Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Gardiner under fire on allegedly selective surgery appointments

Following the anti-Modi demonstration at Brent Civic Centre calling on Barry Gardiner to withdraw his invitation to the controversial Gujerat politician there was an ezxchange on Twitter about allegations that Gardiner had refused a surgery appointment to a woman with a Muslim name citing a full list but granted one to a man with an 'anglo' name who rang later. Gardiner produced a list of  people's names who had attended his surgery which included some of Muslim origin. The charge that he had tried to avoid meeting  potential critics continue to be made.

Here the 'man with the English name' writes a Guest Blog for Wembley Matters describing what happened:

As a constituent of Brent North I was recently approached with a request to try and book a session with my MP at his next Surgery. This came about as it seemed that a number of people involved in the campaign against inviting Narendra Modi to the UK had been unable to secure appointments until the end of the month at the earliest.

On 4th September 2013 I made an email request at 21:32hrs to the office of Barry Gardiner MP requesting a Surgery appointment the following Monday, 9th September. I was offered a slot with a caseworker, Ms. Sylvia To, via email the following morning pending the provision of some further details. The appointment was confirmed over the phone late the following afternoon.

I admit that in securing the appointment I used a little poetic license, describing the reason for my request as “issues surrounding the new Civic Centre” – which I euphemistically used to describe the planned demonstration.

Attending the demonstration prior to my 12:50hrs appointment I was introduced to one of the campaigners who had failed to secure a hearing, and updated on the day’s events; Barry Gardiner had issued a letter to the demonstrators after a brief discussion as he accessed the building, and people were being informed that Narendra Modi would not be taking up the invitation to visit the UK. The letter was a duplicate of an earlier missive to the Council of Indian Muslims (UK) dated 19th August, with an additional paragraph noting the right to demonstrate and the small number of complaints the MP had received regarding the invite. 

Demonstrators with access to the Gujarati media pointed out that Modi had not refused to visit the UK, but was currently unable to do so due to the pressure of his role in leading the Opposition electoral campaign for the 2014 elections.

Barry Gardiner MP left the Civic Centre prior to my appointment, citing a late request to attend a meeting in Westminster. My meeting with Ms. To lasted exactly seven minutes and fifty-nine seconds from “Hello” to “Goodbye”.

Greeting Ms. To, I thanked her for providing me with a session at such short notice; she explained that normally it would take three weeks to get an appointment, but it looked like I had probably secured a cancellation. I again expressed my appreciation, clearly indicating that I was here as part of the demonstration and had been concerned that I had been prioritised for a hearing due to my “Anglo” name as other demonstrators had been unable to secure appointments. Ms. To said that they had been told this earlier and there was a short discussion about telephone line issues three weeks previously which was cut short when it was made clear that appointments had been offered by the MP’s Office. (This indicates the lack of a priority-based waiting list if true).

Ms. To then expressed how “bemused” Barry Gardiner was to find the demonstration. He had only received five letters via e-mail disputing the invite issued to Modi – had I read the letter he had issued to the demonstrators? I said I had, and it was a cut ‘n’ paste of his previous letter to the Council of Indian Muslims, that sadly took no account of their recent reply which had been a point by point refutation of his statements. Ms. To reiterated that the MP’s Office had only received five emails opposing the invite to Modi; they had fifteen pro-Modi messages after the invite was publicised, and the administrative staff assigned issues importance according to public intervention. I pointed out that there was obviously some feeling in the Borough opposing the invite: I was advised to tell all those who felt this way that they should contact the MP’s Office in writing. I expressed an ironic disappointment that the issue was to be reduced to a “numbers game”, but agreed to pass the information on. Ms. To apologised that I was not able to discuss the issues directly with Barry Gardiner MP, as he would have been more able to respond to my issues. She then indicated she could fill in a form with my concerns to be passed on to the MP. I am now on record for raising the following points with my MP’s Office:

1.    Modi is a known human rights abuser and – according to the University of Chicago – a member of a proto-fascist party. He is refused access to the USA. In the UK there are immigration controls against giving access to those who abuse human rights or have extremist political views. Why are we issuing an invite to such a man?
2.    Why would Barry Gardiner MP ignore the wishes of his voters and place more importance on the Gujarati economy?
3.    As Chair of the “Labour Friends of India” it is sad that my MP seems to be so ill-informed on this subject; he needs to reply to the rebuttal of his previous comments – repeated in the letter to the demonstrators today - by the Council of Indian Muslims (UK) soon;
4.    The issue is not about the ability of Modi to attend meetings in the UK; it is about refusing to issue visas of this kind to those who are perceived as worthy of economic rehabilitation. The invitation should be formally withdrawn, as it is now merely suspended.

1 comment:

Trevor said...

I know from personal experience what it is like to be under fire verbally and physically Too
so to use this opportunity to rejoice over what Barry is getting wouldn't be right.
but what i will say is that it does not surprise me that he is under fire because the road i live on is getting worse by the day.
for example there is a bush outside the block I live in on chalk hill road and it has bottles that have been dropped into it and it has been there since last week and in two days time it will be two weeks and it still has not been removed.
then further up the road there is household rubbish that has been scattered along the pavement as usual and it hasn't been removed.
then further up the road there is a street bin(the brent council green ones) that has been left in a inappropriate place( in the middle of the pavement) and it too is overflowing and is attracting flies now and as usual the floor has a fair amount of litter scattered about which makes the place look untidy to say the least and gives the impression that people dont care and that the standards in this area is low.
then as usual you have the endless cigarette butts and empty cigarette boxes also scattered along the pavements which again gives the impression that we live in a money loving uncivilized corrupted uncaring society.
and mr gardiner represents this area and look at the state of it!
this is why i feel strongly about mr gardiner.