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THE GOVERNMENT has been criticised for appointing an academic accused of making a controversial statement about Jewish people to chair its new housing commission.
The left-wing Red Roar blog revealed on Tuesday that Sir Roger Scruton, who was announced on Saturday as the chair of the Conservative’s new “Building Better, Building Beautiful” commission, had said in a speech at a Hungarian conference in 2014: “Many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish, and form part of the extensive networks around the Soros Empire.”
Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, has infamously based political campaigns on the supposed threat posed to the country by Mr Soros, a Hungarian-Jewish billionaire and Holocaust survivor.
Mr Orbán has accused Mr Soros of funding those who “support everything that weakens the nation-state” and lambasted him for “the European human rights activism that encourages the refugees” to reach Europe.
Sir Roger also said in the same speech: “As the world knows, indigenous antisemitism still plays a part in Hungarian society and politics, and presents an obstacle to the emergence of a shared national loyalty among ethnic Hungarians and Jews.”
However, Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger tweeted: “An individual who peddles antisemitic conspiracy theories has no place advising government about anything.”
She urged the government to “urgently reconsider his appointment”.
Labour MP Wes Streeting said Communities Secretary James Brokenshire should “remove [Sir Roger] immediately”.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, said: “Professor Sir Roger Scruton, as a long-standing public intellectual, has strong views on a number of issues. He received a knighthood in 2016 and advised the Coalition government on design. His commitment to driving quality in the built environment is well known and he has published extensively on architecture and place, which makes him an excellent candidate for the unpaid chairmanship of the Building Better, Building Beautiful commission.”
Friend of Hungarian PM Orban: Scruton