“To choose Wembley Stadium, which is where the Champions League final takes place and where only rock stars perform, shows how special Narendra Modi is to all of us... MPs have just had a pay rise and because I am so excited about this event I will donate my pay rise for November for this great function.”
Keith Vaz, 2015
It is obvious why suspended MP Simon Danzcuk, accused of sexual harassment against a teenage applicant to work in his office and of domestic violence, would defend Keith Vaz in the current media campaign against the Leicester MP. However, unlike Danzcuk, Vaz is accused of something – consensual sex with adult sex workers – which it is possible to condemn only by descending into a swamp of prudish moralism and homophobic sensationalism.
Keith Vaz is not fit to be a Labour MP. But that has nothing to do with the current media controversy and everything to do with his disgraceful political record. The left should be criticising his fawning before the rich and powerful, and his opportunistic record of backing various (and varied) reactionary political forces – not his sex life.
In 1989, shortly after becoming an MP, Vaz promised Salman Rushdie his support against Islamic bigots campaigning to ban his novel The Satanic Verses and against threats of violence. A few weeks later he was one of the main speakers at a march of Muslims in Leicester demanding the banning of the book, describing it as “one of the great days in the history of Islam and Great Britain”.
But Vaz’s opportunism and chameleon-like political character allow him to associate with anti-Muslim bigots too. Last year he tried to make himself central to the feting of India’s far-right Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he visited Britain, ignoring Modi’s ultra-reactionary record and his facilitation of harassment and even pogroms against Indian Muslims.
There are various other shocking things you could cite.
Vaz is in no sense on the left, not even minimally. Part of the media campaign here is portray him as on the left in order to discredit “Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party”. But Vaz should be known for championing the interests of various super-rich capitalists to the point where it gets him in trouble. He is a rich man himself, with many “business interests”.
The labour movement must rid itself of the likes of Keith Vaz, but not by having anything to do with the current scandal-mongering.