The background to Rahman’s corruption

April 23, 2015 at 9:56 pm (apologists and collaborators, communalism, corruption, crime, elections, islamism, Jim D, Livingstone, London, SWP, truth)

Comrade Coatesy has provided excellent coverage of today’s ruling of the Election Commissioner, who has found Rahman guilty of massive corruption and illegal practices, commented upon his personal dishonesty, barred him from office and fined him £250,000. Coatsey’s piece is rightly scathing about the various “leftists” who have defended and/or covered up for Rahman, often joining in with the ritual cries of “racist!” and “Islamophobe!” directed at anyone who dared criticise him.

Though Cowards Flinch places the scandal in the context of an underlying problem with elected mayors.

I will, no doubt be returning to this matter in due course. In the meanwhile, readers may find the following background information helpful:

Rahman was previously the leader of the Labour group on Tower Hamlets Council.  However, he lost this position in 2010.  The same year he was selected as the Labour candidate to stand as the directed elected mayor of Tower Hamlets before being removed by the party’s NEC.  The reason for him losing both positions were accusations that the Islamic Foundation of Europe (IFE) had signed up some hundreds of members to the Labour Party to advance Rahman’s cause.  The IFE is part of a network of groups around the East London Mosque aligned to the Jamaat-e-Islami (aka Maududists), which has its origins in India but is now more significantly is a force in Pakistan and were chief amongst the anti-secessionist forces in the civil war that created Bangladesh.  They are Islamist in that they support an Islamic state based on Sharia law, but are (on the whole) social conservatives not jihadists.

Rahman won the 2010 mayoral election as an independent although Tower Hamlets is by no means a majority Muslim borough, less than 40% are Muslims but they do constitute the bulk of Labour’s electoral base and once Rahman was able to win this no-one could beat him.  Rahman’s position was strengthened by the party formed around him, Tower Hamlets First (THF), winning 18 of the 45 council seats in 2014 and under the mayoral system Rahman could run the administration drawing on only these councillors.  THF is entirely drawn from Tower Hamlets Bangladeshis (and one would assume, Muslims), although six have previously been councillors of both the Labour Party and Respect.  One of these, Abjoi Miah, was a key member of Respect and appears to have been the key link person between Respect and IFE/Jamaat.  He is now the central organiser of THF and a power behind Rahman’s throne.  The turn to the Labour Party and Rahman appears to have been because IFE/Jamaat lost confidence in the Respect MP for Bow and Poplar (in Tower Hamlets), George Galloway, after he made a complete fool of himself on Celebrity Big Brother.

There are three important points to make about the Rahman/THF rule in Tower Hamlets and the possibility of other councils becoming Muslim run:

First Rahman and THF do not present as Islamists.  For example, the council maintains an LGBT policy.  It might be the case that Rahman and many of the THF councillors are not Islamists but communalists who wish to promote the interests of those of Bangladeshi origins, something that is not without precedent in local government politics in Britain.  The most notable feature of Rahman/THF rule is not the establishment of an Islamic state in the East End, but the creation of a version of the millet system that existed under the Ottoman Empire whereby everyone is related to as a religious group.  It is common for local councils to run a layer of social services through local voluntary groups and charities.  In Tower Hamlets these are becoming increasingly demarcated on religious lines, that strengthens the links between people of Bangladeshi origin.  Through its Community Faith Building Support Scheme the council gives direct support to faith based groups, the budget for 2014 being £1.3 million.  Of the 2013 funding, although funding went to a variety of Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh groups, two-thirds went to Muslim groups.  It is such communalism and setting of religious identity into policy structures that is most problematic here, not any overt militancy.

Second, what is notable about Tower Hamlets First is their relative youth. These are not bearded elders in traditional attire, but young men in suits and whose beards are either neatly clipped or absent.  In sharp distinction to older generations, there are women amongst THF’s councillors.  This group has coalesced around three factors: the shutting down of channels in the Labour Party to their advancement, the rise of Respect in Tower Hamlets showing the potential to mobilise Muslim voters in a new way, and the organisation hub of Jamaat-e-Islami based on the East London Mosque.   The last of these is probably the most important, but one that might not be readily replicated elsewhere.  As Innes Bowen has shown in her recent book, Medina in Birmingham, Najaf in Brent, while most mosques in Britain are affiliated to the conservative quietism of the Deobandi and Barelwi strands of Sunni Islam, the East London Mosque is affiliated to the Islamist idea of Jamaat-e-Islami, with IFE being part of this stable too.

Third, success for Tower Hamlets First was tied up with the mayoral systems.  Tower Hamlets First do not have the spread across the borough to win the majority of the council seats, and have only 40 per cent.  Their control is thus based on winning the direct elections for mayor that Rahman did comfortably in 2010 where he took much of Labour’s vote, and more tightly in 2014 against a strong Labour challenge.

 Rahman’s links with the Islamic Forum of Europe and Jamaat-e-Islami are described on pages 27-29 of this booklet.


  1. Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

    Leaving aside the issue of corruption. Why are people being conned into having highly paid Mayors. There is no need for this. In most towns an elected councillor gets an appointment as Mayor and does the business. Even Boris is not needed and I have nothing against him except for being a Tory! Local government does not need a great leader.

  2. Jim Denham said,

    James Bloodworth in today’s Indie, pulling no punches (follow the link to see how Unite was, sadly, taken in by Rahman):

  3. Steven Johnston said,

    Private Eye have been a reliable source of information on Lutfur and the rotton borough that is Tower Hamlets. I feel sorry for the residents of this borough as they are the real losers.
    I did read once in the Morning star a fawning article praising Lutfur, wonder what their line will be now?

  4. Lutfur Raham, the Left and ‘spiritual influence’. | Tendance Coatesy said,

    […]  Essential  reading: The background to Rahman’s corruption […]

  5. daggi said,

    but the creation of a version of the millet system that existed under the Ottoman Empire whereby everyone is related to as a religious group. It is common for local councils to run a layer of social services through local voluntary groups and charities. In Tower Hamlets these are becoming increasingly demarcated on religious lines

    You don’t have to know about “obscure Ottoman Empire history”, as the judge might have put it, to be aware of such political-communialist systems. Look at Belgium, but it applies to language groups; or the Netherlands, where it applies to religious demoninations on so many levels (including how their public service broadcasting is organised).

  6. daggi said,

    Germany runs much of its social services through (Christian established) churches. It’s disgusting (especially as they are largely excempt from national employment and discrimination law; hold their own employment tribunals where the church is judge and accuser; and are almost entirely funded by the taxpayer) but few bat an eyelid, unless there is a scandal over the mistreatment or lack of treatment of raped women where their only local hospital is Roman Catholic.

    Across much of Europe, this kind of thing is the norm. In that respect, Rahman was being very mainstream, though not maybe in the way he and “THF” went about it.

  7. Jim Denham said,

    I don’t know anything about the author of this, but it’s good stuff:

  8. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    Some factual corrections (the politics are beyond correction) :

    Bangladeshi does not equal Muslim. It is a lot more true than white = Christian but there are a fair few secular Muslims (in the way that Miliband, I believe, calls himself a secular Jew) and that is true in Britain more so of those of Bangladeshi origin than those of Pakistani origin. The culture of secularism exists amongst Bangladeshis, even those of relatively conservative Sylheti origin.

    There are also a few Hindu Bangladeshis in TH ( about 12% of Bangladesh).

    There are a few (a very few, probably) white members of THF.

    Socialists should never see Muslims, Jews etc (except when people treat them in a way because of their religion) but workers and bosses.

    Very few Bangladeshis – in BG or in TH – would support those who fought against independence in the war although many, especially the young, will have no great view on something they know little about.

    So to refer to ‘Muslims being 40% of the borough’ is just wrong as is to refer ‘to other councils becoming Muslim run’ – no-one would call the CPGB of the 30s ‘Jewish run’ (a large part of the membership were Jews).

    It is not a phenomenon of TH to run services through faith based care providers etc. It is widespread (and unwelcome). Look at the number or religious bodies running schools now (many different religions) and many Christian bodies provide care services for councils throughout the country.

    And, yes, some politics

    Corrupt or not, Rahman should be allowed to run again and the population of TH (fairly, as fair as bourgeois democratic are fair) allowed to elect whom they want – tThat’s the coup. THF got 9,000 more 1st pref votes than Labour in the mayoral election.

  9. Jim Denham said,

    Mr Punch: how is it OK for you to write “There are also a few Hindu Bangladeshis in TH ( about 12% of Bangladesh).” but not OK for us to write “to refer to ‘Muslims being 40% of the borough’” ?(although you even get that quote wrong: what we actually wrote was “Tower Hamlets is by no means a majority Muslim borough, less than 40% are Muslims”).

    The rest of your “factual” points are incoherent gibberish that do not appear to relate to the specifics of Tower Hamlets, Rahman or THF, but to be vague generalisations. Like all Rahman’s supporters and apologists, you also entirely ignore the detailed factual findings of the court, presumably because you are incapable (and/or uninterested) in countering them.

    On your one “political” point: I take it you opposed Phil Woolas being removed and debarred from standing again as an MP, on purely “democratic” grounds?

  10. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    Maybe fair point about Hindus but I think they need to be referred to as such when considering the numbers of religious minorities in BG.

    I don’t know how points like ‘there are white members of THF’ can be ‘gibberish’ – it’s either right or wrong (it’s right – I can name some)

    But you’re not really reading what I write but then I’m not writing for a fool like you – just your audience.

    I only ‘ignore the detailed factual findings of the court,’ because I haven’t read the judgement (200 pages) but then neither have you.

    I also think Rahman may be guilty of some stuff (but so are Labour etc. It’s a bit rich to find he had bribed a journalist, when Labour didn’t even need to do that – the Standard et all naturally supported anyone but Rahman)

    But maybe I’m wrong on Rahman doing ‘wrong.

    There is a superb demolition job of the ruling by the Judge (he wasn’t even that, incidentally) by a Green party (so no Trot, she) member. Read it with open eyes. I wonder if she does shoot every fox but if she has, it’s a coup.

    (Woolas should have been able to stand again. I don’t know the veracity of why he was removed to comment on the removal.)

    • Jim Denham said,

      A pity you haven’t read the judgement(I have) before making your ill-informed and vacous comments, Punchy. How about doing so, before commenting further? here’s a link just for you:

      I realise it’s probably an effort for you to actually read a 200-page document, but do try, if you want to be taken seriously.

      The author of the rubbish you’ve liked to obviously hasn’t bothered to read the ruling, either, as she’s simply wrong on just about every point – especially mass postal vote fraud, which *was* found to be proven beyond reasonable doubt: see paras 364 – 372 of the ruling.

      Andrew Gilligan demolishes, point by point …
      … another wretched Rahman apologist, Seymour in the Graun (

      And before making any of the usual banal comments about Gilligan and the Telegraph, remember what Orwell wrote about things having really happened, and not having happened any the less just because the Daily telegraph reported them. Better still, just concentrate on answering the factual points raised by Gilligan.

      Finally (for now), I note that you think it was wrong for the electoral court to have barred Phil Woolas, although , once again, you admit you don’t know the facts (“veracity” sic) of the case. Once again, try educating yourself before commenting, you ignoramus.

  11. damon said,

    I can’t find George Galloway comments about this, even after wading through his twitter account.

    While I’m pretty pleased that this Rahman chap has been exposed as a fraud, I did think that some of the charges I was hearing being discussed on the London radio programmes, were quite weak.
    Of course the rather stupid Nick Ferrari went at it big time. As did his ‘nice but dim’ LBC colleague Iain Dale.
    Vanessa Feltz on BBC London wasn’t much better.

    They were making a big fuss – as did the judge I think, about ”intimidating atmospheres” at poling stations. That’s just subjective anecdote really.
    One person’s intimidation, to someone else could just be a bit of cheering and boisterousness. The same with this stuff about ”religious instruction”.
    It might not ”be British”, but is it illegal? It’s communal certainly, but communalism isn’t illegal. Otherwise the parties in Northern Ireland would be guilty of it. And so might the SNP.
    You could say that the Scottish referendum was also conducted in a climate of communalism – or something similar.

    The people who comment on the radio, do seem to go out of their way to avoid saying this is just the politics of Bangladesh come to Britain. Galloway’s doing the same thing in Bradford and Oldham right now. Even if you don’t like it, it’s perfectly legal I think.
    This won’t be the end of it btw. Because like in Bangladesh, politicians come and go, but the desire for people to have ”their man” in power doesn’t go away. It’s a necessity for a certain kind of politics to operate.
    For individual people and communities to prosper.
    The Irish political system used to be like that.
    So did city politics in places like Chicago.

  12. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    That’s poor, even from you, Denham.

    Your link is eccentric. It’s a rebuttal by Gilligan of various manifesto claims (we gave a bursary, etc.) and nothing to do with claims about malpractice in the elections!

    I agree that the Telegraph can report the truth and maybe Gilligan might occasionally (perhaps if he was talking about the weather) but I personally know that what he says may not be correct. He mentioned a minor structure near to where I go. So I went and looked at it and it was not at all as he reported.

    The paras you mention are also odd. They are the middle of something and do not make sense without some context. There is talk of 15+14+105 ballots (although I’m not sure they are all taken to have been false). If true, it’s wrong but I would expect all major parties to have at least that number of faked postal votes. Rahman got 9000 first preferences more than Labour. Do you really think he faked 9000 votes?

    But it is also a lot more ballot papers than the Green mentions. Let’s juts say her comments are interesting, then.

    And Damon makes a good point. “They were making a big fuss – as did the judge I think, about ”intimidating atmospheres” at poling stations. That’s just subjective anecdote really.”

    How would such work anyway? Vote for us or we kill you! Then you walk in – a secret ballot – and then absolutely you would vote another way.

  13. dagmar said,

    I don’t understand Master Punch’s protestations here. He says he hasn’t read the judgement and assumes Denham hasn’t as well.

    I have read it, “200 pages” is a misnomer, as it’s 200 pages of double-lined spacing, so about 80 pages of A4 would be a more usual way of putting it.

    Of that, maybe about 10% is waste-of-space (also ignorant and right-wing) pontificating about internal Labour Party factionalism of the 1900s, playing down the dangers of fascism, the EDL, BNP and so on.

    There is however also some more useful history about the background to why “spiritual influence” is outlawed in elections in the UK and how the law has been used in the past.

    The Woolas case also gets refered to. The brazen lies of THF and Rahman in the “evidence” they gave in case are also shown to be just that, and the judge also explains why they are so obviously so. He also refers to how THF tend to respond to every criticism as it being “racism” or “islamophobia”, and also referring to their Labour opponents as “fascists”.

    Regardless of all of this, I think it is perfectly reasonable that bourgeois elections are run by bourgeois laws and regulations. If they are broken – and in this case – severly broken – you lose your right to play this game (if only for 3-5 years, generally).

    And: – stealing voter registration forms;
    – faking postal votes:
    – lying in court, claiming to have voted at polling station X when it is proven – that that witness actually voted by post a few weeks earlier (of course, s/he may of course have voted more than once);
    – redistributing council grants to wards where one party (THF) got the votes, ignoring the needs of other parts of the borough (who voted Labour) as shown by council officers;
    -awarding council grants to organisations who didn’t even apply for them;
    -claiming your opponent is a racist, fascist and wifebeater, but only in one language in an otherwise entirely dual-language paper, in the hope English-only speakers won’t notice;
    -buying lots of personal political advertising on eight! local television stations (aimed at one section of the community), which was ruled illegal by Ofcom – these stations also got large grants from the council;
    – probably violence and harrasment by your party’s supporters at polling stations;
    – your witnesses all submitting identical witness statements in a language some of them could not write, read or speak (and in some cases only claimed not to);
    – and, yes, the “spiritual influence” of an ‘if you don’t vote for THF/Rahman you’re an apostate’ nature, coming also directly from the campaign team/agent;
    – forcing too many observers into the election count, far more that the party was allowed to, making it even more chaotic than it would have been otherwise;
    – ignoring Electoral Commission rules on registration and internal democracy of parties;
    – running a party with no bank account – or being able to demonstrate any evidence of any kind of accounting – but seemingly having loads of money to spend (on these, the Judge points out that obviously the Elec. Commission is more than a bit crap at doing its supposed job)

    On “treating” (i.e. buying food, and other stuff, for votes in the course of the campaign) the judge was willing to give THF and Rahman the benefit of the doubt, while saying other Judges might not have been so friendly.

    And that is just what I can remember without looking back at the report

    There are many other matters such as the selling off of an ex-town hall (or was it a swimming pool?) without following due process, and also selling it off to one of Rahman’s mates (if I remember rightly) for far less than the market price.

    None of that has anything to do with racism or Islam but with corruption and fraud.

    When Shirley Porter put probable Labour supporters (i.e. the poor), against the advice of her council officers, into asbestos-ridden tower blocks and took all the council grants away from Labour-voting wards and moved the cash for street cleaning to Tory-Labour marginals and Tory wards, and sold off the cemetries for 5p each, the left (and not just them) rightly screamed “election rigging”, “gerrymandering” and “corruption”.

    But Rahman describes himself as a “social democrat” and is seemingly (political) friends with Livingstone, Lee Jasper, Christine Shawcroft, and probably the likes of Socialist Action, etc. (Galloway is silent).

    So it’s just “racism”.

    Punch: any questions? Or can you tell us now what is racist about the court findings? Please do, I am intrigued.

  14. Jim Denham said,

    Jesus , Punchy: no-one’s saying that Rahman’s majority is entirely based upon fraudulent postal votes! Just that he and his people forged a large number as well as engaging in intimidation, impersonation and religious pressure (exactly like that exerted by the Catholic church in Liverpool and Glasgow not that long ago, and which the left opposed and fought without any fear of being called Catholicophobic or whatever). Then there’s the Tammany Hall-style use of grants to particular “community groups” in order to effectively buy votes.

    Read the effin’ judgement, will you!

    As for “subjective anecdote(s)”: I think you’ll find, if you think about it, that a lot of our views about politics, and much else, are made up of exactly that: then we use our critical faculties, personal experience and judgement to decide whether the anecdotes are likely to be true. How else are we supposed to operate in the real world?

  15. dagmar said,

    You put that a lot better than I did, Jim Denham.

    If a party, a candidate, or his/her agent is caught out being responsible for just one fraudulent vote, it is, according to the legal rules of the game, unfit to take part (for a while) in bourgeois party politics, the majority (or otherwise) being irrelevant.

    But this wasn’t just about fraudulent votes, or just about one fraudulent vote, but about so much.

    • Jim Denham said,

      I wouldn’t say that, dagmnar: thanks for your detailed rebuttal of the idiotic Mr Punch.

      • dagmar said,

        I just want to clarify, when I wrote
        “– and, yes, the “spiritual influence” of an ‘if you don’t vote for THF/Rahman you’re an apostate’ nature, coming also directly from the campaign team/agent;”

        “agent” should have read “agents”. The judge clarifies in his report what he understands “agent” or “agents” to mean in this context; it does not necessarily refer to the electoral agent himself or to just one person, but to those who can be presumed to be acting on the candidate’s (Rahman’s) behalf. He describes the whole campaign team as “agents”.

        I also forgot the allegations (proven? I’m not sure) over the paying of canvassers (some from outside the borough – some of which allegedly asked the Labour Party how much they would get if they swapped allegiances – ‘if you pay us more, we’ll canvass for you’)

  16. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    The trouble with characters on blogs is that if I say (on an alphabetical scale) T, people immediately presume I am saying Z. You lot automatically presume the issue is A, whereas a more attuned right Left would think things are rarely ‘perfect’.

    I am not a supporter of Rahman in any way. I am raising questions about the judgement against Rahman. I have also criticised the actions of Rahman both arising from this case and previously. I would have voted for the TUSC candidate if I lived in TH, not THF.

    Nor am I one who automatically shouts ‘Islamophobic’ at people but do think people, especially from beyond places like east London, really think here is like Victorian London or boss-run Chicago.

    I think the smug rural areas of Britain where all the local bigwigs know each other and are linked is a lot more corrupt – that is how Janner was not prosecuted. In TH the ‘conspirers’ are not part of the establishment.

    I have read some of the judgment e.g. the ‘nadir’ as the judge called it when a THF supporter talks about voting in a peaceful atmosphere in a polling station when it was proven his PV had already been sent in!

    I do not doubt THF indulged in dodgy practice but did it do so more than other parties and also on such a massive scale (which is what would have been needed) to be to swing the vote? I very much doubt it.

    Other claims of Daggi seem at least disputed, if maybe not disproved, by the account by the Green such as above grants. Stuff like the ‘wife beater’ claim need to put in the context of where the far bigger Evening Standard can refer to Rahman as ‘Islamist extremist linked’ and no one is ever going to be able to use that in court as bias.

    In addition, what, on earth can “selling off of an ex-town hall (or was it a swimming pool?)” have to do with an election?

    Other stuff like intimidation is raised again. Again how do you intimidate at a polling station with a secret ballot (save maybe preventing electors entering the station?)

    I think Rahman may well have the biggest level of support in TH. I would not vote for him but electors should get that chance. So let him run.

    • Jim Denham said,

      Incoherent drivel, non-sequiturs, and evasion which may be deliberate or simply an inability to engage intellectually with the arguments, seem to be all you are capable of Punchy. As you put no coherent case for your pro-Rahman apologism, it’s impossible to reply in any other terms.

    • dagmar said,

      If you can read, Mister Punch, the bit about the Town Hall was stated as not being in the report but another example of the corruption in Tower Hamlets under the mayoral system. You do like to concentrate on things not entirely related to the matter of hand. Same as with the Evening Standard. There were a number of allegations about the IFE, which were not in the report’s remit; but they were not, I presume, part of the election campaign of any one party (and the Tory Evening Standard was never in with any kind of chance in the borough in any case)

      Someone in a blog comment (“the Green above”) “disproves” something? Sorry, my statements are based on the judgement, which I suspect may prove a bit more.

      How do you intimidate at a polling station? I’m sure you could worse than having 6 people (in a ward with 3 seats) from one party outside the polling station ‘pleading’ you to not be an apostate, and handing out food and drinks to your supporters from car boots parked outside, perhaps, where people request they are accompanied by police officers to get past?

    • dagmar said,

      Have you actually read the report yet?

  17. Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

    No, and I give up. If only there were far Left blogs.

  18. Jim Denham said,

    This might be more to your taste, Punchy:

  19. Jim Denham said,

    Dagmar (who, as far as I’m aware, I don’t know) has added this important point, over at Tendance Coatesy:

    “And as forgot to point out at Shiraz, when Shirley Porter was found guilty of gerrymandering, no-one, not even her supporters tried to play the “antisemitic” card. They were scum, but they didn’t (I presume) even think of going down that road.”

    • dagmar said,

      What aren’t you aware of, Jim? Something got garbled there.
      I’m surprised you didn’t know Jimmy Reid became a SNPer (in the days when they really were ‘Tartan Tories’, I think it must have been in the dying days of the CPGB, between Gorbachev becoming CPSU Gen Sec and the fall of the Berlin Wall), but then again, I was brought up by a Catholic Stalinist Scots Nat Glaswegian patriarch (who worked for Tower Hamlets council for a decade or so), so I would be aware of that kind of thing.

  20. Jim Denham said,

    I meant that as far as I know, I don’t know you Dagmar. If it turns out I do, please forgive me.

    No, I didn’t know about Jimmy Reid degenerating into Nat. Sorry to learn that, as I always thought he was fundamentally a good guy.

  21. damon said,

    Jim Denham said
    ”As for “subjective anecdote(s)”: I think you’ll find, if you think about it, that a lot of our views about politics, and much else, are made up of exactly that: then we use our critical faculties, personal experience and judgement to decide whether the anecdotes are likely to be true. How else are we supposed to operate in the real world?”

    True, but I’m always hearing experience being dismissed in arguments as ”only anecdotal”. It can be frustrating.

    Much was made of the intimidation at the polling stations, and I suspect that at least half of it was an overreaction to a different cultural practice.
    My elderly mother finds hoodie youths down the shops intimidating, even though they wouldn’t even look at her twice. Some people would find Brixton terribly intimidating, or going to a football match with everyone shouting and singing.
    There could be some of the reaction at the polling stations to the Bangladeshi Rahman supporters, being a bit like the reaction to supporters of the West Indies cricket team at matches in England in the 1980s.
    They didn’t watch the game like English gentlemen.
    I’m sure THF were pretty corrupt all round though. It’s why their supporters were so keen to get their people in charge of the town hall.

    • dagmar said,

      “I’m sure THF were pretty corrupt all round though. It’s why their supporters were so keen to get their people in charge of the town hall.”

      As if Labour supporters weren’t keen to get their people in charge of the Town Hall in Tower Hamlets (or anywhere in the country, regarding any supporters of any political party).

      You’re right about Brixton though. All those Hipsters with their glasses and Iphones and fashionable-stupid clothes and overly expensive coffee, posh beer and fast ‘street’ food, I find that intimidating. Exactly the same as in Brick Lane. If Rahman is responsible for how that particular bit of Tower Hamlets has been thoroughly ruined in the past few years, well, good riddance,

      Maybe THF are just all hipsters in the IT scene?

  22. damon said,

    Ha, yes Brixton is a bit like that in parts. But it’s still very very diverse, even if the people who work in the market don’t actually live there. I can only guess the living arrangements of all those Afghan and Kurdish looking guys who work on the stalls and in the halal butcher’s. Crammed into communal flats I presume. Have any of them ever bought a TV licence I have wondered.
    Many wouldn’t even know what it was.

    As for ”Hipsters” – that is the last kind of racism that’s allowed nowadays.
    I find it a bit ironic about people complaining about others coming in and taking ”our houses” and changing the nature of the place, which is the accusation against those middle class white people.
    Before Brixton was black, it was white. People like John Major lived there.

    There’s definitely a difference between Labour supporters wanting their people in the town hall and THF supporters though I think.
    The latter is a lot more communal. It’s necessary for Bangladeshi businessmen to get their guy in, because of influence in doing business in the borough and favourable grants being given to that part of the community. It’s multiculturalism in action actually. And as corrupt as the old city politics in the US where Irish guys got all the jobs as policemen.

    There is definitely some racism in the reaction to Rahman though I think. In the sense that people don’t accept the difference that will naturally exist between communities that have very different cultural backgrounds.
    People want to have their cake and eat it in my opinion.
    They will champion immigration and multiculturalism, and then complain if the people who come from third world countries don’t behave ”like us”.
    I think that is a kind of racism.

  23. dagmar said,

    I like that, Damon

    As for “hipsters” – that is the last kind of racism that’s allowed nowadays

    You don’t understand the meaning of “racism” do you? I’m surprised you didn’t refer to me being “classist” or some other wank get-out clause.

    How will you refer to what will inevitably happen in a couple of years time, when today’s “hipsters” in Tower Hamlets and Brixton get forced out of these areas by properly rich (at least when compared to “hipsters”) upper-middle class people taking over their shops and properties; and today’s hipsters demonstrate against “gentrification”? Is that then “white-on-white racism”?

  24. damon said,

    In a city like London where black and minority ethnic people get on to being majorities in some parts, I don’t know if the old leftist idea of racism is that valid any more. It’s meant to have something to do with ”power” as well as race. But white working classes can be as powerless as anyone else in a place like London today. And employers or people who hire – like human resources people, can be of any race. I go into a lot of London West End hotels with my job and there are so very few people of Afro Caribbean origin working in them that it’s quite noticeable. But there are dozens of nationalities present in the work force, so I wonder what’s going on there.
    Are the Afro Caribbean young men from places like Tottenham and Wood Green being racially discriminated against to not be hired for those jobs – or what? We’ve seen from Tower Hamlets that crying racism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
    I’m listening to Dotun Adebayo’s BBC London radio programme right now, and when you listen to that, where they talk about race every week, it shows how incredibly complex the issues of race can be.

    One of his shows recently was about gentrification. From Harlem to Brixton. Here’s a short clip of that show. I think the people are pure racist.
    One guy refers to ”shiny smiley white people”.

  25. dagmar said,

    Yes, there is a non-white middle class, there are very capitalistically successful non-whites who belong to the upper class and establishment and in a few cases the ruling class.
    Complaining about hipsters isn’t racism, as it’s not about their skin colour.
    Regardless of the “shiny smiley white people” there are black, asian, etc. hipsters too. If it’s not about race, it’s not “another kind of racism” (which is if I remember a joke quote from either Chris Morris’ “The Day Today” or “Brass Eye”, possibly with regard to ‘paedophiles’ complaining about being ‘discriminated against’ – “It’s just another kind of racism”, up there with the line about gays in the military meaning “You might all wake up dead”. It’s the same logic.

    Racism is about race. Not about beards or bicycles or beer or coffee; not about house prices; not about religion. And not about local council political corruption and electorial fraud.

    • Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

      Capitalism has moved on quite a bit leaving race behind. Profit is the domain of anyone wanting to make a few bob. That is why socialism is a dream.

  26. Steven Johnston said,

    Yet nothing Lutfer did could be described as socialist, what he did in TH was about as radical as a Lib Dem manifesto.
    So why do some lefties stick up for him ever after his corruption has been exposed.
    Using voluntary groups to deliver social services…pure Thatcherism!
    Given time he’d have probably shut down schools and transferred education to the local mosque.

  27. damon said,

    Dagmar @25 – complaining about hipsters. I’d say if it was black people doing it, and it was just a derogatory term for white people, I’d say that was racist. We should admit that there is an unofficial cultural apartheid in London, and its clearly obvious in social spaces like Brixton where people can choose where they go out and who they socialise with.

    What’s now the ”hipster” Dogstar pub used to be the very black Atlantic.
    The people who used to frequent the Atlantic don’t go near the Dogstar. Its been like that since before the term Hipster was coined.
    I work with as many black guys as white, driving trucks around London and I’m white but have no more ”power” than the black drivers. So the idea that I could be racist to them, but they couldn’t be racist to me, has always struck me as somewhat odd.

    On Tower Hamlets, I don’t know why people just don’t come out and say THF were operating Bangladeshi style politics. It’s as simple as that really.
    I suppose people don’t say that, because it would be deemed racist.
    Like the old fashioned term ”Spanish practices” probably is.

    • Steven Johnston said,

      How about this term?

      But I’m still racking my brains to find out what he did that makes some of the left love him and excuse his corruption.

      • dagmar said,

        Why? There’s a phrase “The Left is fucked”.

  28. Jim Denham said,

  29. caseypurvis said,


    • Steven Johnston said,

      You need help.

      • caseypurvis said,


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