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Calls for police investigation following tribunal ruling

In the wake of former Middlesbrough council employee Karen Whitmore winning her claim for unfair dismissal, local MEP Jonathan Arnott has expressed hopes that police will now investigate her allegations.

After she made claims during an employment tribunal of serious criminal activity involving council officers and councillors Mr Arnott wrote to Cleveland Police asking whether they were investigating her allegations.

“I received a reply three weeks ago confirming that they were ‘aware of the circumstances and as with any incident, if criminality is identified, then we will conduct a full investigation’.

“These are serious allegations made by Mrs Whitmore and it is important for all concerned that the matter is publicly aired as they involve people in public office,” said Mr Arnott, UKIP Euro-MP for the North East.

“I have been concerned that it should not just be kicked into the long grass and I trust that now the tribunal findings have been released the police will look at the matter in depth and conduct a full investigation.”

Mrs Whitmore was a senior employee of Middlesbrough Council and their assistant director of organisation and governance. At the employment tribunal allegations were made of a cover-up over the council’s sales of Acklam Hall, the TAD Centre and the Craft Centre on Gilkes Street, which were denied.

The Muslim faith and public opinion: the polling evidence

In this article I don’t propose to look at the Quran, upon which I am no expert although I have read sizeable chunks of it. I merely intend to look at the polling evidence on this subject. Does this evidence support or oppose the claims that ‘Muslims’ pose a threat to the UK?

There are two substantial pieces of work on this subject which I’ll consider in this article: an ICM poll for Channel 4 published in April 2016, and a ComRes poll for Radio 4 Today published in February 2015.

There are a few factors to bear in mind before looking at the data:

1. Polling of Muslims is incredibly difficult in the United Kingdom, and therefore potentially biased.

Roughly 5% of the population identify as Muslim. A standard opinion poll sample is about 1,000 people. If a polling company were to contact people at random, therefore, it would have to contact 20,000 people in order to find 1,000 Muslims. In practice, it would be far more because not everybody is happy to take part in opinion polls.

Finding a random sample of 1,000 Muslims is very difficult, and therefore a simple workaround is to only poll in those areas where at least 20% of the population are Muslims. This skews the results of a poll: it’s possible, for example, that those who hold extremist views might prefer to segregate, and therefore be more likely to live in communities where there are more other Muslims. Nevertheless, the polling challenges are what they are. In the case of ComRes, the sample also included some people who had previously identified as Muslim in previous surveys and were happy to be re-interviewed.

2. Without a control group, it’s harder to draw conclusions

If a survey were to find that “15% of British Muslims believe” then it would be meaningless unless we’re able to put it into context. Perhaps 20% of the general population might hold those beliefs, or maybe it’s only 2%. For the results to mean anything, it’s important to ask the same questions to a representative sample of the general population. That way it’s possible to make informed comparisons. If the samples find “15% of British Muslims believe X, but only 2% of the whole population believe X” then we’d be able to tell the difference.

The ICM / Channel 4 study had such a control group, and is therefore much more useful for the purpose of understanding what Muslims believe compared with the general population. The phrasing of a question can subtly affect responses.

3. Have the questions been answered honestly by the respondents?

A brief ‘sanity check’ is worthwhile. Given that some of the far-right claim Muslims generally engage in ‘taqiyya’ (a doctrine which enables Muslims whose life is under threat to be dishonest about their true beliefs in order to save their lives) we should take this claim seriously and look for evidence of this either way in the data. Is there any evidence that people are ‘telling an opinion poll company what they want to hear’?

4. A small difference between Muslim opinion and the control group opinion could just be random statistical noise.

Imagine that you toss a coin 1,000 times. You won’t necessarily get exactly 500 heads and 500 tails, even if the coin is completely fair. You might get 508 heads and 492 tails, for example. Broadly speaking you’re likely to be somewhere in the 470-530 region 95% of the time.

If you repeated the coin experiment twenty times, then on average you’d find that one of those twenty times you’d get a result that’s outside these parameters.

What does that mean for polling? Well, if you’ve chosen people at random, you’re likely to be within 3% of the true answer (as long as your sample isn’t biased – see point 1) the vast majority of the time. But if your control sample says “65% of Muslims believe Y” and “67% of the whole population believe Y”, how can we be sure there’s actually a difference? It could be that there’s no difference at all. Small differences may be no difference at all.

So, moving on to the surveys of opinion:

COMRES / RADIO 4 TODAY

This survey was of precisely 1,000 British Muslims.

http://www.comresglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/BBC-Today-Programme_British-Muslims-Poll_FINAL-Tables_Feb2015.pdf

Without an adequate control group, this poll must be treated with a certain pinch of salt. 95% of respondents feel a loyalty to Britain (although when the question is asked the other way around, 6% feel a disloyalty to Britain). Often samples don’t add up to exactly 100% due to rounding off errors. They’ll sum to 99% or 101%. In this case though, it’s two separate questions.

‘Feel loyalty to Britain’ is 95% to 4% (1% don’t know)

‘Feel disloyalty to Britain’ is 6% to 92% (2% don’t know)

Presumably a small number of people are conflicted, and feel both a loyalty and a disloyalty to Britain at the same time.

Is this statistic worrying? To take the ‘worse’ of the two, 6% of British Muslims feel disloyal to the country in which they live. Again, the true figure is likely to be lower due to the way the sample was obtained. But how many non-Muslims feel the same way? If we don’t know, the statistic is meaningless.

Likewise, 20% said that ‘Western liberal society can never be compatible with Islam’ and 72% disagreed. It’s a poor question: it’s possible to object to ‘liberal’ but not to ‘Western’. Some Christians might answer an equivalent question in the same way: those who are anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-pornography, etc., might say that the society is not compatible with their version of Christianity.

93% agreed that ‘Muslims in Britain should always obey British laws’ (6% disagreed).

In this article I’m going to skip over some of the irrelevant questions to this piece. How accepted Muslims feel they are in British society, or how relevant they see the Muslim Council of Britain, are of interest – but they’re not specifically relevant to this article, which is already far too long.

78% of Muslims consider publishing pictures of the prophet Mohammed to be personally offensive; this is specifically banned under Islam. The statistic is unconcerning (for example, if churchgoing Christians were asked how they feel about depictions of Jesus which contradict the Bible, they would express offence too – see for example the outrage over Jerry Springer: The Opera) in and of itself. 68% believe, however, that acts of violence against those who publish such pictures can never be justified.

The concerning figure is that 11% said that ‘organisations which publish images of the Prophet Mohammed deserve to be attacked’, and that 27% have ‘some sympathy behind the motives’ for the attacks on Charlie Hebdo.

There is a huge difference, of course, between saying that someone ‘deserves’ something to happen and actually doing it.

In a different context, roughly half of the British people support the death penalty. Some of those who oppose the death penalty might believe that murderers deserve the death penalty, yet still oppose it for other reasons (like the risk of wrongful convictions).

The phrase ‘Those who murder innocent children deserve to die’ would likely elicit a very high level of agreement in an opinion poll, but the number who would actually be prepared to kill them would be far lower.

Here’s where the opinion becomes less clear: many Muslims would consider that such actions ought to be criminal. They would believe a legal consequence to such actions is deserved, but that is very different from taking the law into your own hands.

With regard to integration, just 13% say they ‘prefer’ to socialise with Muslims rather than non-Muslims.

82% considered themselves to be ‘practising’ Muslims (the usual caveat here: the true figure could be lower due to the way that the data was collected).

Just 8% said that they ‘know people’ who feel ‘strongly sympathetic’ towards those fighting for ISIS or Al-Qaeda.

94% said that if they knew someone in the Muslim community were planning an act of violence, they would report them to the police. Indeed, many terror plots have been foiled for precisely this reason.

The most worrying statement is this: ‘Muslim clerics who preach that violence against the West can be justified are out of touch with mainstream Muslim opinion’ was only shared by 49% (and opposed by 45%).

The phrase ‘mainstream Muslim opinion’ is a difficult one to assess. Does it mean ‘in the UK’? If it is taken in that way, it’s more concerning. Does it include both Sunni and Shia? Does it consider Salafism, for example, to be ‘mainstream Muslim opinion’? A Deobandi Sunni Muslim might well answer in the affirmative to that question if they considered Salafist philosophy to be within the mainstream, yet they (and everyone they know) oppose it.

Nevertheless, on that particular question I do have a concern over the result.

CHANNEL 4 / ICM

The sample size for the Muslim poll was 1081, and the control group was 1008.

https://www.icmunlimited.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Mulims-full-suite-data-plus-topline.pdf

This is a substantial piece of work. It is a 615-page document, which I have read in full, but for length I’ll be selective.

1. It shows that 86% of British Muslims identify as British. Higher than the 83% for the population as a whole (this is where we see the value of having the control group).  This is also higher than their identification with their own country of birth (79% – which may be the UK in some cases anyway) or with their parents’ country of birth (73%).

The way this question was asked is likely to elicit a lower response than the ComRes ‘loyalty to Britain’ question, because it provided other options such as ‘loyalty to your local area’ and ‘loyalty to your parents’ country of birth’. It was possible to select more than one answer, but easier to choose the other options than to admit ‘disloyalty’ to a country.

Nevertheless, Muslims in Britain saw themselves as more British than the control group. However, the difference is only 3%. Therefore, statistically, there is insufficient evidence to draw an inference that there is any difference between the two – it could be mere random variation.

2. It’s worth noting that on various questions, the control group were in fact more outspoken than the Muslim group. The general population were more likely to say that anti-Muslim prejudice has increased (61% in control group, 40% in Muslim group), and less likely to feel that they can impact on decisions affecting their local area (43% in Muslim group compared with 35% in the control group).

3. Attitudes towards homosexuality show a marked difference between the Muslim group and the control group. Indeed, this is the biggest difference in opinion.

28% of the control group considered it acceptable for a ‘homosexual person’ to be a teacher in a school, compared with 75% of the general population.

It appears that there is a softening over time of attitudes within the Muslim community on such issues.

7% of the control group strongly disagreed that homosexuality should be legal, so such views are not unheard-of in the wider population.

However, within the Muslim community the figures were much higher. 47% of those not born in Britain strongly disagreed that homosexuality should be legal. 27% of those born in Britain shared that view.

So, we see a very clear decline and move towards integration with those born in this country.

4. The ‘integration’ question: just 1% said they wanted to be subject to Sharia Law and government. 49% wanted to integrate in all aspects of life, 29% wanted to integrate on ‘most things’ whilst retaining a separate identity and 17% wanted to only partially integrate.

There is, however, greater support (23%) for Sharia law in ‘some areas’. This declines amongst those born in Britain compared with those not born in Britain (19% to 27%).

5. 7% of British Muslims support the establishment of ‘a caliphate’. As it’s possible to support the principle yet oppose ISIS, and regardless there’s no suggestion of seeking to create a caliphate HERE, it would seem that the numbers who hold to that particular worldview are likely to be an order of magnitude lower than 7% of British Muslims. It is worth noting that 2% of the control group also held to this view.

6. 11% of the general population, but only 6% of Muslims, ‘sympathised’ with the organisation of radical groups.

Again here, ‘radical groups’ are undefined. There exists a level of concern over this response, but it is a low level of concern.

It’s worth noting that on a more defined question – whether committing minor crime as part of a protest is acceptable – both the Muslim group and the control group showed exactly 18% agreeing that it is.

1% of British Muslims (compared with less than 1% of the whole population) said that they ‘completely sympathise’ with making threats of terrorist actions as part of political protest, and a further 5% ‘sympathise to some extent’ (compared with 2% of the whole population).

7. 4% of British Muslims said that they would ‘sympathise’ with terrorist actions (compared with 1% of the population as a whole). Less than 1% said they would ‘completely sympathise’ (identical to the control group).

Any figure greater than zero is by definition troubling. However, it is important to put this into some kind of context. During the Troubles in Northern Ireland, 26% would ‘sympathise’ with Republican terrorism and 27% with loyalist terrorism. That’s of the whole population rather than of just a small subset of the population, too.

8. Throughout the poll, the figures for those born in Britain are generally more integrated than those not born in Britain. This suggests that as each generation goes by, integration is likely to increase rather than decrease.

9. Muslims are less likely (44% to 60%) than the control group to support violence to protect their family, but more likely (24% to 7%) to support violence organised by groups to protect their own religion. However, it is worth noting that 83% of the Muslim group are practising Muslims whereas a much smaller percentage of the control group are regular worshippers, and that control group by definition includes those who are non-religious.

Muslims are also slightly more likely (22% to 17%) to support violence against the police to fight injustice, and against governments 920% to 16%) to fight injustice.

10. Muslims generally (64% to 17%) support the right of Muslim girls to wear a niqab to school; the control group (37% to 47%) generally oppose.

11. 31% of Muslims (9% of the control group) believe it is acceptable for a Muslim man in the UK to have more than one wife.

12. Likewise, 39% of Muslims (5% of the control group) believe that wives should obey their husbands. Once again, there is a generational difference: the figure for those Muslims aged 65+, for example, is 56%.

13. Muslims generally feel more positively about Catholics and Protestants (69.7 to 64.8 and 69.7 to 68.2) – results are for a mean score out of 100 – than the control group. The ‘thermometer’ methodology makes it harder to assess which differences are statistically significant and which are not.

14. They feel less warmly towards those who are not religious (60.7 to 69.1) than the control group.

15. They feel less warmly towards the Jewish community (57.1 to 63.7) than the control group.

16. Muslims are less likely (26% compared with 46% in the control group) to consider that anti-Semitism is a problem in the UK.

17. Muslims are more likely (35% compared with 9% in the control group) to consider that Jews have too much power in the UK, (31% to 7%) that Jews have too much power over the government, and (39% to 10%) that Jews have too much power over the media.

These differences are also reflected in a string of other questions.

18. 2% of the Muslim group (less than 1% of the control group) ‘completely sympathise’ with stoning those who commit adultery. A further 3% ‘sympathise to some extent’ (2% in the control group).

19. Overwhelmingly British Muslims think that they’d be treated the same as everyone else in the UK (doctors: 91% say that, 3% think they’re treated better and 3% that they’re treated worse. Schools: 88% say that, 3% think they’re treated better and 3% that they’re treated worse, etc.) – a good sign for future integration. Even with legal system and police, the figures are still overwhelming though slightly lower as would also reflect the general population.

CONCLUSIONS

a) There is no concern that polls are not being answered accurately. I mention this only for the sake of completeness as it should be self-evident, but if there were any attempt to mislead or subvert, the clear dividing lines on homosexuality (amongst others) would not be there.

b) The samples may be unrepresentative of all Muslims, but if it they are skewed, it’s more likely to be in the direction of finding Muslims in the UK to be less integrated than they are.

c) The Muslim community in the UK is gradually becoming more integrated over time.

d) Those who support terrorist actions are a tiny minority of all Muslims.

e) The Muslim community seems to contain proportionally far more people who oppose homosexuality and subscribe to views which are anti-Semitic than the general population.

f) The overwhelming majority of British Muslims consider themselves to be British, and would report anyone they knew to be planning a terrorist attack.

g) It is often pointed out that even a small percentage of the Muslim community still equates to a large number of people. Such calculations still lead to overestimates (in addition to the sampling issues mentioned, there is a huge difference between sympathising with motives and actually seeking to carry out a terrorist attack).

h) The need to work with the Muslim community as a whole is clearly indicated, and cannot be done with an ‘us versus them’ mindset.

i) Suggestions from those who hold to anti-Islam beliefs that we as a nation are ‘at war’ with Islam, or that our way of life is under significant threat, are simply nonsense.

Resignation as UKIP General Secretary and Constitutional Affairs spokesman

I have been a member of UKIP since 2001. I have never been a member of any other political party, and there is no other major Party in the UK which even comes close to representing my views. I have remained with UKIP through the good times and the bad, when the Party was polling less than 1% in 2007.

What I say today I do not say lightly. Out of loyalty to Paul Nuttall, who is a personal friend who has done an incredibly tough job in the most difficult of circumstances, and out of loyalty to the many hard-working UKIP candidates up and down the country, I remained silent during a General Election campaign with which I profoundly disagreed. I can no longer remain silent now. Paul has been badly let down by many people, including some of his most senior advisers.

I am saddened by his resignation but understand and respect his reasons for it. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his service to the Party and wish him the very best in his future, whatever that might hold for him.

I fundamentally believe in what UKIP should be. A radical Party of low taxation, of direct democracy, of putting victims before criminals, of standing up and speaking up for the people who have been forgotten, abandoned, betrayed by the establishment. But this Party has lost its way in recent times. I did not stand at this General Election. There were many factors in that decision, but in the end there was one fundamental inescapable conclusion. I simply could not in all conscience support and propagate the policies that were being articulated.

The UKIP Manifesto was shown to the NEC at the very last minute, who had barely an hour to consider it and were therefore bounced into voting to approve a document that simply wasn’t good enough. They were presented with a bland fait accompli. This was not the fault of Paul Nuttall, the Party Leader, who was forced into the ITV election debate without ever having seen it. And often the policy spokesmen’s views were ignored. The UKIP Manifesto failed to be radical on economic issues. It watered down No Tax on Minimum Wage, it failed to truly show the advantages of Brexit and what we can achieve. We could have talked about replacing VAT with a fairer system. We have failed to be innovative and talk properly tough on crime. We have offered very, very little to hard-working families. We have said nothing of any substance for parents of primary school children, when education is the number one issue for them. We’ve watered down UKIP’s flagship Direct Democracy policy allowing the public to call referendums on key issues. If UKIP is not the radical, reasonable, reasoned alternative to the establishment then it is nothing. Huge pressure was put on Paul Nuttall to move the Party in a different direction.

The Party has taken a hardline position on terrorism. Do not mistake my words: the UK should be tough, incredibly tough, on terrorists. But as a Party we have fundamentally failed to make the distinction between the vast majority of peace-loving Muslims, honest and good people, including those I am proud to call my friends, and the unutterable evil of the perversions of ISIS. Tough and robust policies to tackle extremism are absolutely right. The victimisation or demonisation of Muslims and Islam is not.

I do not personally support a complete burkha ban (it’s different in situations where there’s a security risk, just like I don’t like football hooligans wearing balaclavas outside a stadium to avoid being filmed by police). The policy of genital inspections of schoolgirls was crass and ill-conceived at best. FGM is an issue which is fundamentally about child sexual abuse, but UKIP’s clumsy blundering approach detracted from an important issue of child protection. Despite FGM being a cultural practice, UKIP allowed it to be seen and misrepresented as relating to Muslims specifically. Instead of talking about vital issues, of keeping our children safe, UKIP found itself defending accusations of bigotry. When I was General Secretary before, the Party was ruthless in kicking out those who expressed vile racist views. Whatever the media said, we did not tolerate it and those people rightly were shown the exit door. The role of General Secretary does not come with executive power, and I have been powerless to do anything about the most extreme of comments.

I don’t agree with hardline anti-Islam messages. Yet in the wake of the London and Manchester attacks, it was a ‘perfect storm’ for those who espoused such views. If it was ever going to win votes at the ballot box, it was on Thursday. It failed. It did not work and it can not work. I’ve expressed my views in private to the Party leadership and others over many months, to no avail. I must now say something in public. I will try to avoid naming individuals, but promote positive alternatives and policies for the Party.

The people pushing such an agenda need to reflect on the Party’s future. They need to stop making it difficult – impossible, even – for many people to vote UKIP. They need to understand that Theresa May has imperilled Brexit and that their actions are utterly corrosive not just to the Party’s cause but also to the cause of regaining our freedom from the European Union.
UKIP is now in a last-chance saloon, but it is needed more than ever. This election result is the last wake-up call that they will ever get.

It would be improper for the General Secretary of the Party to be as blunt as I need to be, or even to say what I have said in this statement. My position is therefore untenable and I must therefore resign as General Secretary and Constitutional Affairs spokesman. I have agreed with the Party that this will not take effect until after the emergency NEC meeting on Monday.

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The EU’s House of European History is a wildly extravagant vanity project

The EU’s House of European History, which is to open its doors on Saturday (May 6) has been criticised by MEP Jonathan Arnott.

“This wildly extravagant vanity project – which has cost at least £44 million of taxpayers’ cash after costs spiralled out of control – is devoted to explaining the history of European integration.

“In one way, I suppose the House of European History is a great metaphor for the EU itself: the public never asked for it, it’s cost far more than we were originally told, the money is being spent on self-serving propaganda, and British citizens are expected to pay for it even though it’s based in Brussels and does nothing for the UK,”  said Mr Arnott, UKIP Euro-MP for the North East.

The museum in Brussels’ Leopold Park will take visitors along a timeline of major historical events across the continent starting in the 19th century, through to the two world wars (which Brussels has previously misleadingly described as ‘European civil wars’) and a discussion of their relationship to the founding of the EU.

“The exhibition ends with a discussion of the EU’s future – well the writing is on the wall for it. It has no long term future as it has always been a flawed project which is institutionally incapable of reform.” said Mr Arnott.

Statement on Article 50

I am hugely encouraged that, 9 months and 6 days after the British people spoke loud and clear in the EU referendum, Theresa May has today finally triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and we now begin the formal process of withdrawal from the European Union. This move has the overwhelming support of the British people: in a recent YouGov poll, just 21% said that the referendum result should be ignored or overturned.

I call on Theresa May and the British government to now deliver a deal which will secure the future of the United Kingdom as a vibrant, independent, global trading nation. We must regain our own sovereignty, stop payments to the EU budget, regain the power to fully control our immigration system, and most importantly of all regain the right to make trade deals in our own right once more.
Our destiny will be in our own hands once more. Never again will politicians be able to hide behind our EU membership and tell us that they lack the power to deliver for the British people. Here in the North East we are a trading region. We want the right deal with the European Union, one which enables us to trade with them freely and without tariffs. But we also want to open up new markets, new trade opportunities by developing our trading links across the world. Napoleon once called us a ‘nation of shopkeepers’; today we declare that we are once again open for business.
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Jobs and proper job security needed

The latest unemployment figures for the North East demonstrate that all the government talk about the Northern Powerhouse is just hype, says regional MEP Jonathan Arnott.

“While the figures of the ONS show that nationally unemployment is down, in this region the figures are actually up on the last quarter.

“The previous quarter had shown a decrease in those out of work but the rate was still the highest in the UK.

“I have no doubt that leaving the EU will provide the manufacturing boost that the area needs and since the Brexit vote I have been aware of a real sense of hope among our working class communities. And as we get nearer to leaving the EU the more I believe that will increase.

“I sincerely hope that the next ONS figures for the North East show a noticeable decrease and that the current ones are a blip.  I am fortified in that belief as the figures are down year-on-year from 102,000,” said Mr Arnott.

“What does worry me is that the North East has now been described by the TUC as the UK capital of insecure work, with the equivalent of two-thirds of jobs created in the region in the last five years being without guaranteed pay or normal employment rights.

“People not only need jobs but they need proper job security and legal safeguards,” he added.