Lib Dems select Maajid Nawaz as candidate in ultra-close three-way marginal of Hampstead and Kilburn

maajid-navazIn the 2010 general election, Hampstead and Kilburn was a three-way marginal: Glenda Jackson squeaked back in for Labour by just 42 votes, polling fewer than 900 votes ahead of the third-placed Lib Dems.

This week, the local Lib Dems selected the candidate they hope will succeed Ms Jackson when she retires at the next election: he’s Maajid Nawaz, a former radical Islamist, author of Radical: My Journey from Islamist Extremism to a Democratic Awakening, and co-founder of the Quilliam Foundation. As the Ethnic Minority Lib Dems note:

He is the first visible minority so far to become a PPC for the 2015 general election in a constituency where the party has a realistic chance of winning. EMLD welcomes his selection as a step forward in BAME representation. He will take on Labour’s Tulip Siddiq who is seeking to succeed Glenda Jackson as MP. Jackson’s north London seat has a paper-thin majority and is regarded as a three-way ultra marginal. The Lib Dems were in third place in 2010 but have a realistic chance of success, particularly if we garner a sizable share of the BAME vote, which makes up over 30% of the local electorate.

And here’s how the Qulliam Foundation acknowledges Maajid’s selection:

Maajid Nawaz will run in his personal capacity, as a member of the Liberal Democrat Party. In running for the Liberal Democrats, Mr Nawaz continues his political journey from a former leading member of a radical organisation towards liberal democratic values. He will remain Chairman of Quilliam and is committed to its cross-party values and mission of countering extremism, promoting pluralism, inspiring change and seeding democratic culture.

You can read more about Maajid on his Wikipedia page here, and see him in action on BBC1’s Question Time here:

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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15 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 20th Jul '13 - 11:10am

    Very media friendly guy and his experience with Islamic extremism and spreading tolerance and understanding can only be good. I would like to know more his politics and in fact all of the candidates.

    I watched that episode of Question Time and I was shocked and disgusted at Ian Paisley saying homosexuality was disgusting, he deserved what he got from Maajid Nawaz.

  • David Wilkinson 20th Jul '13 - 11:53am

    I see that wonderful organ of the press the Daily Mail as started their attacks on Maajid already.
    He will help change the current narrow profile of the Lib Dems from White Male Middle Class

  • I think that is speaks volumes about the the values and ideals of our party that we can attract someone of Nawaz’s calibre as a PPC. 🙂

  • @Lucas
    Agreed, this speaks volumes about the values and ideals of the LibDems; however your typical UK voter may interpret this in a negative sense, particularly as it is not clear as to what his REAL qualifications and abilities are that commend him as a PPC to serve the British public and oversee UK interests in the world outside of Pakistan…

  • @Roland
    “…particularly as it is not clear as to what his REAL qualifications and abilities are that commend him as a PPC to serve the British public and oversee UK interests in the world outside of Pakistan…”

    Well, his Wiki page states that “He holds a B.A. (Hons) from the School of Oriental and African Studies”, This, plus all the other international work cited, would seem to make him a good person to serve the UK abroad.

  • “your typical UK voter may interpret this in a negative sense, particularly as it is not clear as to what his REAL qualifications and abilities are that commend him as a PPC to serve the British public and oversee UK interests in the world outside of Pakistan…”

    I wonder why you think “your typical UK voter” may interpret his candidacy negatively – or why you should doubt his ability “to serve the British public” – unless those doubts are based on the fact that he is not a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.

    I’m afraid I don’t fancy his chances in Hampstead and Kilburn, but that’s because Nick Clegg and his chums have largely destroyed the chances of any parliamentary gains for the party. But that has nothing to do with the candidate’s ethnicity. I hope we are getting beyond that these days.

  • Wow, what a brilliant choice. Although a Lib Dem, I would vote for him under any affiliation he would likely adopt. So delighted he is with us. Exactly the sort of person we need in Parliament.

    Coming from Banbury (unwinnable right now), I can see where I am going to be volunteering and campaigning – Brent Central for Sarah Teather and Hampstead & Kilburn for Maajid Nawaz.

  • @chris & chris_sh
    I was perhaps a little too terse in my comment.

    The first point is that his appointment is being used to draw attention to the LibDems nationally, hence we do need to look at the first impression this gives to the majority of the electorate with respect to the LibDems. Here we see the the main soundbite in support of his is “a former radical Islamist” /”former member of the Islamic political group Hizb ut-Tahrir” etc. along with his work in Pakistan. Hence the question is what does this chime with in the heads of your typical UK voter.

    Yes, once you’ve spent a little time reading Maajid’s background you are little more informed about the man and what he intends for the Quilliam Foundation but not why he has been selected as a LibDem PPC, other than he comes from a BAME group.

    Also the statement “Mr Nawaz continues his political journey from a former leading member of a radical organisation towards liberal democratic values.” seems to imply Maajid agreeing to stand and the LibDem’s selecting Maajid is more about political expediency than any real in-depth marriage of minds.

  • @Roland

    I agree. I will be far more interested by his being chosen as candidate when I hear what he has to say about the future of the NHS, transport, green issues and how to rebuild a balanced economy.

    I think that in rushing to adopt a BAME candidate, H&K Lib Dems may have focused too much on his religious identity politics and not enough on his ability to reach out to a wider voter base.

    Of course, he may have rounded, well developed, intelligent views on the matters I mention above, but I have yet to hear them.

  • Jonathan Brown 21st Jul '13 - 3:02pm

    I would like to know more about Maajid’s views on a variety of issues, but presumably if I cared that much I could email him or speak to local party members.

    We as a party and we as a country desperately need to get a wider variety of people in to parliament. By which I don’t JUST mean more broadly representative of the country’s communities but also that we need MPs with a more diverse range of work and social backgrounds. It’s an intrinsic part of our system that individual MPs will have weird and wonderful interests and preocupations – or at least, it’s supposed to be – and if Maajid can bring expertise and experience on issues such as foreign affairs, community cohesion, etc. then even if he has nothing unique to say about the NHS, then so what?

    I think his selection is great news. Congratulations Maajid, and congratulations Hampstead and Kilburn. Now we just need to get him in to parliament!

  • “if Maajid can bring expertise and experience on issues such as foreign affairs, community cohesion, etc. then even if he has nothing unique to say about the NHS, then so what?”

    I happen to live in H&K and I have to say that if he focuses predominantly on issues related to religious identity and matters related to his own experience of international subjects and neglects other matters, then I shall not be campaigning on his behalf. It is one thing to use your expertise in an area to inform what you do, it is another to allow it to predominate over other, wider interests of the electorate at large.

  • Jonathan Brown 21st Jul '13 - 7:48pm

    @RC – That sounds perfectly reasonable to me. No candidate should ignore the concerns of their electorate/constituents, and it would be very foolish indeed to concentrate soley on issues that were of particular interest to him at the exclusion of other things, but there’s nothing to suggest that he will do this.

    Likewise, by ‘nothing unique’ to say on the NHS, I don’t mean to suggest that I don’t mind if he doesn’t care about it – only that we can’t all be experts on the NHS and that the party (and the country) would benefit from having people with a diverse range of interests and expertise represent us.

    Besides, it’s quite possible that some of his interests, despite not being ‘traditional’ Lib Dem concerns could be of very great interest to his constituents. Indeed, one of the main reasons we as a party need to reach out beyond our comfort zone and select a more diverse range of candidates is exactly because until and unless we do so, we can’t hope to connect with vaste swathes of the electorate that have until now ignored us.

  • Tony Dawson 21st Jul '13 - 7:54pm

    An excellent selection – and deserves support against a Labour candidate who will be marketed heavily.

    As for ‘unique things to say about the NHS’, let’s hope he does not copy those Lib Dem MPs whose contributions on this subject have brought the Party nothing but trouble.

  • Eddie Sammon 21st Jul '13 - 8:12pm

    Nonsense Jonathan. There are too many specialist subjects and individual experiences in the world to try to have them all represented in the UK parliament – this is why any venture down the diversity route is doomed to fail.

    I welcome Maajid because my first impressions of him were good and we shouldn’t assume that just because someone has a specialist interest that they don’t also have a broad and deep political knowledge.

    As the comments on this thread demonstrate: the whole diversity agenda is already leading to tokenism where people are getting suspicious of capabilities of any ethnic minority or women candidate. Ticking time bomb in the party.

  • Brilliant news! I for one am proud to be in a party which has him as a PPC!

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