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Peter Oborne interviewed: “A soft apartheid towards Muslims is emerging in Britain”

Peter Oborne is an anti-establishment Conservative and is anything but predictable. We talked about his belief that David Cameron’s government has constructed a narrative about Islam which distinguishes between ‘good’ secular Muslims and ‘bad’ devout ones, leading to a ‘soft apartheid’ emerging in Britain. We also discussed his surprising views on Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership, his explosive resignation from the Daily Telegraph and his views on the UK’s foreign policy in Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Israel.


  1. Peter Osborne talks of the government “construct[ing] a narrative about islam which distinguishes between ‘good’ secular Muslims and ‘bad’ devout ones”.
    I don’t know much about English politics, but I do know a hell of lot about Islam, and I am simply dumbfounded by his post-modernist
    psychobabble about “constructing” things, when everybody who knows ANYthing about islam intuitively recognises this distinction as a preordained classification that the so-called prophet Mohammed often inveighed about and has been a constant in the history of Islam. I agree with many things Osborne says, especially about the iniquity of the invasion of iraq in 2003. I sense his intellectual honesty and sincerity. However, Osborne’s world view is constrictd by the conventions of English politics and he is simply out of his depth, incapable of grasping the plain historical fact that Islam is by and large incompatible with the English political system, much as the Anarchists were in the 19th century. Osborne’s problem is that he does not recognise that in Islam the terms “devout” and “totalitarian” are interchangeable.

    1. Richard Tiffin says:

      Assertion without context, I suspect a sneaky anti Muslim troll here.

      All ancient religion is incompatible with modern liberal society as far as I can see. For example, the bible is in parts barbaric. But that doesn’t make Christians barbaric, other than those who bomb abortion clinics of course.

      What is key here is secularisation, the picking and choosing of the bits of the ideology that are compatible with modern, liberal society (liberal in the social not economic sense).

      This is not a painless process and, in my view, ongoing until all religions end up where they belong, in the dustbin of history. Evidence the current battle some churches are fighting against same sex marriages, contraception, abortion, divorce and the sexuality of their ministers. All of these have been accepted to a greater or lesser extent by wider society but the archaic beliefs of the churches give birth to resistance as the conservatives amongst them fight a rearguard action against the “liberal narrative”.

      I am a teacher. I teach sociology at GCSE and A level in a school which is 70% B&EM, predominantly South Asian Muslims. What is patently obvious is the young people I work with are already secularising their religion. Naturally enough in the main they don’t want to dismiss the cultural heritage of their families wholesale, but neither do they wish to swallow wholesale the aspects of their cultural norms that they compare unfavourably to the norms of their black and white (nominally) Christian friends and counterparts.

      Views such as those expressed above are feeding into the “cultural war” thesis that the right are so happily developing as it serves their interests very nicely. If the thesis is widely accepted then they have the justification they need to close the doors to refugees from Syria and the other places we have bombed into the Middle Ages and to merrily bomb whatever parts of the Middle East they so desire.

      Either Zenobia knows this (knave) or is blind (fool).

  2. Tony Blair’s [current] ideas about Islam are often derided because Tony Blair is a war criminal. I, on the other hand, seriously think that we can learn much from war criminals. Hideki Tojo’s testimony at the Tokyo war crimes trial in the late 1940s is full of profound historical reflections. That is of course in part because he fully admitted his guilt and even exaggerated it because he was covering for Emperor Hirohito, who was the man who really unleashed World War 2 in Asia. Blair still hedges. But this does not gtreatly detract from the value of his thoughts.

  3. David Pavett says:

    An interesting interview. Shame about the headline given here since the bit about Muslims forms only a small part of the interview which is predominantly about foreign policy and also the need for a dissenting tradition in mainstream politics.

    What Owen succeeds in doing is showing that meaningful dialogue is possible across a very large political divide and between people with very different political philosophies. If that is true with a Conservative like Osborne then it has to be at least as true with people on the right of the Labour Party (to the extent that they are as reasonable as Oborne). Some on the left find that difficult to grasp. In fact some on the left even find it difficult to grasp that meaningful, reasonable dialogue is possible with others on the left who don’t agree with them. We see this all the time in these columns from people who don’t understand that abuse and anathemas are not the way to resolve genuine differences of view. I think this Oborne interview is an excellent corrective to such an approach.

  4. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

    Sorry for being a pedant but it is Peter Oborne not Osborne.

    We mustn’t give the impression you can have the same sort of dialogue with the likes of Osborne. They know what they are doing, it’s they serve the interests of the few not the many.

    Interestingly since Cameron has taken office, he has lost half of the conservative party’s membership, whist Jeremy has doubled his.

    You don’t in fact have to win Tory voters over to succeed at the next election, although I have no doubt that even Tories understand the duplicity of this government, “there will be no top down reorganisation of the NHS,” anyone that believed that must certainly be disappointed in their party now.

  5. Jim Denham says:

    This is reactionary shite from a Tory Arabist and anti-Semite.

    1. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

      Would you like to provide us with some evidence for your claims?

      In lieu of a none response, Thought not!

  6. Jim Denham says:

    I’d be happy to provide youj with evidence: what, exactly, do you require, Mervyn?

    1. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

      Perhaps you should understand that not all those that support the rights of Palestinians are anti Semitic.

      Perhaps you could forward proof of Peter Oborne’s anti Semitism.

  7. Jim Denham says:

    Oborne is an odious right-winger and old-style Foreign Office Arabist and, anti-Semite:

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