Dispatches from Tower Hamlets – in the thick of it

16 03 2010

Never a dull moment in Tower Hamlets…

For months Private Eye Magazine has been reporting on the Labour led council in Tower Hamlets about corruption, poor planning and cronyism in its Rotten Boroughs column. Private Eye also warned in July 2009 of the influence of an organisation called IFE – Islamic Forum in Europe.

On the first of March this year Channel 4 Dispatches and Neo Labour’s favorite investigative journalist Andrew Gilligan produced ‘Britain’s Islamic Republic’ about a ‘fundamentalist’ Islamic group headquartered in Britain, and its claims to have placed its ‘brothers’ in positions of political power in Tower Hamlets. Using undercover recordings,  Gilligan reveals the group’s ambitions to create a worldwide ‘Islamic social and political order,’ and the concerns of a mainstream party that they are being ‘infiltrated’; and talks to the Muslims who want to stop it.

In a separate report, International Crisis Group reports on how the danger from homegrown terrorist organisations in Bangladesh such as Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh is exacerbated by its links to other Bangladeshi and international jihadi groups and to members of the Bangladeshi diaspora in Britain. New information has revealed operational ties to LeT and to al-Muhajiroun, the groups whose members took part in the London underground bombings of July 2005

The programme has caused quite a stir in the Borough as you can imagine… Labour candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow (currently held by George Galloway’s comedy vehicle) Rushanara Ali, hit back at comments in the programme by neighbouring Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick, for ‘amplifying community tensions’. The ruckus is almost as vicious as the spat over proposals by the same Council for a series of sculptures on Brick Lane- there’s already the modern silver tower next to the Brick Lane Mosque, and now the proposed ‘hijab gates’ have residents up in arms – especially cuddly/rabid local Tracy Emin. 

Who needs satire when we have local politics? Well… along with ‘would be funny if it wasn’t true’ politics, we also now have  ‘could be true and is very funny’  political satire. If you have ever wondered what British Politics in the Neo Labour era was like from the inside, you must watch Armando Ianucci’s excellent ‘The Thick of It’ it is a comico- realist dissection of the way in which politics and politicians operate in 21st century Britain. Malcom Tucker – the policy enforcer / communications bully is terrifyingly funny as he fires off insults and combinations of expletives hitherto kept under wraps for exclusive use at 10 Downing Street (not for the faint hearted).

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8 04 2010
IFE vs. Andrew Gilligan and ‘Prevent’ « FiLo – The Fieldwork in London Network

[…] vs. Andrew Gilligan and ‘Prevent’ 8 04 2010 A few weeks ago I wrote about Andrew Gilligan’s programme for Channel 4’s Dispatches programme about the […]

20 04 2010
The general election in Tower Hamlets « FiLo – The Fieldwork in London Network

[…] 04 2010 The furore over politics in Tower Hamlets which I have discussed here in previous posts (here and here) is continuing into the general election campaign for the Bethnal Green and Bow […]

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