Time for Labour to root out the rotten politics of race in the Tower Hamlets party

by Rob Marchant

It was with a heavy heart that Labour Uncut uncovered a little-reported nugget from seasoned east end politics commentator Ted Jeory: the expulsion of five Tower Hamlets councillors from the Labour party.

Actually, no. It was rather with delighted surprise and relief.

At last.

One of the councillors, Shahed Ali, tried to compare their floor-crossing – to join the non-Labour cabinet of independent, Respect-backed mayor Lutfur Rahman – with the failure of Dan Hodges and Alan Sugar (neither of whom are elected politicians, incidentally) to endorse Ken Livingstone.

And where Ali lost all credibility, as Jeory points out, was with his somewhat risible cry of “racism”. Ah yes, it was nothing to do with the councillors’ abject disloyalty: they were being picked on because they happened to be Bengali Muslims. Of course.

The harsh realpolitik is that Labour could not expel these councillors before the mayorals, because then they might have had to expel someone else who campaigned openly for Rahman – one Ken Livingstone.

This latest episode in the colourful history of Tower Hamlets Labour highlights not only the level to which party discipline nationally has diminished, but also how Labour is struggling to retain control over its local party in the east end.

It’s as if a small corner of the party had mutated, like in some bad sci-fi flick, and taken on a life of its own outside Labour.

This is not a criticism of long-suffering party staff, constrained by the political direction and resources they are given: nor of the many decent people in the local party, or its decent MPs such as Jim Fitzpatrick or Rushanara Ali.

But, for over a decade, the local Tower Hamlets party has suffered from a series of ignominies, from the vote-rigging scandals of the 2000s to the extreme of today: the birth of a strange echo of the rogue Labour Groups of the 1980s, complete with corruption and incompetence, being in charge of one of its heartland councils.

The only differences in this case are that the politics are a different flavour from the “loony left” days of Derek Hatton in Liverpool; and that the party affiliation on the ballot paper is now “Independent” and not Labour.

Aside from that, the problem is the same: and Labour cannot escape its responsibility for what has happened. Without the Labour party, Rahman would never have had the political platform to become mayor in the first place. This is a monster we created.

While we might debate the multiple factors which may have led to the current situation in Tower Hamlets, among them would probably be: our tendency to believe that self-styled community elders actually speak for communities and the turning of a blind eye to how they secure votes; the party’s recent unthinking acceptance, backed up by its contorted selections process, that a constituency dominated by an ethnic community should invariably select an MP from that community, further fuelling a divisive politics centred around race; a dismal failure by party and government to wipe out electoral fraud in both party and governmental elections and the threatening of those who uncover it; the mixed messages Labour has sent, ever since Livingstone’s re-admittance in 2004, to rule-flouters everywhere; and its historical, innate squeamishness about challenging individuals who happen to come from ethnic minorities, lest it be open to charges of racism itself – a weakness we can see Ali and other Rahman cohorts being quick to try and probe.

Instead of aiming for a form of politics which is colour-blind to race, what we have done is alternately coddled and cajoled the ethnic communities with members in this and other inner-city parties with a nod and a wink, saying that we are happy to leave them to their own devices; that we understand that things are “different” in their communities. In the end, that unthinking assumption is simply the racism of low expectations.

On the one hand we treat each “community” as a homogeneous mass, which they are clearly not, and try and pander to the ideas, mores and prejudices of its presumed leaders; on the other, as Atul Hatwal identified in the wake of Bradford West:

“Labour has spent two years since the general election agonising about Mrs.Duffy, Englishness and what are euphemistically called “white working class issues”. Well, congratulations, this is the result.”

In other words, we find that the people we have most alienated are the good people of those same communities.

And, in all this time we have been attempting it, we have yet successfully to reform the politics of Tower Hamlets. In fact, they have got demonstrably worse, not better: a pre-requisite to the mere existence of an independent administration is that there has been a colossal failure on the part of the major parties. It is surely time to rethink our strategy in the east end or, better still: our whole dialogue with ethnic minorities.

There are times in politics, as Neil Kinnock would surely testify, when, in order to save the body politic, you need shock treatment. To make it work, the sorting out required may well require the kind of relentless rooting out of wrongdoing in the party that his staff carried out in the 1980s. To send a message to the rest of the local parties in London and elsewhere that the slide into chaos of Tower Hamlets will not be tolerated elsewhere. It would require significant time, focus and resources.

Or we can continue to sweep it under the carpet, knowing that it will one day come back, bigger than before, as Militant did to Kinnock; ultimately threatening the party’s very existence. And that is if the dangerous dalliance of some in the party with groups such as Respect and the Islamic Forum Europe does not do that first.

We have made a start: this could be the first, modest step in neutralising this caustic mix of politics, race, special treatment and electoral fraud. Livingstone, the great protector of this kind of politics, is not gone, but he is much weaker. The time is now.

Rob Marchant is an activist and former Labour Party manager who blogs at The Centre Left


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31 Responses to “Time for Labour to root out the rotten politics of race in the Tower Hamlets party”

  1. Dan McCurry says:

    I can’t remember a more offensive, nasty and prejudiced post than this.

    Rob Marchant seems proud to be hateful. He actually opens with a line that mocks his “heavy heart” then immediately speak to his “delight”. This coming from a man who has nothing to do with Tower Hamlets. I wonder if he’s even been there or met the people he’ speaking about?

    Lutfur Rahman was kicked out due to politics, Rob. That includes Jim appearing on Despatches and describing a plot to infiltrate Labour with radical Islam. No one in Tower Hamlets Labour Party continues to pursue this line, including everyone who benefited from Lutfur’s expulsion.

    The reason Lutfur stayed out of the party is because of the precedent of bringing him back in. They knew they’d got it wrong, but didn’t want to lose discipline by changing their minds so publicly.

    Shahid Ali wasn’t one of the ones who was originally expelled, it was much later that he left. He believed the Lutfur decision was wrong and he wanted to show solidarity with those treated unjustly. He didn’t expect to later find himself expelled, and has said some silly things on receiving that news.

    In the future Rob, perhaps you can try to show a bit more compassion and a little less hate, then won’t look such a fool as you do for posting something as stupid as this.

    By the way, Lutfur has managed to keep EMA in Tower Hamlets. I’m saying that in case you want to argue that he’s created a hotbed of radicalism with his term in office.

    What have you done lately, Rob? Oh, yeah. You wrote a hateful post about people you’ve never met. Congratulations.

  2. swatantra says:

    There is no doubt that mistakes were made in the past, and the analogy has been aptly drawn with the rock solid working class areas which returned ‘Labour’ no matter what,where Labour votes were weighed not counted, as the saying goes. That was the past. Now, these kinds of contituencies need extra careful scrutiny and watching that corruption is stamped on and out. For ‘ predominatelyworking class areas’ now read ‘predominately BME areas’.
    We need to challenge vigourously the practices of so-called ‘Labour supporters’ and ‘Cllrs’ and ‘MPs’ that do the Party nothing but harm. We don’t want to see the politics of the subcontinent or the developing countries on the streets of London or Bradford or Manchester thank you. Its not what I understand by ‘diversity’ or ‘multiculturalism’ or’equality’ all of which I am in favour of. So Rob’s article is a timely reminder.

  3. TH observer says:

    Pompous and inaccurate nonsense. The lies about Rahman being an Islamist were used cynically (thanks to Gilligan and other useful idiots) to remove him from his elected position as Labour candidate without due process.

    You are right that it is time to rethink ‘our’ approach in TH. Time to get rid of time-servers like Fitzpatrick and Abbas, time to stop thinking you in your ivory tower know better, and listen to the voters and Labour Party members.

    BTW Kinnock taking on the Militant made things worse, not better. Attacking popular Labour Party activists on live TV funnily enough didn’t enhance the Labour vote.

  4. @Dan: I’m sorry you find this hateful and nasty. But, a few points.

    1. You talk about showing “compassion”. Compassion for what? Failure? If your counterargument is that the national party should just leave TH to sort itself out, they’ve had ten years to do that. It hasn’t worked.

    2. You do not need to be part of TH politics to comment on it. It may surprise you to know that those outside the tiny world of TH politics find it incredible what has happened, and that it only ever seems to get worse. By the way, yes, I have been there frequently, and I have also met the people in the local party. In fact I lived about 5 minutes’ walk from TH for seven years.

    3. If your use of the word “prejudiced” indicates racial prejudice, then please spell out what you mean. If it is, I think most people who know me in the Labour Party will tell you that you are quite, quite wrong. Perhaps if we spent less time getting offended by things and more time looking at them with a detached eye, we might get somewhere.

    4. Please, please don’t tell us that no member of Tower Hamlets Labour has ever had any links whatsoever to radical Islam, because no-one will believe you. I suppose Jim Fitzpatrick is hateful, too, for pointing this out?

  5. @swatantra: quite.

    @TH Observer: sorry, but cowardly people who don’t write their names don’t deserve responses.

  6. TH observer says:

    How convenient. I don’t want to use my name when writing from a work computer during work time, so you can ignore any counter-arguments. Genius.

    Nobody has yet produced any credible evidence whatsoever for the allegations against Rahman. If the LP regional board weren’t such gaffe-prone control freaks we would now have a Labour mayor.

    The fault is theirs.

  7. Dan McCurry says:

    @Rob
    Shahed Ali is a cockney, local, east ender, except when he attends the mosque as a Bangladeshi and speaks in a different language, and of a different culture. I don’t know what you imagined him to be but if your eyes were closed when you met him, you’d never guess he had brown skin.

    He took a risk when he joined Lutfur and he knew that. The party then took the view that we can’t have people switching parties whenever they want. Lutfur’s too proud to reapply to come back, and the group think is “all for one and one for all”. So the th reason they haven’t applied to return is stubbornness.

    None of these people are anything other than centre left public servants. None of them are fanatical. Lutfur is religious when it suits him politically.

    If you want to take joy in someone else’s misery, try doing in your own community not mine. I haven’t called you a racist, but you are an irritant. Mind your own business in future.

  8. Mike Homfray says:

    It would be interesting to hear the other side of the argument, but certainly anyone who thinks that ‘colour-blindness’ is at all realistic or desirable isn’t someone whose ideas on this are worth very much time

  9. anonymous says:

    @Rob

    “@TH Observer: sorry, but cowardly people who don’t write their names don’t deserve responses.”

    How very pathetic of you rob to suddenly start moaning about this, I’ve read numerous responses you have made to anonymous comments – generally they’re the ones that agree with you.

  10. Jay says:

    As a British Asian Labour supporter, I just want to register how offensive and outrageous the first comment in this thread by Dan McMurray is. Describing what is a principled and important piece by Rob as being motivated by prejudice, suggestive of racial prejudice, is utterly shameful and an example of the knee jerk mindlessness that has prevented debate around these issues for so long. This rhetoric has only served to entrench the problem. Shame, shame, shame on you Dan McMurray.

    And if you take issue with this post I won’t call you racially prejudiced Mr McMurray. I won’t stoop down to your condescending, mindless level.

  11. @Dan: you seem to think this is some vendetta against Shahed Ali – it’s not (although I don’t really understand the relevance about whether he speaks Cockney or Bangladeshi – I judge people by their actions, not their voices or their skin colour.

    “He took a risk when he joined Lutfur and he knew that. The party then took the view that we can’t have people switching parties whenever they want.”

    Just listen to yourself: “the party took the view”, like it was some kind of thing to be negotiated! In reality, in any political party, crossing the floor is automatically career suicide in your chosen party. That’s the rules: end of.

    Reapplication: your reason seems rather naive. Rahman won’t reapply until he thinks the answer will be yes, which is hopefully never. It’s nothing to do with pride.

    “If you want to take joy in someone else’s misery, try doing in your own community not mine. I haven’t called you a racist, but you are an irritant. Mind your own business in future.”

    But this is everyone’s business, Dan. You may not like it, but Tower Hamlets does not exist in a vacuum. What happens there affects the party nationally. If it’s a mess, that reflects badly on the party, although you might not care about that. You perhaps think no-one is to blame, it “just happened”. And with that attitude of “nothing to see here – leave it to us”, it will continue to happen.

    Ten years, Dan. A local party in chaos and an independent at the Town Hall.

    Don’t you think it’s time someone did something, or shall we all hang on a few years more?

  12. Robbie Scott says:

    Dan Hodges and Alan Sugar campaigned for a non-Labour candidate. If we’re going to be consistent then they ought to be subjected to the same procedures as anybody else. I’m not sure Shahed compared his floor crossing to this issue, he compared being expelled for allegedly campaigning against a Labour party candidate in a bi-election to Dan Hodges and Alan Sugar doing something comparable. You’ve set out a bit of a straw man there.

    Why should our politics be colour blind to race, politics isn’t colour blind to race or gender or sexual orientation for that matter. I really don’t want to be a member of some blue-red purple sludge party that doesn’t respond to discrimination as it is, that’s like saying we should aim for a politics that’s blind to class. It’s not very realistic.

    Things are different in all community’s not just minority communities. You think it’s progressive to promote some sort of sameness? The London riots should underscore that, add institutionalised racism, the disproportionate way cuts fall on minority communities the need to get social services to minority groups etc.

    “In the end, that unthinking assumption is simply the racism of low expectations”.

    Low expectations of and from whom? Low expectations of ethnic minority candidates? What sort of ethnic minority candidates would you like to see? I really don’t understand what you’re getting at. Are you saying that we expect different things from different candidates? Why is that a bad thing? Why do we have so many graduates and middleclass professionals in local government? It’s not a question of lowering the bar there’s a need to have a diverse pool of people to draw from who will have different experiences and different ways of being effective.

    In one paragraph you criticise the party for believing that “self-styled community leaders actually speak for local communities”. Then a few paragraphs down you cite Atul Hatwal’s analysis of the Bradford West Election. Who cares what Atual Hatwal thinks? The reason that post has extra traction and I’d go further and say the reason you quoted it is because he is a member of an ethnic minority.

    This is exactly what Diane Abbot meant in her tweet about playing divide and rule. Too many people in the party like playing good ethnic bad ethnic and assume Labour party voters will just roll over and vote accordingly. There’s a growing body of evidence that suggest they’re no longer prepared to do that. It’s not a question of treating people as a homogenous mass it’s about recognizing that in many communities issues and concerns which affect them as a consequence of their minority status are not operationalised by the sorts of people the party likes to promote. Imran Hussain yes mssah types aren’t really going to cut it anymore and i don’t think that’s a bad thing.

    So if a group of people maybe for completely self-interested reasons start speaking the lingo then they’re likely to find traction it’s really that simple. That’s not patronising or racist it’s called representing your constituents and it’s something the Labour Party should be doing for working class white communities too. That’s exactly what Denis MacShane is talking about at the moment with his all working class short list proposals, Although he just talks about a class element which is tantamount to the same thing.

    “The party’s recent unthinking acceptance, backed up by its contorted selections process, that a constituency dominated by an ethnic community should invariably select an MP from that community”.

    What so white folk don’t vote for these MPs too? You do realise you’re talking about 15 out of 650 MPs right ? I can’ think of a single constituency which is dominated by 1 single ethnic minority group. It’s as if you’re suggesting they’re winning on ethnic minority votes which they aren’t.

    If the members in a CLP vote for people who come from the same community as them isn’t that democracy? What’s the alternative? I suppose that’s called special measures. Can you give me an example of an all-ethnic minority short list? I can give you plenty of examples of shortlist with no ethnic minority candidates (that would be most of them).

  13. test-test says:

    Dan McCurry and “TH Observer” both show how Tower Hamlets Labour is, sadly, infested with people who’ll excuse anything if it calls itself “progressive” even when it’s opposed to anything Labour is meant to stand for. Lutfur Rahman and his gang are a bunch of vote-farming, communalist, Islamist supremacists and conniving little chisellers who have nothing in common with democratic socialist values.

    The Labour Party in the Town Hall frequently find themselves voting with the Conservative Group and why? Is it because they (TH Labour) are reactionary sell-outs, Tory-lite? No it’s because the Tories and Labour are the only two decent democratic parties (the sole Lib Dem, grasping after a payday before she inevitably loses her seat in 2014, votes with the Islamists and Respect) and have more in common than they do with the arrogance and the communalism of Lutfur Rahman.

    Oh, and Shahed Ali didn’t join Lutfur because he wanted to show “solidarity” with the unjustly wronged (oh! poor Lutfur!), he went because he got a Special Responsibility Allowance for going. £10k a year can be a great lubricant towards finding one’s principles.

  14. TH observer says:

    “Lutfur Rahman and his gang are a bunch of vote-farming, communalist, Islamist supremacists and conniving little chisellers”

    And here you have in a nutshell why so many people in the Labour Party have forever lost the support of voters in Tower Hamlets. Lies, smears, unsubstantiated allegations and hypocrisy, from the same people who unsuccessfully rigged selections and farmed ballots to try and prevent Lutfur from becoming the Labour candidate.

    These people are only only ones who need to be removed in order for the Labour Party to regain its reputation and success in TH.

  15. Mike Homfray says:

    If the Labour group are voting with the Tories, that should ring far more alarm bells than any inhabitant of the fantasy world of Marchant and his Zionist cronies. Robbie: sounds as if you have provided an excellent counterblast.

  16. U Nimpressed says:

    “the mixed messages Labour has sent, ever since Livingstone’s re-admittance in 2004, to rule-flouters everywhere;” Surely you mean “Since Tony Blair employed Roger Liddle as a special adviser in 1997” No?

  17. By Zionist I assume you mean Jewish, Mike? You should be careful with the language you use. You’ll end up sounding like some of the very people on the left who have got into bed with the extremists. As Rob has described.

  18. @RobbieScott: I was with you until you started defending Diane Abbott’s appalling tweet “White people love playing divide and rule”, which drew widespread condemnation from MPs of all parties.

    @Ben: it’s funny how some people can bring everything round to Palestine, eh? Even when it’s patently nothing to do with it. Personally I’ve never been sure what Zionist actually means, but apparently I am it, because I have criticised Tower Hamlets’ and Lutfur Rahman’s way of operation. Figure that one out if you will.

  19. @Jay: thank you so much. Good to hear the voice of a British Asian Labour supporter – sometimes I feel party members like to second-guess, that everyone who might classify themselves as Asian would be automatically on the side of Lutfur Rahman in this debate. It’s highly patronising, and possibly much worse than that, to assume that people vote along ethnic lines.

  20. swatantra says:

    Before we even start talking abourt All Working Class Shortlists (Dennis McShane) lets have All BME Shortlists; they are long overdue. BME members still get a raw deal when it comes to selection for winnable seats. And lets also go along with Open Primaries (Peter Watt). Too often selections are seen as a stitch up by the backroom boys in the Party. It may not be entirely the case but the perception persists and its a perception very difficult to remove. Open Primaries still mean that a candidate would have to have some reasonable history and loyalty to the Party before they could put up against the automatons that the Party Machine choose to put up.
    As to the turncoat Rahman lets end this wrangle about whether to let him back in or not. Its pointless; he’s made his bed and must lie in it as an Independent; he’s had his cake and must eat it as an independent, and the CLP should be concentrating on attacking his record as an Independent and booting him out next time.

  21. Robbie Scott says:

    @ Rob Marchant

    I didn’t defend the beginning of Diane’s tweet, which is why I provided a half quote. People can delete the white people bit if it makes them more comfortable it’s the divide and rule aspect of the tweet, which is relevant to this topic. Had she said white middle class or the establishment few would have raised an eyebrow. That’s what she meant.

    This sort of divide and rule affects white working class people as much as anybody else. The party ignores them assuming they’ve got nobody else to vote for then when things go belly up, Tower Hamlets, Bradford, Barking and Dagenham etc we go and target them to save the day. How many of them do we select for council seats or have in positions of influence in the party? What has the party done for working class white communities (as a community)? Being white and working class is as much a minority status in terms of access to services jobs and training as an ethnic minority status. Minority status doesn’t just refer to how large a group is it also concerns the marginalisation and powerlessness of groups to effect change.

    Diane is the perfect example of what I was arguing. She was our first black female MP and we left her on the backbenches for decades because she didn’t play the good ethnic role like David Lammy, Chuka Umunna Dawn Butler etc. After the leadership election and as soon as she falls into line she gets promoted? She kept her job after a PR disaster because she fell into line. The party wants diversity but diversity on their terms.

    I wouldn’t even disagree with some of the things test-test has said but even if you accept all of it you’ve got to admit that it’s really strange how we can all see the flaws in these independents now, which nobody seemed to pick up on during the selection process administered by London Region. This has been going on now for 10 years why haven’t we managed to connect (have we even tried?) with people who are not susceptible to this sort of politics? Barking and Dagenham reconnected with white working class communities in response to the BNP over a 2year period and now they have a 100% Labour controlled council. Why aren’t we doing the same thing?

    Many of the independents may be suspect but I don’t think you get anywhere by criticising people for being organised. I think it’s up to people who have a problem with them to organise themselves effectively.

    @ swatantra Why can’t we do both ? What happens when you get the wrong result in an open primary lol?

  22. Tom Rigby says:

    @Robbie: spot on.

    Personally I could never vote for Abbott, because she fails to practice what she preaches. She wasn’t prepared to send her kid to a school with other black kids, rather she wanted him educated with the ‘establishment few’.

    That said, she’s been great on anti-racism stuff and has a track record going back to time immemorial. It’s disgusting that white middle-class people like Marchant are happy for her to be tied with the ‘racism’ brush. It’s the most insulting thing you can say to a black person.

    And you’re right in that the divide and rule applies to other underprivileged groups. Take for example the Irish immigrants who came to Britain fleeing the famine. The establishment were happy to stir up tensions between them and the indigenous white English, since it shored up their position and stopped either group attacking those who really had privilege.

    Reminds me of an old joke: a white upper-class guy, a white working-class guy and a black guy sit at a table with a plate of twelve cookies on it. The upper-class guy takes eleven and then turns to the white working-class guy and says ‘look out mate, the black guy wants your cookie.’

    As for open primaries, no, no no! I thought Marchant valued the emphasis on Labour loyalty! Evidently not, or he wouldn’t be happy for Labour candidates to be chosen by anti-Labour voters. If anti-Labour people don’t like the candidates that Labour choose, they can vote for other candidates at the election. If we let them replace them with people they like, what’s the point in being Labour at all?

  23. Steve says:

    What exactly is Rahman’s crime, apart from being a former member of the Labour Party who is now backed by an organisation he is not a member of?

    Rob writes: “Without the Labour party, Rahman would never have had the political platform to become mayor in the first place. This is a monster we created.”

    Well, exactly the same could be said of Tony Blair. How many L.P. M.P.s would have a political career without the Labour Party?

    There’s something not quite right here.

  24. @TomRigby “white middle-class people like Marchant”. Well done. Good to see no futile class hatred there, then.

  25. John P Reid says:

    ALan Sugar didn’t back a Non la9bur candidate he jsut said he wasn’t going to vote for ken, Regarding Dan Hodges Backing Boris and voting laobur for the assembly, Don’t yuo know he said In very samll letter undrneath his endorsemnt for BORIS ,but only for your second choice and don’t forget to vote for whoever isthe labour person for your first choice, SAME as Ken did when He backed Lufthur

    regarding your view of Abbott,-and assume Labour party voters will just roll over and vote accordingly. did Ken say he had the Muslim vote (alright muslims aren’t a race), but as trevor Philips pointed out in 1999 Laobur is institutionally racist as it Automatically assumes BME’s vote labour, so labour assuming that it has the Muslim Asain vote in Tower hamlets is just as racist

    Mike homfray where’s your proof that Rob has “Zionist cormies”

    TH OBSERVER, what do you mean that expelling milant wasn’t productive for labour, we gotr 8.4 million votes in 1983, by Kinnock taking on miltant we went up to 11.2 million in 1992, reember David Owen said of Kinnock 1985 Speech he knew it was all over for the SDP as when He left to form the SDP he took 3.4 million votes with him, they only came back after the Miltant explusion when htey saw Laobur was a demcartic socialsit party agian which is what it was set up to be, not a Trot party,

    reagrding Lufhur leaving Labour, he wasn’t selected as the Candidate for Tower hamlets within the rules, he left he wasn’t expleled becisue they thought he was a radical Muslim

    Dan mcurry-They knew they’d got it wrong, but – we didn’t get it wrong the way he’s behaved it was right to not select him for labours choice, livingstone bahaved O.K that’s why he was let back in, but he didn’t appeal to the leectorate in 2008 or 2012 the way Boris did as Boris got 1.5 million votes on second choices in 2008 comapred to Ken getting 880,000 in 2000 when Ken was first elected on second choices

    U Nimpressed -regarding roger liddle he left for thre SDP returned, and brought million sof extra votes with him, but Did livingstone ever bring back votes to laobur I don’t think so as I sadi livingstone got 1.02 million votes when he lost standing for mayor in 2008 and 992,000 in 2012, more than he got when he stood as An independent

  26. @Steve: two points.

    1. Tony Blair has not, to my knowledge, crossed the floor and stood as an independent against Labour.

    2. Perhaps you can explain to me why Lutfur Rahman was asked who signed his nomination papers he refused to comment?

    Perhaps you think it is appropriate for the IFE to be backing (nominally) Labour candidates. I do not, and I think many others share this view.

  27. Tom Rigby says:

    @Rob Marchant

    2. That assertion is false. The full transcript of the documentary you supposedly quote from is available on Gilligan’s blog. Not once are nomination papers mentioned.

    As for IFE its President was Mohammed Abdul Bari, the last head of the MCB who the government for many years happily did business with and a longstanding Labour activist. Do you think he is some kind of Islamic fundamentalist?

  28. @TomRigby: In fact you are quite right, my memory served me badly on the interview content. The matter of the nomination papers came from Gilligan’s blog, and is simply that the same name appears on the nomination papers as that of a key IFE activist. Perhaps you could clear up for me whether or not it is the same person?

    And the lawyerly answers in the Rahman interview were on *other* questions – for example when asked about the large number of new members who joined just before a Labour selection meeting, he answered that it was because they were “very politicized”. Not very convincing stuff, is it?

    Finally your friend Abdul Bari has been part of inviting a number of anti-Semitic preachers such as Sheikh Saad al-Beraik to the East London Mosque, and is an advisor (along with Islamic Jihad operative Bashir Nafi) to EMRC, an organisation also strongly linked with terrorists Hamas. I do not know whether this makes Abdul Bari a fundamentalist, what I do know is that he seems to quite like the company of fundamentalists.

    So no, I do not think that he is the kind of person we should be welcoming into TH Labour Party.

  29. Mike Homfray says:

    Well, I don’t think those who excuse the occupation of Palestine and offer support to the illegal boundaries of present-day Israel are the kind of person we should welcome into the Labour party. But that isn’t a barrier to membership, so I can’t see how you can justify equally random barriers to those who ‘like the company of fundamentalists’

  30. Tom Rigby says:

    @Rob Marchant
    I’m afraid you’re wrong again, Rob.
    The nomination papers suggestion was nothing to do with IFE that an Abul Hussain who signed was the same Abul Hussain who was a young member of RESPECT. It wasn’t. ‘Abul Hussain’ is akin to ‘John Smith’ in the Bengali community.

    As for people being very politicsed, why not? Close-not ethnic minority communities all over Britain are known for being heavily politicised, and put the white working class to shame in their ethic of participation. That’s why they’re always being accused of take-overs.

    Those people you mention were never invited to preach at the Mosque. They spoke at private functions held by private companies which rented rooms for their events in the London Muslim Centre, the commercial wing next door to the Mosque. Some of them may be deplorable, I agree, but it has nothing to do with Abdul Bari. I think if you call Abdul Bari part of some fundamentalist-sympathetic sect you will find yourself with very few mainstream British Muslims indeed who agree with you.

  31. Tom Rigby says:

    @Rob Marchant
    I’m afraid you’re wrong again, Rob.
    The nomination papers suggestion was nothing to do with IFE, rather the query was whether an Abul Hussain who signed was the same Abul Hussain who was a young member of RESPECT. It wasn’t. ‘Abul Hussain’ is akin to ‘John Smith’ in the Bengali community.

    As for people being very politicsed, why not? Close-not ethnic minority communities all over Britain are known for being heavily politicised, and put the white working class to shame in their ethic of participation. That’s why they’re always being accused of take-overs.

    Those people you mention were never invited to preach at the Mosque. They spoke at private functions held by private companies which rented rooms for their events in the London Muslim Centre, the commercial wing next door to the Mosque. Some of them may be deplorable, I agree, but it has nothing to do with Abdul Bari. I think if you call Abdul Bari part of some fundamentalist-sympathetic sect you will find yourself with very few mainstream British Muslims indeed who agree with you.

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