By Paul Goodman
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In February, Kris Hopkins and Lord Janner, the co-Chairman of the putative group, resigned in protest at the proposed engagement of IEngage as its secretariat.
A few days later, a motion proposed at a meeting of the group to drop IEngage failed by a single vote. Instead, its co-Chairmen – Sir Peter Bottomley, Simon Hughes and Jack Straw – were tasked with commissioning a report into IEngage.
Yesterday evening, the group met again, and the Parliamentarians present voted to dispense with the services of IEngage by the whomping majority of some 60 votes to 2.
- I gather that Angie Bray led the charge to do so on the Conservative side, and Hazel Blears (a former Secretary of State with responsibilities in this area) did so from the Labour end.
- The detailed report of the academic commissioned, Chris Allen, is essential reading for anyone interested in IEngage and the tortuous controversies surrounding it.
- This document wasn't widely circulated to Parliamentarians until the day of the meeting itself, which some of those present believe reflected poorly on the co-Chairmen.
- Peter Bottomley, the idiosyncratic Conservative MP and supporter of IEngage, left the meeting before the vote.
- Jack Straw voted to dispatch IEngage, having voted not to last time round.
Now that IEngage has been dispensed with, the group can hopefully move on to draw up an action plan in relation to examing anti-Muslim bigotry and prejudice.
For what it's worth, I think that it now looks for an outside expert to act as a secretariat (as Allen recommends). I've previously argued that the DCLG Select Committee should conduct an investigation.