Coffee House

Exclusive: Lib Dems go cold on candidate after ‘Jesus and Mo’ row

25 March 2014

The Lib Dems are considering scaling back their fight for Maajid Nawaz to win the Hampstead and Kilburn seat after the row about his ‘Jesus and Mo’ tweet, I have been told.

This very marginal seat, which Labour’s Glenda Jackson holds with a majority of just 42, had been one of the Lib Dems’ key target seats. But a very well-placed senior source tells me that after the ‘Jesus and Mo’ row (which Nawaz had an extremely bad-tempered debate about with Mehdi Hasan and Mo Ansar on yesterday’s Newsnight), those involved in the party’s campaigns have privately concluded that the candidate has seriously damaged his chances of winning the seat and that ‘chucking the kitchen sink at it might not be worth the effort’.

The Lib Dems defended Nawaz when a petition calling for his deselection was set up. But they did emphasise the importance of candidates being sensitive to their constituents. They were also surprised to have come third in the seat in 2010, having expected to win it.


‘We’re all for defending his right to say what he did,’ my source says. ‘But Maajid should really have known better than to do what he did: it was deliberately provocative and he knew that while Hampstead has got lots of liberals in it, there would be people in his constituency who would be deeply offended by it.’

A party spokesman tells me that ‘there’s no change in the party’s support for Maajid in Hampstead and Kilburn’. He also points out that both Nick Clegg and Paddy Ashdown have publicly backed Nawaz in recent weeks, although that is quite different to concluding that Hampstead and Kilburn isn’t worth chucking the kitchen sink at.

UPDATE, 6pm: Another source with knowledge of the campaign gets in touch to tell me that ‘they see there is not enough impetus to get him over the line. Nobody is really sure if he wants to be an MP.’

UPDATE, 6.30pm: Paddy Ashdown rings to say that ‘the idea that money is being withdrawn from his seat at this moment because of this row over the cartoons is completely untrue’. I asked whether money or resources were being withdrawn for other reasons, and Lord Ashdown said they were not, adding: ‘The resources are constantly kept under review, there will be decisions that will be made according to how a seat is progressing.’ But he is adamant that there is no plan to withdraw any support. I stand by my sources on this.

More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us now.

  • Mat Mat

    all religeon is offencive ballshit

  • Steve Lloyd

    Maajid Nawaz should join UKIP, reasonable people with the courage to speak their minds are welcome there.

  • Viking.

    The bottom line is do not vote for the Lib- Dems. Anyone that assists the Muslims in acheiving even more power and influence in Britain does not deserve your vote.

  • notjarvis

    “Hampstead has got lots of liberals in it, there would be people in his constituency who would be deeply offended by it.”

    What nonsense. I know lots of people. Plenty of liberals. Plenty of Muslims too. What Nawaz actually tweeted was not offensive to any of them.

  • Gwangi

    The usual accusation from the worshippers of multiculturalism – who just cannot see the folly of their counter-productive, divisive, wrong-headed and separatist approach – is that anyone who wants freedom of speech to allow people to criticise Islam, and even to draw cartoons about it, or even to ban women wearing one woman tents called burka-prisons, is that they are somehow ‘intolerant’ or more unsually ‘right wing’ (used as a euphemism for all that is bad by our bien pensant political elites). So, all those who defend and speak up for rights the British gained after centuries of struggle, and defended against the Nazis and others, is now somehow a fascist in their eyes, for wanting to defend Enlightenment values and modern pluralistic open society. How very perverse!
    In France, all political parties – including the socialists – support the banning of the burka and the veil, the forced integration of those Muslims who want to brainwash their offspring with extremism and demand their religion trumps the law. Are they ‘right wing’ too then, or fascists? Or Daily Mail readers? The left wing in the UK is lost and lost utterly, and has been ever since it started turning a blind eye to extremism and abuse by anyone with a dark skin and a minority religion. Their beliefs are anti-equality – with the swarthy and devout in effect getting permission from them to behave like 7th century warlords and peasants, abusing and killing and inciting hatred and bullying all critics, in states within states right in the middle of our cities.
    We badly need CCTV in all mosques and muslim schools now for national security reasons – we have an enemy within and it is supported and nourished by so-called liberals and the useful idiots of the Left..
    It is not in the slightest ‘right wing’ – or any wing – to demand that everyone in this country integrates into our country, accepts its laws and its values, and that everyone and anyone has the right – the human right – to criticise, mock, lampoon and demean religions of beliefs of any kind.
    Now THAT is what it means to be liberal. Maybe someone should remind the liberals who accuse those who demand the right to freedom of speech of heresy against our failed multiculti project.

  • Dean Jackson

    What on God’s Earth is being discussed here? Why do the English think talking around subjects is a good idea? No wonder the British Empire imploded–no one knew what anyone was talking about!

  • sarah_13

    Well done Nawaz. It is in fact irrelevant if anyone was offended, offence goes with being alive. The double-talk of the other two guests offends me but they have the right to speak so people can hear their nonsense and make up their own minds.

  • allymax bruce

    We are in the time of ‘Sorrows’.

  • FrenchNewsonlin

    Gutless wets, but what else is to be expected from a party whose racing colours are yellow!

  • James Allen

    Sorry – slightly off topic (only slightly)….. did anyone catch Radio 4 yesterday on the subject of whether or not you could legally limit what people are allowed to say about climate change?

    I mean – are they out of their f*cking minds???

    • James Allen

      We need a push-back on this. I can’t believe the Tories haven’t forced through this decriminalization bill yet. Abolishing or defunding the BBC should be an URGENT priority for any right-of-centre political party.

      • allymax bruce

        Why do you think I’ve been using swear words (as argument-retort), in my arguments when I’m insulted on these forums? The absolute defense for Free Speech comes by using these forums as a Freedom ‘for’ Expression of Free Speech. Fighting back at Labour’s evil laws that try to enslave us, is the ultimate driver of Freedom of Expression. Fight back; swear as much as you want when you’re insulted on these forums.

        • James Allen

          It’s a private platform. They set the rules. I stopped buying the Spectator some time ago because I realised the political stance was faux-right and actually just followed the Govt line like a lap-dog…..

          • allymax bruce

            James, I come to this forum because I get my message across; we will never stop ‘them’ from doing what they want to do, but as prophets, scribes, and wise men, we can fulfill the paths we have been given. Meekly laying down, and accepting servile serfdom, is not my way of ‘walking my path’. It is written, all things must come to pass; just watch Scotland become Independent; then City of London. Then the Establishment political structure in England will fail; you will witness the empowerment of the EU, and the dissembling, to ‘desolate measure’, of Westminster. I wouldn’t be surprised to see successor ‘regional governments’ in North & South England.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              …the EUSSR would never be empowered. It is the temple that needs to come down, which your quoted gospel mentions.

  • swatnan

    Anyone who thinks the Lib Dems are ‘liberal’, needs their heads tested.

  • zanzamander

    I don’t watch any BBC news or current affairs programmes. I feel they’re biased and even mildly racist towards White Europeans. But that is me, I guess and not everybody share that view.

    But this Maajid Nawaz and his ‘Jesus and Mo’ tweet are old news. Months old in fact. So why did BBC see it fit to revisit this issue now, I wonder. Also I think Nawaz is a Sunni Muslim while Mehdi (non Muslims are animals) Hasan is Shia. So maybe there was already a bit of a niggle on the off that soon became a full blown argument.

    But I agree with LibDems. If we have Muslim citizens then we mustn’t do anything that will offend them. Also remember, Cameron has just admitted thousands more Muslims from Syria into this country who will assimilate with us in no time – so I dare say that we have to do our best to accommodate them.

  • Gwangi

    This says it all:

    My advice to everyone – sign up for Jesus and Mo emails with new cartoons and a have a look through the archive.
    Or buy the books from (written by ‘anonymous’ because of the highly inconvenient habit of stalwarts of the tolerant and peaceful religion of Islam to chop the heads off anyone who dares to disagree with them – just like Mo himself nailed the heads of critics to their heads…Same old same old…)

  • Jack Holroyde

    I’m a council candidate in Kilburn. Load of old bollocks, really.
    Maaj and us as a team are working our backsides off for Kilburn, and we get more positive messages on the doorstep about ‘the row over cartoons’ than we could ever have expected or hoped for.

    • cbinTH

      I certainly hope so. I like Maajid Nawaz and admire his qualities, even if I don’t always agree with him, and I dislike those who see him as a traitor to his community. But what really worries me is that people like Mo Ansar and Gleaming Razor might have effectively killed the candidacy of a perfectly reasonable candidate like Maajid Nawaz; as well as being morally repulsive in itself, it might give them further ideas.

      • SarahAB

        I agree. I don’t think all Muslims who don’t like Quilliam or Maajid are illiberal extremists, but the Lib Dems don’t help by ignoring the fact a Lib Dem MP, Gordon Birtwistle, said Maajid should be thrown out of the party – not just deselected – for tweeting that cartoon. By contrast, Mehdi Hasan, while finding the cartoon offensive, kept out of that row.

  • Tony_E

    Having watched the debate (if you can call it that), Mr Nawaz comes out slightly better than either of his opponents.

    But the whole thing seems distinctly un British in the sense that freedom of publication and speech (where no libel is committed) is an absolute right for Britons. The freedom to offend likewise is a given. Blair’s creeping ‘speech and thought’ laws of the 2000’s have given rise to real doubt about freedom of speech.

  • Gwangi

    Jesus and Mo are great! The BBC should show some of those cartoons as stills on its TV shows – I assure you they are far funnier than any silly pc sitcoms their tired unfunny comediennes come up with these days!

    Why are people criticising Nawaz? He retweeted a cartoon – that is all – a cartoon which upholds the traditional British right of freedom of speech and expression, and freedom to laugh at, mock, lampoon religion and offend the sort of puritanical and intolerant bigots who represent Islam in all its horror.

    I shall never vote for the Lib Al-Dems again. Islamo-cowards!

    I shall also be sure to buy some Jesus and Mo T-shirts – and I shall hand them out to all members of the Atheist/Agnostic/Rationalist society of every university I visit. No doubt our idiot universities will then try and ban them, all while allowing Islamofascists to radicalise students and recruit jihadi terrorists on campus.

    Just what on earth has happened to the country?

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Paxman totally out of his depth confronted by 2 dissembling evasive fascists.

  • atticus1900

    Maajid Nawaz came out on top in that debate (argument), poor as it was. I felt bad for the guy, and actually willed him support in the direction he is pushing the debate on being ‘offended’.
    I wonder if the ‘Liberal’ Democrats actually turn out not to be liberal enough for him. He strikes me as a non-conformist heretic, which is good to see and follows a great British tradition. It will be interesting to see how his views develop over time. Renunciation of religion perhaps?

    • Gwangi

      Yes, but why couldn’t the BBC actually SHOW the cartoons they were talking about? Ah yes, I know why…
      Cartoons available in 6 books from Lulu dot com (anonymous because of the indisputable fact that anyone putting a name to such funny, harmless cartoons would be attacked and/or murdered by Muslims – and then of course blamed for causing those attacks themselves by our Islamophiliac plods and their fascist-appeasing political masters).
      So why not show these cartoons? After all, we are shown all other satire and cartoons on all other religions; and Middle East and Muslim newspapers show anti-Jewish cartoons daily.
      Because their craven cowards and appeasers fascism is promoted by anyone with a dark skin and a minority religion.
      FOR SHAME!
      When it ceases to become a criminal offence not to pay the TV licence fee, I suspect that millions will join me in refusing to pay for this treachery.

      • Wessex Man

        exactly, they the mighty BBC are terrified of offending Islam and are not fit for purpose, let’s have this organisation fighting for it share of the market with everyone else and the Licence fee replaced with subscriptions, if anyone bothers to subscribe!

    • Wessex Man

      Yes he should come on over to UKip!

  • Tom W Huxley

    The only seats the Lib Dems should be throwing the kitchen sink at, in terms of the seats they have any chance of winning, are the ones they already hold. And not even all of those.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      They’ll have a pre election pact with the Camerloons, though. The aim is to soak up Millepedal votes in select areas, in trade for another coalition. It may not work, but it’s the LD’s only chance for any role next parliament, as the Millipedes will scorn them, surely.

  • SpookySpook

    LibDems are such unprincipled cowards. Do they believe in free speech or not? Why should MN be sensitive to the feelings of extremist bigots?

  • 70sgirly

    “Nawaz had an extremely bad-tempered debate with Mehdi Hasan and Mo Ansar” He certainly did! I’ve just watched the clip in which 3 grown men argued about being offended / not offended / being offended on behalf of others about a CARTOON for goodness sake.

    Totally ridiculous, we don’t need to “respect” such views, they are the problem, not our lack of respect and they need to be desensitised by exposure to criticism.

    The stoning scene in Life of Brian was an hilarious parody when I first saw it, blasphemy! Ha ha, but if we don’t do something to change our attitude to religious sensitivities, then that insanity is our future.

  • No1important

    I’m offended by how they treat women anyone see the footage from a university in Egypt, a female student was harassed and bullied by large gang of male students for what she was wearing they deemed it was too tight and when questioned the university principle blamed her. Now that is offensive.

  • berosos_bubos

    I would have thought some introduction would be helpful as the article is completely meaningless to those who did not see Newsnight etc.

  • edlancey

    George Orwell missed a trick by not adding “offensive” to Newspeak.

    Even a visionary like him couldn’t have foreseen the sheer conceit and self-absorption necessary to think that “being offended”, either yourself or even more laughably on behalf of nameless and faceless others, would be the second greatest secular sin imaginable – after Waycism.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Tedious isn’t it. If “being offended” contributed to GDP we’d be light years ahead of the world.

      • Grrr8

        Start w/ the Kippers dear Colonel, first ones to be offended!

        • Colonel Mustard

          Not that I’ve noticed.

        • ItinerantView

          Really ? how many people in the UK live under police protection because a Ukipper took offense ?

    • crosscop

      When Mehdi Hasan was ranting about being offended by this cartoon, Paxman should have told him that he himself was very offended when Hasan once ( view it on You tube) described non-Muslims as “kuffar” and said they were “cattle” and “unintelligent.”
      I really can’t understand why nobody ever confronts Hasan about these views. He’s a regular on QT and it never ever gets a mention. Someone should also ask him why he distorted Sura 5:32 in an article in the DT and Huffington Post after Lee Rigby was killed to make it appear that Islam is against such killings, when in its entirety, the verse and the one that follows it actually justify the killing.

      • edlancey

        Mention it on Comment Macht Frei on the Guardian and it’s a banning offence afaik

      • Siamak-A سیامک

        Err… did Mehdi really say kuffar are cattle and so on…?? On Newsnight???? Why not give a link? or are you smearing like so many others have done to descredit him?

        • voidist

          go and check out Wikipedia……this was no smear campaign..
          i am surprised some Body like mehdi is employed by
          huffington post

        • foxoles
          • Siamak-A سیامک

            Aha. I was hoping for a video of the full speech in which he refers to all (including muslem) who have closed minds as cattle. Here is an example “We just follow the crowd, we are the cattle that Allah condemns in the Quran, and we can’t be”. Do you know the whole speech was about ambition, learning, tollerance…. rather than what you prtray? Why not read this It gives you a better picture and contextualises the quote

        • crosscop

          Nobody needs to smear Mehdi Hasan – he does it for himself.

          • Siamak-A سیامک

            Come on! he is not a religious scholar is he? He is a political commentator and of course his views have to be criticised just as anyone elses. But half truths and smear is a different matter.

            • Duncan Lundie

              You’re just going to run with the “smear” accusation, despite being given clear evidence?
              Might as well stick your fingers in your ears and shout “lalalalalala I can’t hear you” for good measure.

              • Siamak-A سیامک

                Oh well. The original discussion was about a specific issue – whether MH said unbelievers are like cows …in his address. I maintain that wasn’t the jist of MH’s argument. Then that went unanswered and instead the subject was changed…. what would you think?

        • madge hirsch

          No he did not say it on Newsnight. He said it ages ago and it can be found on Youtube. But he should be confronted with it and made to apologise/say he was wrong and has changed his views every time he goes on about offence caused by others. Or maybe admit that he was quoting the Koran and that’s how many Muslims regard non Muslims. Anyhow he’s a nasty hypocitical piece of work.

          • Siamak-A سیامک

            Olease read my other posts. The youtube clip is completely out of context. And journalists know that. That’s why no one is on his back asking for apologies. I quoted a link to fuller version of his speech before. I suggest you read it first

            • itbeso

              How so? I’ve listened to all. It seems crystal bloody clear to me. Please enlighten me – if you can.

              • Siamak-A سیامک

                He qutes the quran which does indeed says disbelievers are cattle etc and goes on to add this doesn’t just apply to certain groups but anyone who follows without questioning and become dogmatic including muslims …. go read more

      • voidist

        i will never read huffington post again….i idid not know he, Mehdi,
        is working for them

    • allymax bruce

      Orwell worked for the BBC; they ban anything like this;- (Matthew 24:6) “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet…. (10) And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. … (12) And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”

  • James Allen

    It would be beneath Paddy Pantsdown to lie, wouldn’t it????

    • HookesLaw

      Who would?

  • In2minds

    Libdems, ‘lib’ as in liberal?

  • Chris Bond

    There are two types of liberals.

    1) Classical Liberals (the real deal) —> UKIP


    2) Orwellian Liberals (authoritarian, anti free speech, anti-democracy) —>
    Labor, Conservatives, Lib Dems.

    Choose accordingly.

    • monty61

      Eh? Are you American by any chance?

      • HookesLaw

        Who knows – but he is thick.

        • Wessex Man

          How unforgiving of you Hooky to condemn a person you don’t know and to side woth the one and only monty61, there’s only one phew!

          Talk about not being very liberal, you both proved the comments from Chris Bond very well, there’s not a liberal thought in either of you pair.

    • crosscop

      Gladstone was a classic Liberal. He once stood up in the House of Commons with a copy of the Koran in his hand and declared that as long as that book existed there would never be peace on this earth. I somehow can’t imagine Nick Clegg doing that. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

  • James Strong

    Thanks for briniging this into the news.
    The facts are that a bunch of mohammedans were offended and now the LibDems are going to field a candidate but not truly fight to win the seat.
    Candidates should ‘be sensitive to their constituents’ should they?
    How about being sensitive to all those of us who are fed up of pandering to the RoP whenever they say they are offended?
    Let’s treat everybody the same under the law: no pandering to special interest groups, and no adjustments of policy, action or speech just because some communities might become offended.

    • Wessex Man

      ah if only, it’s going to be a very dirty election with every trick in the book and let’s not kid ourselves the dear old Lib/dums are past masters in the dark arts of electioneering!

      It makes a nice change though to see it’s a Lib/dum this time!

  • mountolive

    There comes a time when sensitivity does not cut the mustard. It is long overdue for that intolerant, hypersensitive cult called the ROP to be shown for what it is. A head on collision is well overdue.

    Incidentally, I watched the debate and Maajid won it hands down.

    • monty61

      What’s ROP?

      • Colonel Mustard

        Religion Of Peace.

        • The Laughing Cavalier

          That should be a small ‘o’ then.

    • allymax bruce

      And you Zionists reckon starting WW3 is going to help?
      You’re an idiot warmonger that wants to send all Christians to fight your evil wars, while yoos Zionists sit back & watch us all die; your ill-gotten gains protected!
      There comes a time when all Christian countries around the world must reject nasty Neo-Con Zionism; let the Zionists fight themsleves. It is written; the Destroyer of Worlds will destroy itself.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        What is the frequency, Kenneth?

        • allymax bruce

          Matthew 24.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Sounds good. I’m up for a few rounds of temple smashing, myself.

      • mountolive

        Good grief, it’s the loony again! I told you before that I am neither an Israeli nor a Jew but a Christian Scot – but perhaps the meds have run out again.

        Just one small – but significant – point. This blog was about intolerance and not about Israel. So kindly take your rabid anti-semitism elsewhere.

        • allymax bruce

          I never mentioned neither Israel, nor Jew. Zionism, and Neo-Con, are political ideologies; you jumping to perverse conclusions shows it’s you who is the ‘loony’. The fact you jump to calling people anti-semetic, just because a political discussion presents an argument against Zionists, sending all the Masses to war as fodder to protect their ill-gotten gains wealth, shows you are a bigot, and a hater. You don’t like the argument, so you call people stupid names. It’s people like you that cause wars; your ‘intolerance’ to see beyond your bigotted hate, proves that.

  • Peter Stroud

    Looks like a good seat for the Tories to target. It is really difficult to see the LibDems improving on their 2010 result.

    • Wessex Man

      tories, tories? get away it’s goning to be a UKip win there.

  • monty61

    Great. A rare moment of common sense from a Liberal, but obviously far too brave a stance for such a snivelling bunch of hypocrites.

    It doesn’t matter anyway, the Liberals are all but finished at the next election. And good riddance.

    • telemachus

      A magnificent Newsnight clip well worth a view
      The main conclusion I take from it is that contrary to Islamophobic comment on this blog there is a healthy strand of debate within Islam

      • wattys123

        very healthy debate – should anyone who disrespects Islam be beheaded or stoned to death, the debate of the death cult rages.

        • HookesLaw

          Go somewhere else Mr Gobshite. Maybe go and ask good catholic Mr G Adams abour death cults.

          • James Strong

            Hello Hookey.
            It’s not just me you throw insults at when you cannot respond with reason, then.
            Who has said or thought that Gerry Adams was a perfect example of a man, to be imitated and emulated as much as possible?
            How about looking at some history, and understanding how organised churches have changed their attitudes to conquest over the last few centuries?
            In fact, how about you getting lost conmpletely and not coming back until you can keep your responses rartional even if not civil?

            • Wessex Man

              In his anger, which is growing every day Hooky is showing the veru ugly face of the nasty party, if anyone forgets it was John Major who laid the foundations for the abject surrender to Gerry Adams, even though Tone felt the hands of giants on his shoulders.

          • tastemylogos

            You haven’t got many friends have you, Hookey? You spend far too much time on here being rude. Angry with a world that finds you slightly sociopathic, are we?

      • ItinerantView

        Yes that’s why he receives death threats,healthy debate.
        (oh someone beat me to it)

  • pkoduah

    So the Liberal Democrats stand for political expediency rather than liberal, democratic values?

    Although, there is a chance this a whispering campaign by his opponents, within the party. Let’s not forget the ‘cartoon-gate’ campaign against Nawaz was started by a “Liberal Democrat”, Mohammed Shafiq.

    • Wessex Man

      as I say the dirtest electioneers of any election!

Can't find your Web ID? Click here