With all of the pressures of the mounting economic storm blowing across the Euro zone, challenging Ed Miliband to mould a realistic alternative to the economics of the mad house, there will be many who will understand why seemingly more parochial issues do not necessarily merit the same degree of attention from him. George Galloway and Bradford West is the answer to that complacency, and in the weeks that have followed, Ed Miliband has taken himself back to Bradford to learn why Labour fared so badly.
He now needs to do the same in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, where years of infighting, and poorly thought through interventions from the Labour Party had led to a febrile increasingly combustible mix. In recent weeks, sections of the Right wing press descended on the borough; the job of the hired guns was to paint a frightening picture of a borough in the hands of ‘Islamic extremists engaged in serial vote harvesting’. Their object was clear; frighten enough white voters in outer boroughs to vote for Boris Johnson.
Sadly they were successful.
In a council meeting earlier this week, a Conservative councillor who is both Jewish and gay, Councillor Peter Golds – and who therefore should know something about being a picked on minority, publically thanked Mayor Lutfur Rahman for helping Johnson to win. “In a jocular note”, opined Golds without even a semblance of irony, “Can I thank the Mayor for the fact that his face appeared on hundreds of thousands of leaflets, thus helping Boris Johnson to win!” Over recent weeks, Golds has done more than his share to fan the flames, making lurid claims of vote rigging to national newspapers and hinting at intimidation to come at polling stations. Since Boris Johnson’s victory these claims have disappeared like an autumn mist. Sadly the baleful presence of Golds hasn’t.
This week, both Golds and the leader of the Labour Group, Joshua Peck colluded. They instructed their groups to vote down the first BME Chief Executive of an east London borough, Aman Dalvi OBE. Golds had reportedly shaken hands with Mayor Rahman, promising to vote for Dalvi, shortly before voting him down and potentially throwing the borough into crisis. Peck, whose day time job is as a senior lobbyist, specialising in ‘energy and utilities’ and boasting his local government committees on his company, MHP’s website, had also originally promised the highly qualified Dalvi his support. All of that changed, when Peck blamed Dalvi for not backing his appointment to an Olympics development quango run by Boris Johnson.
If the happy duo of Golds and Peck are not bound in some Faustian pact to try and make Tower Hamlets ungovernable, they need to persuade local people of their real intentions. Minutes after their hugely destructive double act, there was the violent altercation at the end of Tuesday’s council meeting, during which Labour Councillor, Kosru Uddin allegedly threatened to kill Independent Councillor, Rania Khan. For the first time in months, the Daily Telegraph managed to report accurately on events – most likely because the papers usual attack dog, Andrew Gilligan didn’t write the story.