Southall, April 23, 1979

35 years ago today, a member of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Patrol Group (SPG) killed Blair Peach, a young teacher from New Zealand, who was taking part in an Anti-Nazi League demonstration against a National Front march through Southall. The SPG was a militarized branch of the Met, and the predecessor of the Territorial Support Group, who are no less violent in their methods. Remember Ian Tomlinson?

There were also dozens of injuries, one of those injured was Clarence Baker, a pacifist and the manager of Misty in Roots, who was left in a coma.

Peach’s murderer was never apprehended, tried or convicted. His name is Alan Murray and he now works as a lecturer in corporate responsibility at Sheffield University. He denies murder. Then again, he would. The police always protect their own.

Linton Kwesi Johnson wrote Reggae Fi Peach to tell the story.

Hatful of History has an excellent blog about that day in April 1979. You can read it here.

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Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 51)

Kennite’s been a little quiet of late. He’s been busy moonlighting for Bozza as his unofficial sidekick Cycling Commissioner. But a couple of weeks ago, there was a Panorama expose (sure) of Tower Hamlets Council, which accused its mayor, Lutfur Rahman of doling out council largesse to groups that apparently supported him. When I saw the trailer, I remember thinking, “this looks a lot like Gilligan’s handiwork”. Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised when a series of blogs about Rahman, which repeats Kennite’s stock phrase, “extremist-linked”, recently appeared on Telegraph blogs.

Here’s his blog from 4 April, in which he writes:

In its letter appointing the inspectors, the Department for Communities and Local Government asked them to pay particular attention to, among other things, “the authority’s payment of grants,” a subject we covered on the blog yesterday, and the “transfer of property to third parties.” That’s what today’s blog is about.

Exhibit A is the Old Poplar Town Hall, on the corner of Poplar High Street and Woodstock Terrace. It was the council HQ from 1870 to 1938, until the then Borough of Poplar moved to another town hall (now also abandoned) in Bow Road.

The Poplar High Street building has great historical significance. It was here, in 1921, that radical Labour councillors, led by George Lansbury, began a rebellion against “unfair” rates that resulted in them being sent to prison, and triggered reform of a system that discriminated against poor areas such as Poplar.

Now, however, the Old Poplar Town Hall is part of a rather more worrying redistribution of wealth being practiced by Lutfur Rahman to his associates and friends, such as the Islamic extremist group, the IFE,based at the hardline East London Mosque.

Here he flourishes the heritage card

Remember: the town hall is a large and attractive Victorian building a stone’s throw from Canary Wharf and a few minutes’ walk from a future Crossrail station. It is internally tired but otherwise perfectly usable, and was indeed used as offices by the council. It has 9,803 square feet of space. In 2011, Old Poplar Town Hall was sold by the council to new owners who intend to turn it into a luxury hotel with 25 bedrooms, a restaurant, a bar and two conference suites.

The price? £875,000.

Meanwhile in neighbouring Newham, the council  plans to move out of the 1000 Building in Docklands that it spent millions on and rent it out to Chinese developers. Newham Council has been accused by local residents of wasting money. There’s no mention of this. Why? Because the leader of the council isn’t Bangladeshi.

 In the 3 April blog titled “Lutfur Rahman’s favoritism: the evidence”, Gilligan writes:

Over the next few weeks, this blog will be setting out in detail the truth about Lutfur Rahman, the extremist-linked mayor of Tower Hamlets, and the full evidence against him. I should stress that, over the last four years, all our material about Lutfur and his extremist allies has survived literally hundreds of complaints to Ofcom and the Press Complaints Commission.

The truth? Really? Is that like The Sun’s version of the truth when it reported in 1989 that Liverpool supporters had urinated on their dying fellow supporters and picked their pockets? Kennite also claims that he has the protection of Ofcom and the Press Complaints Commission – the latter of which is run by, guess who? The press.

Naturally, Kennite can’t resist having a swipe at The Guardian’s Dave Hill.

Rahman’s supporters make two main defences: first, that in the words of the Guardian’s Dave Hill, “if Rahman has sinned, how many others are doing so all day, every day in ways that, in the end, differ if at all only in the means and detail?”

Now how’s that for bitchiness? Anticipating the inevitable accusations of racism, he launches a pre-emptive strike on Rahman.

The second defence, inevitably, is to claim that all scrutiny of Rahman is racist – again, without any factual basis. Instead, as I show below, it is Rahman who is practising racial and religious favouritism and it is his ethnicity that has saved him from scrutiny.

The thing is, Rahman has a point: the main reason for Kennite’s pursuit of Rahman is precisely because he isn’t white and happens to be Muslim. Even when the Lib Dems were badly running the council, there wasn’t a peep from Gilligoon or, indeed, any mention of it in any of his blogs for the Telegraph. Admittedly, it was over 20 years ago.  So I suppose he can be forgiven. However, like Kennite, the Lib Dems often played the race card.

Headed ‘Focus’, the new leaflet was produced last month by party activists in the Labour-controlled Wapping ward. It describes the plight of an un-named 74-year-old woman living alone on the fifth floor of a block on possibly the ‘most dangerous estate’ in the area.

The woman, described as ‘Mrs X’, was decorated during the war. She is registered disabled and the lift in her block rarely works. ‘Despite repeated pleas for help,’ the local Labour-controlled ward has not given her a new lock on her front door – ‘it can be pushed open with one hand,’ it says. Her neighbours, also pensioners – one of them, the pamphlet claims, aged 90 – are also living in fear. They have asked for spyholes and latches on their doors but months later the work has yet to be done.

The article is illustrated with a drawing of an obviously black man, snarling with clenched fists. The piece ends with a plea: ‘Is this any way to treat those who endured the Blitz, and risked their lives for our country? Is this the welcome fit for heroes?’

Remember, this was around the time that Tower Hamlets council had acquired a BNP councillor by the name of Derek Beackon. Socialist Review carried a story about Lib Dem racism back in the 1980s that revealed endemic corruption in the borough. The article’s author, Chris Nineham, writes:

Revelations of racism among Liberal Democrats on Tower Hamlets council have made a mockery of Paddy Ashdown’s attempt to promote the Liberal Democrats as a viable and respectable third force in British politics. The projected image of the clean party of politics has been tarnished.

The local Liberal Democrat controlled council stands accused of creating an atmosphere in which Nazi ideas can grow. But recent reports have only told a small part of the story. The full poisonous record of the Liberals in office in Tower Hamlets is a crucial lesson to anyone who still believes tactical voting or LibLab alliances offer a way forward.

It is not just a case of a few racist leaflets or a few mavericks in the local party. Since the Liberals took office in 1986 there have been constant allegations of racism and corruption in Tower Hamlets.

This racism is not casual or accidental but blatant and provocative, and is a central plank of their operation in the area both now and in the past.

The liberals began to gain influence in the East End in the early 1980s using a right wing populism to attack the extremely unpopular Labour councils.

A 1981 Liberal leaflet ranted, ‘every year more break-ins, muggings, rapes, violence and acts of vandalism. People are scared to go out at night, and even to open their doors. Something is very wrong indeed’.

From the moment of taking office the Liberals not only discriminated against the local Bengali population, but actively scapegoated them in a series of high profile publicity stunts. In 1987 they made national news by claiming that 52 Bangladeshi families living in bed and breakfast accommodation had made themselves intentionally homeless, simply by coming to Britain. They were therefore not entitled to benefit. This was too much even for the Tories, and the council was eventually beaten in the courts, but the damage had been done. The vile message had already gone out, ‘Immigrants are scroungers, they are taking our homes’.

Looks familiar, doesn’t it?

Back to 3 April.  Kennite provides a litany of the apparent crimes of Rahman’s mayoralty, which reads like the Tory press’s “anti-PC” attacks on the Labour controlled metropolitan county councils of the 1980s. He precedes his list with this factoid.

First, some facts about the ethnic and faith makeup of Tower Hamlets.According to the 2011 census, its largest single ethnic group is white – 45.2 per cent of the population. Bangladeshis make up 32 per cent – down from 33.4 per cent in 2001. Muslims make up 34.5 per cent of Tower Hamlets people – again down, from 36.4 per cent in 2001.

You wouldn’t know this from the makeup of Lutfur Rahman’s ruling cabinet, which is 100 per cent Bangladeshi and Muslim, or from his grants. In 2012, the council changed its policy to ensure that “the decisions for all awards over £1,000 were to be made by the Mayor under his executive authority”.

Yes and the cabinet at Tory-controlled Hammersmith and Fulham is 100% white and 90% male – and that’s in spite of the borough’s large black demographic. I daresay other councils are similar. But what does he mean when he uses the word “white”? White British? White Lithuanian? White Russian?What?

In his blog on 16 April, Gilligoon writes:

The Metropolitan Police confirmed to me tonight that Tower Hamlets CID is investigating alleged fraud at the council involving a grant to an organisation called the Brady Youth Forum. A member of the mayor’s staff is involved in the alleged fraud, I separately understand. The Met said the investigation was at “an early stage”.

“Brady”? Yeah, that sounds like the kind of name an Islamist organization would use. He continues:

I understand that detailed evidence on this specific allegation did form part of the dossier that Panorama’s reporter, John Ware, passed to the DCLG and which was then passed to the Met. The material supplied by Ware includes evidence implicating one of the mayor’s staff in an operation where cheques for public money were sent to what appeared to be a bogus address.

Yeah? Where is this “evidence” then?

But for all Kennite’s crowing, he’s beginning to look a little foolish. The Metropolitan Police have looked into Panorama’s story (because that’s what it is) and have decided there is “no new evidence”. Naturally, Kennite isn’t pleased and in the paragraph below, he may as well be accusing the Met of being “linked to extremists”.

This blog has previously noted the local police’s cosy relationship with Lutfur’s council – but what on earth is the Met playing at here? Serious questions – more serious questions – need to be asked about whether we can ever trust what this force is saying.

All this because the Met wouldn’t dance to his tune.  How low can you go? If you’re Kennite, you can sink much lower – right into the sewer. He whines:

Panorama, too, alleged favouritism in the allocation of council grants and misuse of council resources for electioneering purposes. The fraud allegation didn’t form part of the programme because it wasn’t ready for broadcast in time.

Let’s be in no doubt: Kennite doesn’t like Muslims (he probably doesn’t like blacks and Roma people either) and he likes the idea of a Muslim mayor even less. There are plenty of examples of municipal malfeasance around London, most notably in Hammersmith and Fulham, but Tower Hamlets has become his single biggest obsession.  The only real difference between Hammersmith and Fulham and Tower Hamlets is this: one council is David Cameron’s and Bozza’s favourite local authority and the other isn’t.

 

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Food bank blow is new low for the Mail on Sunday

buddyhell:

Just when you thought The Daily Heil couldn’t sink any lower, it produces what it claims is a piece of “investigative journalism”, but is, in reality, a piece of cheap sensationalism written to an agenda. We all know how the Tories would like to ignore the issue of hunger caused by their welfare policies. We also know that they have a hard time grasping the fact that demand for food banks has increased since they came to office four years ago. Rather than deal with the problem of hunger, the Tories attack the food banks, claiming “people are more aware of them now” and “they’re better publicised”. But anyone who possesses a shred of humanity will recognise that the Tories are so desperate to deflect attention away from their heartlessly cruel policies, they will blame poverty and hunger on the food banks themselves or they will claim that everyone who has had to use a food bank to eat is somehow “cheating the system”. Run them out in 2015.

Originally posted on Vox Political:

Who do you bank with? This piece of public opinion was picked up from Twitter [Author: Unknown].

Who do you bank with? This piece of public opinion was picked up from Twitter [Author: Unknown].

Isn’t it a shame that on of our national Sunday newspapers has chosen to disrupt everybody’s enjoyment of our Easter eggs with a specious attempt to expose abuses of food banks and make operator the Trussell Trust look hypocritical?

Isn’t it also a shame that the Mail on Sunday didn’t make a few inquiries into the procedure for dealing with people who turn up at food banks without having been referred?

The paper’s reporters and editor could have, at least, opened a dictionary and looked up the meaning of the word “charity”.

Under the headline, ‘No ID, no checks… and vouchers for sob stories: The truth behind those shock food bank claims’, the paper today (April 20) published a story claiming that Trussell Trust food banks are breaking their own rules by…

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‘Social cleansing’ of London is well under way – BBC documentary

buddyhell:

Paris had Baron Haussmann. London has the Tory-led government at Westminster. One used civil engineering to socially cleanse a city, the other uses legislation and is seemingly supported in its efforts by the opposition Labour Party (a majority of Labour MPs voted for the benefit cap, including my local MP, Andy Slaughter). I’ll be posting a blog in due course about the social cleansing that’s taking place right here in David Cameron’s favourite borough.

Originally posted on Vox Political:

Cartoon by Martin Shovel.

Cartoon by Martin Shovel.

Leading Conservatives must be delighted with the success of their benefit cap in getting single mothers and people with large families out of London – as depicted in the BBC Panorama special, Don’t Cap My Benefits, yesterday evening. (Thursday)

The change means that nobody in the UK is allowed to receive more than £26,000 in benefits per year. The government has claimed this is the same as the average family income, but readers of Vox Political will know that this is a flimsy lie and average family income is in fact more than £5,000 per year higher, at £31K+. The reason benefits weren’t pegged at that level is that far fewer people would be affected by it. Make no mistake – this measure was enacted to shift people from the capital.

The film shows the effects of the change on a number of families in Brent…

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Nightmare On King Street (Part 18)

Last week’s BBC Question Time was recorded at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, a stone’s throw away from a massive development at Fulham Reach. I will writing a blog on that development and the others that are springing up around the borough in due course.

Billy Bragg was on the Question Time panel and mentioned how the Charing Cross Hospital site was being earmarked for redevelopment when it closes. The Tories have always denied this.

This morning, however, Phoghorn Phibbs let the cat out of the bag in this Twitter exchange with Billy Bragg.

Phibbs phucks up

 

You heard it here first: Charing Cross Hospital will be demolished to make way for luxury flats.

Cllr Peter Graham, who works for lobbying firm,  Four Communications, whose clients include the Berkeley Group (parent company of St George) told me that “three blocks of flats” were already there. When I told him those were nurse’s homes, he claimed that students lived there (fair enough) as well as “others”. However, he wouldn’t clarify what he meant by “others”. Do you ever get the feeling you’re being lied to?

Graham, whose ward includes Charing Cross Hospital, also spoke in favour of the Fulham Reach development.

Peter Graham

Coincidence?

Next month use your vote wisely. Kick the Tories out.

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Nightmare On King Street (Part 17)

 

I’ve just had a load of Tory election literature shoved through my letter box. The Tories don’t knock on doors and talk to anyone. They know better. They know that no one on my estate wants to talk to them. But I wanted to talk to them. I wanted to take down their feeble arguments. I wanted to grill them on the lack of decent, affordable rented accommodation in the borough.  I wanted to grill them on the question of Sulivan School and the proposed demolition of the Gibbs Green and West Kensington Estates. I wanted to ask them why they supported the closure of Charing Cross Hospital, while at the same time denying it. I wanted to ask them about their stealth taxes. But they’re like kids who knock on the door and run away. They’re so damned quick: when you open your door to give them a piece of your mind, they’re half way down the street, sticking two fingers up to you.

H&F Conservatives Mr. Grim Reaper

Hammersmith & Fulham’s Tories took great offence to this image. Good.

One of the bits of paper shoved through my door was a letter. This letter has the words “IMPORTANT UPDATE ON CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL”. This is not so much an update as it is a lie that’s been painted in large dayglo blue letters. “Obviously there will be major changes” the letter tells me. Yes, the changes that were forced upon Charing Cross Hospital by the Tory-led coalition involve demolishing the hospital and handing the site over to private developers like St George, who will then build luxury flats for foreign investors. In the letter the Tories have said nothing about the lack of beds and the loss of the stroke unit – the same stroke unit that saved Andrew Marr’s life. The borough’s Tories support the government. Why wouldn’t they?

The letter then goes on to say “Whether you agree or disagree with these NHS plans, they aren’t something that local councillors can change. H&F council has no powers over the NHS, nor does it own the land”. Well, that simply isn’t true and the subtext of this statement is “we don’t care”. Campaigners saved Lewisham Hospital from closure. We can do the same with Charing Cross Hospital. The word ‘defeat’ is absent from our lexicon.

The letter also claims the local Labour Party is “scaremongering”. It goes on to accuse Labour of “desperation” adding “Labour can’t win the Council Elections by talking about what the Council actually does”.  Like what? Selling off land to developers? Charging residents for training in the borough’s parks? Increased charges for its leisure facilities? Their letter talks of “cleaner streets”. Really? Where? It talks about “more and better schools”. What about Sulivan School which the Council wants to close and sell to an independent school? Funny how the letter doesn’t mention that. It boasts about “affordable homes to buy”. What does “affordable” actually mean? Yes, these homes will be “affordable” but only for those whose economic capital is provided by daddy’s trust fund or a rentier’s income. What about homes to rent? This Council is actually reviving the disastrous Right to Buy scheme, which caused the housing crisis in the first place. It actually wants to sell off and demolish its council housing because it doesn’t like the people who live in their properties. They don’t come from the right social class, you see. They don’t have names like Jocasta, Jemima, Rupert and Nigel.

In the eight years that they’ve been running the Council, the Tories have shown time and again that, in spite of their slogan “Residents First”, they are only interested in putting the interests of their rich mates first. When the Tories assumed control of the Council, Stephen Greenhalgh, the former Dear Leader, wanted to create a borough that attracted the rich. In order to “attract the rich”, he and his fellow Tories had to expel the poor and those on low incomes. This is called gerrymandering and if you look at the numbers of units at Fulham Reach for example, there isn’t a single property in that development that is available for those on low incomes to rent. The people who will live in those properties will doubtlessly vote Tory.

So, Azi Ahmed, Jackie Borland and Jamie McKittrick, I won’t be voting for you. And I’ll also tell you this: I’m not interested in council candidates who only work for themselves and in the interests of their rich chums. That pretty much excludes your party.

Kick out the Tories! Use your vote wisely.

 

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Tory MEP Hannan Describes French Front National as ‘Left-Wing’

buddyhell:

I usually get stuck into the Lyin’ King when he characterises parties of the far-right as ‘far-left’. Beastrabban’s done the job here and even provided some historical analysis. Interestingly, Mussolini was  on MI5′s payroll in 1917 to make pro-war noises in Italy to convince people of the need to leap in on the side of the Allies during World War I. Let’s also remember that Churchill greatly admired Mussolini.

Originally posted on Beastrabban\'s Weblog:

Daniel Hannan

Tory MEP and supporter of NHS privatisation Daniel Hannan. In his view, the Front National are left-wing.

Following this morning’s post tracing the accusation that the National Front/ BNP are left-wing parties to the pamphlet by Stephen Ayres of the National Association For Freedom (NAFF), now the Freedom Association, The National Front are a Socialist Front, I received this comment from Buddyhell:

Hannan has today written a blog that describes le Front National as “far-left”. He will not be told. Even his stablemates attack him for the way he lazily draws lines between fascism and socialism. In essence, Hannan is smearing the Left with these assertions.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100265536/france-has-given-up-on-its-politicians-with-good-reason/.

I’ve blogged before about the way Fascism included left-wing elements amongst a number of competing and contradictory ideologies and groups. Mussolini had started off as a radical Socialist, but broke with the party over his support for Italy joining the First World…

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