Labour MPs are calling for Roger Scruton to be sacked from his newly appointed role as chair of a housing commission over controversial statements about Jewish people and homosexuality
Shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne and backbenchers Wes Streeting and Luciana Berger have urged housing secretary James Brokenshire to remove Scruton from his post as head of the new Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, announced on Saturday (3 November).
The calls come after a blog unearthed an essay by Scruton, a conservative philosopher, in which he described Jews as forming part of a ‘Soros empire’.
’Many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish, and form part of the extensive networks around the Soros Empire,’ it read.
Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has run campaigns on the supposed threat that George Soros, a Hungarian-born Jewish billionaire, poses to the country. Last month the Soros-founded Central European University said it might have to relocate from Hungary following Orbán’s attacks.
But Scruton’s text also acknowledged that antisemitism was a problem in modern Hungary. It read: ‘Moreover, as the world knows, indigenous antisemitism still plays a part in Hungarian society and politics, and presents an obstacle to the emergence of a shared national loyalty among ethnic Hungarians and Jews.’
Even so, MPs said the government still had questions to answer over his appointment, with Berger, who is herself Jewish, calling for Brokenshire to ‘reconsider’.
‘An individual who peddles antisemitic conspiracy theories has no place advising government about anything,’ she tweeted.
Streeting tweeted that Brokenshire ‘must surely now realise that he has made a terrible error of judgement in appointing Roger Scruton to a government post’, adding: ‘He must dismiss him immediately.’
Concerns have also been raised over Scruton’s comments on homosexuality, which he described in a 2007 Telegraph article about gay adoption as ‘not normal’.
He wrote: ‘Every now and then, we wake up to the fact that although homosexuality has been normalised, it is not normal. Our acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, of same-sex couples, and of the gay scene has not eliminated our sense that these are alternatives to something and that it is the other thing that is normal.’
It has also been reported that Scruton had previously described Islamophobia as a ‘propaganda word’ in his 2017 book Conservatism: Ideas in Profile.
Scruton wrote: ‘There has been in official circles a deliberate silencing of discussion, a refusal to describe things by their proper names, and the adoption of the propaganda-word ‘Islamophobia’ to create a wholly imaginary enemy.’
In a statement, Scruton rejected accusations of antisemitism and said he was ‘hurt and offended’.
He added: ‘If people actually read my comments regarding the interplay between George Soros and Hungary they will realise they are not in any way antisemitic, indeed quite the opposite.’
Statement from Professor Sir Roger Scruton pic.twitter.com/Ixs9MVyDU1— Roger Scruton (@Roger_Scruton) November 6, 2018
Roger Scruton reckons Islamophobia and homophobia are "invented" and conservatives suffer from the "only 'phobia' permitted".— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) November 6, 2018
Excuse me while I fetch my tiny violin. Why have the Tories appointed him an adviser months after they promised to "stamp out" Islamophobia? https://t.co/LK6yCJWff3