Tag Archives: Ted Jeory

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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Filed under Hammersmith & Fulham, Hammersmith & Fulham Tories, Let's Talk About, London, Tower Hamlets

Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 21)

Once upon a time this would have said "No surrender to the IRA"

I had to laugh at Gilligoon’s blog in yesterday’s Torygraph. It was the usual Islamophobic rot but, for some strange reason, he’d filed it under “Health and Lifestyle”. What was he thinking? The title recycles the by now familiar theme; Lutfur Rahman and something/somebody/some place/some group.  In this blog, which seems to go everywhere and nowhere at the same time he gets bitchy about Dr. Robert Lambert, a former Met police officer, whom Silly Gilly claims in Friday’s blog that he  “has turned himself into one of Britain’s most important fellow-travellers of Islamism”.  He offers no proof for this; it’s just another smear. The clue is in the phrase “fellow traveller”. J. Edgar Hoover, the reactionary head of the FBI defined fellow travellers as

  1. The card-carrying Communist, one who openly admits membership in the Communist party
  2. The underground Communist, one who hides his Communist party membership
  3. The Communist sympathizer, a potential Communist because of holding Communist views
  4. The fellow traveler, someone not a potential Communist but nevertheless who may hold views shared by Communists
  5. The dupe, a person who is obviously not a Communist or a potential Communist but whose views may coincide with some of the American Communists. Examples are a prominent religious leader who opposed increased military expenditures and war, or a prominent jurist who opposed red-baiting tactics on civil liberty grounds

If we look at the last point, anyone who – in the eyes of Gilly at least – speaks out against Islamophobia or Muslim-baiting is a “fellow traveller”. Well ,that was easy. Anyone can join the dots. It’s that simple. I clicked on the link for the Islamophobia report that Gilligoon posted and was  surprised to find myself at Harry’s Place. Dr Lambert is an academic yet Gilligoon feels the need to attack the report without understanding the research.  He says of Lambert that he is “generously funded by various Islamist groups and specialising in pseudo-scholarly defences of his clients”.  Another evidence-free assertion from Gilly and he’s supposed to be a journalist! If Gilligan had to submit himself to academic rigours, he’d fail miserably.

Gilligan continues,

The argument of my nameless critic is that I and my witnesses have got it all wrong. Lutfur Rahman, the council leader (now mayor) in Tower Hamlets, wasn’t dumped by Labour because of his close links with the IFE. It was instead, apparently, because the “white New Labour elite” wanted to “systematically marginalise” the Bangladeshi community; and because Lutfur’s “brand of left-wing populism represented a direct threat to the established hierarchy within Tower Hamlets Labour Party.”

Well, according to the evidence that I’ve seen from Labour’s NEC selection panel, I’d say that was true. Anyway, didn’t Gilligan once make some comment about the “white establishment” in one of his blogs? You just can’t get any consistency these days.

Gilligan drags in Ted Joery to help him out,

As Ted Jeory, former deputy editor of the local newspaper, points out, this is a blatant rewriting of history. Jeory covered the council closely and often saw Lutfur in action. Rahman was in fact, he says, “one of Labour’s main ringleaders against Respect’s populist Left-wing policies and motions in the council chamber.” As for the charge of racism by the “New Labour elite,” Lutfur’s principal opponent, Helal Abbas, is himself a Bangladeshi.

So what about Helal Abbas? It could be argued that he was an NEC patsy. Again this is based on the leaked documents that I received back in September.

Gilly excels himself here by saying,

Almost as stupid is the claim, earlier in the report, that the Dispatches investigation prompted an upsurge of “intimidation” in Tower Hamlets by the English Defence League. What actually happened is that fifteen members of the EDL paid a visit to a local pub, and an even smaller number subsequently came back to the same pub.

It seems to me that he’s selectivized the events here. There is plenty of footage on YouTube which shows EDL thugs, many of whom are associated with the BNP or NF, descending upon Whitechapel in droves. He isolates the 15 who were drinking outside he Grave Maurice pub on 15 June 2010. I don’t often agree with the Whitechapel Anarchists Group but they’ve got it spot on here.

By coming here the EDL have once again shown that they are out to provoke, not to stop the spread of religious extremism but to fan the flames of division through their own rowdy behaviour, well let tonight be a lesson for you. If you come to Whitechapel or Tower Hamlets it’s not the UAF who are going to be out to wave placards at you. And before all you EDL start frothing at the mouth and commenting on here about being attacked for wearing England shirts let it be known that most of the lads round here, like a lot of the Muslim locals, have St. George Crosses flying from their motors in the spirit of the world cup. So you might not see them coming…

What Gilligan repeatedly fails to do is spend time on the streets of Whitechapel. Instead he opts for the lazy, sit-at-home approach. There’s an old saying that goes “If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the mountain”.

One thing that I have accused Gilligan of in the past is the way he allows racists and Islamophobes (who are quite possibly anti-Semitic as well) to comment without any form of moderation. The Telegraph seems happy to permit such views and will stamp out anything that does not conform to the tone set by Gilligan. While other Telegraph bloggers will occasionally respond to comments, Gilligan does not.

Here’s one comment that has been ignored by Gilligan and the paper,

jit bro: translation into English: Muz the spunk-bubble.
Here’s an snip from the ever-present danoconnor

Well, I’m not a card carrying member myself but as the EU political caste , the media, the educational system, the quangocracy and liberal intelligencia have been fully complicit in the muslimization/Islamization, colonisation of Europe—-it has been left to the rough and ready British white working class and other European anti-Muslimization engineering compatriots , who have been the primary victims of this massive grotesque betrayal to break through the wall of censorship conspiracy of silence by having the cheek and the– ” just who the devil do you think you are ” –leaf out of the Left-Wing radical activist book and yes..

As far as I know, the EDL don’t actually have membership as such; they’re happy to take any bonehead and will sell them all manner of casual tat to wear. I’ve just had a look at the EDL website and nowhere have I seen a page that invites people to join.  However looking down the list of links I can see that there’s one for our old friend “trencherbone”  and another to Pat Condell’s YouTube channel. It appears that Pat(whom I met many years ago) is being feted has been misappropriated by the EDL. In a video clip that I have just seen he talks of “European culture” and the “multi-cultural nightmare”. The EDL has used this a a sort of vindication to their sole antipathy towards Islam. Religion sucks, full stop.  I suspect that the boneheads have missed the fact that Pat is an atheist as this clip males clear,
By the way, I have not linked to the EDL or any of their affiliates. I don’t want boneheads on this blog hurling abuse and causing trouble. If you want to find out what they’re doing, just enter the letters “EDL” into your search engine and you’ll find loads of stuff on them. I once got a pingback from The British Nationalist website. I deleted it straightaway. I only wish I could do the same thing with Gilligan and the EDL.

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Filed under London, Media, Tower Hamlets, Yellow journalism

Life On Gilligan’s Island (Part 19)

Last night Gilligan wrote,

Oh dear! It looks like Bodrul Islam, a leading ally of Lutfur Rahman, the extremist-backed mayor of Tower Hamlets, has had a falling-out. I spent some of last night reading his Facebook page, where he’s posted some incredibly damaging allegations about the mayor’s links with the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe:

Well, there are two things about this paragraph. The first, and this is simply from a Lacanian psychoanalytical perspective, is that from this paragraph, it is easy to see how much time Kennite spends on the streets of Tower Hamlets: not much. The second is that he repeats his oft-repeated assertion that the IFE is “extremist” and therefore the mayor, by implication is also an “extremist”.

He selectively quotes from Bodrul Islam’s Facebook page, seizing upon those things that ‘support’ his thesis. However, he and his pal, Ted Jeory missed this,

First of all abbas and his croynies are a disgrace and gilligan and jeory belong in the gutter.

You can’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. Right, Andy? As per usual,  Gilligoon continues to paint Lutfur Rahman variously as an “Islamist”, an “Islamist sympathiser”, and “extremist backed”, blah, blah, blah. Dave Hill says,

As with so many stories about politics in Tower Hamlets the one about CDs by an extremist preacher being placed in the borough’s Town Hall turns out to be more complicated than you may have heard. Such material was indeed available in the reception area for a short time – I’m told, incidentally that it actually comprised one section of a DVD – but how exactly did it get there?

Good question. Hill provides a statement from Tower Hamlets council which reads,

Tower Hamlets Council is committed to promoting equality, challenging prejudice and fostering cohesive communities. Last week as part of Islam Awareness Week, materials were issued from a stall at the Town Hall. We recognise that the inclusion of some individuals and comments in the materials issued may have caused offence and are not appropriate for dissemination in Council premises. This is not acceptable. We will work with our partners to seek to ensure this does not happen in future.

My guess is that some people took it upon themselves to distribute DVDs or CDs without the mayor’s knowledge or approval. Yet, Kennite appears to believe that this was sanctioned by Rahman himself.  Hill explains,

My information is that the offending DVDs were put on display by members of the Council’s Muslim Staff Association on its behalf. The MSA is an organisation representing the Council’s Muslim employees and therefore not the same thing as the Council itself.

I’m not one to put forward conspiracy theories but there is quite possibly more here than meets the eye.

As I said before, when I visited the Town Hall, there were no CDs of any description in the foyer. In fact, the place was empty save for me and the security guard.

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Life on Gilligan’s Island (Part 9)

Part 9 has followed Part 8 rather quickly. I was looking at Dave Hill’s London blog and found this,

The more homework I do about the Tower Hamlets political scene, the more confident I am that reducing it to some sexy-sexy tale of scary-scary Muslims secretly plotting to turn the East End into an Islamic mini-state does it no justice at all.

For whatever reason, Gilligan won’t agree with that. While Kennite paints Lutfur Rahman as some swivel-eyed Islamist lunatic, the reality is rather more prosaic: the whole affair seems to hinge on the tensions between Helal Abbas and Rahman who were once friends and like many friends, they fell out with one another. This is where Kennite enters the frame: he’s used this ordinary tale of friends falling out as the starting point for his smear campaign against Rahman. But the friends angle simply wasn’t enough (presumably his handlers at The Torygraph wanted more juicy and salacious gossip than a pair of friends falling out) and Kennite made the allegation that the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) was a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism and thus Rahman was tainted by association. In his blog on 8 October Hill says,

I think the IFE would quarrel with the label “fundamentalist” and the description “infiltrating” but not with being characterised as engaging with politics

That may be so, but Kennite prefers fiction to truth as today’s blog demonstrates,

London Citizens are good people but I’ve gone off them a bit since realising that two major constituents of Telco (their East London chapter) are our favourite Islamic supremacists – the Islamic Forum of Europe and the East London Mosque. I’m not quite sure how this stacks up with Telco’s declared aims of democratic decisionmaking and of promoting equal respect and dignity for all, regardless of faith – things the IFE definitely doesn’t believe in.

The only ‘evidence’ that Kennite has provided of IFE’s alleged “Islamic supremacism” comes from his slipshod Dispatches programme for Channel 4. He repeats the accusation that Rahman is a fundamentalist here,

The evidence of Lutfur’s links with fundamentalism has been in the public domain for the best part of eight months

Funny that. According to Christine Shawcroft (whose account of the NEC meeting Kennite rejected), Rahman is no fundamentalist; he was even seen in a local restauarant where alcohol was being served. There was a mix of Bangladeshi and ‘white’ women and no hijabs or niqabs in sight.

Ted Jeory, whom Kennite refers to as a “colleague”,  received a letter from Rahman rebutting Gilligan’s allegations of “Islamic fundamentalism”.

Somehow we don’t think Kennite will be convinced and will produce more wildly inaccurate stories of Muslim supremacists running amok on the streets of Tower Hamlets.

The weakest part of the blog is where Kennite compares Rahman to Richard Nixon. First Dave Nellist, now Nixon. Is there no depth to which this ‘journalist’ won’t plunge?

 

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Filed under Islamophobia, London, Media, Yellow journalism