Dead Men Left

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Saint Oona on Radio 4

The Martyr of Bethnal Green made a miraculous visitation before the faithful this morning. Offering many signs and portents of ill fortune, we humbly offer to interpret her pronouncements:

1. It's up there were with sneering half-wit Tony Banks' claim to find his constituents' problems "tedious" for King to suggest that her former constituents' did not know enough about Galloway's record, and voted for him out of ignorance. (I'd thought a more likely complaint was they knew too much about the man.)

2. The only time King's background has ever become an issue is when she has claimed that it is an issue. Once more aping Tony Banks, suggesting her former constituents are hard-bitten antisemites hardly fits well with the fact they voted for in 1997, and then re-elected her four years ago. In 2001, the Tories ran a vile, racist campaign against King, as she (without naming names) acknowledges here. It did not help them. On a reduced turnout, she recorded a swing towards Labour. Suggestions that anti-Jewish racism is a vote-winner is a gross slur against people who voted for her.

3. Any unpleasantness in this campaign was due to the New Labour side. From gross slurs against Galloway from King's agent, to repeated libels on her part, passing over New Labour's "communalist" campaign, we descend still further to outright corruption:

On the record, Rana Miah, a member of the management committee of the Brick Lane Youth Development Association (Blyda), tells the Standard that two

Labour councillors have threatened his colleagues that if they do not vote for King in the election, their funding is at risk.

"They’ve been told that some of the Labour councillors feel that if we don’t side with them, we’ll lose out on funding," says Miah, who is a Green Party supporter. "This is not politics, this is blatant thuggery. I am sickened. And if our kids’ future is taken away for political reasons, those councillors will have to answer to those kids when they approach them on the streets."

That is presented almost as an incidental item in an article mainly concerned with vote-rigging in Bethnal Green and Bow. Here we find one of Oona King's most prominent supporters at the centre of a police investiagation into electoral fraud:

At one address owned by Abdus Salique, a local businessman and Labour supporter who recently hosted a lunch for the party's candidate, Oona King, and the London mayor, Ken Livingstone, there are 12 names on the roll.

But when the Guardian visited the premises, a businessman who rents an office in the building said that none of those named lived there.

The electors have not been registered for postal votes, but polling cards have been delivered and are now in the possession of Mr Salique. Under electoral law, no proof of identification is required at the polling station...

He denied any wrongdoing yesterday and said some of those on the electoral roll were members of his family. "There are one or two people who live there," he said. "My family, my wife and my children live there. I don't need to explain to you. According to me they are living there. So many peo ple here are so jealous because I am a member of the Labour party. They are doing the dirty politics. This house belongs to me. My permanent address is here, though we have got other houses."

Mr Salique said he was registered to vote at that address because that was where his business was based.

There has been much pious cant about King's good works as a constituency MP over the last eight years. Away from the liberal press and the Labour machine, it is harder to find much support. Where was King when local fire services were threatened with cuts? Where was King when the Crossrail development was threatening local homes and businesses? Let me make a brave claim: if Respect has blown the lid on the patronage, corruption and borderline criminality that passes for local politics in Bethnal Green and Bow, it will have done more to improve the lives of residents there than King managed in two Parliaments.