Saturday, 24 November 2012

Of Rotherham and Respect

There is more to this story, and not only the fact that many a council, perhaps all of them these days, is being run by Officers instead of by Councillors, a baleful state of affairs which goes back to the 1980s, but about which nothing was done while, for example, Hilary Armstrong was Local Government Minister and telling Councillor-laden meetings, which I attended, how much she believed in the municipal process. UKIP could not have bought publicity like this, right where and when it was fighting a parliamentary by-election. Surely no one is quite that hopeless a coincidence theorist?

UKIP is making a play for the white vote while having, it feels, conceded the Asian vote to Respect following the deeply flawed Labour selection process. But Respect won every ward at Bradford West, including the all-white ones. Bradford West, by the way, was no "Labour heartland", having been a Conservative target seat in 2010. Respect's candidate at Rotherham, like its candidate at Bradford West, is white. Clearly Respect-supporting, but conveniently unattributable, leaflets are accusing Labour of returning to the politics of the National Front in the 1970s. A bit strong, but I do not know whom Labour functionaries expect to be fooled by the maiden aunt act. Wasting police time, more like it.

Respect's candidate at Croydon North is neither Asian nor Muslim. He is Lee Jasper, the veteran ruler of Operation Black Vote. He needs to be asked exactly how representative either he or it is of family-centred churchgoers who cherish the monarchy's role in the Commonwealth, who value traditional methods and structures of education (even to the extent of sending children to live with relatives in Africa or the Caribbean in order to benefit from them), and who believe most strongly that immigrants to this country ought to use correct spoken and written English. But, and I only ask, is the Labour candidate in any position to pose this question? If not, then why is that person the Labour candidate?

If the recent proposal to use the black churches to get out the black vote really comes to anything, and it has not done so in the past, then it will make a very significant difference indeed. If your main concern is to organise against Islamisation, then you could want no voters more than Christians from West Africa and the belt across the centre of that continent. Only three other groups are as reliable in this cause. One is the Greeks in general and the Greek Cypriots in particular, of which latter one in six in the world already lives in the United Kingdom. Another is the Slavs, among whom the Poles predominate in this country. And the third is the ancient indigenous Christians of the Middle East, with their brethren in the Indian Subcontinent.

London has a higher level both of professing Christians and of regular churchgoers than the country as a whole, which in the former case is saying quite something when you consider that the national figure is 72 per cent. The huge London statistics are because of black Londoners. Up to now, though, they have been unregistered, or abstaining, or disorganised. If they were not so by the time of the next Mayoral Election in 2016, then the question would be which leading pastor would carry the torch for all three of social justice, peace, and traditional family values against the candidate of rapacious global capital, the sexually louche and pro-drugs incumbent who believes that Christianity overthrew a superior civilisation. Whichever leading pastor had not been made a Labour MP the year before.

Assuming, of course, that any leading pastor had not been made a Labour MP the year before. A lot of them, and I do mean a lot of them, have very close ties, and I do mean very close ties, to Maurice Glasman and Blue Labour. There is ample time for them to sign up their entire congregations to the locally dominant Constituency Labour Parties. As the Catholic Church more or less used to do. And as the Methodist chapels actually started the Labour Party by doing. Community organising, indeed.

And not only in London. Not only in London at all.


  1. In the Dead See of Salford, and elsewhere unless I hear contrariwise, the parishes have a hard enough time keeping their congregations Catholic and in attendance, never mind organizing them into a potent political voting bloc.

    And besides, if, as you've suggested, the party won't allow Catholics on their all-female shortlists anymore, I'd have thought they'd be equally unlikely to add any practical assistance to such a move (and, besides, why would any Catholic woman, if they knew this, actually to want to vote for them again?).

    If Labour still thinks Ms Flint is a suitable representative for flagship public engagement shows like Any Questions, then that really settles the matter, doesn't it?

  2. But the black churches are, from this organisational point of view, where the Catholics and the Methodists used to be.

  3. The Labour-run social services have made a huge mistake in Rotherham by removing children from two 'racist' foster carers just for being members of UKIP. The publicity for UKIP - positive publicity that is - has been massive, with even Ed Miliband having to condemn what the council did. Are Labour now running scared of receiving a lesson in humility from Rotherham's electorate? Although it would be a tall order for UKIP to win in a dyed-in-the-wool Labour seat such as Rotherham, they are likley to poll well next Thursday.

  4. But they won't win. If it's not Labour, then it will be Respect.

    UKIP couldn't have bought publicity like this during a by-election campaign. There is more going on here.