TELEGRAPH AND GILLIGAN SLAMMED BY PCC OVER ABJOL MIAH SLUR
Notes to the editor
1. The full Press Complaints Commission verdict is here:
By Abjol Miah
In the next few weeks, all the major parties of Tower Hamlets will select and announce their candidate for the Borough’s first directly elected mayor.
For those of us in Respect, it’s a proud moment. We obviously didn’t perform as well as we’d have liked in the May elections, but we were overjoyed that the referendum to change the way the council worked and introduce an accountable mayor won the backing of more than 60% of voters. We had played a central and active role in the campaign to secure a ‘yes vote’. Whilst the three other parties made excuses for why they could not support the proposal, we showed we had our ear to the ground and understood the widespread desire amongst Tower Hamlets residents for a change at the very top. A new way of doing things.
That is one of the principles on which Respect will ask for your vote in October. Labour’s selection process has been a humilating farce, revealing the disunity and incompetence at the heart of that party. How can Labour’s candidate be trusted to get the best out the mayoralty for local families? Every move they make will in fact have to be done with the approval of Labour Head Office – and the sad truth is that by Autumn that will most likely mean warmonger David Miliband.
This brings us to what Respect believes the Mayor of Tower Hamlets should do. The Tory and Lib Dem government have now made it clear that they consider places such as Tower Hamlets prime targets in their attempts to devastate living conditions for millions of people. The cuts in public spending that they are introducing will be felt very sharply here. Local government jobs are under serious threat and the housing budget has evaporated. Not only is London the guinea-pig for destroying NHS funding, it has emerged this week that we are also on the frontline of David Cameron’s Big Society plans. Be in no doubt that the Big Society is in fact the Big Con: taking huge chunks out of the welfare state and demanding that already overworked charities and voluntary organisations pick up the pieces.
This climate calls for clear and determined political leadership in our Borough. The Town Hall should become a centre of opposition to the government’s cuts, and the newly elected Mayor should do everything in her or his power to defend local residents from the Coalition government’s damaging policies. At the same time, where priorities can be shifted to improve the situation this should be done. A pro-active strategy that sought to attract trade with India, China and Bangladesh would generate wealth and opportunities that could shield us from the worst of the ‘Age of Austerity’ and generate investment that would help us grow, not cut, our way into recovery. Scrapping Labour vanity projects like Council free-sheet East End Lives would mean more money where it was really needed – frontline public services. The Mayor would be a high-profile focus point, demanding better housing and services for Tower Hamlets residents and exposing the damage of David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s policies.
And of course, as last month’s visit to Tower Hamlets by the English Defence League makes clear, we need a Mayor that will take an uncompromising stand against anti-Muslim racism, and all discrimination and bigotry. In the tough years ahead of us, there will be some who want to scapegoat Muslims and others and blame those communities for society’s problems. A Respect Mayor will not concede a single inch to racism. Instead, we will all stand united in defence of our Borough and fight together to win a better deal for everyone.
Over the next few months we will be putting forward Respect’s policies for a fairer, better Tower Hamlets.
Way Forward for Respect meeting “terrific success” – Respect now preparing to select mayoral candidate
Over a hundred people from all sections of the community packed out the theatre at Oxford House yesterday afternoon to hear Salma Yaqoob, George Galloway, Abjol Miah and others leading a discussion on the way forward for Respect. Respect Party leader Salma Yaqoob declared the meeting “a terrific success”.
Abjol Miah, Councillor Harun Miah and Sabby Dhalu, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism, led discussion about the threat from the English Defence League, the council leadership’s disastrous attempts to undermine the march and the role of the media in stimulating ignorance, prejudice and bigotry against the Muslim community. The importance of the march today was emphasised by all.
There was analysis of the election results which had been disappointing for Respect. However there were positives. In Tower Hamlets 17,000 voters had voted for Respect, a solid core from which to build. the Con/Dem coalition government was bringing in devastating cuts. Illusions in the progressive nature of the Lib Dems in particular would be dispelled. And here in Tower Hamlets it will be Labour’s 41 councillors who will be implementing the cutbacks, the redundancies and the pay cuts.
George Galloway pledged to do everything possible to ensure that Councillor Harun Miah was joined by more Respect councillors as soon as the opportunity arose.
Salma Yaqoob, the Respect Party leader, demonstrated why the cuts were not only unnecessary but counter-productive even in their own terms and were driven by an ideological agenda to cut welfare and make working people pay for the bankers’ crisis.
There was also brief discussion of the Viva Palestina initiative and its huge success in drawing attention to the plight of the besieged Palestinian people of Gaza.. Notice was given of the Viva Palestina Summer School in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon from 25th July to 31st July and the Viva Palestina convoy being organised to leave London after Ramadan in late September.
Finally the meeting voted to support the selection of a mayoral candidate. This will take place at a meeting in Tower Hamlets on 19th July.
Speaking at a demonstration in London which organisers estimated to be more than 20,000 strong, George Galloway announced new land and sea convoys to break the siege of Gaza.
“After extensive discussion in Istanbul,” said Galloway, “I can announce that a land convoy will leave Britain shortly after the end of Ramadan in September and travel through Europe, down through Turkey and Syria into Jordan. We will ask the Egyptian government then to ensure passage from the port of Aqaba to Rafah and into Gaza.
“At exactly the same time a flotilla of boats will be leaving to tour the countries of the Mediterranean before heading for Gaza.
“These combined sea and land convoys will be co-ordinated by Viva Palestina with other organisations in Britain and with our friends throughout the Middle East and in Turkey.”
Israeli forces have attacked the international aid convoy Freedom Flotilla en route to the besieged Gaza Strip, killing at least 16 people and leaving more than 50 injured.
The attack came on Monday morning, 31st May, after one of the six ships in the convoy was hit by Israeli navy forces before being stormed by commandos descending from helicopters. The boat attacked was the Mavi Mar Mara. British citizens were on board this vessel which belongs to the Turkish-based charity the IHH, including Viva Palestina’s Kevin Ovenden and chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Sarah Colborne.
The interception reportedly took place in international waters, more than 150km (90 miles) off the coast of Gaza.
George Galloway speaks out in outrage from Houston, Texas at 05.18am, go to www.vivapalestina.org