Wednesday 8 January 2020

Why Labour voters should support Andrew Linnie of the Green Party in Alperton after suspension of the Labour candidate

The Kilburn Times reports LINK that the Labour Party has suspended Chetan Harpale, its candidate in the Alperton by-election  over alleged anti-Muslim tweets. Wembley Matters  broke the story on the tweets on December 30th  LINK which apart from the anti-Muslim comments also suggested Jeremy Corbyn was pro-Jihadis and praised right wing Tory MP Bob Blackman.

Harpale remains on the ballot paper and suspension is not the same as expulsion. Due process means that there will be an investigation and Harpale will have the chance of defending the comments or perhaps claim that his Twitter account was hacked. 

Labour Party activists are unlikely to be able to stomach campaigning for Harpale given the allegations but under Labour Party rules are not able to openly campaign to support a candidate from a rival party. This does not apply to Labour voters of course, who can make up their own minds over which candidate from other parties standing in Alperton comes closest to reflecting their own beliefs.

A further consideration is that if Harpale is elected despite the allegations, perhaps through automatic support for Labour by habitual Labour voters, he could be expelled by Labour but attempt to keep his seat as an Independent. As an Independent action could be taken against him in the Standards Committee using the Code of Conduct for Councillors.  Ironically the previous Chair of the Standards Committee was James Allie who the Kilburn Times reports has also been suspended by the Labour Party. He resigned before Christmas following allegations that he has 'utilised' a dead woman's legacy for his own uses, including the purchase of a house. LINK

If Harbale is elected, but resigns immediately, there will need to be another by-election in Alperton ward.


I would argue that the best way to solve this mess is for Alperton Labour voters to support Andrew Linnie the Green Party candidate.  Andrew has an excellent reputation as an Alperton resident who has campaigned on housing and regeneration issues.  He has addressed the Planning Committee on behalf of residents and issues a regular campaigning Newsletter in the locality.

More broadly the Green Party has national and regional policies which many Labour  activists would support. These include:
  • ANTI-AUSTERITY The Green Party campaigned against the imposition of austerity from the outset while the Labour Party pre-Corbyn, was ambivalent to say the least. Locally we were members of the cross-party Brent Fightback. (Caroline Lucas addresses the People's Assembly Anti-Austerity march in 2014 HERE)  The Lib Dems were of course pro-Austerity.
  • GREEN NEW DEAL Greens came up with the idea, in collaboration with trade unionists and other groups, a long time ago supporting One Million Climate Jobs and advocating a 'just transition' to a low carbon economy. Green Party statement on Green New Deal 2007 LINK
  • HOUSING Greens have a range of housing policies LINK which start with the principle that 'affordable, secure and comfortable accommodation is a basic human right'. We reject the current misuse of the term affordable and through our GLA Assembly members are campaigning for the the London Mayor to have control over London's housing so renters are guaranteed decent homes and are protected from unfair evictions and unaffordable rents.
  • DEMOCRATIC ACCOUNTABILITY OF EDUCATION The Green Party adopted a policy of opposition to academies and free schools and their integration back into the local authority system well before the Labour Party and also opposed SATs because of their detrimental impact on both pupils and teachers. LINK

This is the motion on Islamophobia adopted by Full Council on July 8th 2019:

“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”
Contemporary examples of Islamophobia in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in encounters between religions and non-religions in the public sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

·                Calling for, aiding, instigating or justifying the killing or harming of Muslims in the name of a racist/ fascist ideology, or an extremist view of religion.

·                Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Muslims as such, or of Muslims as a collective group, such as, especially but not exclusively, conspiracies about Muslim entryism in politics, government or other societal institutions; the myth of Muslim identity having a unique propensity for terrorism, and claims of a demographic ‘threat’ posed by Muslims or of a ‘Muslim takeover’.

·                Accusing Muslims as a group of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Muslim person or group of Muslim individuals, or even for acts committed by non-Muslims.

·                Accusing Muslims as a group, or Muslim majority states, of inventing or exaggerating Islamophobia, ethnic cleansing or genocide perpetrated against Muslims.

·                Accusing Muslim citizens of being more loyal to the ‘Ummah’ (transnational Muslim community) or to their countries of origin, or to the alleged priorities of Muslims worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

·                Applying double standards by requiring of Muslims behaviours that are not expected or demanded of any other groups in society, e.g. loyalty tests.

·                Using the symbols and images associated with classic Islamophobia (e.g. the Prophet Muhammed being a paedophile, claims of Muslims spreading Islam by the sword or subjugating minority groups under their rule) to characterise Muslims as being ‘sex groomers’, inherently violent or incapable of living harmoniously in plural societies.

·                Holding Muslims collectively responsible for the actions of any Muslim majority state, whether secular or constitutionally Islamic.


Anonymous said...

Makes good sense to me - pity I dont live in Alperton.

Anonymous said...

There are 60 labour councillors in Brent if the green party candidate wins he won't be able to do anything as mentioned because he is not getting votes from other labour councillors. His statement sounds good but not practical and I am sure he is aware about this as well.

Martin Francis said...

Lone Green councillors have an excellent record in winning support for innovative ideas and policies. Vote Green and put us to the test!

Anonymous said...

One or more Green councillors won't be able to win any votes on motions they put forward at Brent Council meetings, but then neither could the Labour Party in Parliament right now.

In both cases, it is about putting up a strong opposition to bad policies put forward by the leader of the party which has a big majority. The Conservatives on Brent Council have failed to do this.

Anonymous said...

Correction - there are only 56 labour councillors in Brent at the moment, and four vacant seats to be filled.

Labour may win the bye elections on 23 January, but it does not have to be that way. Voters have a choice, and if they want a better balance on the council they should use their votes to elect other candidates.