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Danish Election Defeat: Consequences for the Left.

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Anti-European Party Makes Gains in Danish Election.

The BBC reports:

Denmark’s opposition parties have beaten the governing coalition after a close general election.

With all mainland votes counted, the centre-right group led by ex-PM Lars Lokke Rasmussen beat PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s centre-left coalition, although her party is the largest.

Ms Thorning-Schmidt has now stood down as Social Democratic Party leader.

The right-wing, anti-immigration Danish People’s Party will become the second-largest in parliament

These are the results in Parliamentary seats:

  • The Social Democrats (A) – 47
  • Radikale, the Danish Social Liberal party (B) – 8
  • Socialist People’s party (F) – 7
  • Red-Green Alliance (Ø) – 14
  • The Alternative (Å) –9

Blue bloc:

  • Venstre (V) – 34
  • Danish People’s party (O) – 37
  • The Liberal Alliance (I) – 13
  • The Conservative People’s party (C) – 6

From the Guardian.

Consequences.

Flemming Rose, the foreign editor of the right-wing Jyllands-Posten, comments on Politico.

The anti-immigration and anti-EU Danish People’s Party received its best result ever. It is now the second biggest party and almost doubled its support compared to 2011. This will resonate around Europe, where anti-immigration and anti-EU forces are gaining ground in several countries. The big question is whether the Danish People’s Party will join the new government. If that happens, the party’s chairman, Thulesen Dahl, may become the next minister of finance. It will depend on negotiations with Lars Løkke Rasmussen. “Am I awake, or am I asleep and dreaming?” the founder of the party and former chairman, Pia Kjærsgaard, told Danish TV.

The Danish People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti) policy includes the following (Party site):

    • The aim of the Danish People’s Party is to assert Denmark’s independence, to guarantee the freedom of the Danish people in their own country, and to preserve and promote representative government and the monarchy.
    • Denmark’s constitutional monarchy must be preserved.
    • The Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church is the church of the Danish people.
    • Danish independence and freedom are the primary objectives of Danish foreign policy.The Danish People’s Party wishes friendly and dynamic cooperation with all the democratic and freedom-loving peoples of the world, but we will not allow Denmark to surrender its sovereignty.As a consequence, the Danish People’s Party opposes the European Union.
    • Denmark is not an immigrant-country and never has been. Thus we will not accept transformation to a multi-ethnic society.

The other electoral fact which will have a wider impact is that the ‘meat-free days’ Alternative Party (Alternativet)  got more seats than the left-wing Socialist People’s Party, (Socialistisk Folkeparti)  though fewer than the Red-Green Alliance (Enhedslisten – De Rød-Grønne).

They compare themselves to Podemos.

Wikipedia notes, “it refuses to position itself on the classical left-wing, right-wing political spectrum.The party states the aims of supporting sustainability and environmentalism, internationalism, social justice and entrepreneurship.

Their platform is grounded on the following:

The Alternative is based on six core values that characterise our internal and external working processes as well as specific political proposals.

The six core values are:
Courage. Courage to look problems in the eye. But also courage about the future we share.
Generosity. Everything which can be shared will be shared with anyone interested.
Transparency. Everybody should be able to look over our shoulders. On good days and on bad.
Humility. To the task. To those on whose shoulders we stand. And to those who will follow us.
Humour. Without humour there can be no creativity. Without creativity there can be no good ideas. Without good ideas there can be no creative power. Without creative power there can be no results.
Empathy. Putting yourself in other people’s shoes. Looking at the world from that point of view. And creating win-win solutions for everyone.

This is their ‘Manifesto':

There is always an alternative!

The Alternative is a political idea. About personal freedom, social dignity, and living, sustainable communities. A hope. A dream. A yearning. For meaning, sense and compassionate relationships. The Alternative is an answer to what is happening in the world today. All around us. With us.

The Alternative is a shout out. Against cynicism, lack of generosity and the ticking off which prevails in our society.

The Alternative is a positive countermeasure. The desire to bring real and serious answers to the environmental and resource crisis our planet is in the midst of. A crisis which every day worsens our own and our children’s and grandchildren’s opportunities for good, rich and meaningful lives.

The Alternative is curiosity. About developing our local societies, cities and nations. We want to take back ownership of the economy and of democratic decisions. At our workplaces and in the places where we live our lives. Without losing the global vision for the responsibility for finding mutual solutions with our neighbours – including those who live on the other side of the world.

The Alternative is collaboration. We know that private companies alone cannot solve these problems. Neither can the public sector, and neither can the NGO movement. So we need to invent completely new links and ways of working together where we use the best from the private, public and the NGO sectors.

The Alternative is openness. Towards trying out new ideas and creating solutions which work. The Alternative is also thoughtfulness. About understanding complex contexts and resisting the temptation of simplified arguments and pleasant illusions.

The Alternative is courage. To look problems in the eye. But also courage about the future we have to share together. The Alternative is also humour. Without humour there can be no creativity. Without creativity there can be no good ideas. Without good ideas there can be no creative power. Without creative power there can be no results.

The Alternative is already a reality. Around the world new types of institutions, businesses and social networks are being created. Whether in Copenhagen, Seoul, Durban or Rio. Individually they may not be that significant, but together they form a global wave of change full of vitality.

The Alternative is for you. Who can tell that something has been set in motion. Who can feel that something new is starting to replace something old. Another way of looking at democracy, growth, work, responsibility and quality of life. That is The Alternative.

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias is  influenced  by ‘post-Marxist’ populist discourse theorist Ernesto Laclau (Understanding Podemos. New Left Review. May-June 2015).

This ‘manifesto’ sounds as if one of the influences (if in a diluted form) on the Alternative is the  ‘programme’ advocated by John Holloway in such books as  How to Change to World Without Taking Power, screams and shouts included.

The Alternative’s  success in winning seats on this ‘ programme’  after only two years of existence will not be universally welcomed on the European left.

By contrast we draw inspiration from the good result of the Danish Red-Green Alliance.

For more information  on their background see, Denmark: Fresh openings for Red-Green Alliance as it marks 25 years. And their site (English section)

But all of this is overshadowed by the boost given to anti-European, anti-Internationalist, and xenophobic Dansk Folkeparti.

Update: already the Independent (just on-line)  draws this conclusion: David Cameron could have a new ally for his EU reforms.

The right-wing populist Danish People’s Party is the undisputed winner of the elections. It took 21.4 per cent of the vote, up from 12.3 in 2011.

The eurosceptic group has struck a deal with his right-wing allies to support David Cameron’s plans for renegotiating EU rules about migration.

The PM wants to renegotiate rules around freedom of movement and social security payments, but has been stonewalled by a number of other European nations – he’ll welcome support from the new Danish government.

But…..

While Mr Cameron will see the result as a welcome boost, having Denmark on-side doesn’t necessarily make him any more likely to succeed.

In one sense, the prime minister is just standing still – he lost a close ally late last year in Sweden after the centre-left took power there. Denmark is really stepping in to fill the gap.

Despite its international reputation, Denmark is also a rather small country, with a population similar to that of Yorkshire.

The PM also needs to find agreement across Europe to actually effect any change. With so many countries actively set against his plans, this will still be difficult to achieve.

Charlie Hebdo. Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racists. Charb. Review Article.

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 Posthumous Bolt of Light.

Lettre aux escrocs de l’islamophobie qui font le jeu des racists. Charb. Les Échappés. 2015.

“This text was completed on the 5th of January 2015, two days before the terrorist attack against Charlie Hebdo, during which Charb lost his life.”

The Lettre addresses the reader, “If you think that criticism of religions is the expression of racism” “If you think that ‘Islam’ is the name of a people.” “If you think that punishing blasphemers will open the gates of heaven for you.” “If you think that left-wing atheists play into the hands of fascists and xenophobes” “If you think that it is essential to classify citizens according to their religion” “If you think that one can laugh at everything except whatever is sacred to you.” “If you think that popularising the concept of Islamophobia is the best way of defending Islam” ………..

“So, dear reader, this letter has been written for you”

Charb (Stephane Charbonnier) would not learn of the response of those he spoke to on the first pages of the Lettre. He was absent after those seeking paradise murdered him, eleven of his colleagues at Charlie Hebdo, a police officer and four customers of the Vincennes Hyper-Cacher.

In France, and across the world, millions expressed their solidarity and love for Charlie and all the victims of the atrocities. But there remained those who responded according to the 19 ready-made ideas about Islam Charb listed. Liberals and those claiming to stand on the left, marked by every single one of them, were prominent amongst those who contributed to a torrent of abuse whose echoes still resonate.

Mark Maguire, on the Stop the War Coalition’s site, stated that Charlie was “a rather unpleasant French magazine” that published “anti-Islamic cartoons”. Others pitched in. It was ‘Zionist’ and ‘neo-conservative’, with the imprint of former Editor Phillipe Val who is said to have promoted these views. It was – it would be an easy task to cite thousands of articles – ‘Islamophobic’. It was vulgar and racist. It specialised in the pornographic mocking of sacred beliefs, above all of Muslims.

The Weekly, as the Socialist Workers Party template set out, was known for its “provocative and racist attacks on Islam”. Norman Finkelstein tried to create an industry out of this holocaust. He declared that the paper was not satire but “sadism” and compared it to the anti-Semitic Nazi Der Stürmer. An apparently anti-racist alliance, Unite Against Fascism (UAF), held a special session at their AGM on why “je ne suis pas Charlie.”

This hostility has not died down. ‘Rules’ for satirists appeared – which Charlie had apparently broken. It should have targeted the “powerful.” Will Self judged that satire ought to “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted”. Literary critics, enforcing these new Aristotlean unities of satirical style – breached no doubt by Rabelais, Hogath’s drawings, and the plebeian Viz comic, not to mention early Soviet anti-religious propaganda – have tried to establish their decree. (1) We could call it ‘satirical realism’. Even cartoonists joined the would-be Zhdanovs of correct caricature. As have authors. Read the rest of this entry »

Brutal Dispersal of Migrants in Paris: Left Protests Against “Unnecessary Force.”

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French Police Deal Brutally with Migrants.

The situation was tense in the day Monday for former refugees from the Chapel camp. Grouped in a camp in the 18th arrondissement,  for two days, they were brutally dispersed by riot police.

L’Humanité.

These events dominated the news on France-Inter this morning.

Several dozen migrants living in a makeshift camp in northern Paris were driven out Monday by French security forces, who used teargas to disperse activists and politicians who had come to support the migrants.

The undocumented migrants, who had been living in a camp outside the Vaclav-Havel library on rue Pajol in Paris’ 18th arrondissement, were driven out by French gendarmes and riot squads in an afternoon raid.

Officials herded migrants onto a bus, which left the working class neighbourhood in the north of Paris, shortly after 4pm, bound for an unknown destination. According to a police source quoted by AFP, 84 people were evacuated from the scene. Activists told FRANCE 24 that several migrants had been released by Monday evening.

About 40 activists and elected officials wearing scarves in the colour of the French flag were also at the scene to show their support for the refugees. The security forces used teargas to disperse the gathering, also arresting several activists.

The national secretary of the Communist Party, Pierre Laurent, said on Twitter that he was “revolted” by Prime Minister Manuel Valls’ choice to “send security forces against the refugees at Pajol”.

Lack of housing

Some migrants had been sleeping on rue Pajol at night, while others just came during the day to take advantage of food and clothes offered by several organisations who had set up shop there.

Most of the migrants said they had come to rue Pajol after police dismantled a camp near La Chapelle, in the same neighbourhood, on June 5. Almost 350 people, mostly Sudanese and Eritreans had been living there in squalid conditions, which FRANCE 24 witnessed when our journalist visited the camp before its closure to speak to migrants. The police were criticised for using unnecessary force during the evacuation.

Associations and numerous elected officials from the left criticised the lack of accommodation provided for the migrants expelled from La Chapelle, despite the fact that the authorities had pledged to find shelter for each of them, whether or not they are seeking asylum in France.

On Monday, Green party officials at the Paris Municipal Council “solemnly requested [Paris mayor] Anne Hidalgo to open a shelter for [the migrants] starting this evening.”

The La Chapelle evacuation and the one at Pajol on Monday are part of a series of police raids targeting undocumented migrants who have set up camp in northern Paris.

Last Friday, French forces also evacuated several dozen migrants camped outside the nearby Saint-Bernard Church. This church has played a recurrent role in France’s immigration history: in 1996, a group of undocumented migrants, including women and children, sought sanctuary in the church before being forcibly removed by French security forces. The dramatic event created a media storm and pushed the issue of undocumented migrants into the French public conscience.

France 24.

Protests today: here.

 

 

Parti des Indigènes de la République Against Mixed Marriage in Name of Race Struggle.

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There have been reports that the Parti des Indigènes de la République – much admired in the English speaking world by a fraction of the left, such as the US journal ironically titled Jacobin and Richard Seymour (often for their hatred of Charlie Hebdo) has been in the news recently.

In the May Issue of Le Monde Diplomatique Serge Halmi cited this statement by their spokesperson, Mme Houria Bouteldja.

« La perspective décoloniale, explique-t-elle, c’est d’abord de nous aimer nous-mêmes, de nous accepter, de nous marier avec une musulmane ou un musulman, un Noir ou une Noire. Je sais que cela semble une régression, mais je vous assure que non, c’est un pas de géant. »

The de(anti)colonial standpoint, she explained, is above all to love each other, to love our own, to marry with a Muslim man or woman, a black person with a black person. I realise this may seem a step backwards, but I can assure you it’s a giant step forward.

These are some of their tweets (hat-Tip K)

The Tweets read: the integration of whites into the marginalised is as impossible as the integration of the ‘indigenous’ into the republic.

For us races do not represent a theoretical concept, but a relation of struggle.

A white person converted to Islam can de-convert: but an Arab, even perfectly atheist, remains a Muslim.

For us there is a relation of force between the races, the aim of our organisation is to bring this relation in out favour .

When a White asks, How do you see the link between races and classes, one should not reply.

The struggle against domination, goes through the abandoning of privileges in favour of the privileges of others.

 

L’antisémitisme des Indigènes de la République

L'antisémitisme des Indigènes de la République

For more information see above.

The article largely refers to this:  Racisme (s) et philosémitisme d’Etat ou comment politiser l’antiracisme en France ?

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 1, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Islamic State Goes Costa Coffee in ‘Posh Holiday Resort’.

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The ‘Brief Guide to the Islamic State’ talks the about cosmopolitanism and ethnic diversity of the region that runs counter to the group’s medieval interpretation of Islam and the Islamic State militants’ destruction of ancient historical sites and images of mass killings it releases almost daily.

“If you were worried about leaving behind your local Costa coffee, then you will be happy to know that the Caliphate services some of the best lattes and cappuccinos around”, the guide reads. “The Caliphate offers an exquisite Mediterranean climate that has all the makings of a plush holiday resort.”

The guide states at one point that in terms of transport “everything is on the table: zeppelins, hovercrafts, trams, microlites”.

“Twix, Kinder Surprise, Cadburys – yes, yes we have it all”.

Channel Four.

Apparently the weather is great as well.

This does not look so appealing:

Written by Andrew Coates

May 20, 2015 at 12:09 pm

George Galloway – Who Once Endorsed Richard Mawrey QC – Says Lutfur Conviction for Fraud and Illegal Practices “Shameful”.

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March 2007. Socialist Worker.

“George Galloway, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green & Bow, spoke in the House of Commons on Monday night during a debate on public confidence in the integrity of the electoral system. Here is the full text of his speech, extracted from Hansard, the official report of parliamentary proceedings (© Parliamentary Copyright 2007).”

In Tower Hamlets last May, we witnessed the most corrupt election held in Britain since 1872. Hundreds of votes were purloined by crooks applying for postal votes and getting them redirected to an address sometimes just doors away from the registered address of the voter. Whole blocks of flats woke up to discover that every one of their residents had applied for a postal vote to be redirected to another address without their knowledge. Some 2,800 postal vote applications were delivered to the town hall in Tower Hamlets in the last hours of the last day, and many were brought in by sitting councillors. A total of 18,732 postal votes were registered in Tower Hamlets: a vast increase on the vast increase that had occurred at the general election the year before. Almost 15 percent of those were delivered on the last afternoon. A total of 946 postal votes were redirected to addresses that were not the registered address of the voter, with considerably more as a percentage in the wards where new Labour councillors were under pressure.

For the entertainment of the chamber, let me say that, despite all this, our party defeated the Labour mayor, the Labour deputy mayor, the Labour leader, the Labour deputy leader, the Labour housing convenor, the Labour deputy housing convenor – I could go on, but the house would lose patience. In one ward, New Labour councillor Bill Turner, who won by just 38 votes, himself had postal votes redirected to the address at which he said that he was living. The system is so utterly without basic democratic protection that it is virtually impossible to detect fraud with a sufficient degree of proof to bring the matter successfully before an election court, where, as might not be known, one must demonstrate that the fraud would have changed the result of the election. Fraud can therefore be demonstrated on a significant scale, but if it is not enough to change the course of the election, the matter is simply thrown out.

Two petitions were accepted, and were prayed in aid by Labour members. But we were only allowed to have the postal votes for the winning Labour candidate examined, and the only check that we could carry out was a forensic examination and comparison of the signature. None the less, the handwriting expert agreed by all sides in the petition identified 30 percent of the postal votes as questionable, and believed that the signatures were probably from different hands in almost half those votes – and that was just sampling 300 postal votes out of almost 19,000.

It continues,

On top of that – this is where the issue of complacency arises – a major police investigation into voting fraud in Tower Hamlets is ongoing, and has engaged four police officers full-time for the past ten months. No charges have yet been brought – I do not know if they will be, as it is so easy to subvert the system – but Assistant Commissioner Andy Hayman has already commented, on the basis of that investigation, that postal votes are particularly susceptible to fraud. Despite all the talk of there not being many prosecutions, the Crown Prosecution Service has confirmed that 390 cases of alleged electoral offences have occurred over the past seven years, and not all in inner cities. In Reading, only two of 46 postal vote applications examined were found to be authentic. Richard Mawrey QC *, who has been much quoted this evening, looked at ballots in the Birmingham city wards of Aston and nearby Bordesley Green. He said that there were at least 1,000 forged votes in Aston and 1,500 to 2,000 in Bordesley Green. The system of postal voting on demand is leading to a banana republic perception.

Like the minister, I am a former Labour Party official. I have been fighting elections for almost 40 years, almost always on the winning side. I know about elections. Now, for the first time in my political life, people ask me, ‘How do we know that they are counting these votes fairly? How do we know they are not rigging the election?’ I am not saying that that is happening, but there is a systematic undermining of confidence in the electoral process, caused largely by postal vote fraud.

Galloway observes,

Councils share the responsibility with government. Richard Mawrey QC considered our two petitions – the only two that we could get in front of the election court. I hope that the minister, who is laughing, will listen to what he said about a New Labour council just a few miles from Westminster, held by one seat that was only secured by this type of corruption. In response to our petitions, Richard Mawrey QC declared that the evidence that we presented showed ‘disturbing’ and ‘suspicious’ signs of ‘classic postal voting fraud’. He went on to say that a regime that allows electors to acquire postal voting ballots ‘on demand’ has been ‘an open invitation to fraud’, which has proved to be ‘distressingly easy’.

Yet in the wake of those comments by a Queen’s counsel, Tower Hamlets council, with its Labour majority of one, issued a press release that was such a falsification that Andrew Gilligan – remember him? The minister shakes her head. He was the only journalist to tell us the truth about the government’s lies on Iraq. He said in the Evening Standard that the council’s press release was a pack of lies. Who presided over all this? A woman called Christine Gilbert, whose intimate connections to New Labour are so personal that I would not like to go down that route. Suffice it to say that her reward for presiding over the tower of corruption in Tower Hamlets was to be made the chief inspector of schools at Ofsted. God save our children. God save the integrity of their examination results.”

Galloway is still fond of the electoral law.

Galloway refers Labour leaflet to the Director of Public Prosecutions

Posted by on Friday, April 24, 2015

A Labour election leaflet from candidate Naz Shah in Bradford West which is being delivered to every household in the constituency has been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions because it contains alleged false statements aimed at affecting the election result.

Respect candidate George Galloway has made his second referral to the DPP under Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. The complaint concerns an extremely critical statement about Galloway attributed to a local businessman, a pharmacist, in the Heaton Ward of the constituency, which the man denies making.

“This was brought to my attention by a senior consultant at the Bradford Royal Infirmary, who works closely with the pharmacist,” Galloway says. “I have made inquiries and I am satisfied that the man, a highly respectable man, did not say what he is quoted as saying. These quotes were printed alongside his photograph. He is shocked and angry and claims that Labour have failed to respond to his complaint. The quotes appear to have been invented and then included in Shah’s leaflet which is now being distributed by Royal Mail to every house in Bradford West. It is an absolutely despicable and desperate act by Shah and her team, but sadly absolutely typical.”

A defence under Section 106 of the act, False Statements As To Candidates, is that the statements made are believed to be true, “There cannot be a ‘reasonable grounds’ defence when statements are invented,” Galloway added. “I am urging the DPP to urgently investigate this blatant attempt to influence the outcome of the election.

But how times change when it comes to Tower Hamlets.

Meanwhile Nick Cohen comments: Tower Hamlets: how a dictatorship flourished in the East End.

See also this claim that Richard Mawrey QC was not “qualified” to pass judgement, and hinting that he had a “particular interest” in Muslims (see above!!!).  “sitting in judgment was one man only – not a qualified judge, only a barrister (assumed by the media and even myself, to be a Judge) – who has demonstrated previously a peculiar interest in Muslims and elections. This man found Lutfur Rahman guilty of multiple offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983.” “Jen Izaakson asserts in contempt of the judgement that “. Law is, explicitly, to be applied differently to Muslims than as it applied to the ‘agnostic metropolitan elite’, whoever they are (is this the bankers in East London?).”

Here: A review of the judgement in the Lutfur Rahman case.

We learn with no surprise that Izaakson is closely linked to Richard Seymour – the ally of the militant wing of post-colonial studies, the racist and homophobic Indigènes de la République.

This is how he describes his politics,

Jen Izaakson

Jen Izaakson @Izaakson

Rootless cosmopolitan. Anti-humanist. Historical Materialist. LSE grad. PhD.

Izaakson’s ‘demolition’ of the judgement is laughable.

This incontinent drivel states,

In court one particular afternoon I watched as five Muslim witnesses were repeatedly asked, “did you say it was haram to not vote for brother Lutfur?”, as if these people were religious scholars in any position to do so. Within Islam there is a debate about whether to vote at all in elections, not about which candidate is the godly choice! To make such a claim, to decide god’s will and choose a specific man above another as more fated by god, I imagine, though I’m no sheik, would be sacrilegious.

No you are not a sheik, or a scholar or a gentleman.

Obviously the electioneering of the Muslim Brotherhood’s various branches from North Africa, Egypt and elsewhere,  has not come to the writer’s attention, to cite just one case amongst hundreds.

If Rahman was indicated as the only right ‘Muslim’ candidate is this not a problem?

If the Labour ‘Zionist’ Party was not ‘Muslim’, then is this not a problem?

Is there anything wrong with religiously motivated campaigning?

Apparently not.

There is a lot worse in this torrent of dissembling.

Just take one example,

Postal Vote Fraud

The evidence for these claims was the testimony of Andrew Gilligan, a right-wing Telegraph journalist linked to cronyism claims that has hounded Lutfur for years. Gilligan simply stated that two Tower Hamlets councilors had two addresses. To be clear: it was found that Rahman was guilty of this claim due to it simply being thought that Gilligan’s testimony was ‘credible’ (believable), without any proof. All that was believed is that two councilors had two addresses and then Gilligan’s assumption they therefore must’ve voted twice was agreed with.

See above for Gilligan’s past.

All Izaaskson demonstrates that the judge accepted the truth of a witness statement.

Has he any other alternative ‘proof’ that it was not?

No he has none.

The rest of the criticism, on organised religious pressure (see our previous post) is equally airily dismissed as the action of ” exuberant groups” – and whatabout Labour supporters own enthusiasm!

We wonder why there was a trial at all, Seymour, Rees and Izaakson could simply look at this “natural” enthusiasm with a wry smile.

Because they too backed Lutfur and wanted him to win.

* Richard Mawrey QC,“The judge who disqualified Lutfur Rahman is one of the country’s leading electoral law practitioners and has handed down previous, scathing judgments resulting in councillors being removed from office. Richard Mawrey QC, a deputy high court judge, specialises in election cases and has developed an acute awareness of voter fraud in his experience as an election commissioner – although there have been calls to improve the way the court operates.” Guardian. Wikipedia.

Lutfur Rahman, the Left and ‘spiritual influence’.

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https://twitter.com/donovanian999/status/591292548578152448

Luftur Gets Support.

There have been a variety of reactions to the high court ruling by Richard Mawrey QC, on Thursday that Lufter Rahman, the mayor of Tower Hamlets borough since 2010, was guilty of vote-rigging, seeking spiritual influence through local imams, and wrongly branding his Labour rival a racist.

 This carries some weight.

John Rees on the outrageous dismissal of Tower Hamlet’s first elected Muslim Mayor

The Tower Hamlets electoral fraud trial was a political event from the beginning. Indeed, everything you need to know about the decision of High Court Judge Richard Mawrey to declare void the election of Britain’s first Muslim Mayor is contained in his summary judgement. In it he said that Muslims in Tower Hamlets are ‘not a real minority’ because, apparently, there are so many of them in the borough.

Like the rest of his remarks it will fuel every racist stereotype that has ever been uttered about Tower Hamlets, and it will legitimise the long and disgraceful war by Tories, Lib-Dems and the local Labour Party to stop the rise of Bangladeshi representation in the area.

Rees asserts,

The judge’s view is so baseless that perhaps we should not be surprised that he is refusing to issue the executive summary of his judgement that he read out in court.

And what of the main charge that Lutfur Raham used ‘spiritual influence’ to gain votes? The judge obviously imagines that Muslims are so backward and superstitious that they cannot make their up their minds how to vote without religious guidance, or to ignore such advice if they wish. How confusing it must have been for those Muslim electors in wards where the front-runners were both Muslims!

And in any case in every Tower Hamlets election Muslims vote for Labour in large numbers as well as for left of Labour candidates. The Mayoral election in which Lutfur Rahman became Mayor (for the second time) was no different.

And if the use of ‘spiritual influence’ in elections is enough to declare them void then there’s going to be a few other results declared null…in Northern Ireland where the influence of Protestant and Catholic churches will remain enormous at the coming  general election for instance. Perhaps the most amazing aspect is this spiritual law under which the judge issued his verdict is archaic, first introduced by the British in Ireland to stop Catholic preachers rallying the Irish! One doesn’t need much imagination to see how this legal relic will be used against Muslims.

He also says,

Even more staggering is the judge’s accusation that Lutfur Rahman ‘played the race card’. Actually he played the anti-racist card against a Labour Party establishment which has long abused the loyalty of its supporters in Tower Hamlets.

The Judge began (Richard Mawrey QC’s ruling on Tower Hamlets election court.   Paragraph 152)

“…just as undue spiritual influence under s 115 of the 1983 Act is not confined  to Christianity, it is equally not confined to religions which have the Christian sacraments or an equivalent, the threat of withdrawal or refusal of which can be used by clergy to influence voters. Similarly, it is not an essential ingredient of the section that the spiritual influence should be that of a monotheistic religion or of a religion which contains a belief in an afterlife where punishments and rewards are meted out for conduct in this life. In an appropriate case undue spiritual influence could be created by what some might regard as a cult, such as Mr Moon’s ‘Unification Church’ or even ‘New Age’”

He observed (Para 529) ,

The Petitioners’ case may be summarised as follows.  In formulating his campaign, Mr Rahman, as well as playing the race card, was determined to play the religious card. The campaign would be targeted at Tower Hamlets ’ Muslim population with a stark message: ‘Islam is under threat: it is the religious duty of all devout Muslims to vote for Mr Rahman and his party .’  (para 530) It was not, the Petitioners said, the first time that the religious card had been played. There was a persistent history of Mr Rahman attacking his opponents who happened to be Muslim by claiming that they were not, unlike himself, devout and pious Muslims.

Continuing he remarked,

Secondly there is a substantial body of credible evidence that the Imams’ message that it was the duty of faithful Muslims to vote for Mr Rahman entered the general campaign ,with religious duty being mentioned in canvassing before the poll and to voters attending polling stations on election day.
What this meant in practice is covered in the judgment section on ‘intimidation’.

(Para 590),  Groups of supporters would approach voters, particularly Bangladeshi voters and harangue them in a manner that appeared to some onlookers to be rather aggressive.

Several witnesses from different polling stations used the phrase ‘running the gauntlet’ to describe their passage into the polling station. Others spoke of feeling ‘harassed’.

(Para 591) Both English and Bengali speaking witnesses attest to THF (Rahman’s party – note) supporters shouting, amongst other things, that a) it was the duty of Bangladeshi voters to support Mr Rahman: this was normally expressed as support for Mr Rahman rather than for THF as a party; b) similarly it was the religious duty of all faithful Muslims to support Mr Rahman; c) Mr Biggs was a ‘racist. d) the Labour Party was ‘racist’ and ‘Zionist’; e) anyone voting Labour had been brainwashed against Islam.

Rees asks,

And if ‘playing the race card’ is grounds for declaring an election void are we now going to see other candidates judged by this standard. Will UKIP councillors or MEPs be held to account? Or perhaps it’s only an accusation that applies to people who suffer racism.

Absolutely right.

He also says,

That leaves the only meaningful charge being that of misusing funds. Yet that would have to be proved in the case of every single councillor for the election as a whole to be re-run, even if it could be agreed that this is grounds for re-running elections rather than a slap on the wrist that expense fiddling MPs receive.

A serious case here of whataboutery – which we will ignore: this is the judgement on Rahman, not on the whole council.

The conclusion Rees reaches is unfortunate.

The general climate of Islamophobia (the Daily Express is already gloating) makes any accusation half believed even before it is investigated. It is of a piece with the mounting establishment hostility to the SNP. The old system is fraying and any challenge to it is being met with a full force tide of reaction. If the establishment gets away with removing one of the few councils that came to power by fighting racism and austerity, that has an admirable anti-war record, then the whole left will have suffered a setback and every racist in the country will be rejoicing. We should not let that happen.

So the whole affair can be dismissed as part of the “tide of reaction”.

Not it can’t.

The Judge ruled that there was a great deal of politiking to gain  support – through grants and other mechanisms – in the Borough.

The Independent reports,

… former mayor, who was elected to a second term last year, had focused his electoral machine on the borough’s large Bangladeshi community – effectively bribing voters by targeting them with generous grants and using the influence of a senior cleric to tell Muslims it was their duty to vote for him.Mr Mawrey said: “The evidence laid before this court has disclosed an alarming state of affairs in Tower Hamlets. This is not the consequence of the racial and religious mix of the population, nor is it linked to any ascertainable pattern of social or other deprivation. It is the result of the ruthless ambition of one man.”

It is well-known on the left that is explained away on the grounds that “this is Big City politics”, “they all do it.” That in this instance Rahman had acted in this way to serve a progressive – anti-austerity and broadly on the left – platform.

That’s as may be – it’s contestable. But what Rees raises is the issue of ‘religious guidance’, which, he considers irrelevant, since everybody can make up their own minds.

Clearly this was not the view of Rahman and his supporters.

Is the ‘spiritual influence’ that Rahman used, and described above in the judgement (there is more detail in the full text), acceptable?

Is screaming in a mass about religious duty, hatred of  ‘Zionists’, and ‘racists’ (er, oddly conjoined), to everybody about to vote something part of “fighting racism and austerity”?

Is it ‘anti-racist’ to identify one candidate with one religion and appeal, above all, to ‘faithful Muslims’?

Is labelling – systematically – your opponent a “racist” (which is  libelous if written) a campaigning strategy to follow ?

Is machine politics left politics?

Instead of yelling,  ‘Islamophobia’, we should also look at Rahman’s connections with Islamism – including some of groups who can only be called racist – as part of his way of building support for his “electoral machine”.

What exactly is his stand on, and relations with, the Jimaat-i-Islami whose leaders have been accused of complicity in genocide, the mass murder of our Bengali sisters and brothers, in 1971?

This is apparently not a problem for Counterfire.

Nor, it seems, for former London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Lutfur Rahman: Ken Livingstone says he hopes corrupt mayor will appeal High Court verdict says the Evening Standard.

“Former London mayor Ken Livingstone has slammed a High Court judge’s decision to void Lutfur Rahman’s election, calling the Election Commissioner an “unelected bureaucrat”.”

A dissenting voice, James Bloodworth, reminds us of a few home truths.

Lutfur Rahman played the Islamophobia card to silence his critics. And too many on the left fell for it

We must ignore the inevitable cries of “stitch up” that will now follow.

Those of us who have lived in Lutfur Rahman’s Tower Hamlets in recent years had a fair idea that something wasn’t right. An atmosphere of menace and intimidation prevailed at council meetings and a cult of personality was thrown up around Rahman himself, with posters carrying the Mayor’s face (and little else) increasingly ubiquitous in the borough. Extremist preachers were invited to speak in council chambers and council grants were directed away from secular organisations in favour of groups which mainly served the Bangladeshi and Muslim communities.