Minister defends housing tsar Roger Scruton despite row over Islam and homosexuality comments
A Government minister has defended housing tsar Roger Scruton amid calls that he be ousted from his new role over a string of controversial comments.
The writer and intellectual was criticised for a series of past claims he made, including that Islamophobia was a “propaganda word” and that homosexuality was "not normal".
He was also accused of anti-Semitism over comments he made about philanthropist George Soros in a 2014 lecture, where he said: “Many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish, and form part of the extensive networks around the Soros empire.”
Labour has called on the Government to sack him from his post, but Communities Secretary James Brokenshire told MPs he was the "right person" for the job.
He insisted that most of the reporting of Mr Scruton’s past comments are “highly selective, taken completely out of context and distorted to paint an inaccurate picture”.
“I don’t have to agree with Sir Roger to acknowledge this, nor do I have to agree with his views on a number of different issues,” he continued.
“But we live in a free society where people can hold different opinions and I’m proud that we do still live in a society where that remains possible.”
He added: "I continue to believe that Sir Roger is the right person to lead this important work."
Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne said: “If we are going to have a society which welcomes free speech, we should also hold those people to account for what they use this privilege to say.
“We should not consider that the views of these people, because it’s the views of the people that are left silent by the propagation of hateful rhetoric and views that should have no place in the 21st century, let alone be rewarded by a senior government appointment."