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Calls for East End Labour MP’s suspension after racism row

towerhamletslogoA Labour MP has faced calls for his suspension following remarks that allegedly breach the guidelines on racism within the Labour party set out by its recent review.

Jim Fitzpatrick, the MP for Poplar and Limehouse, dismissed an ongoing debate in his local party about selecting candidates as the “same old worst of Bengali politics” in a social media post on November 2nd.

The tweet referred to an ongoing party procedure that decides whether the sitting Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, has to win a vote among members of his local party before becoming the Labour candidate for the 2018-22 term.

All local councillors have faced mandatory selection under Labour rules for decades.

Fitzpatrick’s comments have caused outcry in the local party, which has also been rocked by the suspension of Cllr Khales Uddin Ahmed, the local council’s Labour speaker. Mr Ahmed is unaware of the incident for which he has apparently been suspended.

Local Labour members and anti-racism campaigners feel that Fitzpatrick’s comments on the Bengali minority fall foul of Baroness Chakrabarti’s recent review into racism in the Labour party, which made clear that “abusive references to any particular person or group based on actual or perceived physical characteristics and racial or religious tropes and stereotypes, should have no place in Labour Party discourse.

At the time, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show that: “Anti-Semitism is absolutely abhorrent and wrong. Anyone that commits any act of anti-Semitism, that makes anti-Semitic remarks, is auto excluded from the party and an inquiry follows immediately.” It is presumed that this position applies in all race relations complaints.

Faduma Hassan, who sits on the board of BAME Labour, the advocacy body for ethnic minority Labour members, said:

After his support for reselecting Jeremy Corbyn over the summer less than a year into his term, it seems absurd for Fitzpatrick to argue that a routine internal elections procedure represents some kind of Bengali plot.

We didn’t put up with this dog-whistle innuendo against from the Conservatives against Sadiq Khan over the summer and we won’t put up with it in our own party.”

A local party source added:

Jim has fine form for this stuff and has made similar remarks on record in the past. The principles outlined in the long-overdue Chakrabarti Report should be upheld and he should be suspended pending an investigation.”

8 Comments

  1. John P Reid says:

    This is a non story used to try to oust Fitzpatrick, no mention of the multiple votes,and rigging from various homes in that area

    1. Dave Olanuga says:

      You’ll find the argument in many places that his labour party are known to have manufactured vote rigging for decades.

  2. James Martin says:

    Hmm, well for starters how is the Bengali politics comment racist given it is a link in Jim Fitzpatrick’s Twitter to this article (strangely omitted from this LF article): https://trialbyjeory.com/2016/11/02/tower-hamlets-labour-john-biggs-lutfur-rahman-rabina-khan-plot/

    Now I don’t really follow London politic. In fact I’ve always thought it a very strange place (and not just politically, you can’t get mushy peas for love nor money in chippy’s for starters), but in Labour Party terms I had it down as being dominated by a bunch of middle class trendies when I became politically active in the 1980s, and that view has not altered one little bit. In this instance we have issues around the Bengali community in Tower Hamlets, something that again I have no knowledge, however whether you agree with the article in the link or not it is hard to describe it, and Fitzpatrick’s comment as ‘racist’.

    Perhaps it would much better if LF had articles around policies and organising (including how to take on the right wing in CLP’s) rather than the personalised, gossipy, inference based crap that uses that old chestnut of anonymous sources (again hmm) and dodgy student wanker like shouts of ‘racism’ like this one?

    1. Dave Olanuga says:

      What’s not racist about it? I wonder if people would think the same about it if he had said ‘same old worst of Jewish politics’ or such. Tower Hamlets has had it’s reputation dragged through the mud and the last thing the Bangladeshi community need is for their MP to make comments against them based on alleged occurrences or ‘plots’.

  3. Imran Khan says:

    James Martin. You have written rather a long post to say that you don’t know anything about Tower Hamlets. Thanks you.

  4. Tim Bernards says:

    If you can’t insult Bengali politics, can you insult British politics? What about French? Is it an unfair racial assumption to say Italian politics sucks?

    I don’t understand why these things are controversies. People live and die by the judgements made in parliament every day. “But I had my feelings hurt!” yeah alright.

    Join the queue behind people with more important grievances. In millenial speak, the people suffering from the ‘macro-aggressions’; the thefts and the violence.

  5. Eleanor Firman says:

    why is discussion of class relations only applicable to industrialised societies in the west? yes colonialism and imperialism may have imposed capitalist relations on large parts of the globe but capitalism isn’t the only kind of class-based society, eg feudalism prevailed for centuries here before capitalism. The “worst” kind of any politics anywhere is that based on privileges for a few.

  6. […] Bengalis attempting to take over the local authority. The most vivid example of this was the racist tweet by Jim Fitzpatrick […]

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