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The EU Referendum: The Left Faces a Descent into Irrelevance.

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No2EU:Rising?

The debate on British membership of the EU is the next big issue for the left.

This is a major story today,

The vote on Britain’s membership of the European Union may still be months away, but already the scare stories have started. One that is particularly revealing is the question about who should be allowed to vote in the in/out referendum. The Mail on Sunday reported Tory concerns that one million Europeans who are not UK passport holders could be allowed to cast their vote. Conservative MP Philip Davies told the paper that there was “massive concern that the referendum could be rigged to deliver a desired outcome. But it would be unjustifiable if EU nationals were allowed to take part in this vote”.

Guardian.

Expect loads of gobshite in this vein over the coming months.

As Cameron set out his stand this morning it would appear that the major renegotiation on the UK’s relation with the EU will over such issues as the right to cut EU migrants’  benefits.

Last night on Question Time Owen Jones came out with curious idea that the EU was all about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

He expressed the opinion that it was right to have a referendum on EU membership – no doubt on the basis that a non-EU UK would magic itself away from TTIP.

And no doubt global capitalism.

If Owen is ‘pro-E’ he has already conceded too much to the right by (1) Starting his comments in this way, without mentioning any social benefits of the EU and (2) Agreeing that somehow we need this referendum.

We predict that the left, having indulged Scottish nationalism against the UK ‘Imperial’ state, is about to take the same line on the ‘Imperialist’ EU.

That if Cameron ‘renegotiates’ a deal involving hitting at EU migrants, those voting for the EU will be accused of abetting  the Tories, and being racist to boot.

We also predict that the dead hand of No2EU shall rise from the grave.

No2EU – Yes to Workers’ Rights stood 46 candidates in seven regions in the May 22 euro election including London, North West, Eastern, Wales, Scotland, Yorks and Humber and West Midlands.

Electoral results of this lash-up, 2014.

Constituency Candidates Votes %
East of England Brian Denny, Eleanor Donne, Steve Glennon, David Goode, Leonardo Impett, Teresa MacKay, Emily Thompson-Golding 4,870 0.3
London Edward Dempsey, Alex Gordon, April Ashley, Annie Ngemi, Mary Davis, Paula Mitchell, Natasha Hoarau,[22] Michael Carty 3,804 0.2
North West England Roger Bannister, George Waterhouse, Jacqueline Grunsell, John Metcalfe, George Tapp, Mark Rowe, James Healy, Kevin Morrison 5,402 0.3
West Midlands Dave Nellist, Pat Collins, Joanne Stevenson, Sophia Hussain, Paul Reilly, Andy Chaffer, Amanda Marfleet 4,653 0.3
Yorkshire and the Humber Trevor Howard, Mary Jackson, Carrie Hedderwick, Adrian O’Malley, Steven Andrew, Iain Dalton 3,807 0.3
Scotland John Foster, Andrew Elliot, Murdo Maclean, Gail Morrow, Brian Smith, Ritchie Veitch 6,418 0.5
Wales Robert Griffiths, Claire Job, Steve Skelly, Laura Picand 2,803 0.4
Total 31,757 0

 

We say: Yes to the EU! Yes to Internationalism! Yes to working with our sisters and brothers in Europe to change the EU!

 

 

General Election: From Despair to Defiance – and Galloway Lost to Naz Shah.

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One Good Piece of News at least.

The visit of Lewis the Eighteenth, April 1814.

“There was a great crowd in the street when he came out of the hotel, and immense applause; the mob crying out, ‘God bless your Majesty!” as if they owed him all they had, and even their lives.”

((Zechariah Coleman, a radical and dissenter) “who did not hooray, and did not even lift his hat when the Sacred Majesty appeared on the hotel steps” is challenged by a drayman for not saluting the Bourbon King.

A full fight ensures.

Zechariah is rescued by Major Cartwright, “Holloa, my republican friend, d—n it, that’s a nasty lick you’ve, and from one of the people too; that makes it harder to bear.”

The Revolution in Tanner’s Lane. Mark Rutherford. 1887.

But, Lord, remember me an’ mine
Wi’ mercies temporal and divine,
That I for grace an’ gear may shine,
Excell’d by nane,
And a’ the glory shall be Thine,
Amen, Amen!

Holy Willie’s Prayer. 1785. Robert Burns.

“Election 2015: Ed Miliband resignation imminent as Conservatives win stunning majority”

Election results: Conservatives on course for majority.”

Ed Balls loses Morley & Outwood seat.”

Election 2015: SNP wins 56 of 59 seats in Scots landslide.”

Today is not a good day.

Not a good day at all.

The People have dealt us a nasty lick.

The vote for common decency – the Labour Party – did not succeed in squaring up to the Right.

Labour leader Ed Miliband is expected to step down later after his party’s disappointing general election showing, the BBC has learned.

Labour suffered heavy losses at the hands of the SNP, with the Tories forecast to achieve a majority.

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said Mr Miliband was expected to address party staff, with two senior sources saying he would quit.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls was among the party’s big-name casualties.

It also lost its election campaign chief Douglas Alexander and its leader in Scotland Jim Murphy.

BBC

In England the electorate of Eatanswill has returned, like a dog to its vomit,  to David Cameron.

In Scotland, the alliance of Holy Willie and Oor Wullie has dealt a blow to more than the Labour Party – it’s hit socialism itself.

Those who imagine that the SNP’s politics of looking after their “ain folk” has managed to strike a blow against the British Imperial state, heralding a new politics of the ‘anti-austerity’ left, in association with Rupert Murdoch,  will soon find that reading Tom Nairn is no substitute for the realities of the egoistic and narrow goals of the nationalists.

Farage looks on course to fail to win a seat for UKIP.

If we can draw some further (meager) comfort from the results this is it:  George Galloway blames ‘racists and Zionists’ for defeat to Naz Shah in Bradford West.

There must be a lot of racists and Zionists in Bradford West as this was the vote, “The Respect party MP, lost his Bradford West seat with 8,557 votes to Shah’s 19,977.”

And hyenas “George Galloway has vowed to return to politics after losing his Bradford West seat, with a bizarre speech where he talked about lions and hyenas.”

So much for the strategy of aligning with Islamism.

There was no breakthrough for the left of the Labour Party.

The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC)  was, and remains, irrelevant.

Its votes were derisory.

In Ipswich we have this, much more depressing, news, “Election 2015: Ben Gummer increases his majority as he fights off David Ellesmere to hold Ipswich seat.”

Yesterday about 5 pm, as I was passing down Upper Brook Street, there was a street person on a stretcher surrounded by paramedics and Ipswich ‘Rangers’. Walking round the corner, in Dog’s Head Street, one of another group,  obviously buzzing on a mixture of illegal and legal highs, asked me for dosh. Back in the Street, entering Sainsbury’s a woman tried to reassure her tiny daughter, “You see things like this in London all the time”.

Quite.

We’ll see a lot more of that with Cameron’s victory.

I am in the mood to make sure that we fight this every inch of the way.

Green Party Goes Post Modern.

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The Most Inane Slogan Ever? 

Postmodernism was fashionable about thirty years ago.

It was a cluster of artistic, literary, architectural styles and philosophical ideas. These overlapping trends were “characterised by the self-conscious use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories.”

Philosophically it was “critical of the foundational assumptions and universalizing tendency of Western philosophy. It emphasizes the importance of power relationships, personalization and discourse in the “construction” of truth and world views.”

Amongst the more directly political themes advanced by theorists associated with the term were;

  • Relativism – the idea that not only are there no “foundational” truths, but that political practice should be directed against agencies that seek to work with any.
  • An end to “meta-narratives” – to overarching accounts of history, such the Marxism (historical materialism), or the economy (neo-liberalism).
  • Support for identity politics: ” The identity of the oppressed group gives rise to a political basis around which they can unite.” Now known as “inter-sectionality”, ” intersections between forms or systems of oppression, domination or discrimination. An example is black feminism, which argues that the experience of being a black woman cannot be understood in terms of being black, and of being a woman, considered independently, but must include the interactions, which frequently reinforce each other.”
  • Other forms of localised fights against the dominant power relationships: regionalism, nationalist separatism, defending the rights of religious groups and other species.

 Green politics is a political ideology that aims to create an ecologically sustainable society rooted in environmentalism, non-violence, social justice, and grassroots democracy.

It cannot be reduced to postmodernism.

Indeed some of the strands associated with the Greens are described as ‘fundamentalists’ – deep ecology, primitivism.

But the ghost of dead postmodernism lingers over Britain’s Green Party – as it does over the Leninist Left.

As a section of  the left backs Lutfur Rahmen – dropping a concern for truth and the ‘meta-narrative’ of class struggle for the local Boss of Tower Hamlets and the ‘community’, not to mention the ‘rights’ of Islamists, the Green party is also undergoing its own ‘post-modernist turn.

 This list is not at all exhaustive.

But it show that what tends to come out of Green politics is a kind of ‘post-modernist’ strategy. This is a bit by bit accumulation of ideas, as relativism (the idea that people should ‘just do what they want to do – who are you to tell me what to do!) co-exists with very clear messages about what you should do (animal rights), and messages from the Authority of a wide range of groups (speaking ‘Asa’).

Their ideas are a jumble but the drift is clear.

The Green Party values the diversity of ways in which people relate to each other and the natural environment. It seeks a balance between a number of different processes which contribute to human well-being, rather than stressing one at the expense of all others. It refuses to treat any single value, whether freedom, wealth or equality, as a supreme criterion of political success. In an ecological society a wide range of lifestyle choices will be promoted as individuals and communities seek to establish the most appropriate means of implementing sustainability. (Philosophical Basis of the Green Party.)

We reject the view that wealth can be measured solely in monetary units, a view which allows its adherents to think it consists primarily of the results of human labour. This error has caused successive governments to pursue objectives which appear to increase the nation’s wealth while in fact they reduce it. Symbols of wealth, like money, reinforce the error and dominate political decision making. Economic growth is a poor guide to human welfare.

We seek a society in which people are empowered and involved in making the decisions which affect them. We advocate participatory and democratic politics. Leadership should always be accountable, consensus-driven and moral. We reject the hierarchical structure of leaders and followers.

Property laws should permit neither states nor individuals to treat their property in whatever way they choose. Instead they should aim to ensure that all people, where they wish it, have their needs met through access to the land and its resources, while maintaining its quality for future generations. Property laws should therefore impose duties on owners as well as granting rights.

We do not believe that there is only one way to change society, or that we have all the answers. We seek to be part of a wider green movement that works for these principles through a variety of means. We generally support those who use reasonable and non-violent forms of direct action to further just aims.

Imposing ‘duties’ on property owners, however much wealth is “symbolic” does not seem an easy thing to do by “consensus”.

Why is wealth not a ‘life-style choice’ amongst others?

It is hardly worth going further.

The Green Party’s policies that result are an attempt to look at the world as it is and the world as it might be.

As a wish-list, drawn up by (largely) well-meaning people they appeal to the kind of fragmented interest groups typical of ‘post-modern’ politics. In the 1980s and 1990s this was often called the  “post-materialist” constituency. Their French electorate is more recently described as “bobos” – bourgeois bohemians.

This political support is inherently unstable – as the rapid shrinking of the French Green (Europe Écologie Les Verts EELV) vote has indicated. This has gone from 16,28% (European elections 2009), 5,46 % (General Election, 2012),  8.95 (Europeans elections 2014) to 2,03%  in this year’s regional elections (départmentals). They are on the point of breaking into separate parties, one aligned to the ruling Parti Socialiste, the other to the Front de gauche.

It would be tempting to go into the experience of the British Greens in local government, notably Brighton, where there politics have singularly failed.

But since this will be instantly dismissed as the result of Coalition policies t finish, this is an example of the British Green’s approach.

Citizen’s Income is both universal, and very post-modern: it would be given to all (within a nation state), and post-mdoern – detatched from any relationship to ‘production’ class struggle and history.

But…

The Green party’s flagship economic policy, the £72 a week “citizen’s income”, would hit the poorest hardest unless it was made more complicated by including a means-tested element, the leading advocate of the policy has conceded.

The Citizen’s Income Trust (CIT), which has given advice to the Green party and been repeatedly cited by the Greens, has modelled its scheme and discovered it would mean 35.15% of households would be losers, with many of the biggest losers among the poorest households.

More Guardian.

Written by Andrew Coates

May 3, 2015 at 11:26 am

George Galloway: Religious Communalism in Action.

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Best for Bradford-page-006

These are, apparently,  GALLOWAY’S 6 DEMANDS FOR BRADFORD WEST.

Look hard and you will not discover any distinctively socialist politics.

Tower Hamlets schools have been transformed by Blair-Brown and Cameron.

Pleading for government offices to be transferred to Bradford, well….

Car Insurance? Bride Price?

Of the 193 member states of the United Nations, 135 have reconsidered Palestine (something we too support) – and you can bet that not many are socialist either.

He also stands for this:

 

View image on Twitter

 

Ah yes, this was his speech about Charlie Hebdo at the infamous ‘Rally of Hate':

 

we will not allow this Charlie Hebdo magazine to be described as a king of loveable, anarchic, fun book of cartoons.

“These are not cartoons, these are not depictions of the Prophet, these are pornographic, obscene insults to the Prophet and by extension, 1.7billion human beings on this earth and there are limits.

“There are limits. There limits to free speech and free expression especially in France.”

Embedded image permalink

 

 

Latest from Bradford (Independent)

..many confess to also being impressed by the Labour candidate’s candour. Riza, a mother-of-two leaving a grocery store emblazoned with Respect posters, said: “I think she was brave to stand up like that. It can be difficult to be an Asian woman and I think it shows a strength of character. She’s up against a lot of men – and I don’t just mean the guy on those posters.”

Mr Galloway suggests he is on track for victory with a potential tally of 15,000 votes, though the bookies say the result is likely to be close with the fedora-wearing Respect leader a narrow favourite ahead of Ms Shah.

In the event of defeat, Mr Galloway has hinted he may consider turning his sights on London and running as mayor. In the meantime, his fierce gaze remains firmly on Bradford West, where he has raised the issue of curbing the taxi app Uber as part of his pitch.

This the style, this is the man, beyond parody.

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Lutfur Rahman Forced Out by Racism, Says Socialist Worker as Former Mayor Hand-Picks Successor.

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Meanwhile Lutfur is Busy Picking Heir to the Throne. 

Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman forced out by a campaign of racism by Annette Macki.

Socialist Worker

The long Islamophobic witch hunt against Lutfur Rahman continued last week with his removal as mayor of Tower Hamlets in east London.

Election commissioner Richard Mawrey said Rahman had breached election rules and declared his re-election last year as void.

Rahman, who won with a 3,000 majority, has been banned from standing again. He has also been ordered to pay £250,000 in costs.

It continues,

The judgement perpetuates the racist myth of Muslims as passive zombies manipulated by their leaders. It says, “A distinction must be made between a sophisticated, highly educated and politically literate community and a community which is traditional, respectful of authority and, possibly, not fully integrated with the other communities living in the same area.”

It upholds the claim that Rahman used “spiritual influence”.  Mawrey cites a letter signed by 101 imams stating it was a “religious duty” to vote. But there was no outcry in March when a letter from Catholic bishops was read out at masses across England and Wales urging people to “think carefully” about who to vote for in the general election.

The judgement criticises Rahman for referring “to the Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets as if it were a small beleaguered ethnic minority in a sea of hostile racial prejudice”.

The article does not deal with any of the charges in the case.

There is no mention of the list of the offences Lutfur has been convicted of and the details of the manipulation of  ‘spiritual influence’, the screams of ‘Zionist’ ‘Racist’, was a reality in Tower Hamlets. That it very clearly worked for support for one party, Rahman’s Tower Hamlets First!

As far as we are aware the Bishops did not tie their ‘spiritual influence’ to any single party – if they did, shame on them!

If Socialist Worker discovers, through its ace -reporters, that Tower Hamlets First benefited from spiritual backing, that is religious campaigning that channelled the  backing of religious organisations behind Lutfur,  we have no doubt that they will discuss this: as every single mainstream media outlet has done at great, great, length.

Socialists have often suffered from this kind of interference, the case of Italy being one of the most notorious.

It might be worth a mention.

Annette Macki also makes no reference to George Galloway’s former warm endorsement of the same Richard Mawrey who made this “racist” prosecution.

But that was when a judgement went in Galloway’s favour. *

Naturally.

Clearly there will be no need for electoral courts  if Socialist Worker has its way.

Or indeed looking at ‘bourgeois’ and ‘racist’ evidence’.

Organising resistance

A meeting to organise the fightback against the attack on democracy on Tower Hamlets has been called for Thursday of this week.

Speakers were set to include Lutfur Rahman, Salma Yaqoob, Stop the War convenor Lindsey German and Weyman Bennett from Unite Against Fascism.

Last November some 1,000 people came to a meeting in Tower Hamlets after Tory minister Eric Pickles sentin a takeover squad to run the council.

This showed the potential to build resistance to the attacks. The general election will be another opportunity.

TUSC and Left Unity candidate in Bethnal Green and Bow Glyn Robbins will be leafleting in the borough this Saturday.

He said, “On 7 May we have the chance to tell the establishment, ‘We’ll decide who to vote for and who runs our borough’ and vote for a socialist.”

Vote for the SWP and make sure there’s more electoral courts!

They will “decide who to vote for!”

******

In the meantime in the post-modern political world of Tower Hamlet First and its ‘simulation’ of democracy:

Lutfur to offer Rabina Khan chance of becoming Tower Hamlets First mayoral candidate: scrutiny begins 

Trial by Jeory.

Further to this post last night, I understand from sources close to Lutfur Rahman that Cllr Rabina Khan is to be offeees the chance of being Tower Hamlets First’s candidate for mayor in June’s election.

She may well speak at the Water Lilly rally on Thursday night.

Lutfur’s camp are expecting some fall out from this decision. They know there is anger about the way this decision has been made, ie by Lutfur’s “kitchen cabinet” whose number includes of course Rabina’s husband, Cllr Aminur Khan.

They think it could even precipitate a number of THF councillors to break away from the “party” and speak out about how Lutfur has been conducting affairs. Some think Rabina is easier to control. So watch this space on that one.

Now that Oli Rahman has been overlooked, I suspect he may not feel the acting mayor role for six weeks is worth his job at the DWP. Read last night’s post for details on that.

This means he would have two options. He could quit as deputy mayor and thus acting mayor and thus leave it to someone else to nominate who should act as mayor until June 11. Clearly, Lutfur would like that person to be Rabina to boost her profile.

Or he could nominate a deputy before he resigns and that person could become acting mayor. He may appoint former deputy mayor Cllr Ohid Ahmed to that role.

I think Richard Mawrey QC’s aside that the governance of Tower Hamlets may need further examination will prove prescient.

More on Trial by Jeory site.

 

* Details of this (from 2007) here: George Galloway – Who Once Endorsed Richard Mawrey QC – Says Lutfur Conviction for Fraud and Illegal Practices “Shameful”.

Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. Peter Pomerantsev. Review: Coming to You – Now!

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Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. Adventures in Modern Russia. Peter Pomerantsev. Faber and Faber 2005.

The richest man in Britain is Odessa born Len Blavatnik. He made billions from Russian oil after the collapse of the Soviet Union, owns Warner Music and lives in a £41m mansion in Kensington. Many other billionaires, whose fortune originates in post-Communist capitalism, appeared in last weekend’s Sunday Times Rich List.

Russia, Nothing is True begins, is the homeland of the “new jet set”, the “the richest, the most powerful, the most dangerous.” In Moscow, Peter Pomerantsev continues, “performance” is what counts. Life is one “glittering masquerade”.

Moscow even has a high performing English language television station, available on free-view in the UK. Russia Today, now known as RT, was set up by Presidential decree and a generous budget. George Galloway MP has his own show, Sputnik. Other figures on the outer circles of the British left, including the Stop the War Coalition, and supporters of convicted electoral fraudster, the former Tower Hamlets Mayor, Lutfur Rahman, appear regularly on RT (though the man himself is oddly absent).  They are treated with the respect they perhaps consider that they unfairly lack in mainstream political life.

Pomerantsev, British born and educated, with fluent Russian from his émigré parents, plunged deeply into the whirlwind world of post-Soviet energy-capitalism. Nothing is True tells of his time working in television, “factual entertainment”.

As a producer Pomerantsev was employed for the station TNT, sponsored by the planet’s largest gas company. His first commission was How to Marry a Millionaire A Gold Digger’s Guide. He meets ‘former’ gangsters, like Vitaly Djomochka, who’d won fame through a mini-series about the life of criminals, The Spets, featuring real guns and bullets. He encounters a one-time Irish academic economist, Benedict, who’d run the gamut of Russian double-dealing and corruption before washing up at RT – only to be tossed aside when he will not co-operate with secret service. The Irishman, approaching retirement, retreated to Kaliningrad, the home of his wife. This Russian enclave in the Baltic has a waterfront that’s a replica of “seventeenth-century gingerbread German town”. These building are “hollow to the touch, painted Perspex, and plaster imitating stone, timber and iron.”

Raw tragedy comes to Pomerantsev when investigating the apparent suicide in New York of former supermodel, Ruslana Korshunova. She is linked to a “personal development” cult, Rose of the World. Its techniques come from a training programme used by Lifespring – the subject of numerous lawsuits in the United States. The television producer becomes interested in other post-Soviet cults. There was Kashpirovsky, who miraculously charged water via television with “healing energy”. There are the Night Wolves, ultra-nationalist bikers presently re-enacting the progress of the Red Army into Eastern Europe. There are lots, and lots, of other ultra-nationalists, New Age sects, like Vissarion’s New New Testament, and Orthodox traditionalists proclaiming anew Moscow as the Third Rome. Overt racists, Stalin worshipers dot the scenery.

Nothing is True is an in-depth trip into the landscape sketched in the BBC 3 series, Reggie Yates’ Extreme Russia. It could be read as fantasy reportage – part Narnia, part Mordor. But if this sounds a refined, and frankly, brilliant, essay on Kitsch – a word springing to mind during the portraits of the festivals of the Russian wealthy – Nothing is True is never less than serious. The Kremlin ‘demiurge’, Vladislav Surkov, “the political technologist of all of Rus”, may be Sauron. But he also Aslan. “The brilliance of this new type of authoritarianism is that instead of simply oppressing opposition, as has been the case with twentieth century strains, it climbs inside all ideologies and movements, exploiting them and rendering them absurd.” (Page 79) Pomerantsev worked as a generously paid consultant for a liberal media house, SNOB, which stands as a case study in the official tolerance and promotion of such “oppositions”.

Post-Modern Politics.

Surkov, we are not in the least surprised to learn, is a fan of post-modern theories of simulacra. Pomerantsev does not name the texts in detail, but you can instantly feel the presence of Jean Baudrillard at work – or should we say, his lingering hyper-réalité. From the façades of Kaliningrad to the wars between Moscow business-gangster clans, the Oligarchs, to the battles in Ukraine, there are so many kinds of ‘surface’, that even the master-players get lost. They speak « several languages at the same time ». This is not just double-think, a split between what you say in the public and the private derision you cover it with, but, contrary to Pomerantsev’s own judgement, but a boundless enthusiasm for playing.

Is this just a Russian phenomenon ? Former Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his Tower Hamlets First Party look in many respects to have come out of Surkov’s tool-kit. A little anti-austerity for the left, a little religious enthusiasm for the ‘community’, the brazen funding of ‘players’, the ‘management’ of elections, the cajoling, the bullying…..

People, and not just ideologies, get mangled in this game. The ‘anti-hegemonic’ message of RT seduces European nationalists with anti-EU messages, religious reactionaries by the Kremlin’s fight against homosexuality, the far-left by tales of fighting US imperialism, the grinning ninnies of the Keisler Report try win business converts by criticising Western financial malpractice.

But the baron-bureaucrats of Moscow are not principally interested in taunting the West from the inside. They are part of a wealth accumulating machine that will crush anybody who gets in their way: rival oligarchs and masters of democratic and ultra-nationalist simulation in the Ukraine, the Russian masses, that is, anybody who does business with them.

“The worst thing is, that in all this interactive ferment, there is not the even the shadow of a new political space, or a new public spirit.” (“Le plus grave est qu’il n’y a pas dans tout ce bouillonnment interactif, l’ombre d’un nouvel espace politique ou d’un nouvel esprit public.” Jean Baudrillard. La Gauche Divine. 1985.)

Posts by Peter Pomerantsev LRB.

Lutfar Rahman Found Guilty of “corrupt and illegal practices” in Tower Hamlets Election.

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Guilty of ‘Corrupt and Illegal Practices”. 

Lutfur Rahman found guilty of illegal practices in Tower Hamlets election.

Hat tips to: SH, DT, Rosie and Adam.

Reports the BBC.

An east London mayoral election has been declared void and will have to be re-run after he was found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices.

Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey concluded Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman had breached election rules.

Four voters took legal action against Mr Rahman, who they alleged used “corrupt and illegal practices” in the election last year.

Mr Rahman, who denied any wrong-doing, has been banned from standing again.

‘Evasive and discursive’

At the special High Court hearing, Mr Mawrey said the mayor had “driven a coach and horses through election law and didn’t care”.

He added Rahman, who had been elected for a second term in the east London borough, would be “incapable” of standing in the new election.

Mr Mawrey – who sat as a judge – described Mr Rahman as “evasive and discursive witness whose evidence was untruthful on occasion”.

The four voters mounted the legal challenge under the 1983 Representation of the People Act.

Lawyers for the four made a series of allegations – including “personation” in postal voting and at polling stations and ballot paper tampering.

Lawyers for Mr Rahman, who was re-elected for independent party Tower Hamlets First last May, described the claims as “invention”, “exaggeration” and “in some cases downright deliberately false allegations”.

However the Election Commissioner said that Tower Hamlets First was “never really a party but the alter ego of Lutfur Rahman”.

One of Mr Rahman’s aides Alibor Choudhury was also found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices.

Rahman has been ordered to pay  £250,000 costs.

Guardian:

The mayor of Tower Hamlets has been kicked out of office after being found guilty of widespread corruption in seeking office last May.

The mayoral election in the east London borough will be rerun after Lutfur Rahman and his supporters were found to have been involved in vote-rigging, seeking spiritual influence through local imams, and wrongly branding his Labour rival a racist.

Rahman, who has been banned from seeking office again, was also found to have allocated local grants to buy votes.

Judge Richard Mawrey QC handed down his verdict on Thursday after a 10-week hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice.

A group of four residents had called for last May’s mayoral election, in which Rahman triumphed over Labour rival John Biggs, to be declared void and rerun.

Rahman – who is Britain’s first directly-elected Muslim mayor – won the ballot after a campaign of “intimidation and corruption”, the petitioners alleged.

Mawrey was asked to consider if the election was fraudulent and should be rerun. If Rahman was found to be responsible, he faced being banned from office.

The mayor denied the allegations, which he dismissed as cynical and politically motivated.

During the course of the hearing, the court heard evidence from a handwriting expert that hundreds of ballot papers carried marks suggesting they could have been filled out by the same person.

Muslim voters were told it would be “un-Islamic” not to support Rahman in last May’s ballot, it was alleged during the hearing.

Rahman was also accused of making false statements about the personal character of Biggs. The Bangladesh-born mayor was accused of “undue influence” by “means of spiritual influence” during the campaign and on polling day.

It was claimed that a Bengali newspaper, The Weekly Desh, published a letter signed by 101 Islamic leaders which was “intended to have undue influence on the Muslim population of the borough”, Hoar said. Their pronouncements had been used to cajole and control many within the local 65,000-strong Muslim community, it was claimed.

The court heard that one of the petitioners saw a voter crying outside a polling station after allegedly being told by a supporter of Rahman that it was “un-Islamic” not to vote for him, and that if you did not vote for him you were “not a good Muslim”.

Bribes were also used to win over voters, the court heard, with meals given out on election day. Hoar said that there was evidence of “interference with voters” – including in polling booths.

Rahman won the poll in the first round of the election, with 43%, and Biggs was second on 33%. In the runoff round he beat the Labour candidate by 52.7% to 47.7%.

The long-awaited verdict comes after the communities secretary, Eric Pickles, ordered a team of commissioners to ensure the council is properly run after a PwC report last year found it flouted spending rules.

Pickles took control of key functions of administration when he appointed three commissioners to oversee grant-giving, appointments, property deals and the administration of future elections in the borough.

Other functions such as education, social care provision, street cleaning, housing and homelessness services are unaffected by this move.

Rahman denied any wrongdoing in council spending, as well as the allegations surround last year’s mayoral election.

Where are they now?

Bob Pitt:  Livingstone and Galloway rail against ongoing ‘witch hunt’ of Lutfur Rahman.

and  The smear campaign against Lutfur Rahman is an insult to democracy.

Seumas Milne, “The Muslim mayor of Tower Hamlets, the former Labour councillor Lutfur Rahman – often described as “extremist-linked” in the media – has been the target of a new media onslaught. No wrongdoing has been uncovered, including by the police.

And John Rees:

And how could we forget?

Oppose Islamophobic witch hunt against Lutfur Rahman in Tower Hamlets. Socialist Worker.

 

Update:  Met considers criminal inquiry into Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman

Rahman is told to vacate post immediately after election court judge finds him guilty of widespread corruption in seeking office last May.

The mayoral election in the east London borough will be rerun after Lutfur Rahman and his supporters were found to have been involved in vote-rigging, seeking spiritual influence through local imams and wrongly branding his Labour rival a racist.

Rahman, who has been banned from seeking office again, was also found to have allocated local grants to buy votes. He was ordered to pay immediate costs of £250,000 from a bill expected to reach £1m.

Note this:

Azmal Hussain, a petitioner who said he would have lost his Brick Lane businesses if they had lost the case, dismissed claims that the judgment would be seen as racist.

“The people who have really suffered are ordinary people of all races who were supposed to accept corruption because it comes from someone claiming to be against racism. It is corruption, pure and simple, and it should be challenged,” he said.

 

More:

We concentrate on the wider political implications of this, particularly for the left.

A very well-informed source – indispensable in fact – on Tower Hamlets and its politics is  Trial by Jeory.  Latest post:  Tower Hamlets election court: Judge Richard Mawrey QC’s full ruling

Written by Andrew Coates

April 23, 2015 at 12:58 pm