Friday, 1 June 2018

New Edgware Tory councillor called out for Islamophobic tweeting by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell

What is politics coming to? First the Barnet Tories won a landslide election in the Barnet Council Elections by portraying Barnet Labour as anti semitic (although their is no evidence I am aware of that any of the Barnet Labour candidates were actually anti semites, and many had fought tirelessly to have the 0.1% of Labour members who are kicked out. If any evidence exists, I will be more than happy to help in any complaints).

A member of the public informed me earlier in May that one of the Conservative Councillors was an Islamaphobe. I asked for evidence to support this statement and told them that if this was forthcoming, I would most certainly support a complaint. I thought I'd also ask the Conservatives what their policy was on such matters. I was reassured by their response.

I was most reassured to hear that the Conservatives take the matter seriously. 

Whilst I don't agree with some of the Barnet Tory policies, they have been supportive of many multi cultural aspects of the Borough and have a good record. I donated some free equipment to Former Mayor Brian Salinger for a multi faith ceremony recently, and Brian and the Mayoress, along with several other local Conservative Councillors attended the multi faith memorial ceremony I arranged for Mill Hill shopkeeper Vijay Patel, which featured, readings from the Torah, Koran, Bible and Hindu holy scripts.

I was contacted yesterday by my contact who informed me that they had also been in touch with the Labour party and that they were now taking the issue forward with the evidence. When I saw this I was shocked. I had expected a complaint to be submitted at the local level, but Labour have turned the big guns on the Barnet Tories. It seems that new Edgware Councillor, Linda Freeman, has been calling for detention of Muslims, along the lines of the detention of German citizens during WWII and also trolling the Muslim Council, a moderate and mainstream organisation, which works with other groups to support the British Muslim community

It is quite clear to me that Ms Freeman is not someone who should be representing anyone in the Council chamber. A friend who is a Muslim and runs a local food business told me in a text that "this has no place in society  and especially not in this part of London".

I have every faith that the Barnet Tories will be good to their word. They publicly stated that they have zero tolerance of this sort of thing and I am sure that they will do the right thing and resolve the matter quickly. This will send a strong message to everyone that we don't want Anti Semitism, Islamophobia or any other form of racism in Barnet.

There is one small issue to note. Ms Freeman was parachuted in as candidate for Edgware ward following the shocking deselection of former Councillor Joan Scannell. My conversations with local Tories tell me that Joan has made a complaint about the way she was deselected and how Ms Freeman was selected as her replacement. As I understand it, Mill Hill Councillor Val Duschinsky was instrumental in rushing through the approval of Ms Freeman. I trust that the Hendon Conservatives and Val in particular will take some time to reflect on whether due diligence was done in candidate selection and whether they followed their own procedures properly. I would like to see a statement from Val explaining why she approved Ms Freeman and whether she'd adequately questioned her in regards to her views on interfaith issues. I would suggest that all candidates are asked the following question "Have you ever posted anti semitic, islamaphobic, racist or sexists posts on public forums?" and "Are there any racial or faith based groups that you have publicly trolled?". I don't think that such a question is unreasonable. It would save us all a lot of heartache.

I finish with a quote from 'The Jewish Manifesto', a document issued by the Jewish Board of Deputies, which put together a set of pledges it expected candidates to sign up to, if they expected support from the Jewish community. Pledge number one is as follows.

"Oppose extremism and hate crime, including antisemitism, antiMuslim hatred and other forms of hate."
It is clear that Ms Freeman has fallen short of this aspiration. I sincerely hope that she does the decent thing. Edgware has a large, active and well respected local Muslim community. Many businesses, teachers, doctors and other people making a valuable contribution to our society are members of the community. They deserve to have a Councillor who shows them respect. I hope that this can be resolved without delay.

I am sad to say that it appears that racism, anti semitism and Islamaphobia are on the rise. I often hear such sentiments expressed, sometimes by people who should know better. Last night, I was in the Mill Hill Tandoori, collecting a takeaway after football. The owner, is a good friend and has been chair of a Mosque for many years. We often chat about issues of faith. He pointed out to me that all followers of "the book" (ie Jews, Christians and Muslims) believe we are descendents of Adam and Eve. As such we have no right to denigrate anyone for their creed or colour, as when it comes down to it, we are all Brothers and Sisters and equals in the eyes of God. That is a pretty good way to approach issues of race, religion and morality on such issues.

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