Labour’s Kensington Intervention: What We Know

Labour’s National Executive Committee torpedoed local party democracy to prevent local candidates from being chosen in the marginal seat of Kensington for the next general election. Here’s what we know about how they did it…

Former MP barred

October 17th: Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) excludes Labour’s only ever Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad from the candidate longlist. Read about it here.

The three-person NEC panel that excludes Dent Coad includes two influential figures committed to Sir Keir Starmer’s purge of socialists: Luke Akehurst, director of the lobbying organisation We Believe in Israel. And Shama Tatler, co-chair of Labour to Win, a right-wing campaigning group.

NEC & London Region usurp local officers

October 20th: Regional Director of Greater London Labour Party Pearleen Sangha dismisses two Kensington Selection Committee members for “openly supporting” a candidate. Sangha speculates about “a blatant attempt to undermine the process” – the two members reject the accusation.

A more right-wing member of the Committee remains in post, despite openly campaigning for candidate Joe Powell, even appearing in his campaign video. Complaints from party members to London Region about the double standard go unanswered.

Local candidate would have been shortlisted

October 27th: Councillor Kasim Ali wins every round in the South Branch vote, meaning he needs to be selected by just one of the remaining two branches to make the shortlist. Afsana Lachaux is also nominated.

Results from the South Branch vote are circulated to members in accordance with Labour’s democratic procedures. Sangha declares that this constitutes a “leak” and runs all subsequent meetings and votes herself, keeping the results secret.

In a statement, senior Kensington Labour officers say: “In all three Kensington branch selection meetings, Sangha overruled local elected role-holders and chaired the Zoom call herself…muting all attendees. She has been unprofessional, hostile, and insulting to local role holders, often making threats and rarely responding to messages”.

screengrabs from twitter / tomorrowsmps

Intervention over Black History Month

October 31st: A Constituency Labour Party (CLP) ‘All Members’ meeting with a Black History Month theme is scheduled, but on the day of the meeting, London Region informs the CLP Secretary the meeting cannot take place during the selection process. The CLP Secretary asks if the meeting can go ahead if the discussion is limited to the Black history theme and presented by a local campaigner. London Region agrees but states that no candidates can attend.

Kasim Ali told us that the Black History Month intervention was triggered by a rival candidate complaining that the event would give Ali, the only Black candidate, an unfair advantage in the constituency selection. Cllr Ali complained to London Region about being barred from the meeting but has not received a reply.

The NEC chose the shortlisted candidates

November 1st: Sangha takes control of the North East Kensington Branch vote on the grounds of “incompetence.” She postpones the meeting and vote until November 9th.

November 3rd: On the day of the North West Branch vote, an email is circulated to local party members attacking candidate Mete Coban’s credentials using clumsy anti-Israel and antisemitic language. Access to the membership mailing list is strictly limited so the email must have been circulated or enabled by somebody holding a senior position within Labour at local, regional or NEC level. The email is amplified by a local blog and Jewish News to attack Kasim Ali and his supporters, strongly suggesting they should answer accusations of antisemitism, despite there being nothing linking them to the message. Read more on this here.

London Region blocks up to 20 British Somalis (the same ethnic background as Ali) from participating in the North West vote – details here. London Region declares Joe Powell the winner but keeps the results secret. A senior Kensington Labour officer and two local councillors tell us that the branch would have shortlisted Kasim Ali in a democratic vote.

‘Antisemitism’ again

November 9th: At the North East Branch vote, according to a statement from senior kensington members, Sangha refuses to admit dozens of members, “justifying denying entry on factually incorrect grounds, such as stating that members were in arrears, despite them having proof that they were not.”

London Region imposes a ‘heir and spare’ approach. With no results released, Joe Powell is awarded nomination along with Afsana Lachaux, “a woman for diversity.” With party rules allowing an additional BAME nomination, there is a run-off between Kasim Ali and Mete Coban. A Hackney councillor with ties to Tony Blair, Coban is shortlisted with the results from the run-off also kept secret.

image from twitter / metecoban92

November 10th: With the shortlist finalised, Pearleen Sangha dissolves Kensington’s selection committee, replacing it with a new committee consisting of herself and two others of a similar political persuasion. Sangha emails members to explain the dissolution is due to “serious concerns” requiring a “serious investigation” into antisemitism. She claims Kensington Labour members have been suspended “due to antisemitism”.

A senior CLP officer with access to the membership database tells us that no members are suspended. To date, no party investigation into antisemitism in Kensington has been initiated. Summoned to an interview with the NEC on November 4th, Cllr Ali is reassured that Labour does not think that he or his supporters were connected to the dissemination of the email.

November 24th: The final hustings and vote is held in North Kensington, managed by London Region. The result is a comfortable victory for Joe Powell with 170 votes to Coban’s 90 and Lachaux’s 30. Powell will be Labour’s candidate, up against Conservative MP Felecity Buchan, who won by 150 votes in 2019.

screengrab from twitter / michaellcrick

“Whatever it takes”

Somebody close to events in Kensington outlined to us Labour’s approach to candidate selection: The key officials are Matthew Faulding, Selections Manager, and Morgan McSweeney, Elections Director, who oversees every candidate selection. According to The New Statesman, Faulding and McSweeney are two of the three “most powerful people in the Labour Party” in terms of “party management and operations”.

At London Region, some officials wanted Powell, and some wanted Coban; none wanted Dent Coad or Ali. Faulding liked Coban, but McSweeney preferred Powell and the NEC instructed London Region to “Support Joe Powell. Whatever it takes.”

Why was Councillor Ali blocked?

Kasim Ali asked the party for a breakdown of the results in the two North Kensington branches but was told “we cannot give everyone feedback.”

Despite party officials denying him the chance to fulfil his ambitions, Ali told us that he is “happy” with his position in Labour after meeting with senior party officials including Starmer.

Labour’s motivation for such a blatantly anti-democratic move against Ali is open to interpretation given Ali’s floating ideological commitment that has seen him transfer his enthusiasm for Jeremy Corbyn to public support for Starmer.

Two possible explanations exist, neither of which London Region hinted at in their response to us: Shortlisted candidates were chosen based on their alignment with the Starmer project before any campaigning took place. Or McSweeney and colleagues viewed a Black, Muslim, working class, British Somali with a track record of community campaigning and openness to more radical Corbynite policies as a risk.

The Starmer bureaucrats could rely on the mainstream media’s acquiescence over their authoritarian approach. The journalists who published the dubious ‘antisemitism’ email to attack Cllr Ali played their part to perfection.

Jewish fear is collateral damage for Starmer’s Labour

There are questions to be answered about the party’s invocation of antisemitism to control the Kensington selection process. In their brief reply to us, London Region expressed no concerns about Pearleen Sangha’s apparently false claims about “antisemitism” locally. The tactic of manufacturing the appearance of an ‘antisemitism crisis’ is used relentlessly against left-wing party members, seemingly without concern for the impact this might have on Britain’s Jewish communities.

Local Labour is divided

The CLP will meet this week, but the issues of dubious antisemitism smears and the NEC’s disenfranchisement of British Somalis are not on the agenda. Councillors are treading carefully under constant threat of suspension should they speak out against Starmer. A local party source told us that December’s Kensington CLP meeting saw the return of numerous right-wing party members, including former councillors “with a grudge against Emma Dent Coad”. This faction is now dominant in the CLP.

Another source said that former councillors exploited the obviously polarised CLP to persuade London Region that left-wingers would ‘rig the vote,’ triggering the first intervention that removed the two committee members.

A local councillor told us that the longlisted candidate Salman Sheikh accused these two selection committee members of leaking members’ contact details to a preferred candidate, although he did not name the candidate. London Region accepted the accusation at face value without seeking evidence. Two Labour sources separately told us that it is an “open secret” that candidates Joe Powell and Mete Coban were provided with members’ contact data “months before” campaigning began.

screengrab from twitter / tomorrowsmps

A more harmonious CLP might have been less vulnerable to intervention. This was the case in Sheffield Central where high-profile establishment candidates were parachuted in, yet there was no NEC interference and a pro-Palestine British Somali candidate with grassroots support easily secured selection. 

Whatever the failings of Kensington CLP, Starmer’s bureaucrats were ruthless in crushing party democracy as they move the party inexorably to the right.

 

by Tom Charles @tomhcharles

Happy New Years

Caveat:

Use of the word ‘we’ does not constitute ‘My self’ in a manner that makes Me complicit in the issue/subject but is used only as a formality and effort not to violate writing tradition. Even though it may appear that my use of ‘we’ means ‘us’, I reference only My self as ‘we’ in respect of the overwhelming shared sentience of the masses, of which I am but am not of, in respect of My unfamiliar peers and their ignorant acts antonymous to My autonomous weighs. I, just as all corporations do, hold My self harmless from the collective wrong that society willingly partakes and I take personal responsibility for all things that I willingly, clearly and openly consent to by clear (non-tacit) agreement, without force, duress or coercion.

I Am.

It’s now 2023 and as we step into this great unknown, I must say that ‘ignorance’ is a choice.

As abstract as it seems, knowledge is not the property of schools of education but readily available for all who genuinely search for it–the reward of the seeker. It’s just that most would rather collect pointless data steered by either peer-esteem, likes or something of the egocentric nature. This is despite the fact that, over the decade, all that seems currently unknown was previously (widely and openly) available and easily accessible to all via online. That is at least before the colonisation of the Internet in 2012 (New Hampshire RSA 193-F:4.).

The result of this pathway to policing dialogue and searches, hiding behind cyber bullying, is comparable to a mass book burning and the resulting chaos. With today’s corporations learning algorithms, our search engines can guarantee failure as we try to stick the salvaged pages back together again. This colonising of websites and the heavy concentration on child censorship, made way for key information to be available only in select jurisdictions. Even though tangible location is somewhat of a fiction in the online world, we ignorantly opened the doors to communist ideals.

These poor arguments, based on ethics, would have had some validity if they were birthed out of the purpose presented but at any time or point on any day a 7-year-old child can watch a naked woman swinging on a wrecking ball without any censorship at all simply because of the provider’s reach, calibre and connection. But it isn’t the point that this writing may become contradictory once the point is exposed, they may well renege and pretend to address the damage, the fact is that the opportunity for YouTube police to see this has been available for 10 years and with their carefully vetted video algorithm, it has come up fine. Meanwhile mere conversation on medical concerns have been banned and even demonised. In conclusion this ‘one size fits the poor’ attitude has to be done away with for uniform regulations and the violators of this essential equipoise should be ‘imprisoned’.

It baffles one to think that we’ve managed to give away decentralised space to Billionaire corporations to dominate the story, whatever it may be. But even more befuddling is the fact that I can go to you tube, place any political/controversial data in the search box and ‘hey presto’, like magic, all of the providers of the results are Associated Press, without the viewer having any thoughts about a conflict of interest. CNN, NBC, BBC, FOX, NEWS FIVE, all dominate the first 10 pages, if not all in some subsidised way. But then again, that’s tailored to my own needs as our cookies keep reminding us, so who knows what results Emma in New Zealand is getting attached to her IP information tag.

To some degree, truth only remains online like charred pages buried under the vaults of corporate ramble and secrecy. But much information is still available, only what is true and what is not, is only known by either the pure of heart (of whom are slandered) or the dark and deceitful, who are held in high esteem. The ‘pure of heart’ is a specific group who express a caution and a suppression of peer expectation. Much is invested in the tainting of these people as they disrupt the deceit but the long road towards this online colonisation was observed, shared by them and ignored before going deep underground. Today, like the evaporation of the illusion, ‘middle classed’, there are only ‘those who know and those who don’t’. Both of whom share this category fall into two other categories of honest or deceptive.

If you have spent adequate time harnessing the skill of separating the BS without corporations holding your hand, you may have found all the guidance you need but for most people who have been televised, God and majik doesn’t actually exist and so have forgot to prepare their minds for today’s madness. With a mind wrapped in the word ‘impossible’, looking at the impossible unfold leaves little trust in overcoming it. So big data has corrupted ‘all’ of what is known as verified data, of course for the people’s safety, leaving most at the liberty of living in either theoretical conspiracy or corporate fascism–living either in sovereign Cuba or totalitarian China mentality.  

It once was said, “the things of this world are but an illusion and will soon pass”; it was also said, “what good is it for a man to gain the whole world but to lose his soul”?

On the morning of the 25th December 2022, (possessed by the journalist spirit), I searched online to note the correct time of the perihelion (the annual point when the sun is closest to the earth). This I have always known to be late June (the summer solstice) but to my surprise, today online it has uniformly become the end of December. This is according to Wikipedia, Webster’s, Collins and NASA. I accept an error on my part but it seems to me that this falling away of the illusion and a day of confusion has truly arrived. The uttering of the many sages who came imploring us to seek a more etheric understanding of life can be summed up in Carrie-Anne Moss’s statement in the character of Trinity: “the Matrix isn’t real…”. 

What is Real?

If you care to reflect collectively, we’ve also ignored widespread warnings for over 2,000 years for the desire to be groomed towards scientific standards that ultimately veil the esoteric earth in the name of civilised-so can we really plead ignorance?But it appears that our willing plunge into (solely and explicitly) material, leaves us with no understanding of metaphor leaving everything to be known only by the tangible and direct senses. To our own detriment we have now ate the words ‘impossible’ and ‘coincidence’ and become blind to the warnings of what phenomena was to come. As such, The Matrix was merely a Sci-Fi movie not a warning–but what a movie it also was.

And so the magik of the Moors, the herbal remedies of the witches, the sages, the predictions of the shaman, and the cures from real doctors were ridiculed, mocked and replaced with synthetic versions of the organic figures with ‘toxic mimicry’. This we continue to crave more of, like seedless fruit, Zoom calls over meeting, online banking, and paying by phone over actual transactions. Convenient Jesus and ‘the metaverse’ fall into this fictitious category too, with no foresight of what this replacement will eventually do to the true organic structure of life.

Strangely the word ‘science’ has come to be more of a trustworthy friend than the word ‘God’ to most, all without any suspicion of mischief at play.  Meanwhile it is true that something of a remote collective evil (that in all eventuality, seems to be working ‘in’ favour of God) appears to have a grip on humanity’s collective doltishness and an on-going commercial means to keep churning out these artificial seeds, without a single aired complaint. 

Even though this may sound too base for today’s complicated mind, every problem we have appears to be the natural result of some violation of our personal morals and ethics. These avoidable dramas seem to pose an individual question of ‘who we are and how low can we go’.In this case, the only organic thing is the natural occurring mess we are left in without honour, one that ‘we’ continuously vote for. Be it demonising Muslims, Brexit, mass-needling the public, relocating Ukrainians or blocking Mexicans from their indigenous grounds, we’ve added to our recorded acts on earth without feeling the burden of accountability although we are wrong and totally accountable.

Amnesia International

If we were to be just in our hearts, we would have to admit that we have very little belief in each predator that appears at the ballot box. We are stuck on a self-predicating loop of, screw up, resign, then replace with another, as we prepare to vote again with no aim for a totally new system, not provided by a fortune 500 subsidiary.

But we never ask who pays for these mistakes especially as some have grand effects on the lives of women and children especially. To most, who are groomed on material phenomena, they remain clueless of their own spirit. This karmic debt seems to be understood only as a physical tax, one that a wealthy government can pay (with money) towards an eventual amnesia of the cosmic crime. But just because denial of this omnipresent imbalance is rampant in an ignorant society, it should not negate the fact that present, although unseen, is a metaphysical tax that must be settled. 

This perpetual politician’s game of tag: violation, resign, replace, cannot be hidden to the sovereign mind but can only be obscured from the masses by organised feeble excuses that blind each from their higher accountability. This mental fog, in an ancient best-selling book, is said to be caused by something labelled ‘the sneaking whisperer’, who whispers lies into the hearts of men.


As time moves fast towards these ‘build back better’ scripts (that some of us know only too well), it appears that…well I think…it is known deep within ‘every’ soul that our governing parties are full of shite. Only God detachment, peer pressure and the fear of the ‘illusion’ power, is that which causes us to endure this nonsense at the cost of our own morale. This altogether equates to cognitive dissonance, which appears when the truth is too hard to look at so the lie bides time. This is expressed as a clan of beer drunk European men (who think that they are Americans) shouting U.S.A. U.S.A… as they bomb and shoot-up ancient cities in holy lands. It is also observed as Trump/Biden supporters thinking that Mexican’s ignorance of their invisible border that parts ‘their’ land is a violation. As they wake up to the truth and return to that part of their home in America, their colonist’s grip on media scrambles the ethics of the squatter to such a damning disillusion.

It is only a mind saturated with East Enders, football, royal appearances, and the latest fear script (currently carbon emissions) that accepts, eats and spreads whatever is fed to them through this tube, while the lie is monetised by new taxes upon them.

This scheme sadly is to the detriment of ‘we’ on the fringes who are accosted by these agents who assume that ‘we’ also are their property. And so, as they raise their taxes, bully the televised and distribute uniform scripts, ‘we’ see right through them but ‘we’ are overwhelmed by those of you who see not, so do nothing but accept their orders. Therefore it is we who ‘die for their sins’ herded along with the sheep as ‘sheep’, who we are clearly not.

Still, what I ask violates the structure of journalism and may inject soul into a machine that was intended to remain without one, but we must ask:

Are ‘we­’ really that stupid?

Still I think this a proud moment for me when I say that I haven’t owned a TV in 25 years, have never voted for this madness and sought benefits from any corporation that does not value ‘love’ or ‘truth’–despite the populace’s actions. My lack of support for this was out of an uncommon-sense understanding of the roll-over damage that lies do. In fact it can be said that the widespread current health scare campaigns and the switch from terrorist watching to flu watching, was a well planned, poorly executed business venture that further enriched the likes of Matt Hancock, Bill Gates, Anthony Fauci, Boris Johnson, Charles Shwab…need I continue?

But those, who watch the news attentively, should know this is to be the biggest story ever. I can also affirm that it is the fact that the television has perfected its reach, a particular narrative and a known statistical response called ROI, that it can leave out the important defining details without any worry of a significant backlash–we remain forever the minority. So the almost pointless burden of truth lies on little Me to inform you of details such as, Matt Hancock’s revealing address to the World Economic Forum in 2019 (before the pandemic) and his goal to have his company implement gene therapy in over one million UK households by 2024.  

But I’m sure you knew this and researched him well, after he suddenly appeared on your television set as your Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Although at the time it probably didn’t seem of any importance that his company Genomics England were seeking to make your DNA their prey as there wasn’t yet a reason, the came Covid 19.

Maybe some have no idea what this DNA, RNA, junk-DNA nonsense is all about and if you don’t know it’s probably best you don’t, with a heart that gambled on a heart-less machine, emitting only images of care, people you don’t know and you’ll never meet, shown as your trusted leaders, guides and confidants.

In a way, it may be better that you don’t understand and is temporarily safer for the televised mass. But I must warn you that, in this unique instance, ignorance is not bliss if you have been trusting that a corporation, whose uniformed mission is to minimise spending, maximise profits and dump overstock, will feed you accurate health statistics when trying to move a health product, especially when no physical being can be held accountable. Living as a human resource, one would hope that the country (company) has not over stocked.

But my original reasons for calling this ‘not knowing’ a choice is because, for years those who didn’t know have been collectively playing a game of avoiding the mirror. The only problem is they’ve now risked their lives to stay ignorant and so at this moment of the inevitable truth, many are ‘now’ asking what can be done to know what the ef is going on and how to make sense of it all. The answer is pretty simple ‘nothing’.

If you happen to have had the discipline to throw your television out the window (remember to shout lookout below), in a few years this grand deception may all begin to make sense, but continuing on with the current program within, what was quite simple is now very complex, because of the deception that the masses have allowed to be known as their truth.

That’s Impossible

For example, as children we were all dealt that word ‘impossible’ as a shared belief. This makes it very unlikely to, all of a sudden, accept this word as a misnomer. This and many other ideas have permeated the westerners mind as well as all those who have left home and aspired to it’s way. And so when it is time to do what fallen and ascended angels know to be true, you will most likely be standing at the side-line saying ‘that’s impossible’. This makes it unlikely for one to delete decades of programming to survive this war on the mind.

But even though there are such crazies as conspiracy theorists, it is better to have been one, than be a seasoned a television truster, so this transition into the ‘real’ world will not be too much of a shock. Since their minds remained believing of anything abstract and odd, they are prepared for anything, especially what most will find impossible since there’s little that can surprise them, just as God instructed in this world of illusions.  

Meanwhile, as I stand outside of the asylum observing men and beast, I see what we can only call modern man a ‘host’ convinced by his ego that he is super-important. I carefully observe these gassed contradictions of what was once a human, as he waits to gather and discard of his ‘pet’s’ waste as a show of moral conduct, while he leaves piles of if on deserted streets.

But I can’t help wonder if the animal questions his commitment to his own shit while he ponders on whether to be called he, she or ‘it’ for the same peer pollution. Within the realm of the ascended mind this satire is merely the 5d screen of God’s comedy, a vision accessible by the few who observed this life without prejudice or want of popularity, watching the joke with gratitude but still a sadness.

The unique souls carried the cross (a metaphor for being rejected) with full knowledge that popularity was never the goal and while none would question why they treated them with such distance, it occurs that the trickster sought to trap these angels in a 3d prison where those who see with known senses alone, see not the wonder that blessed them with their honest presence.

A curse to those who live for acceptance, while a blessing for those who have eyes. While she knows that each rejection left her with less to lose, she knows that each assault ultimately represents a brush for her dusty wings to allow her to fly straight, while the animals succumb to the density of this incredible time–the parting of the see.

This year will be a great one for those who have freed their minds and reunited with an order of truth, which is today absent of men’s rules and their failing Star Wars fantasies. Maybe one day they and their followers may get their wish to penetrate lower earth orbit and actually reach the moon but that will be a cold day in hell and the day when the cosmic intelligence of God is also fooled into believing their hoax to be true–thi may well be the only good use of the word impossible.

May truth be your way in 2023 and may God Bless the rejected and make what is to be revealed easy for the foolish as the meek prepare to inherit the earth.     

Spain-Jan 2nd, 1492 • Reverto Veritatum 2023 •

Ange2 2ewis

Starmer’s Labour Disenfranchised British Somalis in Kensington

In an unashamed assault on party democracy last month, Keir Starmer’s Labour targeted and excluded significant numbers of British Somalis from the shortlisting process for candidates hoping to become Kensington’s next member of parliament. Urban Dandy has been given details of how the party’s bureaucracy was mobilised to guarantee a result favourable to the party’s right wing.

The Kensington Constituency Labour Party (CLP) is made up of three branches: South, North East and North West. Labour members in each branch were to vote to narrow down their choice of candidates from a longlist to a shortlist of three, then to vote for one candidate to take on Conservative incumbent Felicity Buchan at the next general election. Former Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad had already been barred from standing by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) in a factional right-wing intervention.

South Branch

Next in the NEC’s sights was Councillor Kasim Ali, a prominent local politician and a British Somali with a history of community activism in North Kensington. From several Kensington Labour insiders we have heard that, with Dent Coad removed, the NEC hoped that one of their preferred candidates would secure the candidacy. But at the South Branch’s 27th October selection vote, Cllr Ali eased to a comfortable victory, winning every round.

image from Twitter / Kasim Ali

With Cllr Ali needing a nomination from just one of the two North Kensington branches to secure a place on the shortlist, the NEC took over, overriding the CLP’s democratic procedures and fixing the result. Here’s how they did it…

North East Branch

The North East vote scheduled for 1st November was postponed on the pretext of the branch not having the correct Zoom license to accommodate the number of members wishing to attend. Local Labour sources told us that a new license was hastily purchased but Labour’s London Region Executive postponed the vote until 9th November, giving the NEC time to create the chaotic circumstances in which they could guarantee victory for one of their preferred candidates.

By the day of the North West selection on 3rd November, a familiar tactic from the Corbyn era had been put in play to prevent Cllr Ali from securing a nomination at his home branch vote. A vitriolic message about one of the candidates, Mete Coban, was sent to all CLP members from an email address named ‘Danger in Kensington.’ Access to the membership mailing list is strictly limited so the email is likely to have been circulated by somebody holding a senior position within Labour at local, regional or NEC level. Two local Labour sources told Urban Dandy that the NEC’s two preferred candidates had also been provided with the membership’s contact data “months before”.

The highly dubious message was unquestioningly amplified in a vicious attack piece on Kasim Ali in a local blog, while Jewish News blamed “a group of activists” in North Kensington. There was no evidence that the councillor or any of his associates had a connection to the message and no explanation was offered as to how they could have circulated it or what their motivation to sabotage the process might have been. Labour bureaucrats seized upon the story to torpedo the CLP’s democracy, taking control of the selection process and barring Cllr Ali from standing.

Senior Kensington Labour members issued a statement that included the line “there is evidence that the racist message was written by a local known not be (sic) a Labour Party member and was initially posted on a Kensington Community Facebook page.”

There will be more on what Cllr Ali describes as a “fake antisemitism” smear in a later article.

North West Branch

On the day of the ‘Danger in Kensington’ email, Labour members in the North West branch were set to vote on who to shortlist. However, a significant number were prevented from doing so. A Labour councillor told Urban Dandy that “14 to 16 members” were blocked. Another councillor informed us that the number was closer to 20. Both told us that all the excluded members had one thing in common, they were British Somali.

By this point, the selection meetings, held on Zoom, were being chaired by Labour’s London Region Director, Parleen Sangha. According to a local councillor, Sangha told some of the British Somali members “we can’t hear you” before removing them from the meeting and not readmitting them as they attempted to re-join the meeting for an hour and a half. Others simply saw the image below when they clicked on the meeting link.

(Screengrabbed and sent to Urban Dandy by a British Somali Labour member in the North West branch)

We have been informed that an elected Labour councillor for Golborne ward (part of the North West branch and one of the most impoverished wards in Britain) received a text message from a London Region representative as voting commenced telling them ‘I don’t have the correct email for you’ as a justification for cancelling their access to the ballot. The councillor is also British Somali and was using the same email address used when registering as a party member and used to log in to all subsequent meetings and votes.

No results from the North East or North West selection votes were published, and Joe Powell will stand for Labour at the general election having easily defeated the other shortlisted candidates, Mete Coban and Apsana Lachaux on 9th November.

Racial Profiling?

Labour councillors who spoke to Urban Dandy stopped just short of accusing Keir Starmer’s NEC and London Region of racism against British Somalis. They informed us that Labour members in the North East branch, mostly from ethnic minority communities, were also prevented from participating, while former party members with favourable views of Starmer were enabled by London Region to fast-track their re-joining on the day of the vote.

We asked London Region for clarity on why Cllr Ali’s bid for candidacy was undemocratically denied. They responded that they “had to” commence a “serious investigation” into antisemitism in Kensington CLP and that local members had been suspended “due to antisemitism”.

Their reply to Urban Dandy did not mention Kasim Ali or explain the prima facie racial profiling of British Somalis.

On 4th November Kasim Ali was interviewed by the NEC over the ‘Danger in Kensington’ email. They accepted that there was no connection between the councillor or his supporters and the message. However, his right to stand was not reinstated. It is not clear if this meeting was the “serious investigation” referred to by London Region.

A Labour source told Urban Dandy that they had searched the membership database and found that none had been suspended for suspected antisemitism.

Cllr Ali told us that he asked the Labour Party to investigate the circulation of the ‘Danger in Kensington’ email but, to date, the party has not done this.

We also understand that Cllr Ali was blocked from speaking at the CLP’s Black History Month event in October following a concern raised by a rival candidate that this would give Ali an unfair advantage in the constituency selection. London Region issued a ban on longlisted Kensington candidates attending the event. Cllr Ali complained to London Region about his exclusion but has not received a reply.

Starmer’s Labour

Under the leadership of Keir Starmer, Labour has purged its left-wing, often expelling or suspending members on spurious grounds, while many others who identify as left-wing have resigned their memberships in protest at Labour’s dramatic shift to the right.

When people rose up to protest racism in Summer 2020, Starmer dismissed the Black Lives Matter movement as “Black Lives Matter moment” while the party has at times positioned itself to the right of Suella Braverman on migration.

The signs are that Labour in government would be pro-war, unreservedly pro-NATO and cement the UK’s role as junior partner and enabler of the United States’ constant war-making. US foreign policy currently includes bombing Somalia, humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen and occupation of a significant proportion of Syria.

To fulfil this agenda, Starmer and his bureaucracy must minimise the number of potentially anti-war politicians in parliament. In Kensington, once the party members had indicated a preference for Kasim Ali, the NEC abandoned any pretence of a commitment to democracy.

It can be claimed that the removal of Cllr Ali and the disenfranchisement of British Somali members was about ensuring a preferred candidate would stand, rather than a case of racism. But would Labour have done this if Ali was not a Black, Muslim, African, working-class British Somali in North Kensington?

Would an antisemitic trope have been weaponised if the targeted candidate and party members came from a different demographic? And if so, would its use have passed without comment or investigation by the party and media?

Generating fear in our Jewish community and disenfranchising our British Somali community appear to be acceptable collateral damage to the fanatical clique that has control of Labour. Starmer’s party is liberal-fascist, uninterested in the cause of labour and intent on using power to advance the class interests of the British establishment and the economic elite.

By Tom Charles @tomhcharles

The Unknown Hell of Starmer’s Labour

photo from Twitter keir_starmer

Just over a decade ago, I was involved in producing an important political pamphlet you have never read. Its title was ‘Unknown Hell’ and it reported on a visit undertaken by several Labour politicians to Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

The pamphlet’s title was suggested by Sir Gerald Kaufman, the legendary phrase coiner who dubbed Labour’s 1983 manifesto “the longest suicide note in history.” Along with Kaufman and me, the contributors to the pamphlet were the MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Michael Connarty, reflecting a Labour party that was still a broad church. Kaufman was to the right, Connarty to the left, and Corbyn firmly on the left.

Kaufman’s ‘Unknown Hell’ title captured the fact that, despite them being the world’s largest refugee population, most people in the west are ignorant of the displaced Palestinians’ suffering. Ethnically cleansed in the 1940s and trapped in camps around the region ever since, Palestinian refugees have been re-victimised in every host country. Their legal right to return home under UN Resolution 194 has been reaffirmed by virtually the whole world every year since 1949, but the fulfilment of this right has been blocked by the United States and Israel.

The Unknown Hell pamphlet was to be circulated among Labour members to raise awareness about the world’s longest-running refugee crisis, and hopefully influence party policy. But it was blocked by people (none were Palestinian) inside the Labour party who were convinced that the Palestinian cause was better served by policies focused on supporting the corrupted Palestinian Authority. This thinking was in line with US-Israeli diktats to ignore the main problems facing the Palestinians and focus myopically on bureaucracy. A comfortable position for the faction within Labour that thinks efficient obeyance of power will produce a better world. Coincidently, the smooth advancement of their careers is also better served by taking this stance.

The MPs’ reflections on the hideous conditions in the Beirut and Tripoli camps, and their analysis of meetings with all the key players in Lebanon, were silenced. The Labour hostiles were led by Simon Danczuk, who feigned interest in justice and human rights to pick up Muslim votes in Rochdale before consuming himself with fanatical factional hatred of Corbyn.

Ten years on and politicians and officials with this belligerent mentality have full control of Labour under Keir Starmer. Their creed is the goodness of the British state, giving them much in common with security state officials who appear to be influential in deciding who should stand for the party at general elections, candidates who will ensure that Palestinians’ (and Yemenis’, Ukrainians’…) misery is perpetuated by constant war. In this setup, there is no room for those who talk the language of diplomacy and peace.

A purge of grassroots Labour members is in full effect, but, like the suffering of the Palestinians in Lebanon, it is unknown to most people thanks to the media’s determined silence. An assault on the democracy of the party that is likely to form the next government is taking place in plain sight, but you’d never know it.

Those thrown out by Labour suffer their own personal hell, gaslit with infantile explanations after giving years to grassroots causes. Criticism of NATO is proscribed by party whips, further subduing what remains of socialist resistance to war in parliament. In these perverted circumstances, members are being expelled for possessing the qualities that most people find admirable: loyalty, steadfastness, and a willingness to support the most vulnerable.

There is no hierarchy of suffering that prevents the pain of these ousted Labour members from being discussed alongside the suffering of the 9.5 million Palestinian refugees or Britain’s many other victims. These are not discrete issues, and Keir Starmer’s purge of campaigners for peace and justice means that the UK cannot elect a progressive government at the next election. This has echoes in the refugee camps of Lebanon, and the unknown hell will continue thanks to the pro-war right’s grip on Labour.

by Tom Charles @tomhcharles

Jeremy Corbyn at the entrance of Bourj al Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut

Exclusive Interview: Emma Dent Coad on Labour’s Grassroots Purge

Emma Dent Coad, the only Labour politician to win Kensington in its true blue history, spoke to Urban Dandy about the Labour party’s decision to bar her from standing at the next general election.

Context

Architectural historian, author, activist, and local resident Emma Dent Coad was elected to Kensington and Chelsea council in 2006. She campaigned on the full range of issues impacting residents in the most inequitable local authority in Britain including housing rights, poverty, and air quality. Dent Coad’s background in housing made her an ideal choice to be Labour’s 2017 parliamentary candidate in a constituency home to oligarchs and royals yet has seen a dramatic life expectancy decline in the borough’s poorest wards once austerity economics was imposed in 2010.

The councillor’s 2014 report, updated after the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017, The Most Unequal Borough in Britain, used incontestable data to lay bare the shocking inequity of the borough where at one end 51% of children live in poverty vs at the other only 6% suffer this indignity. Dent Coad’s 2022 book, One Kensington, cemented her reputation as an expert on the impact of neoliberal economics in the borough.

PosterBaraka
Emma Dent Coad at a poster design competition for children affected by Grenfell, 2017.

2017

On Friday, June 11th the final seat in the 2017 general election was declared and Dent Coad was elected MP for Kensington: a first-time Labour gain. Winning by 20 votes, Dent Coad joined the activist Labour MPs’ Socialist Campaign Group in parliament. The role of socialists diminished under New Labour, but backbenchers like Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, and Diane Abbott kept community-based democratic, internationalist socialist politics alive in parliament. Labour’s left-right, democrat-technocrat schism had widened under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, yet New Labour was confident enough in its political project to co-exist with anti-war backbenchers and their frequent rebellions.

Three days after the Kensington constituency victory, the fire at Grenfell Tower brought the local issues that Emma Dent Coad had campaigned on to national prominence, crystalizing her parliamentary priority: justice for Grenfell.

Party leader Corbyn and other Campaign Group members were supportive of North Kensington; but Labour’s bureaucracy was dominated by factional enemies, intent on sabotaging the leadership, and as came to be revealed, actively worked to deny Labour an election victory. The harassment of Diane Abbott, the diversion of funds from left-wing candidates in marginal seats to right-wingers in safe seats and smear campaigns were among the methods deployed by this group, which included Iain McNicol, Labour’s then General Secretary. In 2017, Labour finished just 2227 votes short of being able to form a government.

Internal Labour documents leaked in 2020 showed senior party bureaucrats favouring cronyism over Corbynism. They preferred Tory rule with all the misery that brings to their own party’s kinder, more equitable, leadership. As the leaks became public (albeit not reported in the mainstream news) Dent Coad revealed her campaign had received little support from Labour HQ even when it became clear that an historic win in Kensington was on the cards.

Dent Coad explained: “When the atrocity of the Grenfell Tower fire ripped through my neighbourhood, I was finally sent help from McNicol’s office. However, it quickly became clear that this was not the help requested; I needed assistance with my casework team, who were struggling to help those impacted by the fire, but instead the general secretary sent someone to police me.

“I had been going out every day, mostly on my own or with a couple of colleagues. There was no feeling at that time that I was in any kind of physical danger. However, on day three while I was addressing a crowd of local people, including a group of very distressed young men, my ‘helper’ attempted to drag me away, saying “Ian McNicol says you must get out of here”.

“Out of here? I lived there – and still do. These were my neighbours.”

Despite McNicol’s and other fifth columnists’ efforts, Dent Coad represented the shocked people of Kensington with grace and constant solidarity, pushing for justice against a series of hostile Home Secretaries and Communities Secretaries.  

2019

By 2019, Brexit dominated British politics, with battle lines drawn between those supportive of the democratic will of the people and those manoeuvring for another referendum. Chief among the latter category was Sir Keir Starmer QC who, with the patronage of Shadow Chancellor McDonnell, became Shadow Brexit Secretary.

Starmer. Image from Wikipedia Commons

Starmer, having committed political sabotage by reversing the leadership’s Brexit policy live on-stage at party conference, was reliant on McDonnell to survive on the front bench. McDonnell maintained that Starmer’s establishment profile was an asset, offsetting the activist image of other prominent Labour figures. McDonnell’s misjudgement, at a time when most Labour MPs were obsessed with stopping Brexit, stopping Corbyn, or both, forced Labour into an absurd position. For the 2019 election, Corbyn had to present a plan of negotiating a deal with the European Union, which would then be one of the options in another referendum, with prime minister Corbyn staying “neutral” on the EU exit agreement that he himself had made. In contrast, Boris Johnson could repeatedly declare that all 635 Tory candidates supported his “Get Brexit Done” strategy after he ejected 21 of his MPs from the party for backing Starmer’s opposition to the Conservatives’ exit deal.

Starmer’s Brexit sabotage created an unsustainable paradigm for Labour MPs in marginal seats. At a time when Labour could have been laser-focused on Corbyn’s campaign to transform the economy through popular policies, MPs were instead burdened with confused Brexit messaging.

The result was a landslide for the Conservatives, followed by Starmer’s emphatic win in the Labour leadership contest. Unlike the Tories, however, Starmer immediately abandoned his key election pledges.

In Kensington, reflecting the position of her constituents, MP Dent Coad campaigned as a Remainer. As well as the historically strong Tory vote, the incumbent had to contend with the Liberal Democrats’ repeatedly declaring that only they could stop the Conservatives and Brexit in Kensington and, despite polling clearly demonstrating they were a non-contender, the national media consistently parrotted these declarations. Thus, the Lib Dems cultivated a local following amongst anti-Brexit hardliners as The Guardian amplified their loose talk, advising Kensington residents to vote Liberal to stop Brexit. This combination, above all else, handed the Kensington seat to Tory Felicity Buchan.

Dent Coad has remained a local councillor and was elected leader of the Labour group at RBKC; Buchan voted against implementing the recommendations of the Grenfell Inquiry in the Fire Safety Bill.

Labour’s Purge

Labour’s right, having fatally undermined the party from within in 2017 and ‘19, continued to attack its own. The Labour party has purged many grassroots members, detailed by al Jazeera reporting of a 500 GB leak of internal party documents. This data and its story were not reported by mainstream British media.

Al Jazeera’s documentaries reconfirmed that the “antisemitism crisis” in the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn was a fictional construct. Used to undermine lifelong anti-racist campaigner Corbyn, false claims of antisemitism were used to target MPs, councillors, officials, members, campaigners, and journalists. Using calculated and insincere tactics mimicking those of the McCarthyite era, Labour bureaucrats under McNicol deliberately slowed the investigation process of those accused. Showing a disregard for Jewish suffering, they enabled the notion that British Jews were under threat from Corbyn to become received wisdom. The accusation of antisemitism is so historically important that it should never be leveraged carelessly. When Jennie Formby, a Corbyn ally, replaced McNicol, the investigations process gained efficiencies and a seriousness in its fact-finding mission that led to the data-supported conclusion that less than 0.3% of Labour’s members had faced investigation, let alone been found guilty.  

The media chose not to publish this underwhelming conclusion to the story. Having gorged themselves on exposés trashing the party’s grassroots, mainstream journalists remained silent on the results, facts, and findings. With media complicity, Keir Starmer was emboldened to attack the Labour left more directly and began a purge of socialists and activists from the party’s ranks.

Human Story

Jeremy Corbyn’s and Emma Dent Coad’s commitment to those affected by Grenfell is an example of how to value everyone in society regardless of wealth, race, and creed. True leadership guides, supports and lifts success. An empathetic leader is dedicated to community and defends the contributions of those who may otherwise be swept aside or belittled by the wealth motivations of maintaining and increasing personal gain. Starmer’s defenders argue that his actions will get Labour into government. But leveraging an accusation as serious as antisemitism callously and insincerely to target and abuse grassroots members for personal gain is a shameful and abusive act, not an electoral strategy. The purposeful fear this has stoked is successfully silencing dissent and driving Labour further to the right, hence Corbyn losing the party whip in 2020 for mild pushback against his accusers. 

This treatment of grassroots Labour members is wholly relatable to many people. Similar to the very real anxiety of the growing cost of living, food poverty, the heating crisis, the dismantling of public services and growing job insecurity, party activists not following the party line are silenced and isolated for fear that they may suffer the same public shaming and professional losses of Corbyn and Dent Coad, punished for championing the many over the few. The messaging is clear: anti-war anti-racists will be falsely accused, blamed, and shamed in the virtual town square. A powerful tool to silence discussion and dissent.  

EDC Blocked

Urban Dandy strongly condemns antisemitism in all its forms. One manifestation of antisemitism scarcely mentioned is that of Labour politicians and officials manipulating and weaponizing it to stoke fear in Jewish communities and remove those that literally care for the poorer, marginalised elements of our society and want better healthcare, education, transit, and welfare for their fellow citizens.

This is the establishment utilising an evil that nobody could ever defend for personal gain, to protect the wealth of a few and ensure services are not given to the many. It is both calculated and gross. No one defends or associates themselves with an antisemite! To wield this accusation so broadly, even vaguely is absolutely unconscionable. Yet there is no recognition that it must only be used precisely, so important is it to defend those who could suffer under such oppression.

As you will read below, the antisemitism fiction was utilised by senior party bureaucrats to eliminate Emma Dent Coad from Labour’s candidate list here in Kensington, joining accusations as infantile as having ‘smiled or laughed’ at a comment made about Starmer to manufacture a context for their purge.

Interview

We sat down with Emma Dent Coad on the day that her successor as MP for Kensington, Felicity Buchan was announced as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. Dent Coad describes this appointment as “the ultimate kick in the face for Grenfell bereaved and survivors. She’s voted with everything the Tories have done. She’s never even spoken on housing.”

Urban Dandy: How are things at Kensington CLP (Constituency Labour Party) after what happened to you?

Emma Dent Coad: “People are supporting different candidates, in good faith according to their personal priorities. But what we need is somebody to truly represent Kensington. Grenfell was a symptom of what’s been going on here for 50 years, but in Kensington and Chelsea deprivation and inequality is unforgivable because the Council has the funds to tackle it. In my book ‘One Kensington’ I show that during the austerity years when many councils lost a lot of funding, we lost very little government funding because Business Rates Retention, which was designed to soften the impact of cuts, brought in so much money.

“In terms of the local party, we should be a healthy, broad church. We should work together campaigning to get the elected candidate elected. We did even when Blair was leader and the Iraq War was affecting so many residents. It was tough campaigning, but we did it. Our then MP Karen Buck voted against the war; she wasn’t blocked from re-standing.

“I’d like to know more about the remaining candidates. What they’ve done to support communities. I’d like to see their full CVs. Some of the candidates don’t have much of a footprint from their previous work.”

UD: What happened when you were barred from being a candidate? What’s the process?

EDC: “I was asked to attend a “due diligence interview” and emailed a list of alleged ‘crimes’ a few days before the interview. At the interview, there are three members of the panel and one observer. The chair of the panel makes the decision.”

UD: So, it’s a real interview? Or have they already made the decision by the time you get there?

EDC: “It felt like they’d already made the decision.”

UD: Officially, why were barred from standing? We saw a list of the reasons online, and they were ridiculous. But were there any where you thought ‘fair enough, I can just about see their point there’?

EDC: “No, there weren’t any that felt fair, and some were simply inaccurate or wrong, like things I couldn’t have done because they were during lockdown, and I was at home for months recovering from cancer. One of the things on their list was that I went on a Counterfire march during lockdown. The thing is, Counterfire don’t organise marches. It was a Stop the War Coalition march in 2019 and there was a photo of me. In the background was somebody holding a Socialist Appeal placard. My crime was standing near someone who was holding a placard from an organisation that was proscribed – two years after the march.”

UD: Is it all just things from social media? Do they just go through people’s social media accounts till they find something they decide they can use against them?

EDC: “It feels like that.”

UD: What else was on their list?

EDC: “A lot of it was Thought Crime, a lot of it was straw-clutching, things you wouldn’t give a second thought to. They created a long list of these things then concluded I have “poor judgment” so shouldn’t be a Labour candidate.”

UD: So, the length of the list is used to justify the decision even though it’s all fluff?

EDC: “Yes. Prince Harry came up, and when they read it the chair actually laughed at the joke I made about whether or not he was able to fly a helicopter. This was at a Republic meeting. So I’m allowed to be a republican and I’m allowed to be a pacifist but can’t crack silly jokes. One of the ‘crimes’ was that when I was an MP I spoke at a CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) rally in Parliament Square. Bruce Kent was speaking, so I listened to him, then I gave my speech, and then went back to work. During the rally, somebody played guitar and sang a song that the chair said was ‘offensive.’ I didn’t even hear it, but that was on the list.

“It’s guilt by association – joint enterprise if you like – and nothing I said in the interview would have made a difference.”

UD: So, it’s called a ‘due diligence interview’ but it isn’t really due diligence?

EDC: “Hardly.”

UD: Did antisemitism come up?

EDC: “Yes. I had ‘liked’ a comment years ago on Facebook that one elderly Jewish CLP member had made to another elderly Jewish CLP member, criticising Israel. It was a short factual comment, but this was deemed antisemitic; this was well before the IHRA definition was adopted by the way. When I was elected to parliament, I voluntarily arranged to meet the Board of Deputies; as far as I know, I’m the only MP to have done this. It was a positive and helpful meeting. I also did antisemitism training twice with the Jewish Labour Movement. Words matter and we need to be careful with how we describe others. So I generally kept quiet about the Middle East, which is hard when you have so many constituents with family there, and you can’t speak out for them without being accused of something so repellent.”

UD: Do they at least show appreciation for the work you’ve done over the years before they tell you you’re not allowed to stand? Is there a sense that they value your contribution?

EDC: “No, there was nothing.”

UD: Did they mention Grenfell?

EDC: “Grenfell wasn’t mentioned once. I think they want to make it go away.”

UD: So, they don’t have to justify their accusations?

EDC: “No. One of the things was that I criticised Labour’s lack of policies last year. But they weren’t coming out with any policies, I was just stating a fact.”

UD: The thing that stayed with me most from the al Jazeera documentaries was that the people who were being targeted by the party were really innocent people who had probably never thought about any kind of factional rivalries. They were just trying to do their best for their communities and they were subjected to harassment and abuse for no good reason.

EDC: “It’s really difficult. They say all these things about you and then you’re vulnerable. As I was coming here, I heard somebody behind me call my name and for a second I thought ‘oh no’ because it could be somebody abusive. But it was my neighbour saying ‘Don’t worry, Emma, we don’t believe this stuff,’ and he gave me a hug.”

UD: Who was on the panel?

EDC: “Three NEC members and one observer. One of the panel had already publicly declared their support for one of the other potential candidates in Kensington. We reported this conflict of interest but there was no response at all. The panel were clearly all on the right wing of the party; I didn’t stand a chance.”

UD: What is your take on the national Labour party now?

EDC: “It’s a shame they’re narrowing the sphere. The world is changing all the time and we need people with a variety of experience. There is little or no expertise in the built environment in parliament, and that is something I can offer. After 40 years in the party, I’ve always been in the Labour family, and it has been inclusive. Not now.

“More than anything it’s difficult to have been blocked rather than having the chance to present myself to local membership as a candidate.

“But we are where we are. I’m a team player, and I will continue to represent residents as I have done for the past 16 years.”

By Jennifer Cavanagh @Jannanni & Tom Charles @tomhcharles

What Corbyn has done for Britain’s Jewish Community

Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to use fear and suffering to achieve political ends marks him out as a very different calibre politician to those currently seeking to eliminate him and his principles from mainstream British life. While others use Jewish fears for political gain with zeal, Corbyn remains a true friend of Britain’s Jewish community.

In April this year, a leaked report from within the Labour party revealed that senior officials deliberately sabotaged the party’s 2017 general election campaign to prevent Jeremy Corbyn from becoming prime minister and implementing modest socialist reforms in the United Kingdom. That year, Labour won its biggest share of the popular vote since 1997 and were just 2,227 votes short of being able to form a government. The leak also revealed that the same saboteurs deliberately slowed down the party’s investigations of antisemitism complaints made against members to create the impression that Corbyn was indifferent to Jewish suffering. Their duplicity, ignored by the entire mainstream media as an inconvenient truth, directly contradicts years of condemnation of Corbyn for being a deplorable antisemite or, at best, a man tolerant of antisemitism.

The truth is that he is neither, unlike many of his critics in the media and Westminster.

The Facts

There is “no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party” according to a 2016 report by the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Since 2017, according to official Labour party statistics released this year, a total of 2,178 Labour members had been accused of antisemitism. In a party membership of half a million people, this is 0.4 %. Almost all 0.4% were not genuine cases of antisemitism. A total of 56 Labour members had been expelled for alleged antisemitism at the time of the statistics being published, 0.01% of party members.

This 0.01% is what is known as Labour’s antisemitism crisis. As a “crisis,” it does not stand up to scrutiny, and that is why it receives neither any objective scrutiny nor even a factual mention, from mainstream politicians or journalists.

The Danger

These statistics, elaborated elsewhere alongside much objective evidence, help demonstrate that the antisemitism accusation levelled at Corbyn is a hoax designed to stop Labour winning a general election with a socialist leader and stifle any possibility of the UK fully applying international law and taking steps to end the occupation of Palestine by Israel. See the work of Asa Winstanley, Jonathan Cook and Jewish Voice for Labour debunking the hoax.

A danger of the proliferation of the fake news “antisemitism crisis” is that many people in Britain, including in Muslim communities, see it as the ultimate expression of white privilege, Jewish fears being treated with far more seriousness at the highest, most respectable levels of UK society than incidents of racist and Islamophobic violence and hatred. The country has an openly racist, Islamophobic prime minister and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who vow to “protect people against discriminatory treatment and hold organisations, such as businesses and government, to account for what they do,” investigated antisemitism with Labour’s ranks but refused to investigate rampant Islamophobia in the Conservative party.

Both the country’s major political parties favour Israel’s occupation of Palestine, with its subjugation and humiliation of Muslims and Christians and the longest-running refugee crisis (there are seven million Palestinian refugees) in the world.

It is unfortunate but predictable that such a situation taps into popular conspiracies about Jews controlling politics, the media and financial institutions.

The Reality

The reality is that Britain’s Jewish population do not enjoy privileged treatment, they and their history are being used by right-wing politicians (including Keir Starmer) and the pro-Israel lobby (which is largely made up of anti-Arab Zionists, Christian fundamentalists and others who favour arms sales – death – to peace) to foment hatred against Jeremy Corbyn, the symbol of socialism in Britain today.

Britain’s Jewish people have been the target of an epic fear-mongering campaign by this Faustian coalition. Not content with Labour’s crushing 2019 election defeat, this juggernaut now seeks to eliminate socialism and socialists from mainstream political life in the UK.

With no hard evidence of a Labour antisemitism crisis, the electorate is left confused. A survey revealed that, on average, the public believed that third of Labour party members had been reported for antisemitism, a direct reflection of the rhetoric used by the nation’s media and political elites.

But as with all gaslighters, the accusation they are making is the very thing they are guilty of themselves: indifference to Jewish suffering and a willingness to use it for personal or ideological gain.

Left-Wing Media

Although none of it is mainstream in terms of its reach, there are left-wing media outlets and journalists in the UK. We also have easy access to North American alternative media.

Left-wing Americans have fared better on the issue of Corbyn and antisemitism than their counterparts here. The most prolific and revered left-wing pundits in Britain, Novara Media and Owen Jones, have played along with the hoax, choosing to offer an intricate left-wing perspective, rather than simply debunking it. Their most recent coverage, of Corbyn’s suspension and whip-removal, is incoherent as they work overtime discussing internal Labour procedures to avoid pointing out the most pertinent fact: there never was a “crisis”.

Full-spectrum propaganda only works when the left participates. The logic is that if even Owen Jones, the mainstream’s designated voice of the left, isn’t denying it, it must be true.

In repeating and amplifying the lie, and ignoring the role of the Israel lobby, prominent left-wing journalists in the UK have boxed themselves into a corner. If the crisis was real, then surely the leader of the party has rightly faced disciplinary action. Had there been a real antisemitism crisis on Jeremy Corbyn’s watch, then any right-minded, peace-campaigning, anti-imperialist would want him out. The fact is, there was no crisis. So, the media’s left-wingers are playing both sides, calling for Corbyn’s return to the Labour benches but refusing to explain to their followers that it was all part of a political game. They have retained their status as representatives of the left on Sky and BBC News by abandoning their journalistic duty, to tell the truth at all costs.

Jeremy Corbyn

Some quality journalists on the left have projected their own frustration onto Jeremy Corbyn for his perceived lack of fight against the fanatics who have attacked him using the antisemitism smear. Asa Winstanley, Max Blumenthal and Glenn Greenwald are among them. They argued that Corbyn should have pushed back, and when he failed to do this as strongly as they believed necessary, they lamented him for being weak.

Yet these voices never identify exactly what he could have done. Corbyn probably predicted an unhinged response to any pushback that involved him pointing out that the idea of a “crisis” was absurd. The media would have ignored anything positive or conciliatory he said and pounced upon any hint of him not being adequately yielding. In this, he would have again stood alone against the entirety of the British establishment. More internal Labour divisions and more media focus on fiction instead of the urgent issues of the day were the inevitable result of an assertive push back.

‘So what?’ you might say, things surely couldn’t get much worse anyway, but there were two other factors. The first is 2017 when Labour almost won despite the smear campaign against the leadership. It wasn’t unreasonable to think that policy, over personality, could prove decisive in 2019. This turned out to be true, but it was the Tories, with a more coherent Brexit policy, who had the stronger hand.

The second, and I think most decisive, factor is Corbyn’s relationship with the Jewish people of Britain. Reviewing his career. Peace, justice, unity, and love are the qualities that transcend all politics for him. He is a player in the political game, but there are certain tactics he will not use, the ones that result in pain for others. Unlike those railing against him, Corbyn is sensitive to human frailties and fears. Judging that aggressive pushback would be used by some to further instil existential fear in Britain’s Jews and by others to foment hateful conspiracies, he chose to be guided by his own principles. He did not do or say anything that could have rebounded back on a minority population already being used in the most wretched way by those claiming to speak up for them.

The alternative option, preferred by some prominent left-wingers, was that Corbyn lay out all the facts of the smear campaign, call out the liars and be a warrior for absolute truth. This approach is one that ignores the realities of power in Britain. Exposing the truth has little positive impact unless it happens to match the establishment’s interests.

By choosing not to join in a sordid game, Jeremy Corbyn remains true to his values and his vision of an equitable society lives on. He has done nothing to frighten or endanger a single Jewish, or other minority, person in Britain. The same cannot be said of many other prominent political and media figures.

 

By Tom Charles @tomhcharles

Thanks to Jennifer Cavanagh for the invaluable suggestions & edits

Keir Starmer’s Middle Way

With a civilian death toll that is likely to outdo even the Nazis’ air bombardment during world war two (70,000) we experience the full impact of the policies of the right. What of the parliamentary left? Labour wound up its foregone conclusion of a leadership contest a month ago. Sir Keir Starmer won, but who is he, politically? A smart move by the Labour electorate? Starmer steers as close to the middle of the road as possible. History will soon demand he chooses which side he’s on.

Starmer is seeking a clear break from Jeremy Corbyn while not entirely abandoning the popular policies of his predecessor. Even Corbyn’s staunchest supporters were worn down by four years of relentless, puerile attacks and the choice of Starmer was surely a relief, even for members who voted for the more leftist candidate, Rebecca Long-Bailey. Starmer is a politician whose style is approved of by the full spectrum of media commentators and the Labour backstabbers who loathed Corbyn.

Narrow Parameters

The contrasting attitudes towards the two men reflects the narrow parameters of thought in British public life. Corbyn was deemed ‘unelectable’ by most Labour MPs and harassed with media absurdities (claims that he was a Czech spy, a fabricated antisemitism crisis etc) that compromised his public image. From the right-wing (inc. Murdoch) media, this was expected. For the centrist liberal media (there is no major left-wing media in the UK) Corbyn’s unforgivable crime was that he didn’t play their game and never would. He treated journalists with respect. But he treated everybody that way, no matter their status. Never distracted by sycophancy, Corbyn wanted to change society. Keir Starmer is more malleable.

The leadership election result also signalled the narrowing vision of western Europe’s largest political party, Labour. It is worth considering the figures that have elected the party’s leaders. In 2015, Corbyn won a stunning victory with 59.5% of the vote in a four-horse race that included ‘electable’ opponents Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham. In 2016 he was forced by the right of the parliamentary party to face Owen Smith in another contest, with Corbyn securing victory with 61.8%. That contest is noteworthy only in that Smith received 38.2% of votes; a miserable defeat, but 193,229 of the Labour electorate backed him and presumably form the basis of Starmer’s support.

The switch from leftist Corbyn to ‘centrist’ Starmer suggests that a lot of Corbyn supporters, socialists, voted for Sir Keir. Labour members have tacitly agreed to a centre-right consensus in British politics: nothing too radical, with the debate framed by a media which spans the centre-left to the far right. The boundaries of what is possible have been reined in.

It is worth taking a moment to consider what might happen if members of leftish political parties just voted for their own interests rather than playing political pundit. In the UK, as in the US, people now vote for the leader they think other people might vote for, rather than for policies. Presumably, the decisive thought here is that the masses have not yet reached the level of enlightenment required to grasp what is being offered to them by straight-talking politicians like Corbyn or Bernie Sanders (who surely would have walked it in November against an incumbent president who advises the population to inject bleach into their veins).

Keir Starmer is the man for this political moment on the left. But by considering just a few of his stances to date, we see trouble brewing for the new Labour leader. He will have to concentrate to maintain his balance.

Sabotage

“The leader of the organisation carries the can, stands up for what goes wrong and takes responsibility” said Starmer during a hustings. He was criticising Jeremy Corbyn’s regime for “turning on its staff” during the so-called antisemitism crisis. This is Sir Keir taking the middle ground, making what he judges to be a politically safe criticism of his predecessor – not of his policies, but of his leadership. The problem is that we now have all the evidence we need that the crisis in the party was a fabrication, one entangled in a marriage of convenience with the Blairites obsessed with overthrowing Corbyn.

A leaked report from within the party since Starmer’s victory reveals the depth of the internal campaign to sabotage Labour’s chances of gaining power under Corbyn. The document shows that senior officials including the then Secretary, Iain McNicol, diverted money to right-wing candidates in safe seats rather than to left-wing candidates in marginals in 2017. This probably extended to Kensington where Emma Dent Coad won a historic victory for Labour in June 2017. When the Grenfell Tower fire atrocity took place days later, McNicol refused to send the help the new MP had requested, presumably for ideological right-left reasons.

The report also reveals the withholding of information from the leader’s office; officials boasting about not working professionally during the campaign; racism; sexism and more. Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner have ordered an investigation into the leaks, but the greatest scandal in the party’s history will need to be dealt with properly if the leadership is to retain credibility within the base – crucial if they are to keep the momentum of grassroots campaigning.

Antisemitism

Some of the disgraced officials featured in the report had been tasked with investigating cases of alleged antisemitism. The report shows that these officials deliberately slowed down the process to create the impression that Corbyn was indifferent to Jewish suffering. It worked, and a lifelong anti-racism campaigner was politically assassinated as an anti-Semite.

At root, the concocted crisis was always about Palestine, which Corbyn would have recognised as a state on day one of a Labour government. British Jews were deliberately and cynically scare mongered for political purposes, surely one of the basest tactics employed in our political history.

Starmer cannot be entirely ignorant of the reality of the antisemitism debacle. He must know that the Home Affairs Select Committee found “no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party.” And that official Labour party statistics released in January showed that a total of 2,178 Labour members had been accused of antisemitism since 2017, just 0.4 % of the overall membership. Almost all the 0.4% were not genuine cases of antisemitism. A total 56 Labour members had been expelled for alleged antisemitism at the time of the statistics being published, 0.01% of party members. “A third of all cases in 2019 have the same single individual as the main complainant,” states the 2020 document.

Starmer knows that the ‘crisis’ had a major impact on Labour’s public image but he did not miss a beat in declaring his collusion with the illusion in his victory speech: “Antisemitism has been a stain on our party. On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry” and “I support Zionism without qualification.” A strategic move, or perhaps an indication of his willingness to ingratiate himself to power. He had previously made more neutral statements about Zionism, but in victory sought to establish his credentials, sending an apologetic letter to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, promising to “root out” Labour’s “antisemitism”.

Starmer is also declared supporter of Palestinian rights, opposes President Trump’s “Deal of the Century” and has appointed Lisa Nandy, a long-term supporter of the Palestinians, as shadow foreign secretary. For justice in the Middle East, Labour is required to back Palestine’s self-determination and the right of return of seven million Palestinian refugees. Both positions contradict Zionism’s basic premise, an exclusively Jewish state in historic Palestine. When Israel annexes more land, or bombs the Gaza Strip again, Starmer will have to back the oppressor or the oppressed. He will shamefully bow to the Israel lobby while innocents die, or he will take a brave stand for peace and justice. No middle way exists.

Journalism

The new Labour leader opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003, but once an MP (he was first elected to the Commons in 2015) he voted against a parliamentary investigation into Tony Blair’s misleading MPs Iraq. While giving Blair a pass, Starmer has been determined to see a journalist who exposed the war crimes prosecuted. In 2010, as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) he played a key role in the persecution of Julian Assange, editor of Wikileaks, who had just published evidence of a litany of western war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the Collateral Murder video. 

As DPP, Keir Starmer fast-tracked the extradition of Assange to Sweden (from where he could be easily extradited to the US) for questioning over the most dubious allegations of rape. Starmer advised Swedish lawyers to reject Assange’s offer to be questioned in London, presumably understanding that the Swedes would have no option but to drop their investigation (the case had already been dropped then resuscitated by a right-wing magistrate). This set off a chain of events that have seen this one journalist harassed, imprisoned and effectively tortured and made ill by the British state on behalf of the Americans.

Emails from August 2012 show a sickening betrayal of Assange by the UK. Responding to a suggestion that Sweden might drop their phoney rape investigation, Keir Starmer’s office sent the following message to their Scandinavian counterparts: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!”.

Julian Assange remains in squalid solitary confinement at Belmarsh, the prison reserved for the UK’s most violent and dangerous criminals. Despite his sentence (for skipping bail) having expired months ago, he is forced to stay in this maximum-security prison and wait for a judge to decide on his extradition to the US on surreal charges under the Espionage Act. A dangerous precedent will be set if Assange is sent to the dangerous president, never to be seen again. Who will dare inform the world about war crimes then?

Assange, who has a chronic lung condition, could die in Belmarsh. Perhaps this is what the British state wants, to save them the embarrassment of extraditing him. Parliament is quiet on Assange, but as leader of the opposition, Starmer is obliged to call for his release. 

With Wikileaks, the middle ground is untenable. Starmer either supports freedom of speech and the rule of law (a person cannot be extradited from the UK on political charges), or he does not.

Pandemic

With the government’s disastrous handling of the coronavirus, the Labour leader has aimed straight down the middle. He is withholding many obvious criticisms of the Johnson government, presumably until the lockdown phase is over and the public is more receptive to apportioning blame. In PMQs this week, the Labour leader challenged government claims of British “success” when the official figures, which are an underestimate, show 30,000 people have died. But by being eager to offer praise where he can, Starmer fell into the trap of repeatedly saying “hospital deaths are falling”. They aren’t falling, they rise every time somebody dies. It was a strange and possibly revealing use of language on his part.

The pandemic will end with a political divergence. A choice, austerity or socialism, will decide the future of the NHS. That Starmer abstained in 2015 on the Tories’ destructive Health and Social Care bill doesn’t auger well for us.

Jeremy Corbyn was unlucky in the sense that two national disasters – Grenfell and COVID – fell the wrong side of the 2017 and 2019 general elections. Starmer has some media support and a chaotic government that proudly declared a decline in shoplifting on a day that saw 813 people die in agony. He has Exercise Cygnus; Dominic Cummings; PPE; the list is long and growing. With these weapons at his disposal, there will be no need to abstain.

A radical change is needed – will Sir Keir seize the moment? To do so, he must break away from the deadening obsession with respectability and electability that gnaws away at the parliamentary Labour party. The middle way, centrism, is an abstraction. It has no meaning in the real world. Under a so-called centrist Labour government, the sale of parts of the NHS to the private sector was accelerated. Starmer cannot retain his pristine establishment image while delivering a revival of our health service.

Starmer

Like all of us, Keir Starmer is a contradictory person, but unlike most of us, he now holds immense power. In all the scenarios above, he faces a choice: justice or injustice; oppressed or oppressor; freedom of speech or tyranny; truth or illusion.

Soon, he must decide whether he stands for life or for death. If that seems shrill, look at the world around you and the impact of indifference.

A slogan for Keir Starmer’s new Labour? For the many, not the few For the many and the few? Not for the many, not for the few? For the few not the many? For some people, but who?

You?

 

by Tom Charles @tomhcharles

Frenzy in Kensington

For Emma…

 

That’s that: a centre-left government led by Jeremy Corbyn to end austerity and change British society has not materialised. Across the country frenzied efforts were made to stop the Conservative victory, but there were few successes. The debate about why Labour lost so spectacularly is raging, but here in Kensington identifying the culprits is simple. 

First a quick word on the mainstream media. Their assiduous, relentless smear campaign against Corbyn worked alongside Brexit to fatally undermine his chances. The media’s point of departure for the whole campaigning period was set entirely by the right wing; Corbyn’s moderate investment proposals were such a threat to the establishment that a he was faced with a wall of infantile bullying and anti-intellectual posturing which denied the public any serious discussion of Labour’s manifesto. Absurdities such as Corbyn being defamed as an antisemite in a conspiracy involving the whole of the media, all sides in parliament and so-called religious leaders, had a real impact on voters ill equipped to deconstruct the lie that was presented to them every day with such certainty.    

The political establishment is breathing easier now thanks to the surreal sight of Conservative MPs in impoverished Northern, Midlands and Welsh constituencies making their victory speeches in the early hours of Friday morning. While they were doing that, Kensington was faced with the much more familiar sight of a Tory candidate winning in an area that is one of the richest, albeit most unequal, in the world.

Lies

The Labour incumbent, Emma Dent Coad, lost her seat in a whirl of Liberal Democrat lies and the collective amnesia and ignorance of the more well-to-do in the constituency.

In one of the most egregious campaign lies of 2019, a variety of tactical voting guides advised those wanting to block Boris Johnson and/or Remain in the European Union to vote Liberal Democrat in Kensington. This was despite the Lib Dems coming a distant third in Kensington in 2017 with 12 % of the vote.

Those urging tactical voters to opt for the Liberal candidate, former Tory minister Sam Gyimah, included getvoting.org, Remain United and the pathologically anti-Corbyn Guardian newspaper. Their voting advice was based on the lie that only Gyimah could defeat the Conservative candidate, Felicity Buchan.

On the doorsteps, Labour canvassers like me were faced with naïve voters who intended to vote for the Liberals purely based on this lie and their anti-democratic wish to overturn the 2016 Brexit vote. Floating voters who were told by honest Labour canvassers that only Emma Dent Coad could beat the Tories were eyed with suspicion, having already being canvassed by the Lib Dems.

 

Result
screengrab from the BBC

 

Grenfell

Away from the tower blocks, in the richer houses of North Kensington, the simple Revoke-Remain message, the fact that Gyimah is a Tory at heart, ambivalence over the devastation of the Grenfell Tower fire and the disinformation campaign against Corbyn and Labour resulted in a split vote and a huge increase in the Liberal Democrat share.

Votes for the Liberals in Kensington almost doubled from 4,724 in 2017 to 9,312 in 2019. Labour lost by just 150 votes and the Liberal Democrats once again succeeded in propping up Tory austerity and denying North Kensington of an MP who has fought tirelessly for justice for Grenfell.

The Kensington campaign, which was kick-started by Sam Gyimah making the bizarre and entirely false claim that Dent Coad shared some responsibility with his Tories for the Grenfell fire, should raise questions about the sincerity of the Liberal Democrats as a party. Was Remain ever really their priority? Or is stopping even moderate socialism their true creed?

Kensington is a complex place. Class divisions here are so profound that even fanatical remainers will vote against their own interests rather than see somebody like Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister. They want one of their own.

In contrast, the run-down estates were dominated by Labour voters.

And what of Grenfell? This issue also fell into class patterns. On the doorstep, Liberals said it ‘could’ve happened anywhere’ and Conservatives described campaigns for justice as a ‘load of bollocks’.

They did not trust Corbyn to lead the country, yet were unable to articulate a specific objection to Labour’s manifesto.

Defeat

In the frenzied last days of campaigning, with the polls showing Labour just ahead in Kensington, scores of volunteers converged on the area to try to push Emma over the line. Up and down tower blocks, undeterred by the rain, they were greeted by voter after voter who said that Labour was their choice.

These voters knew Emma would take their struggle for justice to the highest levels of power and they hoped Corbyn could revolutionise their lives by opening up education and housing and protecting the NHS. Some elderly Labour voters probably saw this as their last chance to secure a dignified end to their lives.

But their votes in Kensington were in vain, thanks to the mendacity of one party. The election frenzy over, North Kensington is once again unrepresented in parliament, just as it is disenfranchised in the local authority.

This time, in this constituency, it is clear who takes the blame: the illiberal and undemocratic liars of the Liberal Democrats.  

 

by Tom Charles @tomhcharles

Kensington Election 2019: Come Unity

(Warning: this article contains references to the Grenfell Tower fire and videos made in the aftermath of the fire)

 “It is a fact that any rich man…has less to fear from Fascism than from…Democratic Socialism”

George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn.

The UK will elect a new government this week; a chorus of 66 million voices joined in an electoral expression of hope, hate or fear the outcome of which will profoundly affect every single one of us. All constituencies have their dramas and idiosyncrasies but surely none matches Kensington as a symbol of the choice and future at stake.

Untitled

December 12th 2019 will be a defining moment for Kensington, a constituency dramatically snatched by Labour for the first time in 2017 when Emma Dented the Unwritten Coad of Tory rule in the Royal Borough.

Emma Dent Coad

But Dent Coad’s sliver of a majority (20) did not lead to the transformation of North Kensington’s fortunes, its inequalities exposed just three days later by the Grenfell Tower fire. In 2018 the Conservatives cemented control over the borough, comfortably winning council elections and imposing the harshest of austerity measures, motivated by their radical Tory ideology. Youth services alone suffered a devastating £1.1 million cut.

Divide and rule is the other pillar of this Tory strategy in North Kensington. People reeling from undiagnosed and untreated disaster trauma brought on by the Grenfell Tower fire are now expected to compete against each other in gameshow style funding applications.

Amid these hostilities, some of us have turned on one another, multiplying and proliferating the distress within the community. Recovery is impossible with the current mix of bureaucratic control left in the wake of the Grenfell fallout alongside an NHS that is in crisis and on the verge of being surrendered to a fascistic corporate takeover.

The Tories, at a local and national level, have sought to distract and detract from the Grenfell fire. Motivated by a mix of guilt and shame at their culpability, they have pursued business-as-usual, relying on the population to settle their frustrations by turning their anger on those most vulnerable in our society. In North Kensington it is often females who take the brunt of people’s rage.

The one (political) beam of light has been Emma Dent Coad, local Councillor and Member of Parliament. For two and a half years, empowered by the North Kensington community, she tirelessly fought for justice for the victims of the Grenfell fire at the highest levels. From supporting traumatised individuals within the community to taking on the Conservatives in parliament, Dent Coad has represented North Kensington with extraordinary steadfastness and grace, carrying the determination and spirit that represents the very best of North Kensington.

We all remember the breath-taking unity that anchored and comforted our community in June 2017; Emma is the defender and custodian of our unity at the highest levels of power in this country. She will never betray the dead. It would be an act of collective self-harm to lose her.

The Tao of Corbyn

Emma Dent Coad is an ally of Jeremy Corbyn. The ongoing full spectrum hate campaign levelled at this man in the last few years – even as the shameful racist debacle of the Windrush scandal unfolded – is unprecedented. For media, from the Daily Mail to The Guardian, to round on one person with such constant vitriol while some of his own MPs jostled for prime position to undermine their own party, to the detriment of each and every service we in the UK hold dear.

But cowards flinch and traitors sneer, as they say, and Corbyn stands this week as the closest the UK has been to genuine transformation since Thatcher, and the closest to a positive transformation since Atlee. Surrounding the Labour leader is a team far superior to the management class promoted by Ed Miliband and New Labour. They have out manoeuvred all opponents on Brexit; something for which Corbyn has yet to be given credit.

Corbyn galvanises people to act on their nobler and best instincts. For decades he has met and impressed campaigners all over the country; calling the UK government to account on key issues and always on the right side of history – South Africa, the Chagos Islands, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and more. Many that Corbyn campaigned alongside are now the avant-garde in a Labour party that has come a long way towards shaking off the Blair era with its Thatcherism and war crimes. No mean feat.

Yet the full spectrum of the media still refuses to respect Jeremy Corbyn. By perversely portraying strengths as weaknesses, the media strives to sew enough doubt in people’s minds that rather than selecting a manifesto that demonstrably preserves and improves the lives of tens of millions they might choose a manifesto would devastate as many while enriching only the most elite.

Door knocking in Kensington, it is alarming how many voters have been affected by this propaganda; stating that they will vote Green or Liberal Democrat and unable to explain what they find objectionable about Labour’s platform. Some say they will vote Conservative “to get Brexit done” – what folly, or perhaps fascism. In Kensington, only Labour can keep the Tories out…

Do these voters see the pattern?

Corbyn is an anti-racist campaigner. They smear him and Labour as antisemites.

Corbyn campaigns for peace. They call him a threat to national security. Or a Czech spy. Or terrorist sympathiser. It doesn’t matter how ludicrous; they just keep attacking.

Corbyn is solution focused. They call him reckless. Ask yourselves who benefits when the British people fund military manoeuvres, prop up multi-nationals and bail out banks?  Why are such expenses deemed reasonable yet to spend the same on our nurses, children or the elderly is labelled reckless? And who loses out when government supports education, the NHS, our very communities and daily lives?  

Corbyn is however rarely attacked for being a socialist, a label which means little to most of the population. His political philosophy is not seriously analysed as that draws attention to it and highlights its undeniable benefits for the vast majority of the UK. Instead, they attack his admirable qualities – not one but two international awards for peace – in order to distort and suggest that a better world is not possible. They bombard the news consumer in an effort to protect the tiny minority interest of the wealthiest hoping voters dissociate, separating their politics from their daily lives.

Corbyn’s unbending resolve throughout this hateful and relentless propaganda underlines his leadership ability to focus calmly, with a measure, on improving people’s lives. This alone marks him out less a socialist and more a spiritualist or humanist and one able to navigate the most difficult of negotiations or dissent. This marks him out as one who embodies our North Kensington communal cry following the Grenfell horror: “Come Unity”. The Labour leader has brought this rallying cry and its qualities to the heart of British politics.

You do not need to be confused about the alternatives. Their record is clear from their non-response to the Grenfell Tower fire. The Lib Dem candidate in Kensington is a former Tory minister who should be persona no grata in North Kensington following libellous accusations against Dent Coad over Grenfell.

In a system in which the current leaders gain no benefit from community and caring, there is a tremendous fear – as demonstrated by the media throughout this campaign – of an alternative whereby community, the NHS and our most vital services come before their own narrow personal wealth. This is why they seek to destroy Corbyn, because by extension, his vision is the most unacceptable policy to them.

Vote

It is impossible to fulfil your potential without the security of a home, functioning health service and education. Limiting these very services creates a void filled by irrational hatreds and demagogues. A decade of Conservative and Lib Dem austerity in Kensington has opened up a vast chasm of inequality. They want you to blame each other. Don’t. Vote to put all of this to right. Vote for you, your future, your health, your children.

Vote for Emma Dent Coad in Kensington, get Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street, and protect our future.

Vote for Emma Dent Coad and vote for justice for Grenfell,

Vote for anyone else and we all lose.

 

 

By Tom Charles & Jennifer Cavanagh

@tomhcharles @jannanni

For all those who travelled to support us on 14th June 2017; for those who have travelled to Kensington to campaign during this election; it’s not where you’re from, it’s where you’re at. The true spirit of the Grove…

For a more detailed analysis of the Kensington candidates, see the articles published by our friends and neighbours at THINK: https://thisisnorthkensington.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

Change at RBKC? Case Study 3: The Curve

This article contains information about the Grenfell Tower fire that readers might find distressing.

0_curve

Change is essential in North Kensington, an area of London still reeling from the Grenfell Tower fire, where 72 people were killed on June 14th, 2017. The trauma inflicted is only now starting to manifest in residents. On becoming leader of Kensington and Chelsea council (RBKC) a month after the fire, Elizabeth Campbell promised “change”, invoking the word eleven times during a brief speech to survivors. She had the right idea – people wanted change – but has her council delivered? Of all the opportunities RBKC has had to make good on its promises, surely its own Grenfell recovery site, the Curve, is one where it would not dare to fail. But have they failed? It is a complex case study, and one in which I am personally involved.

What is RBKC’s Change Policy?

For years prior to the Grenfell Tower fire, people in North Kensington were routinely ignored, even when attempting to raise serious concerns about fire safety. Previously, to assess whether any tangible change to this pattern of willful neglect had been made, Urban Dandy used RBKC’s official policy, 12 Principles of Good Governance, as the yardstick. In the cases of Canalside House and Lancaster Youth Centre, it was clear that the policy had not translated from theory to practice. You can read about the two examples and the twelve principles here and here.

Facing widespread criticism and calls for commissioners to replace them in 2017, RBKC hired the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) to carry out an independent review of the council. RBKC welcomed CfPS’s subsequent report and adopted “12 principles of good governance we should embed in the council.” The 12 Principles were bespoke, designed specifically for RBKC to act on its claims to want to “change” following the fire. The council’s leadership were to be held to account on this by its Executive and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee. Papers to date reveal talk about listening forums and citizens panels, but nothing in the way of challenge or scrutiny from the Labour-led committee. 

What is The Curve?

The Curve Community Centre is a building rented at commercial rates by Kensington and Chelsea council. It was obtained shortly after the fire at Grenfell Tower. The Curve replaced the Westway Sports Centre as the focal point of the council’s response. It still provides essential services for survivors and the bereaved including housing support, post delivery and counselling. Additionally, it hosts workshops and classes and offers space for community cooking and other gatherings. The Curve has three principal sets of users: survivors and the bereaved; residents of Lancaster West estate and the wider North Kensington community.

The Curve sits on Bard Road, just behind Freston Road, by what was once the self-declared Republic of Frestonia. Nowadays the area is characterised by poverty, a high density of social housing and large national business’ headquarters; the Westway flyover runs nearby, and from the Curve’s windows visitors can look across the A3220 to Westfield and the old BBC Television Studios.

 

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From the outset, and probably inevitably, the Curve has been a controversial issue. Being council-run, it has naturally been scrutinised by local residents who have lived through the Grenfell atrocity and its aftermath. RBKC’s actions at the Curve can be taken as approximate indicators of where the council is, politically.

2018

In early 2018, RBKC decided to appoint an independent Board of Governors “to ensure that the Curve is accountable to the local community” and to be “critical friends” of the Curve’s management team as well as “to contribute critically and substantially to the public’s perception of the Curve” (The Role of Governor of the Curve, 26th February 2018).

I was appointed governor in May 2018, and quit in February 2019, but will try to give the public some perspective on the Curve: its place in North Kensington, the council’s approach to it and why I had to leave.

Governors’ Vision

From a North Kensington perspective, the Board of Governors has been notable mainly for its silence, a point of frustration to many local people wondering what has been going on at the Curve. The building is, after all, for the public and the Board is supposed to represent them. The Board spent its collective time and energy over the winter devising an alternative vision for the community centre, one that would take control of the building away from RBKC.

The governors’ vision was of the Curve being transformed into a fitting legacy for North Kensington, a space that would be congruent with the rich and diverse culture of the local area. Specifically, the governors proposed the Curve to be split into three areas of work: high quality, expert trauma therapy; skills training for jobs of the future for young people (in the technology, gaming, sports and culture industries) and a welcoming, safe living room environment for those wanting to drop in. Something roughly akin to the Tabernacle but for the West end of the borough. The plan initially called for the Curve to operate separately from RBKC as a charity, although the council would be expected to do its bit by providing the rent, which it could secure long-term and at a discounted rate.

If the vision was adopted, obvious issues would remain, including the Curve’s location, which is considered unattractive and unsafe by some residents. The building, its lighting and signage would need to be beautified if the Curve were to be transitioned from a community centre run by a distrusted local authority to a beacon of recovery, culture and opportunity. Challenges, certainly, but not insurmountable ones, if RBKC could grasp the potential of both the building and the local population and make resources available to help something happen.

My perspective was that North Kensington is in desperate need of public spaces and we should keep the Curve and make it work for the community. The poverty of the area is compounded by a scarcity of space. Many children live in appallingly overcrowded accommodation, with no space to do homework or relax, let alone learn new skills or prepare for success in their adult lives. One 11-year-old I have worked with lives in a two bedroom flat occupied by 11 (eleven) people of ages ranging from toddler to pensioner. Why? Because the council does not build the housing that would enable people to live in dignity. Community centres offer these children what they need: space. To RBKC, such public spaces are wasted opportunities better handed over to property speculators or private schools. I hoped I could help to secure another public space for the area…

RBKC’s Vision

The council has its own visions for the Curve and none of them are expansive. One RBKC vision sees budget cuts that would be applied to staffing, services or both; another sees the Curve closed, possibly as early as July 2019. RBKC has indicated there is some scope for changing what is on offer to the public at the Curve, but budget cuts are not conducive to transforming people’s life chances.

Such is the political landscape in early 2019. RBKC are no longer feeling the pressure from Downing Street and there is no appetite to push forward and invest in North Kensington’s potential. Austerity, the euphemism for impoverishment, is the real legacy, and North Kensington is the last place in Britain it should be imposed. It was RBKC’s devotion to austerity that led to them ignoring North Kensington’s residents for so long.

Last year, Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, after a fact-finding mission to the UK, said that child poverty levels were “not just a disgrace, but a social calamity and an economic disaster” in the world’s fifth largest economy. He said the government had caused “great misery” with its “punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous” austerity policies. Projected figures suggest that the number of additional deaths caused by austerity policies in the UK between 2009 and 2020 will be 152,141.

Nowhere was the 2010 shift to austerity taken up more enthusiastically than Kensington Town Hall and nowhere is the injustice more obvious than here in North Kensington. But this is what the Curve’s Board of Governors are being maneuvered to acquiesce to. The final straw for me was a meeting in February with Robyn Fairman, Executive Director of RBKC’s Grenfell Team, to present the governors’ alternative vision. Fairman seamlessly absorbed the vision into the council’s austerity plan. Not for one moment did RBKC’s representative entertain the idea of a breakaway from the local authority. There was no hint of imagination, no sense that the community might take the lead, that it might know better than senior councillors what the area needs…

Why I Quit

This kind of absorption into the council’s existing plans barely registers as a problem any more; from the massive cuts of the RBKC youth review, to Canalside, to the Curve, RBKC is comfortable and complacent. We have come a long way since summer 2017 when the people of North Kensington responded heroically to the fire at Grenfell and the idea that we would be left powerless was unthinkable. Even a Board of Governors genuinely representative of the diversity of the area has been side-lined, reduced to the role of ‘advisers’ to a service-cutting Tory council, and certainly not ‘governing’ anything.

This was the limit for me and I handed in my resignation the day after the Fairman meeting.

Problems

The problematic dynamic between the governors/wider community and RBKC didn’t appear suddenly at the meeting with Robyn Fairman. Disquiet has simmered since summer 2017, and chaos is to be expected in the aftermath of a disaster so shocking that it made headlines worldwide. In such chaos, serious commitment to principles (of good governance) are needed. But this is lacking with RBKC.

The Curve cannot contain the entropy, as trauma manifests and fights its way out of people in a setting ill-equipped to address it. One drama after another has beset the Curve’s management. At board level, resident steering groups that were promised for us to work alongside on day one still have not been created, undermining the governors’ credibility and effectiveness. Meanwhile, RBKC has sat back, their every move orchestrated by communications officers with their corporate jargon.

Oversight of RBKC is undertaken by Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s independent Grenfell Taskforce who have reported back to Javid in fairly glowing terms regarding the council’s progress towards “change” since the fire. In none of their three reports to date have they used the words austerity or poverty – suggesting less an independent group and more an establishment cover-up. What is omitted is far more revealing than what is included in such reports: no mention of Canalside House, which the disgraced council tried to sell; no mention of Lancaster Youth Centre, left to rot by the council. No library, no college, no context…

Perhaps the idea is to narrow the scope of any scrutiny so that RBKC leaders can convince themselves they are changing. Certainly the long pause in the Grenfell Inquiry does not help. While in legal limbo, pursuing serious change might look like an admission of guilt by RBKC. It is not just business-as-usual with the council, there is a kind of forced joviality to the tone of their communications, inappropriate for a local authority apparently implicated in the Grenfell fire.

The result is an uneasy marriage between RBKC and local people who engage with them. With a functioning inquiry, if the possibility of guilty verdicts being handed to RBKC or TMO staff were less distant, or if the public could hear the evidence and start to understand the political background to the fire, it would curtail the council’s phony change agenda. The imposition of austerity would be harder to get away with and feel-good reality TV shows showing the resilient Grenfell community would be considered in bad taste. With some legal clarity it would not be possible for residents engaging with the RBKC change agenda to remain apolitical.

The council, who claimed to have “no intention of defending anything” at the inquiry, but then did just that in their opening statement, have to maintain the illusion that they are changing. They have to maintain it in their own minds at least, even while every political instinct they possess takes them back to the same policies and same approach as before 2017. Their inability to change has been exposed in all three case studies we have looked at and there is nothing substantial they can use to refute the damning evidence.

Change at RBKC?

There is no change in approach. Over £400 million has been spent on Grenfell ‘recovery’ – but who has recovered? The Conservative leadership. Meanwhile millions in cuts are imposed on North Kensington. As a governor at the main recovery site, using up more public resources, I saw the jig was up – there is no partnership, there is no change. I fear the Curve’s Board of Governors has sleep walked into being a tick box exercise for a highly ideological local authority who hide their true intentions behind well-paid bureaucrats and well-meaning residents.

Change at RBKC? No, they are still committed to austerity, and all that it brings, in North Kensington.

 

Tom Charles @tomhcharles