Tower Hamlets: vote Rabina Khan
The Provisional Central Committee makes its voting recomendation
On June 11 Tower Hamlets will vote for a directly elected mayor in a by-election caused by the decision of an electoral court to disqualify the sitting mayor, Lutfur Rahman. The Provisional Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain urges a vote for Rabina Khan in this election. We do so critically, andon the basis of the political context and the meaning it gives to this vote.
The CPGB opposes the existence of directly elected mayors, presidents, officers and so on. Such constitutional arrangements are Bonapartist and inherently make the officers so elected unaccountable. The Tories are actively attempting to impose mayors on local authorities in the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill,1because they will increase patronage and cronyism (as well as corruption). Under such a regime normal market effects will mean that the usual beneficiaries will be wealthy Conservative supporters and potential donors.
Assume, as we have to, that the decisions on issues of fact in the judgment of Richard Mawrey QC in the Tower Hamlets election petition case2 are largely correct. What they then show is precisely that the mayoral regime of ‘one-man-management’ in itself turns what would otherwise be near-normal dirty tricks and irregularities in local elections (of a sort which Lib Dem and Labour councillors have certainly committed, as have very probably their Tory equivalents) into actionable ‘fraud’ and corruption, because the mayoral candidate as an individual is vicariously responsible for anything done in connection with his campaign.
Richard Mawrey QC concludes his judgment with the statement: “Even in the multicultural society which is 21st century Britain, the law must be applied fairly and equally to everyone. Otherwise we are lost.” The problem is that Lutfur Rahman’s largesse to Bangladeshi community groups, which Mawrey found to be technically bribes, are no different (except in their smaller scale) to David Cameron’s and George Osborne’s handouts, and promises to provide handouts, to their potential voters. The smear campaign against ‘racist’ Labour candidate John Biggs, which Mawrey found to violate section 106 of the Representation of the People Act, is no different (except in its smaller scale) to the massive media smear campaigns run in the Tory interest against Gordon Brown in 2009-10, Ed Miliband since his election as Labour leader ... and Lutfur Rahman. The “spiritual undue influence” of imams calling on Muslims to vote Rahman is not different (except in its smaller scale) to much larger Christian appeals common in the USA - so that, for example, Christian conservative blogger Adrian Hilton finds this part of the judgment problematic ...3 For much of modern Britain, however, we should be more concerned about “undue influence” through mass media.
In other words, precisely because this election petition selected this small-time example of dirty local politics for prosecution, the law is not “applied fairly and equally to everyone”. The great corruption-monopolists of the major parties are, except in very occasional instances, immune from attack: partly because the costs risks of election petitions are so high, as Mawrey correctly says in his judgment. As the 17th century protest song went,
The law will hang the man or woman
That steals the goose from off the common,
But lets the greater villain loose
That steals the common from the goose.
Hence, the judgment shows how electoral law can be applied as an instrument to destroy any attempt to break with the big-party system, simply by virtue of the ability to select the people who are chosen for attack (as Andrew Ward comments on the RS21 site4).
In the resulting mayoral by-election, Rabina Khan stands as an independent candidate on her own platform,5 but as one who worked with Lutfur Rahman, was a member of his Tower Hamlets First party and was endorsed by him. Otherwise, the usual parties are standing - plus Andy Erlam of Red Flag - Anti-Corruption, who was one of the parties to the election petition against Rahman.
Red Flag - Anti-Corruption represents itself as an anti-austerity party, but in the vaguest possible way:
7. Austerity? The present financial crisis is being used to cut back on social provision and the role of the state. The crisis was caused by massively expensive foreign wars, which achieved nothing apart from making Britain a terrorist target and disrupting lives in other countries. Cuts reduce confidence and economic activity. New ways must be found to make the economy serve the people and promote equality, harmony and progress.
Just as we should assume that Mawrey’s findings of fact are true, so we should also assume that Red Flag - Anti-Corruption is not a ‘false flag operation’ on behalf of someone else. Even so, however, it has chosen to attack the small-scale dirty politician, Lutfur Rahman, rather than the big-scale dirty politicians who actually run the country on behalf of capital.
Rabina Khan, in contrast, in her campaign web page offers concrete policies which break from the ‘austerity’ consensus. We do not support Rahman’s regime in Tower Hamlets, or favouritism towards the ‘Muslim community’ or particular sections of it. But under the circumstances of the present election in Tower Hamlets, the strongest possible vote for Rabina Khan is a vote against the austerity consensus - and a vote against the large-scale political corruption which is ignored in the attack on Tower Hamlets.
CPGB Provisional Central Committee
1. Summary at www.out-law.com/en/articles/2015/june/bill-to-devolve-powers-to-city-regions-laid-before-uk-parliament.
2. Available at http://redflagac.org/news/569.