Friday, 17 May 2013

Goodbye, Lord Ahmed. You will not be missed

Ah, Nazir Ahmed. There are two sides being put to your story. On the one hand, there is yours. Its claim is that you have been put upon by an unfeeling Labour party, which will not give you a “fair hearing”.

On the other, there is the more obvious, alternative explanation, that you were allegedly caught saying something anti-Semitic, following a long stretch of seemingly unpardonable behaviour from your good self, and then resigned from the party in anticipation of being pushed – via a letter which can only be described as weaselly – in order to hang on to some vestige of personal credibility.

I shall leave the reader to decide which explanation seems the more fitting.

A brief recap from the Mirror:

“The Times reported that he blamed his 2009 prison sentence – for sending text messages shortly before his car was involved in a fatal crash – on pressure placed on the courts by Jews ”who own newspapers and TV channels”.
So, according to the translated interview video, the conviction had not been down to Ahmed’s guilt, as a mere court of law found, it was clearly another Jewish conspiracy.

As we shall see, it seems that Ahmed has perhaps simply always been one of those characters who feels that the law, and the rulebook, does not really apply to them. In fact, in a wonderful example of this, here (24:28) he describes his short prison sentence as “quashed”, just as he says it was “overturned” in theTimes video. It wasn’t.

It is unnecessary to bore Uncut readers further with Ahmed’s “previous”: in fact, for those interested, I already did so in a piece for the Independent, two months ago. But it behoves us to do a little due diligence on the resignation letter. It seems somehow wrong to let this one last, desperate defence go unchallenged.

First, let us deal with the Times’ film footage. Ahmed implies that the fact that the Times’ declining to release the full, unexpurgated film is somehow suspicious. Well, they’ve hardly hidden the film – it’s on their website (£). They also carried out four separate translations from Urdu to ensure accuracy.

In fact, the Times is under no obligation to provide such a copy for what is essentially a private matter between Ahmed and the Labour party. Labour party constitutional committee hearings are not carried out in public and the Timesfeeling little need to justify itself further, in a matter which seems pretty open and shut, is quite understandable.

It also might be expected that some “expert witness” might be conjured up to discredit the film, should someone so desire. But a film is a film. It is actually rather hard to fake such things in a convincing way. Indeed, in the letter his criticism of the Times seems to be limited, a little pathetically, to the film being “edited” and “taken out of context”, hardly particularly dastardly tactics.

That said, the Thunderer may not realise that it could be leaving Ahmed the tiniest of escape hatches in the process, because his claim that the evidence was tampered with may now never be able to be one hundred per cent disproved.

Second, Ahmed claims that the party has not made an independent inquiry before proceeding with a hearing. Hilarious. Presumably he thinks that his desperately skint ex-party, which has a perfectly serviceable disciplinary procedure – with the possible caveat of being too soft on those who fall foul of it – should now both question publicly its own procedures and, presumably, incur great expense by laying on something “independent”, just for him.

But, third, at this point the letter adds further comedy value: “there is extrinsic evidence which suggests that the translation could not truly be representative of what I have ever said and believe. My past record sufficiently bears this out”. He then goes on to name two times when he has been misreported. Once, by a frankly sloppy Pakistani newspaper, barely counts. The second, by the Daily Telegraph, seems real enough.

But, wait a minute: pure logic dictates that this supposed “record” demonstrates nothing whatsoever about such implied virtue, merely that two papers misreported him. It is certainly not “sufficient” for anything of the sort; in fact, it’s a bizarre non sequitur.

Fourth, in a wonderful turn of phrase, he speaks of the “alleged interview” theTimes reports. As if he is questioning that it ever happened. Yes, he is implying that a reputable national newspaper not only manipulated the film, but actually made up an interview, as well as a film thereof, that never happened. I was stitched up like a kipper, guv.

Fifth, he complains that “in the absence of the forensic evidence of the offending video…I will not get a fair hearing”. It is the plaintive whine of the victim, being singled out by the party, rather than someone at the far end of a long period of unacceptable behaviour. Even without the Times’ video evidence, they would surely be justified in pulling the plug based on previous events. And that evidence is anyway pretty clear.

Sixth, he rescinds the apology to the Jewish community he made in the Huffington Post, calling it an “apology” (in quotes). By this point, the “argument” that he has developed on this whole matter is all over the place. As Guido Fawkes mischievously tweeted: Finally, he selflessly does “not wish to unnecessarily provide bad press for the party and/or do anything that would alienate voters from the party having been a loyal supporter and servant of it for decades.” Ah, it almost brings a tear to one’s eye.

No, actually, it doesn’t. To my mind, and I’m sure many others, Ahmed’s disingenuous letter merely represents the last in a long line of insults to party members’ and supporters’ intelligence.

He will not be missed.

As a post script, I would like to think this: that the party has touched bottom on these kinds of issues of discipline, with those parliamentarians who bring the party into disrepute through their unacceptable actions and their unspeakable friends, and that there is no more to come.

But, given its reluctance to take action with Ahmed until its nose was unceremoniously rubbed in the problem, it’s difficult feel much optimism that that is the case.

This post first published at Labour Uncut, and selected for What We're Reading by Progress

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