Friday, 1 May 2015

“Unite is proud to associate itself with Lutfur Rahman”

So last night, what looked like being a footnote to the Lutfur Rahman story - rally in defence of the troubled ex-mayor who now faces paying up to £1m in costs - took place in the long-suffering borough of Tower Hamlets. 

But it seems to have been something more than a footnote. Amazingly, it seems like defending the mayor is a cause which now has legs.

The most delicious part of it all, by the way, is that it was called "Defend Democracy in Tower Hamlets" (no, irony is not their strong point). Oh, my sides!

The speakers were the usual far-left suspects: Christine Shawcroft of Labour's NEC, I am ashamed to report, as well as Unite's chief of staff (also former Stop the War chair, Stalin apologist and surviving member of the Communist Party of Great Britain) Andrew Murray. 

And, inevitably, our dear friend Ken Livingstone, who obviously sees a kindred spirit in a London mayor who has only a passing acquaintance with the truth.

But Murray was explicit in that he bore a message from his beloved leader, Len:
“I am not speaking in a personal capacity, I am speaking on behalf of the union … and I am sending a message of support from our general secretary, Len McCluskey. Unite is proud to associate ourselves with Lutfur Rahman.”
That McCluskey would defend Rahman, after an electoral court upheld seven out of nine charges against him, including vote-rigging and wrongly calling his opponent a racist, tells us about all we need to know about him and the current state of his union.

But it also means that Rahman's desperate fight to save his worthless political hide is not over, certainly if he starts to receive financial backing from the wealthy union as well as words of support. It shows that it is prepared to ruthlessly court political support in Muslim areas by feeding false and divisive claims of Islamophobia. A caustic grievance narrative which, in these days of young men going off to Syria for jihad, is about the last thing that community needs. 

"Unite is proud to associate ourselves with Lutfur Rahman." Think about it. It's like saying "Unite is proud to associate ourselves with Derek Hatton". Frankly, a disgrace to the good name of trade unionists everywhere.

That said, it seems to indicate a new phase of self-delusion on the part of a union which - as Falkirk showed us - has rarely been a paragon of self-awareness anyway. That anyone could remotely believe, at this stage, Rahman's risible claims of Islamophobic victimisation is extraordinary. 

Unite is headed for Derek-Hatton-land, the Liverpool City Council of its generation. But unlike the Liverpool politicians, its leaders are elected by a tiny but well-organised proportion of the union's members. They will not easily be shifted.

Meanwhile, we on the hopefully more sensible shores of the Labour Party might be wise to prepare ourselves for a political move; one which the Unite-centred far left seems to be limbering up for, post-election.

Whether Miliband wins or loses.


Oh, look. Len McCluskey takes the trouble to write to the Guardian and say, effectively, that he doesn't necessarily think that the incontrovertible case against Rahman was wrong after all. He writes:
"I do not seek to judge the totality of the case against Mr Rahman and cannot give him support on issues which are matters for the court and in which Unite has no involvement. In the election to choose his successor, Unite will, of course, be supporting the Labour candidate."

Strangely enough, this came after NEC member Christine Shawcroft (see above) was suspended from the party after attending the above rally, for the glaringly obvious reason it broke party rules (sadly the same treatment was not meted out to Ken Livingstone, thus reinforcing the perception that he is untouchable). 

Well done to whoever it was, either General Secretary Ian McNicol or Harriet Harman, who made that happen.

It's funny how the school bully often buckles when someone stands up to them, isn't it?

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