Maajid Nawaz and a Hampstead Liberal New Year
Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 8th January, 2015
Every New Year for quite a while now Andreas Utermann, the Belgian Global CIO at Allianz Global Investors, who has a house in Hampstead, has generously sponsored a New Year reception for Hampstead Liberal Democrats; often it was in the magical Heath Library in Keats Grove, but tonight for the first time it was at Burgh House, the early 18th Century gem in North End Square. The timing was unusually pertinent, as the LibDem PPC for Hampstead and Kilburn, Maajid Nawaz — who, as Director of the Quilliam Foundation, has been running from one media interview to another in the wake of yesterday’s repulsive attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris — was able to speak on the hot topic of the day. Maajid himself came under considerable fire from some parts of the UK’s Muslim community a year ago (even receiving death threats) for retweeting earlier cartoons about the Prophet Mohammed, but this evening he restated his Liberal principles in stressing how important it is to defend free speech in the UK. I believe that there is a delicate balance between respecting that and not intentionally offending people, but it is good that the local party has a candidate who can debate such issues with a good grounding both in British culture and in Islam. This evening we also had the benefit of comments from the Honorary President of Hampstead and Kilburn Liberal Democrats, Baroness (Sue) Garden, who gave an insight into her work as one of eight Coalition Government Whips. I’m sure I was not alone in being astonished to learn that while her five Conservative colleagues get Ministerial salaries, none of the three Liberal Democrats do.