The far right British National party is trying to shed its antisemitic past as part of a drive to pick up votes among London’s Jewish community. The party, which could get its first seat on the London assembly if voter turnout is low next month, is campaigning in Jewish areas across the capital and attempting to play on what it sees as historical enmity between the Jewish and Muslim communities.In one leaflet, handed out in north London last weekend, the party’s only Jewish councillor, Pat Richardson, is quoted along with a picture of young Muslims holding a placard reading: “Butcher those who mock Islam.”
“I’m in the BNP because no one else speaks out against the Islamification of our country,” said Richardson. “Being Jewish only adds to my concern about this aggressive creed that also threatens our secular values and Christian tradition.”
The move has sparked a furious reaction among Jewish organisations who say the BNP is still antisemitic and racist.
The Board of Deputies, the London Jewish Forum and the Community Security Trust have launched a campaign with other ethnic minority and cultural groups and the Hope Not Hate campaign to combat the BNP threat.
Ruth Smeeth, of the Community Security Trust, said: “The BNP website is now one of the most Zionist on the web – it goes further than any of the mainstream parties in its support of Israel and at the same time demonises Islam and the Muslim world. They are actively campaigning in Jewish communities, particularly in London, making a lot of their one Jewish councillor, their support of Israel and attacking Muslims. It is a poisonous campaign but it shows a growing electoral sophistication.”
Archive for the 'London' Category
British National Party is trying to shed its antisemitic past as part of a drive to pick up votes among London’s Jewish communityPublished April 10, 2008 British National Party , Extremism , London , Mayor of London , Muslims in Britain , Politics , Racism Leave a Comment
[T]his is a big job and a serious political prize. It represents the largest direct electoral mandate in western Europe, bar only the presidencies of France and Portugal. The mayor of London is chief executive for a city of 7.5m people, commanding a budget of £11.3bn. His decisions on transport affect not only those who live in London, but the hundreds of thousands who commute into the city and the millions of other Britons, and tourists from around the world, who visit.
The mayor has a huge role in planning decisions: some will say Livingstone has had more impact on the London skyline, by allowing a new crop of tall buildings, than any other individual. And he oversees the Metropolitan Police.
So the job itself matters. But this contest has an extra political weight. Fairly or unfairly, it will be seen as the first electoral test of strength since Gordon Brown took over as leader of the Labour party. If Labour were to lose in London, it would be a severe blow to Brown, an omen of defeat to come: London and the south-east have been crucial elements in the New Labour coalition. A Johnson victory would be hailed by the Conservatives as clear evidence that they were on their way back to power.
An investigation by the Centre for Social Cohesion found that just under half of the letter’s signatories represented just two pressure groups: the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB).
Aside from the fact that Maher is relying on Centre for Social Cohesion (which is headed up by the dubious Douglas Murray), I am not sure Maher’s point about the signatories to this letter being affiliated to the MCB is anything noteworthy. Inayat Bungalawa points out in his defence of the open letter and Linvingstone, the MCB is an umbrella body which has hundreds of affiliates. If Maher really wants to criticise the influence of the MCB, he needs to consider how this of umbrella body is also the outcome of both Tory and Labour government policy towards Muslim demands on the state.
Where I do agree with Maher is in his broader point: the letter has needlessly ‘communalised’ the up coming election for mayor, and overlooked the everyday concerns that people living in London have.
The signatories to the letter suggest it is in the “best interests” of Muslims and other Londoners to vote for Livingstone — but they don’t really explain why, other than appealing to Livingstone’s stand on Iraq and the Palestinians. Although, I have no objection to Muslim organisations supporting one or other candidate (albeit they should be careful about politicising their institutions), the language of the letter is careless and paints Livingstone as some kind of ‘candidate for Muslims’. This is not helpful when you consider his main rival, Boris Johnson, is hardly weak-willed when it comes to using the “Muslim card”. The letter does little to dispel the myth of ‘Muslim separatism’.
I feel the organisations have missed an opportunity here. Instead of telling everyone how great Livingstone has been for Muslims, they should have rested their support for any mayoral candidate on terms which could have had cross-cultural, multiethnic and interreligious support. The upcoming election for the Mayor of London should be an evaluation on whether or not the different candidates can improve the capital’s transport network, help to reduce crime on the streets, regenerate dilapidated areas, improve the uneven economic spread in the city, or just everyday concerns like keeping the streets clean and ensuring the rubbish is collected on time. Issues of national importance, such as support for civil liberties, the stance on schooling and housing, and principled opposition to discrimination should be considered too. But none of these issues are highlighted in the open letter or by Bunglawala (who is also a signatory).
Although one may or may not agree with Livingstone’s views on Iraq, Palestine and American foreign policy, like it or not they do not form part of his job description as Mayor of London. At best, someone of his stature can bring them to the front of the news cycle.
In London, as a rule, non-City people don’t love City people, and there isn’t much non-economic interaction between them. The bonuses are a big part of that. The City is, collectively, astonishingly wealthy. It earns 19 per cent of Britain’s GDP. People don’t mind that in itself but they do mind City bonuses. Last year, these amounted to a truly boggling £19 billion, all of it paid at the end of the year. In London, the effect of that money has become almost entirely toxic. I’m not talking here about middle-class envy – the resentment increasingly expressed among the ‘middle-class poor’ about how unfair it is that these bankers get paid so much for contributing so little. That resentment seems to me to be largely hypocritical, a middle-class resentment of one of the few forms of inequality that doesn’t benefit them. But City money is strangling London life. The presence of so many people who don’t have to care what things cost raises the price of everything, and in the area of housing, in particular, is causing London’s demographics to look like the radiation map of a thermonuclear blast. In this analogy only the City types can survive close to the heart of the explosion. At this time of year, when the bonus stories come out, you can understand why. A bar announces that it is offering the most expensive cocktail in the world: £35,000. That buys you a shot of cognac, a half bottle of champagne, a diamond ring and the attentions of two security guards to protect you for the rest of the evening. A deli, at the special request of a customer, creates a £50,000 Christmas hamper. Word gets out, and another customer immediately orders two more. The expense of London is forcing people further and further out of the city, and making life harder and harder for the ones who remain.
Now, in an effort not to be outdone, the Tories have embraced Chavez’s opposition.
The problem is this opposition is not exactly free of its own baggage:
For the past four years, [Alexsander] Boyd [leader of the anti-Chavez opposition] has been consistently promoting terrorism against the democratically elected government of Venezuela and its supporters. In March 2005, he declared: “Re: advocating for violence yes I have mentioned in many occasions that in my view that is the only solution left for dealing with Chávez.”
What Livingstone and his opposition should do is stop using London’s political platform on which to play their own ideological organ-grinders, and concentrate on working to improve the city’s problems.