Here is a local story from a small London borough which should be of interest to anyone, in any Western democracy, because it is a sorry tale of how supposed liberals betray how shallow are their beliefs, and how they endanger the very freedoms they espouse. If we do not discuss the problem, it will re-occur again and again.
The borough is Tower Hamlets, and the ‘liberals’ are various and venerable pillars of the British establishment, who frightened of saying boo to a goose, turned a blind eye to the usurping of democracy to tribal politics and thus betrayed the electorate they say they care about.
The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, has been found guilty of electoral fraud and barred from office. In the ruling of Richard Mawrey QC at the High Court he had behaved in a ‘ruthless and dishonest‘ manner.
His litany of crimes are merely that of the usual shabby, small time, small town political demagogue of the type we see in Russia, Pakistan, Egypt, Ukraine, and other pseudo democracies where the rule of law is gossamer thin. What is different is that they were allowed to continue for years in the capital city of the ‘Mother of Democracies’.
Mr. Rahman used fake voters to win power, and then abused that power to bribe more voters into supporting him, and most shamefully he played the race and religious cards.
A large proportion of the population of Tower Hamlets is of Bangladeshi origin. Using what amounts to Mayoral decree Rahman handed out public funds to dozens of Bangladeshi organizations, some of which had not even applied for grants and appears to have favoured them above non Bangladeshi organizations. The majority of Mr. Rahman’s senior team and rabble of enforcers were of Bangladeshi origin. When challenged he smeared his Labour Party rival John Biggs as a racist, ignoring Biggs’s decades of service to the anti racism cause. Rahman’s lies were re-enforced in the local Bangladeshi media including Bengali TV stations five of which had received public money from the mayor.
Come re-election time Rahman persuaded local Imams to tell the faithful in the mosques that Islam was under threat. A letter was sent to more than 100 Imams and the local Bengali press saying
“.. it is your duty as faithful sons and daughters of the [Church][Mosque] to vote for candidate X: only he will defend our religion and our community.’’ Despite including the word Church and saying candidate X the letter was published only in the Bengali language.
For this, and other actions Rahman was found guilty of fixing the vote by using “undue spiritual influence” the first time such an accusation had been made in an English court since the 19th century.
Enter the liberals, the democratic left, and the concerned democratic establishment – or rather, not.
Anyone with his or her ear to the ground knew this was going on. The Metropolitan Police knew, the Labour and Conservative parties knew, the national media knew, the local press knew. With some notable exceptions such as local reporter Ted Jeory, Andrew Gilligan at the Daily Telegraph, and John Ware at the BBC, the silence was deafening.
Whenever anyone made the slightest criticism of Rahman and his cronies, up went the cry – ‘Racism! Islamophobia!’ and an elite frightened of their own shadows, and desperate to look the other way, did just that.
Thus did tribal politics make and maintain its victory for several years until the Conservative government was embarrassed into launching an inquiry leading to the court case.
That there is racism and Islamophobia in Britain is not in question. That the accusation of such heinous behavior is not always justified is also not in question, but we have developed a political culture, which has now reached deep into academia and is stifling free speech. Standing up against false accusations can be a career-ending move. Zealots pounce on every article, speech, or comment and, if they find anything, real or imagined, with which they do not agree, up goes the cry – ‘Racism – Islamophobia’. Many busy politicians, academics, and journalists aware of the mob, turn to other tasks, others, through a genuine belief in the nonsense spouted by the likes of Rahman, join the mob. Worse still are those who know it is nonsense, but cynically use the furore to their own advantage.
One only has to look at how the Labour Party took on Derek Hatton and the Trotskyite entrists who were infiltrating the organization in the 1980’s to see what can be done when the will is there – sadly the will in this decade is lacking.
So, Tammany Hall in Tower Hamlets in 2015, a tale from a small London borough, full of sound and fury, signifying a potential future for the western democracies where politics collapses into tribalism of an ethnic and religious nature. One where the Muslims vote for Muslim candidates, the Hindus vote for Hindus, Jews for Jews, and then large sections of the post Christian white majority edge, inexorably, towards increasingly ‘white parties’ partially driven there by the very people who say they hate division.
The last word goes to someone who has learned the language of the liberal west and knows how to use it “ “I lament the passing of this country’s proud tradition of thorough, investigative journalism where hard evidence was intrinsic to a story rather than an inconvenience to be ignored. All I ask is that discerning readers judge me not on the basis of hysterical insinuations – but on my record.’’ That was Lutfur Rahman, writing in the Spectator magazine in April 2013