POLITICS
10/04/2019 15:30 BST | Updated 10/04/2019 17:39 BST

Housing Czar Sir Roger Scruton Sacked After Calling Chinese People 'Replicas'

Adviser had sparked fresh backlash over comments

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Housing czar Sir Roger Scruton has been sacked after he called Chinese people “replicas” and said Islamophobia was a “propaganda word” invented by extremists.

Professor Scruton, who was appointed last year to advise the government on the design of public buildings, has already attracted criticism for his views on rape and homosexuality.

But he sparked a new backlash after an interview in which he made outspoken comments about China, Islam – and claimed that Jewish-American businessman George Soros runs an “empire” in Hungary.

Referring to China, Scruton told the New Statesman magazine: “They’re creating robots out of their own people… each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing.”

HuffPost UK understands that communities secretary James Brokenshire personally took the decision to dismiss Scruton. 

The philosopher, who only last year was strongly defended by Brokenshire, also defended Hungary’s premier Viktor Orban from charges of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

“The Hungarians were extremely alarmed by the sudden invasion of huge tribes of Muslims from the Middle East.” Islamophobia was a propaganda word “invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to stop discussion of a major issue”.

And Scruton also refused to back off previous remarks about the role of Soros, who has long been a target the anti-Semitic claim that he has a shadowy global influence.

“Anybody who doesn’t think that there’s a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts,” he said.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “Professor Sir Roger Scruton has been dismissed as chairman of the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission with immediate effect, following his unacceptable comments.

“A new chair will be appointed by the Secretary of State, to take this important work forward, in due course.”

Brokenshire was “supported completely” by the prime minister, “just as he supports the PM completely”, one source said.

Shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne MP, said: “Labour called for Roger Scruton to be sacked from the start and the Tories should never have handed him the job given what was known about his disgusting, hateful remarks.

“If his views are unacceptable to the Government now, why were they acceptable when he previously said that date rape is not a crime, that homosexuality is ‘not normal’, that Islamophobia is a ‘propaganda word’, and peddled antisemitic conspiracy theories about George Soros?

“James Brokenshire should apologise for defending Mr Scruton as a ‘champion’ of free speech and for saying our criticism of him was ‘misinformed’ and ‘ill-judged’.

A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn had demanded Scruton’s sacking, while Chinese groups said he should be stripped of his knighthood.

“It’s not the first time he’s said things like this, they are completely unacceptable. Nobody in a public position who makes those kinds of remarks should be in that kind of position,” Corbyn’s spokesman said.

A No.10 spokesman had said earlier “I hadn’t seen those comments. He is an adviser on housing so it doesn’t sound like in those comments he is speaking for the government.”

Sarah Owen, a senior GMB union official and member of Chinese for Labour, had told HuffPost UK: “If this Government is serious about tackling racism, they wouldn’t have Roger Scruton as one of their advisers.

“I’d question the merit and quality of any advice Scruton is giving the Tories - what could they actually be soliciting his views on?

“His anti Semitic and homophobic views, have been compounded with his dehumanizing descriptions of Chinese people.  No one should be rewarded for having such disgraceful views - Roger Scruton should be stripped of his knighthood.”

Last year, when Scruton faced heavy criticism for suggesting that homosexuality was abnormal, Brokenshire strongly defended him.

Describing him as a ‘global authority on aesthetics’ and ’a public intellectual of renown he said Scruton’s comments had been taken out of context.

“I have to say it saddens me that someone who has done so much to champion freedom of speech and freedom of expression should be subject to misinformed ill-judged and very personal attacks of the kind we have seen over the last few days,” Brokenshire said. 

“It saddens me that his views have been so misrepresented, and his character has been smeared.”

Labour’s shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne last November raised a story by HuffPost UK which highlighted that Scruton had once described the neo-fascist National Front as an egalitarian” movement”.

Miqdaaad Versi, of the Muslim Council for Britain, added: “While we welcome the action taken by the government, there are serious questions to answer as to why Mr Scruton was appointed in the first place.

“It is not the first time he has expressed Islamophobic views. This is yet another indication that the Conservative Party has yet to get a grip on Islamophobia. Nothing short of an independent inquiry will do.”