Google the definition of “racism” and the following is returned:
1. The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as…
2. Prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief.
Five former Labour councillors who were expelled from the party after they defied the whip and joined Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s cabinet should reflect on this.
It is a powerful word, so it would be wise to keep it that way. Lutfur’s councillors have developed a disturbing and unhealthy habit of chucking it around so freely and without thought that it loses its bite.
Here’s a press release issued by Mayor Rahman last week:
From Office of the Mayor of Tower Hamlets
For immediate release – 13 December 2012
Independent Councillors condemn Joshua Peck’s “Labour” for double standards
Selective application of rules undermine Ed Milliband’s ‘One Nation’ message
Five Bangladeshi Councillors expelled from the Labour party say that the ruling stinks of a stitch up.
All five were expelled for working with non-Labour candidates in local elections but two deny the charge and the others have cited several other examples where doing the same has not led to any disciplinary consequences.
None of the Councillors attended their appeals, instead submitting written statements.
Cllr. Abdul Asad, who serves in Independent Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s cabinet, has served as a councillor for 23 years, 22 of them with Labour, said: “Labour Peer Lord Alan Sugar used a column in the Murdoch press to openly campaign for Boris Johnson against Labour, but no action was taken.
“Journalist and Labour member Dan Hodges did the same in his column in the Telegraph but again no expulsion.”
“We have evidence that in Middlesborough many local party members have campaigned for Independent Mayor Ray Mallon against their own party in three separate elections without any consequences. Indeed, direct complaints to the local and regional leadership fell on deaf ears. So why are five Bangladeshi councillors being expelled by Joshua Peck and his ruling clique, when others get off without even a slap on the wrist?”
Cllr. Shahed Ali, who also serves on Mayor Rahman’s cabinet added: “My appeal was based upon fact. The party ‘auto-expelled’ me, citing the only reason being a breach of Clause 2.1.4.B of the party rules. If this is the case, then my question is simple, why has this rule not been applied to the likes of Sir Alan Sugar, Dan Hodges and Ken Livingstone?
“Unfortunately, it has become obvious to me by these actions that elements of institutional racism and discrimination are still entertained within the Labour party”.
One of the expelled five, Cllr. Rofique Ahmed said: “I deny this charge. I did not campaign for a non-Labour candidate. I am engaged in legal action to fight this accusation.”
Shahed Ali needs to grow up and concentrate on campaigns against genuine racial discrimination. He was kicked out of Labour because he broke the rules during a very acrimonious split in which the leadership was determined to send a clear message. It was the same message that deterred Marc Francis from crossing the Rubicon: Marc toyed with the idea of joining Lutfur but knew it would be the end of his political career with Labour.
Shahed is right, however, to question why the party didn’t discipline Ken Livingstone over his campaigning for Lutfur. But isn’t it significant he doesn’t also ask why it failed to take action over Lord Nazir Ahmed’s open support for Lutfur during that campaign? I suppose that wouldn’t quite fit with his ‘racism’ argument though, would it?
No, I suspect the real reason he and others were booted out was because they weren’t important or good enough. But “institutional talentism” isn’t a phrase I’ve heard bandied around before.