The 2016 London Elections. More Greens Please.

On May 5th this year, less than half of registered voters in London will vote in the GLA elections. For many commentators it is the opportunity to crucify the new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, or whitemail people into voting for Sadiq Khan. However, this election is more interesting than the two main contenders, the media game and business as usual. We could be politically creative for a change.

The London Mayor is responsible for a £150 million annual budget, and has fingers in a great many pies which shape our movement, living, breathing and working. Check out the London Elects site for the full regional democracy propaganda.  There will be a new mayor and 25 assembly members, 14  chosen on a constituency basis, and the others by a proportional-representation-based second vote system. Assembly membership is a great opportunity for up-and-coming politicians to get known, get stuff done and prove themselves. 

[May 5th is also a sad day, the third anniversary of the 2013 Dhaka Massacre, ordered by the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn's aunt, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.  ]

Sadiq Goldaway and the Politics of Life

I remember spending a few afternoons of my misspent youth plastering Tooting High Street with pro-Sadiq posters.  He does have a good chance of making it to City Hall,  London is 'naturally' a Labour kinda space and he has the keys to their machine. However, his opportunistic behaviour and the conditions around him do not permit many principles to survive for long, and the Islamophobia industry is likely to skewer him, and prompt him to skewer himself more and more as polling day draws nearer. It is going to be cringesome.  

Conservative candidate Zak Goldsmith used to edit the Ecologist magazine, and is the ex brother-in-law of Imran Khan. These two facts have an uncomfortably magnetic effect on my political affections, but there isn't much social justice about him, at least that is apparent. He'd block a third runway at Heathrow, and thats about it. He might just get in on big money, whiteness and Islamophobia alone. 

Fresh from losing his Bradford constituency to the Quilliam-busting Naz Shah, political entrepreneur George Galloway is also running. Watching him arrive at a Stop The War Coalition meeting last year, I felt that he had aged a lot since I first encountered him a decade and a half ago, and didn't seem as fearless as he used to. The savage beating he received from former BBC manager Neil Masterton in 2014 probably had a lot to do with that. Remembering Ken Livingstone's narrow misses in 2008 and 2012, it is hard to be pro Palestine in Britain these days, it does your career and your sanity no real favours.  But I guess in the scheme of things,  Galloway's strategic mistake was pissing off a lot of white feminists with his defence of Julian Assange against rape claims. 

GG is not the only figure in public life for whom a principled stand against the demolition of Iraq and Afghanistan has born some political fruit. What is  educative however, is how Jeremy Corbyn is able to combine an anti-imperialist standpoint with being great constituency MP, the butt of establishment derision and yet carry himself with impeccably middle-class manners. As Corbyn's star has risen, it would be easy to conclude that the Labour position in London would naturally get stronger, with Momentum and everything. However, Sadiq Khan has spend most of his time alienating this movement, and it would probably be fair to say that the Labour list reflected the pre-Corbyn era of vanilla careerists.

 Post Labour politics has a number of threads in the UK today, none of which are doing particularly well, but they could use a shot in the arm that is your vote and support. I think that the Green Party, for all the stupidity and blinkeredness of the Tower Hamlets Branch during last years coup, has the closest offering to Octarine, and the Politics of Life.

Drink The Green Potion 

Their Mayoral Candidate, Sian Berry along with Party leader Caroline Lucas, was a consistent supporter of the Free Talha Ahsan campaign, and has been building her campaign's profile in recent months. See articles by Dave Hill in the Guardian and Rosamun Urwin, Evening Standard

As mayor, she would support the London Renter's Union, which would voice, support and represent 2.3 million people living in that tenure. Housing in general is a strong point of policy platform,  from enabling community building and supporting community defence from estate demolition. Transport ideas are pretty visionary too, from a fairer system of Tube fares, turning TfL into a renewable energy producer and the plan to replace London City Airport with homes and businesses.

This last idea will irk a few people, but I am sure they will survive a longer taxi journey home or to work. I think it will go down well in the one party state of Newham. Dusting of my Dhaka hat for a moment, I have always dreamed of replacing the elite golf courses of Dhaka with beautiful social housing landscaping for the urban poor, because that is what smiles are made of, and thats what Bhashani would do.

Here's Ma Berry talking to The Artist Taxi Driver a few months ago, from this interview you can tell she has solidarity with the most marginalised and is a fair person with a hunger for justice and a sense of humour.


The ugly table above, pinched off an LSE blog, shows the state of play in 2012. Note the Greens slipping into third place just ahead of the Lib Dems. You only really need 1 million votes to win it, I don't see what the fuss is all about, you just need a turning-on and turning-out machine.  

It is worth reflecting on how the situation differs from  2012. It seems like another world, but its probably much the same.

The Olympic Bread and Circuses are over, nobody really knows much about any of the main vanilla contenders, Russell Brand made some videos and now everybody is at it, the Lib-dems were routed last year, there has been 4 more years of social cleansing,  the far right are on the rise, Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership campaign and survives, and this government's malevolence is being understood even better now that those nice junior doctors are protesting.

Historical London voting data can be found here. With linear growth goggles on there are a few boroughs where the Greens should pass 10% vote share, unless they've been Corbynated, and if campaigns are targeted, systematic and Labour beating they will do much better. 

Who are these people that I've never even heard of?

The Londonwide ad constituency candidates are is as follows. 
Last time around they got 2 London-wide assembly members, this time hopefully more.

London List

1. Sian Berry
2. Caroline Russell
3. Shahrar Ali
4. Jonathan Bartley
5. Noel Lynch
6. Rashid Nix
7. Dee Searle
8. Benali Hamdache
9. Andrea Carey Fuller
10. RoseMary Warrington

11. Peter Underwood

Barnet and CamdenStephen Taylor
Bexley and BromleyRoisin Robertson
Brent and HarrowJafar Hassan
City and EastRachel Collinson
Croydon and SuttonTracey Hague
Ealing and HillingdonMeena Hans
Enfield and HaringeyRonald Stewart
Greenwich and LewishamImogen Solly
Havering and RedbridgeLee Burkwood
Lambeth and SouthwarkRashid Nix
Merton and WandsworthEsther Obiri-Darko
North EastSamir Jeraj
South WestAndree Frieze
West CentralJennifer Nadel


Poor Poor Mahfuz what'cha gonna do?

Inequality of knowledge production, publishing and reception being what they are, there is an image being painted of Bangladeshi news baron Mahfuz Anam, father of author Tahmima Anam, as a liberal martyr. It is an image worth exploring.

Both father and daughter are influential media gatekeepers in the international sphere on Bangladesh, the former has edited Dhaka's English Daily Star for a number of years, and the latter written novels on Bangladesh.  In my opinion, they have blood on their fingers regarding the Dhaka Massacre of 2013 and bear some responsibility for the conditions of oppression afflicting the people of the country.

For example, Mahfuz Anam published critical disinformation for the government just days after it committed the worst massacre in Bangladesh's peacetime history, a massacre that people are still too cared to speak about in public in Bangladesh.  Continuing the family business Tahmima Anam's stoking of ultra nationalism and her defence of this Awami League government's rigged 2014 general elections are a matter of record, and UK establishment supported.

The hunter becoming the hunted

The one party state of Bangladesh has kicked up a fuss, and a truck load of cases, concerning a comment Mahfuz Anam made on a chat show admitting to printing a dubious secret service planted story about the present prime minister's corruption.

As my chosen example of the Dhaka Massacre shows, it is standard practice for the Daily Star news organisation. This is something which I say as someone who knows people who have worked there and admired the founding editor, S M Ali. As a powerful voice tuned to the outside ear, disinformation from the Daily Star hurts far more than others.

For calibration's sake, we can observe that Mir Quasem Ali and Mahmudur Rahman too are prominent media figures in Bangladesh, with important audiences in the non-secular liberal political space. They are under death-sentence-upon-kangaroo-court-trial and torture-upon-indefinite-detention-without-trial respectively. J

Just two examples of the inequality of violence and silence in Bangladesh