Dead Men Left

Friday, April 22, 2005

Oona King's rank hypocrisy

New Labour are kicking and squealing over in Bethnal Green, and it isn't pleasant. Each day seems to find Oona King debasing herself and her party still further:

Speaking to the Evening Standard after a week of violence in the contest for Bethnal Green and Bow, she made clear she blamed Mr Galloway, the Respect party candidate, for "stirring things up".

"If community politics are polarised along racial and religious lines, you could be creating catastrophe," she said.

True, of course. By making its opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq absolutely clear, Respect has found the major point of unity between different communities in Bethnal Green and elsewhere. The majority of Bengalis there opposed the war; so, too, did the majority of black and white residents.

In contrast, New Labour have played upon divisions. In the more white areas of the constituency, around Bow, they have distributed leaflets reading

"The Scottish MP George Galloway is stirring things up, especially in the Bengali community. He is a threat to us all."

Which contrasts nicely with the leaflets delivered in the more Bengali areas around Whitechapel, reading:

Labour delivers for Muslim communities

Since 1997, together with the British Muslim community, Labour has:

* Established state-funded Muslim faith-schools for the first time.

* Abolished the hated 'primary purpose' rule which stopped many British Muslims bringing their husband or wife to the UK.

* Safeguarded Halal food production.

* Outlawed religious discrimination in the workplace.

* Doubled bi-lateral aid to Bangladesh.

* Appointed British Muslims as Ambassadors, including t Bangladesh.

* Sent the only state-funded Hajj delegation from a Western Government.

"If community politics are polarised along racial and religious lines, you could be creating catastrophe."

King's absolute bare-faced hypocrisy here is sickening; truly, truly revolting, especially when used to cover up such sordid political tricks. I became involved with the Respect campaign at Bethnal Green because I think we need to create some sort of left alternative to an evidently failing Labour Party. Working people here, like anywhere else, deserve better than another four years of Blairism. Yet New Labour's opposing campaign has been so rank, so foul that a basic sense of justice and decency is being offended: it's not just the mindless slurs and the vilification of Galloway - gross, but par for the course and largely expected - it's the constant presentation of those struggling for a marginally better world as malign forces ranged against New Labour's standard bearers of probity and integrity: and all the while, these same virtuous crusaders indulge in the most squalid politics.

In any sort of just world, New Labour would have long ago forfeited their chance of victory. They simply cannot be allowed to win here; we need to move heaven and earth to ensure they do not. Respect's constituency office can be found just off Brick Lane; it is open until 9pm every evening. If you are in East London, you need to get there.