Dead Men Left

Friday, December 17, 2004

Whitechapel High Street and its environs

Continuing the quick 'n' dirty opinionmongering blogging theme, Daniel Brett has a couple of bits on the East End. In the latest (complete with photo of Brick Lane), the hapless Lib Dems dumped their original candidate for the seat of Bethnal Green and Bow: he was a Pakistani, and they want a Bangladeshi candidate for this mainly Bangladeshi area. Daniel says:

The move to stage an emergency selection for a new candidate is blatant communalism by the Liberal Democrats. ...

I don't think the Bangladeshi population of the East End is so stupid to fall for the Liberal Democrats' electoral opportunism. In the past two elections, the majority of local Bangladeshis voted for Oona King, whose mother is Jewish and her father is a former black civil rights campaigner from the US. No matter how much the Tories tried to stir up hatred against her origins in previous elections, she still won through and actually increased her vote in 2001.

Glancing at the election results in the borough of Tower Hamlets, the Lib Dems there have singularly failed to capitalise on anti-war sentiment in the area, coming third behind Respect and Labour in the Euro elections, whilst at the council level they failed to take the target ward of St Dunstans (lost by Labour to Respect), and disappeared from sight in Millwall. And so they're reduced to communalism.

Indeed, out of the four main parties in Tower Hamlets, and despite the innuendoes of the Islamophobic left, the only group not pandering to any form of "communalism" - or, worse yet, outright racism - is Respect. Oona King got in hot water over a dubious stunt a few weeks ago, targetting constiuents with "Muslim-sounding names" for a thinly-disguised pre-election mailing. Far more disturbingly, Dan obliquely mentioned the Tories' campaign in the 2001 general election; King, in this interview - and without naming names - reports on antisemitic leaflets being distributed against her, without (it would seem) having much impact.

Dan goes on to report on London mayor Ken Livingstone's snide remarks against Galloway's decision to stand against King. Livingstone claims that if Galloway really opposed the war, he should stand against Blair or Brown. I don't think the Mayor's intention was to claim Galloway is standing against King because she is black; rather, I think he was attempting to belittle Galloway's campaign by pushing down into the realms of stunt politics: the implication is that Galloway and his silly party could have stood anywhere and that they're not serious about building a new political organisation.