Following a huge leak of documents to the anti-racism campaign group Hope not Hate, subsequently shared with Sky News, it has now transpired that Baroness Cox, despite receiving funding, albeit indirectly, from an American organisation run by evangelical philanthropists with links to orthodox Christianity and anti-Islamic activists, has failed to declare financial interests, raising questions about her integrity.
Breach of rules
It is not just the crossbench peer failed to abide by the Code of Conduct for Members of the House of Lords by not registering the support received from the non-profit-making company Equal and Free Limited, for whose coffers monies came from the other side of the pond, being used to pay for her parliamentary researcher, but also failed to provide information on her being an unpaid director for the self-same entity.
Baroness Cox attributed her failure to register the support from Equal and Free Limited to an “oversight”, stating that an amendment to her register of interests had been made. Neil Watson, a British journalist, commented on the issue with a fury that the scribbler of these lines has no recollection of discerning in previous communications with him: “Her unreasonableness and toxic religiosity have always risen eyebrows, but her lack of integrity is a different question, and the recently-leaked astonishing documents appear to indicate she may well also be a crook of some sort.”
The self-same documents also revealed the minutes of regular meetings convened by Baroness Cox on the parliamentary estate and attended by controversial critics of Islam, which began in 2013 under the name “The New Issues Group (NIG) and have continued up to the current point in time.
Although the crossbench peer described the NIG as a meeting of people who support the aims of her private member’s bill, first introduced in 2011, with a self-declared intention of “protecting Muslim women in Britain from Sharia law”, the convocations held therein indicate a close collaboration with far-right Islamophobes, including Anne Marie Water, who in 2016 established the UK branch of the anti-Islamic group Pegida, former UKIP spokesperson Alan Craig, Tommy Robinson, a founder of the anti-Muslim English Defence League and other egregious figures of the same ilk.
This secretive entity also included Baroness Cox’s key ally, former UKIP leader Malcolm Pearson, an independent member of the House of Lords, who is above racism, but known for a strong anti-Islamic bent which he has been reasonably successful in moulding in boilerplate language.
And it was the mishap of the latter that has been critical to public exposure. This was despite the closely-guarded secrecy of the meetings under the aegis of the NIG, due to an inadvertent technical failure by Malcolm Person, who sent an email to the group members, failing to bcc and causing everyone to see the list. There seems to be serious concerns over how the NIG may have influenced the legislative process by “writing questions to be asked in the Lords”, with the minutes of a November 2013 meeting suggesting that Anne-Marie Waters “was asked if she would help draft a question for Caroline Cox to ask” in the Upper Chamber of the House. When asked to comment on this, the usually garrulous crossbench peer preferred not to answer.
Middle-wit purveyor of Armenophile soundbites
Back to the point on the influence of excessive religiosity and dogmatically-held beliefs in the politics of Baroness Cox; the trouble engulfing her is to do neither with her faith, which is a matter of personal choice, nor with the fact that her publicly-known convictions have been informed by her preferred reading of Christianity. The secular inquisition, visibly applied by some layers of the British media against Kate Forbes, a member of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) and Tim Farron, a former Lib-Dem leader, who are both evangelical Christians, has been largely detestable along the way.
Baroness Cox’s situation is, however, different. Her faith has not just informed her political creeds, but defined them on the basis of rigid “rights” and “wrongs” or “goods” and “bads”, without a free inquiry, attributing a spirit of zealousness and ultimately rendering her a preacher of bigotry. This particular moment has revealed itself rather explicitly in her steadfast and consistent support in favour of Armenia against Azerbaijan. A nurse and social scientist by intention and Baroness “by astonishment”, as she once described herself in an interview with Former Deputy Prime Minister of Australia John Anderson, Baroness Cox has long maintained a view that “a little Armenian enclave called Nagorno-Karabakh, part of Ancient Armenia, that Stalin cut off and stuck in Azerbaijan” is a priority issue for her.
This is a clichéd Armenian view that she embraced wholeheartedly, buying in all the pseudo-horror stories fed into her, without any examination and daring to doubt. This is a case of how religion, once held not as a source of spiritual enlightening but as a sole basis for political choices, can poison everything, distorting fairness. Cox described her former trips to Karabakh, a sovereign Azerbaijani territory, as being “illegal but shameless”, revealing how far she is able to encroach on international law for the sake of advancing her whim.
The net effect of Baroness Cox’s uncompromising religious fervour on her judgment in relation to the Karabakh subject has rendered her a middle-wit purveyor of Armenophile soundbites across the globe and as a renowned Azerbaijanophobe. This is solely attributable to her understanding of what being faithful to the teachings of the Bible constitutes and how determinative they should be in pursuit of political aims.