UK Politics

Born in a Prism

London’s Mayor and his advisors must look out from the top tier of City Hall, and, rather than seeing a Jackson Pollock canvas of scattered humanity interacting in complex ways, they see a Mondrianesque arrangement of neatly divided coloured blocks. And the outcome is just as plastic.

Indeed, City Hall’s administration view Londoners through a communalist prism that divides us all into neatly defined “communities”, each with a heirarchy of approved (but larglely bullying and self-appointed) spokespeople. It’s neater and easier to manage, and dissent can be brushed away with cliches and platitudes.

Take for example veteran black journalist Darcus Howe’s dislike of bossy boss-man Jasper. Howe has always been suspicious of Lee Jasper. In 2002, Howe dismissed Jasper in his New Statesman column as “just a puff of wind”, detailing how his bluster, spin and “silly rhetoric” made absolutely no impact on dealing with social issues like, in this case, drug dealers in Brixton.

On Wednesday, Howe told London Lite that there was a “stench of decay” around the London Development Agency and called for Lee Jasper to be sacked. He said that the grant system for ethnic minority organisations was known as “The Lee Jasper Club”.

Now Howe (and other black critics) finds himself part of a “racist smear campaign” – which is how Ken Livingstone described criticism of Jasper’s conduct, according to the Press Association. According to the report, during Mayor’s Question time, Livingstone continued saying the calls to hold Jasper accountable constituted a “near lynching”, another racially-charged term which Jasper himself originated in an interview with The Voice earlier this year.

Another “racist” (which now evidently includes anyone who refuses to stay inside their City Hall-appointed ghetto) is journalist Nirpal Dhaliwal, who wrote in December last year (after interviewing Lee Jasper for his More4 documentary “Playing the Race Card”) “These ‘leaders’ no longer speak for black London”. He notes:

“Early in 2006, I recorded an interview with Jasper, Ken Livingstone’s senior race adviser, for a More4 documentary called Playing the Race Card, an investigation into how the politics of race can be hijacked for personal benefit by enterprising members of Britain’s ethnic minorities.
But Jasper completely rejected the notion that being black or brown could in any way be an advantage in a society that he regarded as still deeply racist. That complacency, so typical of London’s self-appointed ethnic leaders, now looks a lot more toxic.

In my documentary I had mocked the guilt-inducing farce that often passes for a diversity-training workshop. It had not crossed my mind that race could be a conduit for the mega-bucks that have passed into bodies run by Jasper and his friends.”

Yet, despite a great deal of the criticism of Japer coming from black figures, Ken Livingstone, seemingly unable to simply answer the allegations, fell back on his old stunt: calling his critics “racist”.

Anyway, In part two of this post, I’ll focus on the Haredi Jews, and how they’ve used the Communalist Gravy Train running out of the LDA too.

But I’m off to the demo to protest against the absurd death sentence handed out to journalist Parwiz Kambakhsh by the Afgan courts. I’ll pick up when I get back.

UPDATE:

The London papers are reporting tonight that Ken Livingstone has admitted that his assurances to Londoners that there was a “full audit trail” was just made up. Apparently, there never was an audit trail and Livingstone just said there was one “off the cuff” to deflect questions about corruption and croneyism. In everyday-speak, when you make something up without knowledge of the facts to get out of trouble and present it as the truth, you’re called a LIAR. As far as I’m concerned, after the admission that he just made stuff up “off the cuff”, nothing that comes out of Ken’s mouth can now be trusted. He’s a mayor that deliberately misleads the people of London. That he does this to cover the arses of his advisors – in whom he evidently places too much trust – is no excuse.

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