Tag Archives: racism

Racism And The Bullying Of Diane Abbott

We’ve been here before.

I woke up this morning to discover that Diane Abbott had been taken ill and has withdrawn from the campaign. Her place has been taken by Lyn Brown. Furthermore, the recent attacks on Abbott, so close to polling day, can only have originated from the foetid mind of Lynton Crosby, whose reputation for dog-whistle racist campaigns is well known.

Few people, except those who have a blind spot for such things, can deny that the recent bullying of Diane Abbott has been not only disgraceful, but smacks of racism and sexism. The Cat has seen numerous people, many of them claiming to be Labour supporters, complaining about Abbott’s ‘competence’. When pressed to provide salient examples of her ‘incompetence’ the best answer these people can provide is “well, she had a car crash interview” and that is the sum total of their argument.

In all of her shadow roles from Public Health to the Home Office, Abbott has performed well. Yet few people when asked if she’s made mistakes in those roles, can’t answer the question, so they start flailing and splutter “I don’t like her”. Well, okay, that’s fair enough but once they’ve spluttered those words, they usually return to their original non-point of Abbott’s presumed incompetency.  Mention the word “racism” and they’ll get agitated. Why? Is it because they refuse to see it?  Of course, it is.

In the last week or so, we’ve heard May and her Tories say “Would you want Diane Abbott as Home Secretary”? Such a question is predicated on the knowledge of the Other. The idea that the Home Office will be run not only by a woman, but a black woman is too much to bear for our crypto-racists. Better to have a white woman or a white man in charge, eh? Where are the black faces in May’s cabinet?  There are none. There are a couple of Asian millionaires but no black people.

Diane Abbott has been attacked precisely because she is black and because she’s a woman. Boris Johnson is allowed to make as many gaffes as he likes and get away with it. He’s given plenty of latitude when he indulges in racism and his thuggish behaviour is regularly overlooked, even laughed off.  He’s a clown, so we’re told.

When you base your competency argument on a handful of gaffes rather than a person’s record, then you play the bully’s game. If you can’t see the obvious racism that underpins the bullying of Abbott and prefer to focus on her presumed incompetency, then you need to have a word with yourself.

 

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Filed under General Election 2017

Mein Drumpf

drumpf

The man, the hand gestures.

In a little under a week’s time, Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States. The property tycoon, reality show host and serial bankrupt (yes) will lead one of the largest and most sophisticated war machines on the planet.  Much has been made of Trump’s lack of a political hinterland by the media.  Indeed, he has no experience of political office and this supposed outsider status, claim his supporters, is what makes him so appealing.   “He’ll shake up the establishment” say his supporters.  Yeah, I guess he will but not in the way you think.

Even Warren G. Harding, to whom I have often compared Trump, had political experience as the Lieutenant Governor of Ohio and as senator for the same state.  Like Trump, his cabinet was stuffed with millionaires.  Yet, even Harding described himself as “unfit for office”, something that Trump is unlikely to do, such is the size of his ego and evident lack of self-awareness.  Harding’s presidency was dogged by scandals and he died in office.  I’ll just leave that there.

Trump has dodged questions about his fitness for office by attacking his opponents.  This is the classic tactic of deflection but it also signals his inability to accept responsibility for his actions and, moreover, the words that come from his mouth.  I know it’s unfair and unreasonable for a lay person like myself to make a remote psychological diagnosis based on a handful of signifiers, but Trump is a rampant narcissist.

On the question of whether or not he’s racist?  Well, Trump has consistently denied it, yet he’s been busily appointing racists to his cabinet and his White House staff.   This appears to encapsulate the contradictory nature of the man himself: he will say one thing and do the complete opposite.  What cannot be denied is the way in which America’s racists, xenophobes and Nazis have been emboldened by Trump’s victory.  His supporters may shrug, roll their eyes and claim “a few Nazis marching doesn’t mean anything” but I don’t recall the same thing happening when Reagan or the Bushes won the presidency. Do you?

Trump’s campaign slogan was the simplistic: “Make America Great Again”. This kind of slogan is reminiscent of Hitler’s and Mussolini’s rhetoric and suggested a return to a mythical past.  During the bruising election campaign, Trump had been compared to both dictators by many commentators.  The Cat once thought a closer comparison could be made to Louis-Napoleon, the future Napoleon III, who spent a great deal of time and effort attracting the votes of the poor.  But that’s where any resemblance ends.   Unlike Louis-Napoleon, Trump has not written a treatise on the elimination of poverty (Trump doesn’t even read books).  In fact, he hasn’t mentioned the issue of poverty at all,  preferring instead to charm the impoverished with magick slogans and by blaming Muslims,  immigrants and foreigners for for their social condition.  One more thing: Napoleon III was a soldier.  Trump dodged the draft.

Trump’s ploy was thus cynical and calculating.  He appealed to the reactionary instincts of many working class whites by pressing their buttons and schmoozing them, while at the same time making moves to consolidate and extend the power of America’s filthy rich – all of which he did in plain sight.  Time will tell if Trump will morph into a latter day Napoleon III, but to do this, he will need to use executive powers to declare a state of emergency and stage a coup against himself as Louis-Napoleon did in 1851.  Let’s hope that idea never pops into his head.

So is Trump a fascist? Fascism in the early 21st centuries doesn’t wear uniforms and smash up printing presses as Mussolini’s Blackshirts had done in the 1920s.  These Third Position fascists have appropriated the language of the Left and consciously adopted a victim mentality.  Their anti-intellectual thinkers (sic) have concocted conspiracy theories, like the Frankfurt School/Cultural Marxism smear, and barely concealed their racism behind the language of classical liberalism.  19th century Liberals like Lord John Russell were quite content to see the Irish starve to death during The Famine, because they saw themselves as superior specimens of humanity.  They were committed social Darwinists.  The fascist is also a social Darwinist at heart.

The so-called ‘alt-right’ are, to be sure, fascists in all but name.  They are mostly male and mainly white.  They think feminism is a ‘cancer’ and loathe equal rights for minority groups.  They bang the drum for nationalism and glorify the military. They also follow Trump.  No doubt some of them may even call themselves ‘libertarians’.  Their freedom is a checklist of textbook freedoms for their fellows.  Third Positionist parties will often use the word ‘freedom’ to deflect attention from their patent opposition to the freedoms of Others .  We can see this in the name of the now defunct British Freedom Party and others on the continent that purport to be the ‘guardians’ of freedom.

Third Positionists have also taken advantage of the confusion generated by mainstream politicians, who have provided them with ideal conditions in which to propagate.  Indeed, the triangulationism of Tony Blair’s Third Way and the nouveau Conservatism of David Cameron, which sought to ape it, must take some responsibility for the rise of far-right in Britain.  One failed to meet dog-whistle racism head on and the other actively employed it.  Both of them were obsessed with superficialities and refused to address real structural problems, and politicians from each party continue to foster division and hatred through their appropriation of the far-right’s rhetoric on immigration.  The extreme centre is no place to be at a time like this!

Trump may have cast himself as an outsider and self-styled opponent on the ‘elite’ but he is one of the elites.  He didn’t start in business by saving up quarters that he earned through bagging groceries at Walmart.  He went to expensive educational institutions and his daddy handed him a few million to get the ball rolling.  Trump is a corporatist and corporatism is central to fascist economic thinking.  Fascism is nothing more than the marriage between the state and corporate power. It only sees the working class as drones, breeding machines or as ‘boots on the ground’.

The overall political, cultural and social orientation of Trump’s administration does not bode well for the working class white people who voted for him, because it is they who will be shafted;  sacrificed on the altar of corporatism. But would Hilary Clinton be any better?  No.  What America really needed was Bernie Sanders and he was stitched up by the Democratic Party establishment.  Now we have a reality TV star and property tycoon as President.  Just think, over 30 years ago a reactionary former actor and state governor became POTUS and some people thought he was ‘great’.

 

 

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Filed under United States, US Presidential Election 2016

No Compassion For Refugees Please, We’re British

“Charity begins at home” at least this is what Britain’s “no refugees here” types have been saying on comments threads on The Guardian and Independent websites. Ironically (or perhaps not), these are the very same people who would not only claim that “people are receiving to much in social security payments”, they would also tell you that the existence of foodbanks proves there is a “food shortage” in this country. Logic? It was never there in the first place.

Many people like to think of The Guardian and The Independent as liberal newspapers with socially liberal readerships. In the case of The Indy, this notion was blown out of the water by the paper’s support for the Tories at the last election and in the case of The Graun, there has been a steady rightward drift in its editorial orientation for years. Sadly, however, the change in direction for these papers has also attracted legions of right-wing racists and keyboard warriors, all of whom have been drawn to the stories of what is now being called the “Refugee Crisis” (formerly the “Migrant Crisis”), a crisis that was entirely created by the actions of the so-called West.

Yet the idea that there is a cause behind the Refugee Crisis is barely mentioned by the tabloid hacks and their pals in Parliament. Instead, in the mind of the knuckledragger, these people are coming here variously for “economic reasons” or the “presence of McDonalds and KFC”, or some such nonsense, and not because they are fleeing the conflicts and tyrannies that the West has created and sustained for decades. Causality, as far as these people are concerned, is a hospital drama on BBC1.

Readers, I have been disgusted by the lack of compassion shown by these keyboard warriors and slackwits but I have been even more disgusted by The Indy’s and The Graun’s tolerance of the vile hatred that’s being openly expressed on its comments threads. If I want to read that kind of shite, I can always go to St*rmfr*nt. Dig?

I always remember reading about this country’s hostile reaction towards the thousands of Jewish refugees who were fleeing the Nazis in the 1930s. This article by Anne Karpf from 2002 – in The Guardian – recalls that those years.

The parallels between past and present are striking. Just as the majority of Jewish refugees were admitted less for compassionate reasons than to meet the shortage of domestic servants, so today’s refugees tend to do the low-paid catering and cleaning jobs spurned by the native British. And just as in spring 1940, when German Jews were interned on the Isle of Man, British newspapers blurred the distinctions between refugee, alien and enemy, so today, according to Alasdair Mackenzie, coordinator of Asylum Aid, “There’s general confusion in many newspapers between an asylum seeker and someone from abroad – everyone gets tarred with the same brush.”

Hostility towards the refugees was stirred up by the virulently anti-immigration rag The Daily (Hate) Mail. Many people internalised its xenophobic and anti-Semitic messages and demanded the government refuse to land any refugees. Déjà Vu? Malheureusement, oui.

The comment below appeared on this Guardian article by the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas. Her name, alone, is enough the get hordes of slavering knuckledraggers thumping their chests and declaring themselves the defenders of “common sense”.

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Britons would probably be far more receptive to the idea of allowing many more refugees into Britain had the country not experience almost two decades of mass immigration in which over five million people had entered Britain.

Here, we have a comment in which the views expressed are little different to those expressed by UKIP’ Nigel Farage (or that Nuttall wanker) on a weekly basis. Although it avoids offensive language and isn’t obvious in its racism, its premise is based on the notion that there has been an “invasion”. Yet, this commenter offers no proof for the numbers they’re using; they are seemingly axiomatic.

On the other hand, this commenter doesn’t disguise his hatred. This is what passes for wit.

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So it turns out now that the guy who recklessly ended up drowning his wife and children had turned down asylum.

Oh.

Sickening.

The government’s response to the crisis has been characteristically Tory: blame “people smugglers” and keep repeating the word “criminals”. It’s as if the refugees themselves have become secondary to the need to punish “those responsible for the trafficking”. In April, in response to refugees drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, Michael ‘Polly’ Portillo, the son of a Spanish republican refugee who fled Franco’s dictatorship, said they should be “sent back where they came from” – and should be “dumped on a Libyan beach”. And you thought he’d been rehabilitated? No way, he’s the same as he ever was.

This nation has been governed by bullies for centuries and people have internalised the bullying to such an extent that they, themselves, have become bullies. This is evident from the lack of compassion shown to refugees. The idea that “charity begins at home” is noble one but one which is now being used dishonestly to bolster the fash’s absurd claim that this country is “full up”.

A few days ago, Cameron appeared on television to give an account of his sluggish response to the crisis. He told the reporter with a straight face that the solution is to “bring peace in Middle East”. But that’s after he’s bombed it back to the Stone Age first.

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Filed under Africa, Eritrea, immigration, Journalism, Libya, Media, Middle East, News/Current Affairs, propaganda, racism, Society & culture, Sudan, Syria, World

Let’s Talk About: Milo Yiannopoulos

The British Right have always been a pretty mean-spirited bunch. Not content with grabbing all they can for themselves and their pals, they’re bullies to a man (and woman). The new crop of right-wingers are even worse that the old-timers. Constantly hiding behind phrases like ‘free speech’, they believe that they should be able to express nasty, misogynistic, racist and homophobic views without being challenged. For them, the idea of free speech is “I say what I like and you shut the fuck up”. The Cat has been dealing with people like these since he began blogging in 2010. Most of them are the products of poor parenting, while others are simply bullies having learnt to exploit those weaker or different to themselves while attending their posh boarding schools. It’s in their DNA, you see.

I was reading this blog by Kate Smurthwaite on the New Internationalist website in which she describes the relentless trolling and bullying by men who still haven’t managed to grow up. One of these men is Milo Yiannopolous, a self-styled web entrepreneur who has been implicated in the so-called #GamerGate controversy.

Smurthwaite has received 1,700 abusive tweets, some of which threaten rape and others that wish her dead. Call me old-fashioned, but I wouldn’t wish someone dead on Twitter because I disagree with them or dislike them. I can’t stand George Osborne and I call him a liar, but I don’t wish him dead – even though his government’s policies (which read like they were formulated after a massive cocaine binge) have been responsible for numerous deaths. Here’s what Milo Minderbinder tweeted.

milo minderbinder

The Cat has never taken kindly to bullies. They deserve his utmost contempt. “Bullies” as my mum used to tell me “are cowards”. Minderbinder is no different. In fact, he’s worse. He hides behind a keyboard, popping out occasionally to appear on programmes like BBC3’s Free Speech,  in which he wriggles in his seat, throws his head from side to side and refuses to make eye contact with fellow guests, while spewing vitriol on any subject put before him. He is especially nasty when it comes to women’s rights and anti-racism.

It comes as no surprise to The Cat that Minderbinder’s pal, James Delingpole, has also been involved in GamerGate. Delingtroll is the British editor of Breitbart, a right-wing news site that’s based in the United States. Like Minderbinder, Delingtroll hates anyone who’s tolerant but he especially hates feminists, Greens and left-wingers, who are referred to variously as ‘feminazis’, ‘libtards’ or ‘leftards’ (It’s a portmanteau of left/liberal and retard. Geddit?), and tends to label anyone who protests against fascists and racists as “liberal fascists”. Inverted logic or what? Minderbinder also writes for Breitbart, where he specialises in anti-feminist attack pieces like this one.  If you think that’s bad, try his opinion piece on the spree-killer, Elliot Rodger, who killed women at random because he was apparently knocked back.

Minderbinder wrote:

Anxieties about those of other sexes, sexual orientations and races are often crudely labeled “Right-wing” by snobbish metropolitan newspapers.

So, not only is this article a thinly-veiled anti-feminist attack piece, it also piles on the drama and the paranoia. It gets worse too.

So it is the games we should look to for insight into his condition. It’s understandable that after a tragedy those left should seek answers–and depressingly predictable that the feminist Left should seize on his manifesto as further ammunition for their insatiable, misandristic war of attrition.

“Misandristic”? Come again? The response of men, who have neither love for women nor sympathy for feminism, is to claim that feminists are “man-hating”. It’s lazy and simplistic. It’s also anti-intellectual. Minderbinder, who failed to finish his university courses at Manchester and Cambridge, appears to have landed on his feet, thus proving that the spoilt, rich scions of Britain’s grande-bourgeoisie don’t have to work hard academically, because they know they will have an easy life. They either inherit great wealth or they get a job with daddy’s firm. Whatever happens to them, they know that they will never have to draw the dole. The vain and conceited Minderbinder is one of them.

I haven’t named Yiannopoulos (formerly Milo Wagner), “Milo Minderbinder” for nothing. Those of you who have read Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 or seen the film, will recall that the character Milo Minderbinder is a war profiteer; the satirical representation of unbridled capitalism. The real Milo Minderbinder isn’t interested in anyone but himself. Yiannopoulos is similar… only more conceited.

Minderbinder’s early venture into the web was an online publication called The Kernel.  He ended up being sued by the Employment Tribunal for not paying his contributors. It also appears that he’s good at making enemies. The Kernel was forced to close and was bought out by another company. This is from The Guardian.

Yiannopoulos’s acidic approach to many of the companies featured in the Kernel has made a number of enemies in the London startup scene, some of whom have contacted the Guardian privately to complain about what they saw as negative coverage. “They’re afraid to say so in public,” Steve Karmeinsky of NetTek told the Guardian. “He’s got a mouthpiece that he can’t be fired.

There’s more…

On 18 July he had a very public spat on Twitter with the blogger Zoe Margolis, author of The Girl With A One Track Mind books. That evening she complained on Twitter about a piece he had written for the Kernel about women in technology,tweeting that “someone needs to point out what a sexist, misogynistic prick [Yiannopoulos] is”.

I am pointing out what a sexist and misogynist prick he is and I wish more would do the same. Here’s some more.

From the end of 2010 he ran a project called the Startup 100 for the Daily Telegraph, but only three sponsors were secured to cover the costs of the awards ceremony in April 2011, and there was a row in May 2011 when Mike Butcher of TechCrunch said that he had given his casting vote for the winner to short-term loan company Wonga rather than the company that was awarded the prize, Spotify.

The fallout from the awards is understood to have left the Telegraph nursing a loss running into tens of thousands of pounds. Wrong Agency, Yiannopoulos’s company which he used to run the event, was dissolved in May 2011.

He’s a spiv and people like him  are often called ‘wealth-creators’ and ‘entrepreneurs’ by this government. Mind you, Grant Shapps is Tory party chairman, so there you go.

Minderbinder used to call himself “Milo Wagner”. The Cat doesn’t know if that’s his real name or whether he chose the surname because of his love of Wagnerian operas. One thing I do know is that he has a fetish for Iron Crosses. He’s also a self-loathing gay.  This is taken from his website.

You probably don’t agree. But I think we can all agree that, unless you live in the cosseted bubble of a liberal metropolis, the reality of growing up gay for most people is a horribly lonely, miserable experience. (If you don’t know, take it from me: it is.)Is being homosexual “wrong”? Something somewhere inside of me says Yes.

Later in the piece, he erroneously claims that the struggle for gay rights “has been won”. Someone should tell UKIP and the majority of the Tory Party that.

But the battle for gay rights has been won. All these preening poofs in public life do is make life more difficult for regular young gay people by reinforcing the stereotypes about gay behaviour: reminding a struggling child’s myopic dad that queers are uppity, in-your-face, camp-as-tits faggots who’ll rape you as soon as look at you.

Self-loathing, damned self-loathing. It turns out that he also hates lesbians.

Charming.
Here’s Minderbinder defending Farage and arguing against Equality laws.  He claims that the “straight white guy is losing out”, because of such legislation. Playing the victim is so undignified, but it’s only to be expected of people who enjoy positions of privilege by dint of the circumstances of their birth. For them, inequality is ‘natural’ and should be reinforced.
His replies are typical of so-called ‘classical liberals”, who believe that racism begins and ends at a person’s skin.

The question The Cat would like to ask is “Why is Minderbinder given so much air time”? He is no more qualified than you or I to comment on politics or anything else.

Here he is smirking and trolling the women in the The Big Questions audience on 15 March.

He appears at around 18.00 on this clip.

In today’s blog for Breitbart, he defends his anti-intellectualism, misogyny and misanthropy. It was clearly written in reply to Kate Smurthwaite’s article. Here’s a taster:

Critical theory
Horseshit

Death threats
Mean tweets

Dominant culture
The stuff people actually like. Not to be confused with taxpayer-funded lesbian performance art, which would surely break all Box Office records if only more people got to see it

Equality
Used to mean giving everyone a fair chance; now means enforcing 50-50 quotas in jobs women don’t want to do in order to punish men for being good at maths and physics

Feminism
Misandry masquerading as a fight against oppression and prejudice on the basis of sex; what unattractive men and women do to get attention

This is a man who hasn’t grown up but this is also a man who clearly hates women. I know nothing of his early life, save for his Wikipedia entry. However, from what I’ve seen of him so far, Minderbinder shouldn’t be allowed outdoors without a chaperone.

The British sense of ‘fair play’ is a myth. Just look at Minderbinder, Delingtroll and the Tory Party if you don’t believe me.

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Filed under Ideologies, Let's Talk About, racism, Sexism, Society & culture

Telegraph Blogs Is No More

Telegraph blogs has been quiet for the last month or so and the silence has been eerie. For the last few weeks, the only blogs on the site were written by Dan Hannan, Judith Potts and Pete Wedderburn.  According to Hannan, Telegraph blogs will cease to exist. The blog site, which has become something of a magnet for racists, Kippers and assorted ethno-nationalists is moving to the paper’s comments section. The reason for the change isn’t clear. It would be tempting to suggest it’s because the blogs have acquired a reputation for being a toilet bear pit and the paper is embarrassed by the numbers of racists it attracts. However, the Cat thinks the reason is more pragmatic.

The Telegraph has been charging people to view its content for some time now and if you look at more than 20 articles a month, you have to pay for them. The Cat suspects that once the bloggers have moved over to the comments section, you will have to pay to read their drivel. The comments section tells us:

The best comment, analysis and blogs from The Telegraph including Charles Moore, Peter Oborne, Boris Johnson, Dan Hodges, Fraser Nelson and Janet Daley

The “best comment and analysis”? Is that what one expects from Hatchet-job Hodges and Janet Daley? Is this some kind of a joke?

As for Hannan, he’s moving to a site called CapX, which proclaims on its homepage that it stands “for popular capitalism”… whatever that is. He’s also going to be writing for The Washington Examiner, a sister organ to the  Weekly Standard, which is edited by neo-con darling and warmonger, William Kristol. Kristol was the co-founder of the Project for the New American Century. Hannan will be in good company.

For six months, I kept track of comments on Telegraph blogs but gave up after I began to worry about its effect on my mental health.

Here’s the final Telegraph Comment of the Week .

 

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Filed under Media, Telegraph Comment of the Week, Tory press

The BBC’s Nick Robinson and, er, Britain First’s Jayda Fransen?

I saw this photo of the BBC’s political editor, Nick Robinson getting cosy with Britain First’s Jayda Fransen (is that an English name?) on Twitter and had to post it here. Somehow, you just can’t see Old Nick getting that close to the Green Party or TUSC candidate.

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Ah, don’t they make a lovely couple?

The next time a Kipper tells you that there’s a left-wing bias at the BBC, you show them this image.

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Filed under BBC, Ideologies, Media, propaganda

Let’s Talk About: Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets Town Hall was built while the Lib Dems were in power.

This is a new series in which I will talk about a topic that takes my fancy. Yesterday, Eric Pickles, the Community Secretary and pie-eater extraordinaire, sent a government hit squad into Tower Hamlets. This is unprecedented and given the level corruption in other councils (some of them Tory-run), this latest government move is suspicious and smacks of the centralizing tendencies of the current Tory-led government. It also reeks of racism and class disgust. Read on.

The Tories and their knuckledragging chums in The Telegraph have been running a vendetta against Tower Hamlets Council and, in particular, its mayor, Lutfur Rahman for the last four years. What upsets the Tories and their pals is that Tower Hamlets Council reflects the ethnic composition of the borough. But it’s the fact that a Bangladeshi is the twice-elected mayor of the borough is what upsets them even more.  This excellent article by Chris Nineham, in the Socialist Review reminds us what Tower Hamlets used to be like:

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’.

That message was reinforced a year or so later when Tower Hamlets mayor Jeremy Shaw travelled to Bangladesh to tell the government there that immigrants were no longer welcome because the borough was full up. Nothing, of course, could have been further from the truth. Apart from the 900 empty yuppie flats on the Isle of Dogs, the council was sitting on 3000 empty properties, rotting from neglect. But the truth did not matter, the trip was a stunt for home consumption, and the local paper quoted Shaw’s claim in a banner headline.

When Derek Beackon won the Isle of Dogs by-election in 1993 for the BNP, there was shock and dismay. Beackon was elected towards the end of the Lib Dems’ eight year spell of running Tower Hamlets, and on the back of their blatantly racist “Sons and Daughters” housing scheme. After Beackon’s election there was a fear that the BNP would take more seats in the 1994 local government elections. Paul Anderson writing for The New Statesman said:

It is without a doubt the Lib Dems who have most explaining to do when it comes to last September’s debacle. As their national party’s inquiry into Tower Hamlets, chaired by Lord Lester, QC, made clear just before Christmas, their propaganda in the borough, particularly in the Isle of Dogs, has systematically pandered to racism, especially on housing.

What then styled itself the Liberal Focus Team took control of the council from Labour in 1986 after more than a decade of “community politics” characterised by populist anti-Labour rhetoric and assiduous wooing of tenants’ associations – a major force in a borough in which three-quarters of the population lives in council housing even after years of right-to-buy. Despite having a tiny majority, the Liberals implemented their decentralisation and council house-sales policies with missionary zeal. From the start, they courted controversy over race with their tough line on the council’s legal obligation to house the homeless (mostly Bangladeshi) and their “sons and daughters scheme”, giving priority in housing allocation to the offspring of people born in the borough, most of whom were white.

In 1994, I was one of a large group of comedians (along with with Lee Hurst, formerly of Red Action) who doorstepped and leafleted the Isle of Dogs in an effort to get the residents to turn their backs on Beackon and the BNP. You probably wouldn’t get a group of comedians doing that now, but in those days there was still a sizeable contingent of politically active comedians on the circuit. In any case, Beackon lost his seat and the BNP dogs went home with their tails between their legs.

What strikes me as odd is that when Lib Dem controlled Tower Hamlets engaged in blatant corruption, not a single Tory said anything. No hit squads were mobilized to assume control of the council’s operations and no one even suggested that the council be taken into special measures. As for the press, they were strangely quiet.  These days, the likes of Ted Jeory and his partner-in-crime, Andrew Gilligan make a big deal out of the sizeable Bangladeshi population. They would, of course, deny that there’s a racial dimension to their interest in the borough. Gilligan, for example, often prefaces the name of Lutfur Rahman with the phrase “extremist-linked” or similar. It doesn’t take a Barthesian scholar in semiotics to work out what he’s trying to say. It’s pretty bloody obvious. Indeed, anyone who takes issue with Kennite’s sensationalist drivel is accused of supporting “terror”. Charming. The trick that Jeory uses to counter any Bangladeshi claims of racism is to accuse them of “cheapening the word”. It’s not as though Jeory ever faces racism on a daily basis though, is it?

Jeory and Gilligan have both accused Rahman of vote-rigging and electoral fraud for years. Even after investigations have concluded there were no irregularities, they persisted with this accusation. After this year’s local elections, there were similar accusations and two people were arrested. Curiously, there are no updates on this story and it may well be the case that the accusations were baseless. We shall see.

This whole episode began when Rahman was originally selected then deselected by Tower Hamlets Labour Party as their mayoral candidate. The whole selection issue was a messy business that was covered extensively by The Guardian’s Dave Hill. On 21 September 2010, Hill wrote:

There is a view in local Labour circles, one shared even by some strong opponents of Rahman, that had everyone seeking the nomination been allowed to enter the contest from the start – which is what eventually occurred – the quality of debate would have been both higher and more honest and the battle less divisive. More than one unsuccessful candidate takes the view that the publicity generated around Rahman helped him win by persuading some party members to rally round a man they considered to be a victim of smear campaigns and dsicrimination

The party then expelled Rahman from Labour for standing as an independent mayoral candidate against the wishes of the party, which preferred to impose candidates on the electorate rather than allow local parties to decide on their own candidates.  As an independent, Rahman had the support of RESPECT and the former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, who attempted without success to have Rahman readmitted into the party.  Since then, there has been a steady drip feed of anti-Rahman stories from Gilligoon and Jeory.

I think we all need to remember that the PWC report did not find any evidence of fraud. That will piss off Gilligoon and Jeory, who were hoping for a scalp. From The Guardian Live Politics blog

The council, which is run by the independent mayor, Lutfur Rahman, said PWC did not find any evidence of fraud. In a statement to the Commons, Pickles said he did not know whether or not the PWC report amounted to evidence of fraud, but that he was sending it to the police anyway. He said the report exposed cronyism “risking the corrupt spending of public funds”. His decision to intervene was backed by Labour, and Tower Hamlets was strongly criticised by MPs from all sides.

My bold. As for “cronyism”, there was plenty of that in Hammersmith and Fulham when the Tories were running the council. Yet, Gilligan said nothing and nor did Pickles, who described Hammersmith and Fulham as his “favourite council”. That says an awful lot about The Sontaran’s judgement and Gilligan’s character.

 

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