Tower Hamlets and the left: listen to the secular!

May 20, 2015 at 4:47 pm (AWL, conspiracy theories, corruption, democracy, Galloway, islamism, left, London, posted by JD, religion, secularism, truth)

Above: Rahman and a supporter

By Martin Thomas (at Workers Liberty)

Pretty much all the left press other than Solidarity [Workers Liberty’s paper] has denounced the election court decision against Lutfur Rahman, mayor of Tower Hamlets in East London, and most of the left has backed Rabina Khan, Rahman’s ally, for the new mayoral election on 11 June.

Does the left press reckon that Rahman didn’t do what the court disqualified him for doing? Or that he did do it, but it was all right? It’s hard to tell. I don’t know if the writers in the left press even read the judgement.

If they did read it, then probably, like me, they were annoyed by the style of the judge, Richard Mawrey – pompous, self-satisfied, arrogant. The judgement is full of show-off side comments. The Labour Party leadership has suspended left-winger Christine Shawcroft on the basis of one side comment in the judgement suggesting (wrongly, and irrelevantly to the case before Mawrey) that Shawcroft supported Rahman in the polls against Labour.

But probably most judges are pompous, self-satisfied, and arrogant. It goes with their social position. Yet often they can sum up evidence competently. Often they know that if they don’t do it competently, they will be rebuked when the case is taken to appeal, as Rahman, a lawyer himself, is taking his case.

In a previous case, Mawrey found in favour of George Galloway’s Respect group and against the Labour Party. Galloway’s speech applauding that judgement is published in full on the Socialist Worker website. Mawrey’s findings cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Mawrey found that charges of intimidation at polling stations, payment of canvassers, and impersonation of voters were not proved “beyond reasonable doubt”. But other charges were. Rahman had made false allegations against his opponent (the offence for which Labour right-winger Phil Woolas had his election ruled invalid in 2010). Rahman was guilty of “bribery of the electorate” via redistribution of grants to Bangladeshi community groups which would back him. And he had organised “undue spiritual influence”.

The left press has dismissed the last charge as anti-Muslim prejudice. But the judgement is explicit that there is nothing unlawful about imams, in their capacity as citizens, publicly backing Rahman. Unlawful is saying or suggesting that it is a religious duty to vote one way, or a damnable sin to vote the other way – the sort of thing which Catholic priests in Italy did, to boost the Christian Democrat vote after 1946 and until the decay of religion made it counterproductive.

The British law against “undue spiritual influence” dates from 1883. Its previous uses were in Ireland when still under British rule. The law was not, as some in the left press have suggested, a means to avoid the election of Catholic-backed nationalists. The British government had made its peace with the Irish Catholic church long before that. The conciliation is usually dated from the Maynooth Grant of 1845. The charges brought under the law were of priests declaring it a religious duty to vote against nationalists less in favour with the Church, such as the Parnellites (1890-1900) or Healy’s All for Ireland League (1910).

If Rahman’s clerical allies did something like the priests did in Ireland back then, or in Italy in the 1950s, then there is good reason to find the election invalid. If there is strong counter-evidence, on that charge or the others, then Rahman and his allies should publish it.

We know that Rahman has a soft-left Labour background, that Labour expelled him in a rigged-up summary execution, that he is close to the hierarchy of the East London Mosque. We know that the East London Mosque is one of the biggest in the country, built with large Saudi aid, and linked to the Islamic Forum of Europe and the Young Muslim Organisation, which are in turn linked to Bangladesh’s Islamist party, Jamaat e-Islami.

Those facts are documented in many books such as Innes Bowen’s Islam in Britain, reviewed by Matt Cooper in Solidarity 233.

It is also a fact that more secular-minded Muslims and Bangladeshis in the area find the religio-political power of the ELM/ IFE/ YMO complex overbearing.

Those background facts mean that Mawrey’s findings cannot be dismissed out of hand. To dismiss them out of hand is to let down the more secular-minded Muslims and Bangladeshis in Tower Hamlets.

6 Comments

  1. Steven Johnston said,

    I love quoting Marx’s comments on religion to lefties, but don’t tell them the source. After they fume against the comments I simply tell them who said them! You should see their faces…although it’s like shooting fish in a barrel it’s great fun.

  2. Paul Canning (@pauloCanning) said,

    “The British law against “undue spiritual influence” dates from 1883.”

    That law updated an earlier one. Alongside ‘the left’ we’ve had Giles Fraser (employed by Rahman, note) and an awful Grauniad headline, claiming one Hindu lobbyist = 101 Imans. Plus the right wing COE evangelical Archbishop Cranmer backing Fraser.

    Fraser got a QC opinion, which said of the Imans’ letter:

    “At most, it sought to persuade Muslim voters in the Borough that good Muslims should vote for Mr Rahman. In this respect, it is difficult to see why it should be regarded any differently from a letter from a group of doctors.”

    N’kay. And that the Human Rights Act is supreme so electoral law:

    “discriminates on grounds of religion and/or on grounds of profession in the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression.”

    Why don’t ‘the left’ have done with it and ally with The Christian Institute?

    Most of the claims for Rahman’s supposedly progressive administration have been debunked. Gilligan did that though, so much as we’re not supposed to mention M****h vis Galloway I suppose ‘the left’ would rather play the ‘Gilligan! Boo! Hiss!’ ball than the reality of their ‘progressive’ champion.

    Ted Jeory has said that Rabina Khan is uncomfortable with the IFE. But her campaign seems to be being run by Rahman’s crowd as ‘vote Khan, get Rahman’.

  3. Steven Johnston said,

    I don’t understand it either but what I have worked out is…

    Political fascism = bad thing
    Religious fascism = good thing*

    *Provided it’s not Christianity or Judaism. Which, in the eyes of the left are bad things. A Christian minister denouncing, says same sex marriage is bad, even if that is all he or she is doing and criticising them is accpetable. An Islamic state that that hangs gay men is not to be talked about and any criticism of that state is racist.

    Why they have gotten into bed with the religious fascists I’ll never know, but do you think it is old my enemies enemy is my friend? As both lefties and Islamists hate America.

    • Paul Canning said,

      Answer to last question = yes. That was, I recall, the actual justification the black NUS people used for refusing to criticise ISIS!

    • Glesga Keeping Scotland Free From Loonies said,

      The left will get round to justifying Savile as being a product of Capitalism. They have no boundaries.

      • februarycallendar said,

        Who does that?

        If you mean the former wrestler from Leeds, I myself on occasions suggested that he might have taken advantage of the BBC not taking its pop side as seriously as its other output. Which is the opposite of problems being brought on by out-and-out capitalism when you think about it.

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