Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Labour gags its own members on war

"DON'T talk about the war". The other day I joked that Basil Fawlty's advice seemed to have been taken on board by my union leaders, because in an election special featuring an interview with Gordon Brown there was nothing about Afghanistan or Iraq, nor about Labour's clinging to the Trident nuclear missile system while everything else faces cuts.

While Tony Blair, whose lies took us into war, makes a fortune in speakers' fees besides the business directorships he has acquired, it seems New Labour is not too keen on other party members speaking.

When former General, Municipal and Boilermakers(GMB) union officer Dawn Butler became MP for Brent South, the Brent Trades Union Council looked forward to having an understanding MP who would listen to our views and take up some of the issues we campaigning upon. Alas, the trades council has not seen much of the MP, let alone seeing eye to eye with her.

With boundary changes creating a new Brent Central constituency, Ms.Butler confronts Lib.Dem.Sarah Teather, who at present holds the Brent East seat, in next week's general election. Whatever one thinks of Sarah Teather's politics (and I'm certainly no Lib Dems fan), the diminutive woman whom one Labourite deemed the "poison dwarf" has put herself about a bit for constituents and some of their causes. She spoke at a protest rally against health cuts, organised a Whitehall picket for a Willesden man held in Guantanamo, hosted Palestine Solidarity campaigners at the Commons, having previously spoken to a Kilburn meeting on her fact-finding mission to Gaza, which included a stop-off at nearby Sderot.

Pity this goes with her supporting post office privatisation and presumably her party's dedication to an increasingly anti-workers'rights-biased European Union.

But getting back to the wars, Brent Stop the War Coalition organised a Brent Central Election Question Time on WAR, PEACE AND THE MIDDLE EAST last night at the Willesden Green Library Centre, inviting Sarah Teather (Lib Dem, Shahrar Ali (Green), Abdi Duale(Respect) and Sachin Rajput (Conservative). Dawn Butler (Labour)had also been initially invited, but alas it seems her parliamentary duties prevented her taking advantage of this opportunity to face her rivals at the hustings. Two Labour councillors, Zaffar Van Kalwala and Muhammed Butt had stepped into the breach to replace her.

The candidates or their representatives faced questions from Sarah Colbourne, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jane Shallice, Stop the War Coalition and Christine McLeod, London Guantanamo Campaign on the issues surrounding, the "War on Terror" and Palestine/Israel. Of course, the audience were also participating in the questioning.

The notice looked promising. "It should be a lively and interesting meeting, so we look forward to seeing you there.
Yours in solidarity,
Sarah Cox, joint secretary Brent Stop the War".

Unfortunately, like Dawn Butler MP, I could not attend, but I hope it was a successful meeting. Unfortunately, it seems the two Labour councillors who had been due to represent Dawn Butler could not attend either, though for different reasons.

----- Original Message -----
From: Van kalwala, Cllr. Zaffar
To: scox05@toucansurf.com ; cllr.muhammed.butt@brent.gov.uk

Sent: Monday, April 26, 2010 11:45 AM
Subject: Re: Brent Central election Question Time on WAR PEACE AND THE MIDDLE EAST

Dear Mike and Sarah

Cllr Butt and I unfortunately will not be able to attend tonight's Stop the War's Brent Central Question Time Meeting.

We have been advised by our Group Whip that due to this being a national issue and both Cllr Butt and I being Local Councillors, we would not be best placed to speak on the topic. Furthermore, as we are still elected members, we would not be able to appear in a personal capacity either.

We both apologise for the late notice and hope that tonight's debate go well.

We look forward to participating in future events

Thank you

Best regards


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At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It then appears that Dawn tweeted as the husting was starting that she was relaxing in a cafe in kensal green. Having been canvassing.
She has no parliamentary duties - parliament was dissolved ages ago!


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