuff to the buyer. In a Time (below) article we had the ‘some of my best friends’ routine:
“The police do have to stop and search our men and boys. It’s deeply upsetting, but this is the fate forced on us by the fanatics. To be honest, I too am nervous on public transport around males who look like members of my family or my close Asian or Arab friends. I accept this discrimination. I have to, in the interests of national security… I don’t believe there is a simple causal connection between the Iraq occupation and the London bombs.”
The chances are she’ll join up with some government funded/spook initiative for Muslim women (a way in for the Security services) which has been designed to gather intelligence and pass it on to Baroness Ramsay at the FPC or some Initiative involving Julia Middleton.
She is also part of a similar venture to EI with Bob Geldof’s ‘Know Comment’, part of his Ten Alps business (a PR, Broadcast and Television company, whose current client list includes BP, JP Morgan, Ford, The UK Foreign Office and Ministery of Defence, EMI, Disney and David Cameron). Feed the World Bob!
According to a New Statesman profile by Melanie McDonagh,” She is everywhere, this self-proclaimed champion of the ethnic minorities. But can she really speak for them?” Alibhai-Brown is ubiquitous — could she be pretending to be all the ethnic minorities:
“There was one thing you could have bet on about the commission behind the Runnymede report – the one which had those challenging ideas about Britishness — before you ever saw its conclusions. Its brief was to consider matters of race, religion and ethnicity: ergo, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown would be a member. And sure enough, there she was.”
Perhaps people are beginning to have had enough of her, the report goes on:
“In the curious little world from which commissions are drawn, there is a golden circle in which journalism leads to quangos, which lead to think-tanks, which lead to radio and telly punditry, which leads to newspaper columns which lead to a curious kind of public status which in turn translates into books and further quangos, until the unstoppable momentum of the whole cycle brings the lucky pundit to a seat in the House of Lords, without ever having troubled an electorate. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has yet to get a peerage (although it can only be a matter of time), but there is no question that she is everywhere.”
Everywhere and nowhere:
“But in general, her world-view is benign to the point of banality. One is grateful that she speaks out on the question of forced marriage (she is against), but it is a little alarming that this should be presented (by Alibhai-Brown) as a courageous thing to do. How much influence does she exercise? Discussing the question of black representation within the Labour Party, in an interview with an American journal, she remarks cheerfully: ‘I have actually gained a huge amount of influence in the inner Labour sanctums, as well as in terms of credibility within the communities where I spend a lot of time.'”
The inner Labour sanctums that are the true voice of the masses:
“Clarity, however, is not perhaps her strong point. It is, at times, difficult to identify precisely what her agenda is, beyond a commitment to having more non-whites on Radio 4 and in the Civil Service; an insistence that all ethnic identities are complex (as she is fond of pointing out: ‘Anglo-Saxon is a hyphenated identity’); strong feelings about colonialism; and an antipathy to Conservatism. Her most interesting and distinctive view is that the Commission for Racial Equality should be subsumed in a general Human Rights Commission, which would comprehend discrimination based on age, sex and religion, as well as race.”
It is of course just a matter of time before brown gets on to her favourite subject:
“‘Today I rise — an unexpected warrior fighting for that threatened British national identity. When I arrived here in 1972, racist abuse . . . was a fact of life. Thirty years on, I am a citizen of a multi-ethnic country which appears at ease with itself.'”
And as McDonagh notes, most of her book Who Do We Think We Are? is spent identifying the origins of British racism and ends up praising the Macpherson report for identifying institutional racism in Britain.”