This is a guest post by red star over london
Last month, on January 9th, political leaders in London signed up to the United London Stands statement. A crucial section of the statement reads
“We do not wish to see either the current economic downturn or recent international events in both India and the Middle East being used by those who wish to stir up racial and religious hatred within the City.”
Key signatories included the following Lib Dems Mike Tuffrey AM, Leader Liberal Democrats Group of London Assembly, Cllr Jack Cohen, Barnet and Cllr Jonathan Bloch, – Haringey
Anyone reading the statement would appreciate the need to ensure that the Israel – Gaza conflict is not fought out on the streets of London
Fast-forward to 20 days to the Gaza Central – sorry Valentines by election. The Lib Dem circulate the following leaflet in support of their candidate Shoaib Patel
Gruesome picture of Gaza plus:
”The world watched in horror as the conflict in Gaza claimed its latest innocent victims in the rubble of a UN school. Any hopes of reconciliation are being snuffed out as anger spills into protests around the world”
“ I am also told from friends campaigning in the ward, that there were people knocking on doors, speaking of Gaza and mentioning what Conservative Cllr Weinberg and the Labour Foreign Secretary have in common – which was why their respective parties were not campaigning on the council’s foreign policy”
Regrettably, the divide and rule tactics paid off and the Lib Dems came from 3rd place to win the seat
Interestingly Cllr Hugh Cleaver Redbridge Lib Dem Leader can see no problem . Indeed on the Ilford Recorder website Cllr Cleaver states
“It (Gaza) is an issue that people in the ward are concerned about and we did outline our position as a good in one of the newsletters.
As blogger on vote 2007 wrote – the leaflet that will certainly not see the light of day in Gants Hill, Woodford Bridge or up the road in Seven Sisters or probably in parts of Valentines.
My concern is not simply about very dirty by election tactics. It is about the willingness of Lib Dems to undermine and sacrifice community cohesion in the battle for votes. The silence from the Lib Dem leadership nationally and in London about such tactics – think back to Rochdale in the 2005 general -election – must be challenged
I hope voters in places like Hornsey and Wood Green and new the Hampstead and Kilburn seat question their Lib Dem candidates as to where they stand re the behaviour of their party in Redbridge.
As a first step perhaps the Lib Dem signatories to the United London Stands statement can assist such enquiries?