Tower Hamlets probe is just a racist attack on democracy
The electoral court currently investigating Tower Hamlets council in east London is part of an attack on mayor Lutfur Rahman and his administration.
It’s also an attack on local democracy in Tower Hamlets more generally. And it has a very strong undercurrent of racism.
There is a long tradition in the borough, going back to attacks on the Respect party and earlier.
The impression is created that people in Tower Hamlets—by which they mean Bangladeshi people—are political zombies.
The narrative becomes that they just do what they’re told and vote for who they’re told to and as a result it’s very easy to cheat.
Late last year we already had Tory minister Eric Pickles sending unelected commissioners to run parts of our council. They have no democratic accountability.
Now this electoral court is technically separate, because it’s not part of the government. But it’s part of the same process.
I’m not here to defend the mayor and I’m not in his organisation. If investigations reveal wrongdoing then it should be dealt with.But as far as I can see it’s a campaign of smears.
Pickles acted on a report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers administrators. It is very long and cost £1 million to produce.
It doesn’t say anything specific that’s illegal or systematic. But it’s enough to begin to create an impression. It gets about that the mayor is “a bit dodgy”—with no evidence.
As it gets closer to the election I think we’ll see more of this.
It comes from people who want to see Tower Hamlets become once again a safe seat for Labour.
They want it to be like nearby Newham, where Labour has a complete political monopoly.
But that’s not the tradition here—and they don’t like it.
They don’t like to be challenged. They didn’t like Respect. They don’t like the mayor.
And they won’t like it if I stand as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).
Glyn Robbins, East London
There’s no debate with Nazis who want us dead
Karl Nicholas thinks letting Nazis speak exposes them (Letters, 7 February). But when Nazi Nick Griffin was given a platform on the BBC’s Question Time, 2,000 people joined his party.
Allowing fascists to speak has consequences—such as racist attacks. You wouldn’t give an axe to an axe-murderer. So why give a platform in the name of freedom to people who would crush all freedom?
All fascists “debate” is the right of black, Asian, LGBT people and leftists to exist. Is the Holocaust not warning enough? Hitler himself said the Nazis could have been stopped while still small.
In Britain today the fascists are small precisely because we have done this.This lesson is important—”no platform” works.
Saba Shiraz, Black students officer Birkbeck college
We mustn’t let our anger melt away
Despite another record hot year and aggressive fracking plans, there is no debate on climate change in the election so far. This could be that the main parties have little to say—or it could be that environmental protest has gone off the boil.
Time to Act, a major London demonstration on Saturday 7 March, must change the complacency and force a debate. This polluting economy will make the world more than four degrees hotter, devastate agriculture and bring mass starvation.
We can make a difference. Organise meetings. Sell copies of the One Million Climate Jobs report. Build this march on a huge scale. Our future depends on it.
Alan Burgess, Portsmouth
There is an alternative
Ian Almond and Stacey Mackay argue that Labour is the best we can hope for (Letters, 7 February) But as Labour has failed the working class, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is rising like a phoenix against austerity.
When union leader and TUSC co-founder Bob Crow died last year, even his detractors had to admire him. He challenged the capitalists head on. Now the tide is turning. Workers are saying no more paying for the bankers’ crisis. No more benefits, wage or pension cuts. No more food banks, NHS waiting lists or runaway rents.
We are tired of the politicians in the Westminster ivory tower. And we are taking them on for our class.
Esther Ball, Birmingham
Anti-racists need cash
Ukip is on the warpath and Labour, Tory and Lib Dem politicians are all brushing up their anti-immigrant credentials. So the Movement Against Xenophobia (Max) plans a poster campaign in the last two weeks before the general election.
Max plans to put a series of posters in train stations and the London Tube. But it needs the cash to do it—something like £66,000. If you can, please make a contribution via the crowd-funding site below.
Alan Gibson, MAX steering committee
Don’t frack Welsh valleys
The Welsh Assembly’s pledge to ban fracking is welcome. It shows the effect of protests—and the coming elections. But we’ll have to wait for the proof of the pudding. Will Neath Port Talbot council stand firm against fracking near Pontrhydyfen village in the Afan valley?
People there are up in arms about the threat to their water and environment. But the fracking firm is pushing hard, coming back with a second application after its first was rejected. And will the ban cover undersea drilling, like the plans to burn coal seams under Swansea Bay?
Huw Pudner, Swansea
Family can’t live in Oxford
I read about a family in Oxford who the council offered accomodation in Coventry—50 miles away from family and friends. They refused to move—and have since been removed from the Oxford council housing waiting list. Disgusting!
Paul Harris, on Facebook
The SNP isn’t good enough
Socialist Tommy Sheridan calls for a blanket vote for the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the general election. This is extremely problematic. The SNP is pro-business, pro-European Union and pro-austerity. Some left groups are abstaining. But TUSC and the Scottish Socialist Party will both stand. We’ll see an SNP landslide. But putting up a left opposition can lead to future successes.
Liam Currie, Motherwell
A scape-coat for austerity?
Maybe Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is the rebel who’ll finally defeat the cuts. Or maybe he isn’t.
But don’t ask the British media about this important question. They are only interested in “reporting” on his jacket!
Carla Cranston, Ipswich