EXCLUSIVE: Our Sutton political reporter, CARL SHILTON, on how ignorance is bliss for the Liberal Democrats when it comes to rampant racism
Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, was today desperately trying to distance himself from a council by-election candidate who has in the past distributed Ku Klux Klan videos and denied that the Holocaust took place.
Abjol Miah is on the ballot paper today in a by-election in Shadwell ward in Tower Hamlets, where he is listed as a candidate for the Liberal Democrats.
But last night, the LibDems removed Miah as a party member and suspended all campaigning in the by-election, pending an investigation into their erstwhile candidate’s anti-Semitic remarks and social media activity in the past.
The LibDems only acted after the political website, Guido Fawkes, highlighted Miah’s murky political past.
The suspension by the LibDems has created the farcical situation whereby, because it is far too late to alter the ballot papers, Miah could still be elected to the council and take his seat as an independent. If, after the Liberal Democrats’ investigation, Miah is restored to party membership, they would then quietly take that council seat. Cushty.
Miah’s campaign was assisted, albeit briefly, by Brake, one of the LibDems’ most senior figures nationally.
The Carshalton and Wallington MP since 1997, Brake attended an election hustings event in Shadwell on January 7.
Today, confronted with the photographic evidence of his having shared a public platform with someone who has spread anti-Semitic smears, Brake told Inside Sutton: “When I shared a platform with Mr Miah, obviously I had no idea of his alleged views. If indeed he does hold these views and they were known, I would not have shared a platform with him. But you know that already.
“It is clearly appropriate for these allegations to be thoroughly investigated. They will be and appropriate action taken if necessary. You will no doubt want to cover that too.”
Somewhat curiously, in a perhaps hurriedly drafted email, after signing off, the MP also had included: “I would not have shared a platform with him if he does indeed hold those views.”
Thing is, there’s really no excuse for not knowing Abjol Miah’s dubious record.
One observer of Tower Hamlets’ often fetid politics called the situation today a “shambles”.
Ted Jeory, the journalist who works for The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and has covered election scandals in Tower Hamlets for many years, said, “LibDems knew all about him because he himself slagged them off over many years.
“Only when political parties in Tower Hamlets stop selecting these merry-go-round carpet baggers will voters gain more confidence in politics there.”
While the LibDems investigate Miah’s social media history, they might also want to investigate what due diligence was performed over Miah’s selection as a candidate in the first place.
It might be something which Brake will want to do, too, before he next shares a platform with someone who spread a video clip on social media entitled “CNN, Goldman Sachs and the Zio Matrix”.
In the video, American white supremacist David Duke, the leader of the KKK, voices opinions that Jews are secretly controlling western governments by running the world’s banks and media – an anti-Semitic smear that Hitler and the Nazis used to publish.
According to the LibDems, Miah has apologised “unreservedly” for sharing the video.
Brake and his party colleagues could have spared themselves the trouble by conductng just a routine piece of online research.
Miah’s biography and political background is public knowledge, and easily checkable on the interweb (to which we know that Brake has access at the House of Commons).
If the MP – or one of his state-funded assistants – had bothered looking, Brake will have seen that Miah was first elected as a councillor in Tower Hamlets in 2006, and that he held a council seat there until last May. Miah used to be the leader of George Galloway’s Respect group on Tower Hamlets council.
In fact, the LibDems are the fourth political party Miah has sought to represent in the east London borough. Miah has also been a member of disgraced former mayor Lutfur Rahmen’s crooked Tower Hamlets First party and its successor, the People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets.
Miah was named by Ed Husain, in his book The Islamist, as one of the more extreme members of the East London mosque in the 1990s.
Yet Tom Brake claims he knew none of this. We’ll leave Inside Sutton’s readers to decide whether that really is a good enough excuse, or whether they expect better of such a very experienced professional politician who, just last month, was seeking publicity for his support of Holocaust Memorial Day.
As Guido Fawkes reports: “Despite Miah campaigning for Sadiq Khan, Guido hears that the Labour Party refused to take him on as a candidate. After all that, seems like the Lib Dems were the only party who were willing take him on…”
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