The Conservative Party’s claims to hold a zero tolerance approach towards antisemitism have been left in tatters after their decision to appoint a new Housing Tsar who has been repeatedly accused of antisemitism and is a friend of the anti-Jewish far-right Hungarian President, Viktor Orban.
On Friday, the Tory Communities Secretary James Brokenshire announced that the philosopher and author Roger Scruton had been appointed to chair the Tories’ new Housing and Architecture Committee.
The new committee is tasked with ensuring that new housing developments are attractive and reflect the local area – and Scruton’s reputation as the ‘Alf Garnett of architecture‘ appears to have persuaded the Conservative Party to hire him.
However, research by The Red Roar has uncovered that Scruton has a long a sordid history.
Not only is the new Tory Housing Tsar a long-time pal of the far-right antisemitic President of Hungary, Viktor Orban, Scruton has himself been accused of spouting numerous antisemitic tropes.
During a lecture on his book The Need For Nations, Scruton told a Hungarian audience that:
“many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish, and form party of the extensive networks around the Soros Empire”
And in an interview from 2013, Scruton appeared to agree with the statement that “a Soros network […] is the cause of Hungary’s poor international judgement“.
Furthermore, Scruton claims to have known the Hungarian President Viktor Orban “for years, ever since he was 19 or 20“, and has repeatedly praised the far-right, anti-Jewish demagogue, describing him as a “very intelligent and striking character” and claiming that he is “not the kind of demagogic tyrant that the liberal establishment in Europe want to make him out to be“.
Following the exposure of Scruton’s past, the Labour MP Wes Streeting tweeted to say:
“How on Earth did the Secretary of State responsible for *communities* appoint this guy? Does any major party do proper vetting anymore?! What is it with the Tories and Orbán?
@JBrokenshire should remove him immediately.”
How on Earth did the Secretary of State responsible for *communities* appoint this guy? Does any major party do proper vetting anymore?! What is it with the Tories and Orbán? @JBrokenshire should remove him immediately. https://t.co/lBnSI1fINV
— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) November 6, 2018
And Streeting’s fellow Labour MP Luciana Berger directly accused Scruton of spouting “antisemitic conspiracy theories“, tweeting to say that:
An individual who peddles antisemitic conspiracy theories has no place advising government about anything. @theresa_may please intervene/ @JBrokenshire should urgently reconsider his appointment. https://t.co/mw6kVYVfj6
— Luciana Berger (@lucianaberger) November 6, 2018
Scruton’s links to the Hungarian President are also extremely worrying – especially given the fact that Orban has been repeatedly slammed for spouting brazen anti-Jewish hatred in numerous speeches, as documented in a previous Evolve article:
“Whilst commemorating the 170th anniversary of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution, President Viktor Orban made the following deeply dangerous statement, which repeated numerous antisemitic tropes reminiscent of Hitler, in alleged reference to Hungary’s Jewish population:
“They do not fight directly, but by stealth; they are not honourable, but unprincipled; they are not national, but international; they do not believe in work, but speculate with money; they have no homeland, but feel that the whole world is theirs. They are not generous, but vengeful, and always attack the heart – especially if it is red, white and green [the colours of the Hungarian flag].”
Orban has also been accused of blaming “all of Hungary’s problems on a Jew” – in the form of the Hungarian-born Jewish businessman George Soros – even warning voters that the liberal philanthropist was plotting to take over the country. Orban even went as far as commissioning a deeply antisemitic advertising campaign that plastered Soros’ grinning face on billboards with the caption “Don’t let George Soros have the last laugh.“
Last year, the Hungarian PM even chose to praise a former ally of Adolf Hitler, Miklos Horthy – a man who actively collaborated in the deportation of around 500,000 Jews to Auschwitz in 1944 – as an “exceptional statesman”. Orban’s astonishingly disrespectful statement unsurprisingly drew a scathing attack from the US Holocaust Museum.“
Despite the Tories’ claims to oppose antisemitism, it should come as no surprise that the Conservative Party have appointed a man with strong links to the antisemitic Hungarian President.
Just last month, Theresa May’s Tories voted to support Viktor Orban’s far-right Party after the EU proposed disciplinary action against them over alleged breaches of the EU’s core values.
As Evolve has also previously reported:
“The allegations related to Orban’s governing party pursuing essentially neo-fascist policies, including the violation of press freedoms, an attempt to rig the judiciary in their favour, placing limits on the functioning on non-governmental organisations by accusing them of posing threats to national security, and, probably most worrying of all, engaging in dangerously extremist antisemitic, Islamophobic and anti-migrant rhetoric.”
However, despite the clear fascist overtones of the Hungarian President’s policies, numerous Tory MEPs voted to support him – making a mockery of their claims to oppose antisemitism.
At the time, a spokesman for the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said of the Tories’ decision:
“It’s absolutely shocking that Conservative MEPs voted against that motion.
Effectively they voted to support the behaviour of the government of Hungary, its abuse of basic democratic rights including judicial and media independence, its denial of refugee rights and its pandering to anti-semitism and Islamophobia.
As Jeremy said yesterday, Theresa May should condemn the Hungarian government and should support this investigation and action.
We hope that a resolution can be found that respects a nation’s right to set their own constitutional arrangements within the framework of international norms.”
And now, with the Conservative Party deciding to appoint a lifelong friend of the antisemitic Hungarian President as their new Housing Tsar – a man who has been accused of spouting antisemitic tropes himself – the Tories’ claims to hold a zero tolerance approach to racism and antisemitism have surely been left in absolute tatters.