Why the new London mayor’s culture adviser can hardly be regarded as a step up from the old mayor’s equality adviser.
Let me declare from the outset, I have a vested interest in writing this. I find Munira Mirza hard to stomach. I don’t know her personally, I have never even seen her. But every time (and it is frequently) that she gets wheeled out on Radio 4 as ‘Black expert on this’ and ‘Muslim expert on that’ to explain, decry or prophesy ‘race relations’ matters, she makes me cringe. Not only does she systematically rubbish multicultural policies but she confuses listeners by conflating all kinds of policies, so that she ends up saying that racism is not really a problem but those who talk about it are. She is the spokesperson of choice every time an authentic voice is needed to sound off on political correctness, play down Islamophobia or disown discrimination.
The irony is that while Livingstone was accused of having a Black extremist, Lee Jasper, in his midst and working with a coterie of lefties from Socialist Action, Boris Johnson now has chosen as his cultural adviser Munira Mirza, someone who is part of another ‘left’ coterie. The left bit has to be qualified since the group with which she has been associated has gone through so many transmogrifications. It began life as a Trotskiyst breakaway sect, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) in 1978, changed into Living Marxism (the name of its magazine) in 1988, which became the libertarian organisation LM from 1998-2000, and has since then become The Institute of Ideas and spawned the Manifesto Club (of which Mirza is a member of the steering committee, as is Frank Furedi, the originator of the RCP). But then Mirza is also someone who has worked with the centre-right think tank Policy Exchange, writing for them a report in 2007 which effectively blamed multiculturalism for the rise of extremism among young Muslims. Policy Exchange is where many of Boris’ ideas and advisers come from.
Presumably he is told that having a Black cultural adviser will somehow help to dilute his racist image. There’s nothing like a renegade for putting one’s views across.
Read IRR Briefing Paper No.2: In defence of multiculturalism (pdf file, 72kb)