Maajid Nawaz Stag Party At A Strip Club

When you look through still CCTV footage of a candidate for parliament, to see if he is inappropriately touching a stripper while he is on his stag night, we can safely say that the sausage roll voter “bribery” case, Ed Miliband’s dating chit chat on economics, and political slogans on mugs have been eclipsed in the election campaign. We now have close to a sex scandal. The Liberal Democrats. What were the chances?

That this involves Maajid Nawaz has taken me by surprise. The revelations about his behaviour were made in The Daily Mail.

Nawaz has openly said he is a “non devout Muslim” and on Newsnight he made very clear that there are no spokespeople for the muslim community, rather many voices looking to be heard. The problem is how devout a feminist when your spokesperson is reported as saying Nawaz’s “reputation for advocating women’s rights was ‘in the context of Islamic extremism’.” Feminism only an issue when Islam is involved? [1] That really needs clarifying. Seeing strippers during Ramadan, or drinking booze? Between Nawaz and his God.

The stag do was last June; of course this story has waited till now for maximum impact during the General Election. For cynicism that this is a smear hatchet job, there are legitimate concerns. The allegation that Maajid Nawaz was physically and verbally harassing a stripper for her phone number while bragging about himself falls well short of conduct befitting a member of parliament. Or not being a sleazeball while your fiancee waits at home for your return. Nawaz is mentioned in the article as denying touching inappropriately or ever being warned repeatedly about his behaviour.

Who on earth cannot work out the political ramifications of a lap dance while standing as an MP (never mind the logistics of a lap dance while standing)? It suggests at a personal level a reckless abandon. Many hours and money have gone into supporting his candidacy in a very close three horse marginal seat. Usually, you do not risk undermining those efforts if you feel a responsibility to your supporters.

Stag nights and strip clubs are very much connected. In a piece this month, novelist Nicki Salcedo wrote about the shock of two men when she interjected their conversation to give directions one of them needed to a strip club. Writing about her previous experiences at a strip club, and attending a bachelorette party with stripping men, she concludes:

That burly guy was embarrassed to get directions to the strip club from a soccer mom. That’s the real shame. If you are going to go to the strip club, go. Go proud. The fact that he was embarrassed suggests that even he thinks it’s a bit wrong. Those are his issues, not mine.

I don’t worry about it. What a strange funny world. I know how to get to the strip club and other places, too. On a good day, I can give you directions to anywhere you want to go.

Maybe as a feminist in the context of Islamic extremism, Maajid Nawaz saw no political issues going to a strip club then asking female voters for their support. Perhaps, far from thinking that he was above such potential political controversy, he thought he could have a stag do as any law abiding citizen may. Maybe we should live in a world where what adults choose to do together really is none of our business. Such is the dilemma for political and private life.

The electorate of Hampstead and Kilburn will have less than four weeks in which to see how this story evolves and how to use in making a judgment when voting. In a constituency where in 2010 the Liberal Democrats came third, 841 votes behind elected Glenda Jackson MP for Labour. 841 votes.

That is why going to the stripclub was not a good idea if he intended to win the seat. That no one thought – you know if the Daily Mail gets hold of this your campaign will be sunk – suggests either foolish thinking, lack of judgment or irresponsibility to those campaigning for you.

The bottom line is the allegation of harassing women. The Liberal Democrats have not inspired much confidence in this area when investigating. I sense panic at party HQ that a seat they hoped might be in play may well have been lost at the upcoming poll, and how this may play out nationally.

As we await further announcements, I hope the accusations made by the manager and owner of the strip club turn out to be tabloid sensationalism. Even so, I fear that may not undo the damage to the campaign.

Update Sunday 12 April:

[1] Even though my “how devout a feminist” refers to the spokespersons comments about women’s rights in the context of Islamic extremism – what about beyond that context (Daily Mail I suspect rather than spokesperson to blame but needs clarifying I feel), people are interpreting as me saying you cannot be a devout feminist going to a strip club. Which is not what I am saying here.

Afterword

On twitter I have been aghast by comments to me that strippers need to expect groping, that harassing someone for their number is hardly a serious matter, that as part of their sexual allure this is natural. No it is never ok to harass or grope or assault a women whatever her job, whatever she is wearing.

Belittling a woman because she is a stripper does not help Maajid Nawaz. Rather, you are not standing up for women’s rights. As to feminism and stripping, where adults are consenting regarding a sensual or sexual activity freedom exists. Where coercion, pressure or force is applied in no sense can consent exist. A debate about whether patriarchal cultural attitudes deny that freedom is something I invite others to research and think about.

Since I published my article an edited CCTV time lapsed video has gone on youtube. Regardless of whether you believe it shows harassment, someone just having a lap dance, or is inconclusive, I do not see how Maajid Nawaz politically comes back from the public humiliation. “They’ve got art” as the saying goes, and by saying his behaviour was out of order allowed such images to appear in the public domain. In short, it seems an attempt to show up someone publicly who, perhaps naively, felt their privacy was protected by having a private lap dance.

The accusation of harassment may or may not be true. We can cast dispersions as to motive, though suggesting a strip club owner and manager must be automatically untrustworthy seems ad hominem. Rather, they do appear an unlikely duo to stand up for religious probity. However, the manager claims to have witnessed unacceptable behaviour which he felt went against the public persona (as he saw it) presented by Maajid Nawaz.

Whatever Nawaz’s behaviour was, at no point was he thrown out or the police called. So the accusations do come across as a smear campaign timed for the General Election. What we know for certain is that Maajid Nawaz went to a strip club while a parliamentary candidate. With the kind of opponents he has, this becoming public knowledge should have been seen as very likely.

Public humiliation though is not what anyone deserves for being a parliamentary candidate, even if you do something politically stupid as going to a strip club.

Maajid Nawaz has said on twitter today “Yesterday the Daily Mail article hatchet-jobbed me”, and has promised a statement “soon.” I will link to that in a new blog post when it hits the internet. To be honest we needed the statement Saturday considering Friday night the story broke.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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18 Comments

Filed under British Politics, British Society

18 responses to “Maajid Nawaz Stag Party At A Strip Club

  1. johnmatthews

    Lets not pretend for one second this seat was ever going to be won by Maajid. Yes they came a close third in 2010 but looking at the ashcroft poll Lib dems are not in the running. They are only succeeding where they have incumbent mps.
    http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2015/01/hampstead-kilburn/

    Still I can imagine there will be a lot of disappointed activists who have spent tireless hours campaigning.

    • At 841 votes behind my point is you owe it to your volunteers to do everything you can, as they are, to get votes. Going to a strip club – whether it should or not – will probably cost votes.

      As I say though the bottom line is the harassment allegation.

  2. If only the oh-so-pious, non-drinking Muslims attacking Maajid were as vocal and outraged about FGM, Yazidi rapes, “Asian” grooming gangs, ISIS, etc etc etc

  3. Farah

    Why would a man have his stag party 3 months or more before the wedding? He allegedly only had one friend with him at the strip club, what sort of stag party is that?

  4. Nawaz has openly said he is a “non devout Muslim”

    Then why name your organisation after a man who is literally not famous for anything, other than being a muslim?

  5. Pingback: Awaiting Maajid Nawaz Statement On Being Yesterday “Daily Mail Hatchet Jobbed” | Homo economicus' Weblog

  6. Jacquie

    Whether this was a stag do or not is irrelevant to the issue of harassment. I watched the video and it certainly appeared to me that Maajid was trying to touch these women multiple times. The women were giving him clear signals to stop and he persisted. That is what I saw. Did my eyes misinterpret the events in the video? Perhaps they did. And this is why I would like to see Maajid properly address what is on the tape. I am a long-time fan of Maajid’s and am trying to keep an open mind, but so far, his response to the harassment issue has been less than encouraging.

    • Me too – but Just now on Twitter he declared disappointment in me that I wanted him to publicly right now deny the allegations.

      So draw your own conclusions whether he gets the politics of the situation let alone why he needed to respond urgently himself.

      • Andrew Nolan

        This is one of the most messed up aspects of the fallout for me. I’ve become a big fan of both of you guys over the last few months. I totally understand your call for clarity in this situation John, but I also understand MN’s need to play his hand very carefully and deliberately.

        I enjoyed your piece as ever. It’s typically well reasoned. And I have to confess that I was disappointed in such laddish behaviour from a guy with such a unique position of influence (but then as Iram Ramzan pointed out this is the danger with having inflated expectations of people you don’t know). But I also can’t imagine what it must be like to be subjected to such sustained attacks on my character. Arguing against Dilly Hussain and the likes must be wearying on a Sisyphean scale. I’ve seen MN snap at people who don’t deserve it before, including friends of mine, but I certainly wouldn’t want to trade places with the man. I’d have cracked well before now. Not to mention how annoying it must be to have so many dopes displaying their latent misogyny (“touching comes with the territory” and other such grossness) while fumbling to defend him. And feminists paying more attention to one salacious Daily Mail scandal than wider issues of women facing institutionalised, faith-sanctioned discrimination.

        The timing of the attacks wasn’t simply suspicious. It’s a smear clear as day. I was dragged into a twitter debate with someone purporting to have been a big fan of MN’s but set up the account a few hours before the story dropped. It was so blatant – the guy’s two tweets were a general one about loving the Lib Dems and another congratulating MN on Radical (which garnered the usual #solidarity reply). He then let loose with some #sleazemaajid abuse. A screengrab of this turnaround has been doing the rounds as evidence of MN’s own supporters turning on him. When I suggested that the account was fake, the owner gleefully pointed out that it existed before the furore. Which indicates to me that this attack has been carefully co-ordinated which is really quite scary. When dealing with such ruthless and social-media-savvy enemies it’s no wonder MN has got to be careful. And in the context of all that, surely the claims of the witnesses start to fray even more (beyond the hypocrisy of a Muslim strip club owner preaching piety).

        One other thought I had was that the video is apparently cut down from half an hour of footage. If that’s the worst they could find, it looks to me to be pretty harmless. Reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Homer is outed as a sexual predator in an edited video (I do know this is more than simply a case of looking for a gummy bear but still). I don’t have much experience with lap-dancing, but I know more than I’m proud to admit about being very drunk in noisy places. That can involve some touching while speaking to make sure you’ve got the person’s attention. And over half an hour, it seems he barely did that. I’m no fan of lap dancing clubs, but the groping and harassment aspect of this story seems pretty baseless to me. But I also reckon he needs to tread carefully in case those who’ve organised this have another (media-manipulating) card to play.

        Anyway I hope that both of you can forgive and move on. As MN pointed out in that oddly prescient video interview from just before the Mail published, his temperament might not be completely suited to party politics. But he’s a vital voice and I hope he still has much to contribute. And I’ll continue to read your assessments with interest. Apologies for the length of the ramble; I’m useless at being succinct. Or remembering the relevant George Bernhard Shaw quote about that.

        Oh and I liked this tweet from Alaa al-Ameri: “Newsflash: Man professing liberal values apparently lives by them.”

      • Thanks for your balanced comment.

        The trolling by ringleader Dilly is one reason the statement of denial would have been better at the weekend.

        I am amazed come Monday midday Maajid still has no advice when the Mail story could impact beyond his campaign.

        I fail to see how asking for clarity is disappointing by him. It’s a fair question for a blogger to ask as you recognise.

        Whilst Maajid seems disappointed that I think he needs to reply to such allegations – which is politically naive of course he does as a candidate – I think it is the pressure of the moment saying I’m in danger of joining lynch mobs etc.

        Hopefully he will reflect that was a bit out of order for someone that supports his counter extremism efforts.

  7. Daz K

    As far as I am aware, none of the women involved have made any complaints, nobody has broken the law and if his behaviour on the nights was out of order I’m sure he would have been straight out of the door, the only complaints seem to be coming from a Muslim strip-club owner who seems to have a beef with Maajid’s position, and the usual clique of Islamists and zealots who tried to oust Maajid over cartoons.

    There are people (who usually couldn’t give two hoots regarding women’s rights) deliberately whipping this up, just look at the people who are responding to your tweets attacking Maajid. Quite frankly I have no qualms with anyone visiting a stripper and especially on their stag night, sex and the sex industry is a natural part of the human experience, suppressing sexual desire in a society has profound effects. Maajid Nawaz has never professed an air of piety (unlike many of his detractors), so why now is he being placed on a pedestal as a stalwart of proper Islamic behaviour? Why is it apparently OK for a Muslim to own a strip joint but not visit one?

    I’m quite shocked you have jumped on this bandwagon to be honest, John. The fact this was sat on for months by a club owner with strong opinion on Maajid (who did nothing about this alleged harassment on the night or immediately after), peddled by the right wing press in the run up to a general election and doubled down on by Islamists, demagogues, over zealous feminists and a lynch mob who tried to get this man de-selected (and worse) over some cartoons makes me err on the side that this is a deliberately orchestrated smear campaign that someone of your rational sensitivities should see right through.

    • I’m not on any bandwagon or on a personality cult pilgrimage either. As my piece makes clear I suspect this is a smear campaign. The allegation happened Friday night. It is reasonable to ask for a personal denial in a tweet Monday morning which we could make public by retweeting.

      I have had enough of seeing people I care about being trolled, humiliated and forced to make statements themselves about this issue, which has nothing to do with them, while Maajid Nawaz cannot himself publicly deny the allegation himself. Would have helped quite a few people out.

      Instead he proclaims disappointment at my asking for a denial. Like I said, I am not a cult follower. It’s a perfectly legitimate thing for a blogger to ask.

      Plenty of people will draw their own conclusions he was not prepared to deny allegations without first seeking advice. I still believe in innocent till proven guilty – this needs resolving and over 48 hours is a long time in social media to hear no denial.

      Also I would point out that not reporting harassment is not the same thing as it not taking place. That is why a public denial sooner rather than later is important, on all allegations.

      This is being rational rather than partisan. This is the political reality for a parliamentary candidate. If you want me to be a shrill for anyone, I am not going to play that guy. Just make sure that is not you either.

      • Daz K

        Again, as I asked you on Twitter, who has made allegations and of what? That really matters.

        This isn’t about the cult of personality at all, it is about demanding a statement from someone over a trivial issue to appease the sentiments of a clutch of hysterical zealots. What exactly do you need him to deny?

      • No it’s so anyone thinking of voting for Maajid Nawaz can see the statement rather than just read the Daily Mail. Sooner the better.

        We have resolved this between ourselves on twitter if you check out my time line right now.

  8. Pingback: Maajid Nawaz Issues Statement On Daily Mail Strip Club Allegations | Homo economicus' Weblog

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