Scotland,  UK Politics

Jahangir Hanif: the Peter Mandelson of the SNP? But Without the Acumen.


In August 2008, millionaire SNP member and councilor, Jahangir Hanif was suspended for two months after taking an AK47 to the spirit if not the letter of Party policy on firearms (six months after he previously had stood as the SNP candidate for Central Ayrshire during the 2005 General Election).

One should have sympathy for his doubtless surprise at having been suspended, as being a millionaire member and councilor who was campaigning against poor rented accommodation had previously not been thought relevant to his owning ‘slum’ properties. Or being somewhat loose with his tongue at community events.

During the Party investigations into his firearms-training, this millionaire member was also going through an unpleasant divorce (which should not be treated with mirth) made all the worse by his 17 year old daughter writing a letter to Alex Salmond questioning his original suitability to have been allowed to stand as a councilor or MP.

This letter was referred to by Salmond on the floor of Holyrood, but it was its publication by Scottish blogger, Kezia Dugdale which resulted in legal by Hanif’s solicitors.

After his period in purdah, and with intellectual heavyweights of the Party dismissing further criticism as being borne from racist and colonial mentalities, Hanif presumably felt it was now safe for millionaires to remain members of the Party.

Attempts by the Party to woo other wealthy supporters of South Asian background, and bring in bloc votes, were seen in Deputy Leader, Nicola Sturgeon’s plea for leniency for a constituent convicted of serial benefits fraud. Her judgment was called into question when it turned-out, the un-wealthy (and un-regarded amongst local Scottish Asians) individual had a previous conviction for embezzlement.

With recent boundary changes to Holyrood constituencies, Sturgeon’s constituency of Glasgow Govan (where, in 2007, she received barely a 1% majority over the Labour candidate) will become effectively no-more; and reformed as Glasgow Southside, with inclusion of a significant number of Scottish Asian voters.

With any sub-state nationalist movement tending towards political idiocy, I have little faith in the SNP’s ill-formed brand to see non-European voters as easy bloc votes. Consider an unawareness at just who has a racist and colonial mentality with regards to support for Councilor AK47.

And, here the Baillie Bang-Bang returns. In a sign of the paucity of suitable MSP candidates or the Party’s commitment to including ethnic minorities (take your pick), Hanif recently was chosen as a list-candidate for the regional Holyrood seat.

My principal objection to this voting system (as opposed to AV) is that beyond a core of local Party members, constituents have little choice over the individuals put forward by their preferred Party. We oiks definitely have no role in ranking list-candidates.

In my case, the absence of it in the recent Westminster elections allowed me to vote for a LibDem candidate which I personally preferred despite being closer in spirit to the war-mongering, economically inept, Cromwellian Labour Party. This is a decision I still do not regret.

This followed strong suspicions of fixing by then unnamed activists in the West of Scotland, when there was a last-minute spate of membership applications for Party membership. The Scotland on Sunday reported that many new members had Asian names. This was averted by the Party, which nullified votes in list-selection for memberships after the commencement of the sudden rise.

Hanif has been highly successful in recruiting new members in his Govanhill area (which will form part of Sturgeon’s new constituency), who will be involved in ranking the list-candidates. So much so that, last week, the Daily Record reported that many were… how to put this delicately?… completely made-up, and raising alarm in the local constituency Party.

Scotland, wha’ like us? None, thank fuck.