Labour party mouthpiece the New Statesman has launched a baffling attack on Breitbart London editor-in-chief Raheem Kassam which is riddled with inaccuracies, innuendo, and barefaced hypocrisy from the left-wing magazine.
Staff writer Stephen Bush asserts that Kassam has two obstacles in his path to UKIP leadership, one being that the Breitbart London editor has previously made “shocking” politically incorrect remarks on Twitter. The second he claims is Kassam’s “name, coupled with his skin colour and Gujarati heritage”.
Bush’s basis for this line of attack is the assertion that Kassam’s enthusiasm for British pub culture is an act, and that — it is implied — racist UKIP voters will suspect the leadership contender is a “secret Muslim”.
As a conservative blogger, Kassam will be familiar with the rumour, peddled by Breitbart and others on the alt right, that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim. So his campaign website is liberally dotted with photos of him sipping a pint (he lists Whitstable Bay as his preferred poison). Will that be enough to convince the most right-wing of Britain’s leading parties to back him?
Bush opens his article by insisting that the UK Independence Party (UKIP) is now an establishment party because “one of the three main candidates for its leadership has ascended from the so-called spadocracy”. The term refers to the trend, in British politics, for so many politicians, and therefore also leadership candidates, to have never held any job other than that of a special advisor to members of Parliament.
He writes: “Nigel Farage used to castigate David Cameron and Ed Miliband for having worked as special advisers and little else, but Raheem Kassam – said to be his preferred choice as his latest successor – was his aide for several years and sometimes styled himself as Farage’s ‘chief of staff’.”
Despite the claim and the characterisation of Kassam as Mr. Farage’s “backroom boy”, the UKIP leadership hopeful only worked for the party for the duration of the 2015 general election, having taken a sabbatical from his editorship of Breitbart London.
Bush also claims: “His only other substantial jobs have been in the right-wing blogosphere.”
Kassam’s campaign website goes into detail about the leadership candidate’s employment history which includes a number of jobs including his having run a pressure group exposing Islamic extremism on campus.
The article also derisively dismisses Breitbart as a humble blog. By comparison, web traffic and analytics data website Alexa finds the author’s own publication Newstatesman.com to be the 1,324th most popular website in the UK while Breitbart.com is 587th.
The New Statesman journalist proceeds to attempt to paint Kassam in a bad light by characterising Breitbart by headlines alone.
Bush makes no effort to explain what could be the problem with such articles, especially when the New Statesman proudly hawks headlines such as “To talk about race, we need to talk about the problem of whiteness”, and “Why British men are rapists”.
The Breitbart London editor this week broke the record for online engagement with members in a UKIP leadership contest, after just 5 days of campaigning.