This is a cross-post from Howie’s Corner
Reports appeared in the press this week about student activist Aaron Kiely being behind the campaign at Birmingham Metropolitan College to lift the ban on the veil introduced as a result of “security concerns. The Times reported that:
He is being investigated after a series of outspoken comments, including his opposition to the deportation of a notorious Islamist extremist and his accusation that the Conservative Party was “whipping up racism”.
The left-wing activist is a £23,000-a-year black students’ officer for the National Union of Students and is also a Labour councillor in Thurrock, Essex.
Mr Kiely, 24, said that he would oppose the ban on the niqab in any area of public life, and accused opponents of the veil of “whipping up fear and insecurity”.
He described any ban on the niqab as “an infringement on the rights to religious freedom and cultural expression and a clear violation of a woman’s right to choose”.
He was also criticised after describing the “shame” of the deportation of Abu Hamza, the convicted Islamist hate preacher, to the United States. The student leader had previously been forced to apologise after defending the London rioters and accusing the Metropolitan Police of being institutionally racist.”
So just who is this individual and what is his political background? Turns out he is a member of the secretive Socialist Action group, that’s the one that provided the bag carriers for ken Livingstone when he was Mayor of London and boasted of turning the city into a “socialist bastion”. The fact they got highly paid for it didn’t hurt either it would seem.
Aaron Kiley is also a Labour councillor though doesn’t turn up to many meetings as the Daily Mail reported last October:
A Labour councillor who opposed the extradition of hate cleric Abu Hamza has been branded ‘disgraceful’ after it emerged he pocketed nearly £7,000 of taxpayers’ money despite only attending one half hour council meeting this year.
Aaron Kiely, 20, has so far earned £6,667 this year from Thurrock Council, but has only made the one appearance at the mayor-making ceremony in May.
And fellow councillors were left fuming when he publicly threw his support behind the bid to halt the extradition of hate cleric Abu Hamza to the United States.
Current rules mean Mr Kiely must only attend one other full council meeting between now and next May to avoid triggering an automatic by-election.
Frustrated fellow councillor Lynn Carr slammed Mr Kiely, claiming he has not been representing the people of his ward in South Ockendon, Essex.
She accused him of neglecting the concerns of residents in favour of his £20,000 role as black students officer at the National Union of Students.
This principled “comrade isn’t as daft as one might think. Workers Liberty take up the story:
Whether as a deliberate strategy or not, Kiely has not attended council meetings, so this year at least has not had to vote either for or against cuts (he attended half of last year’s meetings, so it seems likely he did vote for cuts at some point). Instead he has pocketed his councillor’s salary (on top of his salary as NUS Black Students’ Officer) without turning up and thus avoided trouble with either the Labour council leadership or the student left.
The other point that one has to consider in all this is the contradictory position of Socialist Action on the question of so-called “Islamic clothing” as their rivals at Workers Liberty gleefully point out:
Another interesting contradiction, typical of Socialist Action’s method: SA accuse the AWL of being Islamophobic and even racist for saying that the hijab is oppressive to women while also opposing state bans on the hijab and supporting the right of all women to dress as they choose.
But at the same time they wholeheartedly, indeed uncritically, endorse the French left social-democratic presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who supports the French state’s bans on the hijab in schools and the burqa in public places – but naturally, do not mention this inconvenient fact…
Indeed the world of Trotskyism is full of such contradictory and frankly opportunist positions.
As is comrade Keily it would seem.