Sunday, April 01, 2007

Gordon Bennet, he's your councillor?


YOU need a good sense of humour to appreciate politics in the London Borough of Barnet. When the late Ellis Hillman became mayor, less attention focussed on his Trotskyist past or his odd combination of Jewish observance and lecturing at the atheist South Place Ethical Society, than on his membership of the Flat Earth Society and presidency of the Lewis Carrol Society.

Maybe flat-earthing was taking entryism a bit far, but Ellis was quite astute when it came to spotting other's contradictions, and his whimsicality was no worse than that of his Tory predecessor who held an inauguration ceremony to appoint his dog as deputy.

Tory central office stepped in when they heard that former Grunwick boss George Ward has taken over Hendon Conservative Association and was filling it up with friends, relatives and former Grunwick strikebreakers.

But now they're trying to play down a row over Barnet councillor Brian Gordon and his idea of fancy dress fun. Hosting a party for the Jewish festival of Purim, when dressing up is traditional, the fair-complexioned Councillor Gordon darkened his face and donned a Dashiki shirt, a necklace of black beads and an African hat. In case people were puzzled as to what he was supposed to be he pinned a label on himself as "Nelson Mandela".

So pleased was he with the effect, the councillor sent a picture of himself to the local paper. As a result, a Lib Dem opponent has reported him to the Race Relations Commission, there's been controversy in the press, and someone asked Nelson Mandela himself if he was upset. Naturally, he was not bothered. He doesn't live in Barnet.

"I am amazed that one or two people are becoming so worked up over a fancy-dress outfit that was no more than a piece of harmless fun", says Councillor Gordon. "For several years on Purim, a traditional time for dressing up, I have taken on the guise of a range of famous personalities, including President Reagan, Boris Yeltsin, Ariel Sharon and Sir Ian Blair. They are people for whom I have the utmost respect and admiration, as I do for Nelson Mandela".

Those who knew Brian Gordon of old have been reluctant to swallow this explanation, or to accept an assurance from Conservative Greater London Assembly member Brian Coleman (himself elected after saying too many foreign students were coming to north London) that "Brian (Gordon) doesn't have a racist bone in his body". They have most unsportingly brought up an earlier episode in the Life of Brian. Here are extracts from the Barnet and Potters Bar Times:

"Almost 30 years ago to the day, when the 21-year-old Brian Gordon was the Conservative candidate for the Burnt Oak by-election, he told a meeting of Edgware Conservatives that he wanted an end to immigration because he felt that Britain should not be the 'dustbin' of the world.
"A note on our letters page stated that Mr Gordon's dustbin comment had 'produced our largest postbag for months'. Letters featured accused Mr Gordon of being 'racialist' and like a National Front member.

"At the by-election count two weeks later, he was subjected to cries of 'racialist' from the public gallery at Hendon Town Hall as he spoke. He came a distant second behind Labour, just 299 votes ahead of the National Front candidate, Bernard Franklin.

"Richard Hadley, the chairman of the Hendon South Labour Party, called on the borough's four Tory MPs, including Margaret Thatcher, to disown Mr Gordon. "I had been as horrified as your readers by the extraordinary racialist outpourings of Mr Gordon," said Mr Hadley. Mr Gordon denied accusations of racialism, saying: 'The Front are an extremist and racialist organisation. Their views are anathema to me.'

Dave Rosenberg, a long-active anti-racialist and member of the Jewish Socialists' Group had this to add: "A little bit more on Brian Gordon's previous form. His anti-immigration comments about Britain becoming the"dustbin of the world" are plagiarised. A hundred years ago, Major William Evans Gordon (no relation) of the British Brothers League, used this self-same phrase to campaign against the entry of Jews to this "overcrowded island".

"Had he been more successful maybe he would have kept out Barnet Brian's ancestors. When he was trying to become a Tory councillor in Barnet in the late 1970s, when immigration was high on the agenda, he was thwarted by a strong showing by the National Front locally which split the right-wing vote, and Labour got in. His colleague who, this week, claimed that Brian hasn't "got a racist bone in his body" might reflect on what Brian Gordon said after his defeat then. He lamented that if the anti-Labour forces had united (i.e. Tories and NF), Labour wouldn't have got in. Perhaps his real disguise is not on Purim but on the other days of the year when he claims to have something ticking over underneath his Barnet".

There had been a history of neo-Nazi activity around Burnt Oak's then mostly white working-class estates, though not enough to defeat Labour. If Gordon was not racialist himself (nor racially acceptable to the local National Front), he obviously did not mind appealing to racialists. But oddly enough, though he objected to immigration into Britain, he has been in favour of immigration and settlement in another country.

Besides his Tory party membership, Brian Gordon has long been associated with another right-wing party, namely Herut, the ultra-right wing nationalist component of Israel's Likud coalition. It's a combination the Tories have learnt to accept, apparently. When the late Menachem Begin, on whose head the British once put a price for terrorism, came to Britain as Israeli prime minister, he found time to make an Irgun Zvai Leumi award to one of his loyal supporters. The ceremony, arranged by Herut-Great Britain, was attended by then Brent North Tory MP Dr.Rhodes Boyson. (Of course such liaisons never prevented fellow-Tories, including Thatcher herself, from sucking up to wealthy Arabs, who understand it's all part of the game).

When Jewish peace campaigners held a demonstration in Golders Green against Israel's "Apartheid Wall", members of Herut's youth movement Betar were mobilised to try and stop it. They failed, though in frustration they physically assaulted one isolated peace activist. But this does not mean Betar or its senior mentors defend everything the Israeli government does. When the Sharon government started withdrawing settlers from Gaza, they condemned it as "left-wing", and held their own demonstration from Golders Green, donning the orange colours adopted by Kahanite fascists.

Lest anyone thinks we are unfairly deeming Brian Gordon guilty by association, here he is more recently, in Orthodox as well as right-wing Zionist mode, complaining that secularists had disproportionately attacked the "enemy-loving individuals" of the Ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist Neturei Karta (over attending the Tehran Holocaust revisionist conference), when they should have reacted "to the totally irresponsible actions of many of Israel’s elected politicians. Take for example the appeasement by successive Israeli governments of Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian leaders. Or the utterly fool-hardy withdrawal from Gaza and parts of Judea and Samaria, with the brutal removal of thousands of Jews from their homes. Or the numerous anti-religious measures pursued by Israeli administrations, including, at times, the present one".

Cllr Brian Gordon, Conservative, Hale Ward, Barnet

This sheds some doubts on Councillor Gordon's claims to admire Ariel Sharon, never mind Nelson Mandela, against whose first visit to the United States his fellow-Herutniks in the Zionist Organisation of America boasted of being the lone Jewish objectors. Still, it's not for us to speculate what really goes on in the mind of Councillor Brian Gordon. Nor do we care what kind of characters David Cameron is saddled with as councillors. We can just wonder about the mentality of those Barnet residents who vote for them.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home