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Wednesday
Oct202010

In Her Own Words | Rabina Khan Speaks Of Her Labour Party Suspension

In Praise of Macaroons, Peace Treaties & Women Breaking Bread Together

When I wrote a new journal entry about world peace, macaroons, and breaking bread together on Sunday, I had no idea I would be communicating with Rabina Khan this morning.

Such is the nature of our digital lives as women. 

In leaving my beautiful New York apartment at Ground Zero, so saddened by the strife over the proposed mosque and the reality that the place will not be the rebirth of spiritual renewal I sought, I found myself reading Rabina’s words here in my new Philadelphia loft, four blocks from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Ours is a multi-cultural, multi-racial, working-class neighborhood dotted with luxury lofts like mine, renovations perhaps generating mixed feelings among long-time residents.

I must say that everyone has been just splendid to me here in Philadelphia, and I hope to change their suspicions about racy, blond, New York women.

A student at my age, I’ve come here to Philadelphia to understand what freedom and liberty actually meant to the founding fathers. I hate that term ‘founding fathers’ but reality is that women had no vote back then. No one asked us what we wanted in our new country, although Abigail Adams wrote plenty on the ‘women’s rights’ subject to her husband John Adams, our second American president.

Enter Rabina Khan’s Labour Party Suspension

Yesterday all heck broke loose around an article that I wrote about Rabina Khan a year ago: In Praise of Rabina Khan’s Desire for Dialogue Between Muslim and non-Muslim Women.

The controversy around the British Labour Party’s suspension of Rabina Khan and numerous other councillors and Labour Party officials for their support of Lutfur Rahman as mayor of Tower Hamlets is hardly front-page news, but it caught my attention.

As an intelligent, international woman, it’s news to me when Rabina Khan gets suspended from any group, given her credentials, background and writing to date. I first read Rabina’s words in The National, which isn’t exactly a militant newspaper.

Per the Telegraph UK, we used yesterday the word ‘expelled’ from the Labour Party, but Rabina says she’s ‘suspended’.  She is also eight-months pregnant, and we wish her and her baby only the best, during this controversy.

Because I do not have time to fully formulate an opinion on what is going on in Rabina Khan’s world, but have grave concerns about what’s going on in my own world here in America, I’m reprinting Rabina’s message to me verbatim.

I trust that what Rabina writes is true and accurate, and I am lending my name and editorial space so that her voice can be heard.

The political, religious complexities of our modern world are mind-boggling, and it’s my personal desire to foster dialogue between Muslim and non-Muslim women in hopes of our becoming more influential in keeping our world from coming unglued once and for all. Rabina has the same goal.

People are welcome to contradict her views or mine, as long as it is done in a respectful manner.

I can’t speak for Rabina Khan’s intentions; only my own. As I wrote on Sunday, I am no Pollyanna on the topic of terrorism or the role of a small group of Muslim women calling others to jihad.

Nevertheless, I am as frightened of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem as Muslim terrorists. They believe I am trash, too. And I know that many fundamentalist Christians are causing unbelievable strife in Africa and other regions — all in the name of God.

It could be Christian fundamentalist militia men who string me up here in Philadelphia, not Muslims. They all terrify me. Just this morning I was speaking to a friend about being under police protection for a year, aggressively hunted by a man determined to kill me for speaking my mind on women’s rights.

He succeeded in silencing me after our final confrontation, even though the stalking ended.

I chose not to run for public office, although I was by then being courted by Ed Koch’s Village Democrats; and I walked away from a career in journalism to pursue a less dangerous one in business. With all our global talk of freedom, rights and constitutions, women (and men) are silenced throughout the world, and here in America.

Within this context of thought, the remaining words of this post and statement come from Rabina Khan, whose website reflects an enormously talented, creative and introspective, thinking woman who deserves our attention.

Rabina Khan’s Statement

I believe that Ed Miliband will be a strong and committed Leader, staunch in working to keep the Labour Party together.  I would however like to comment on two paragraphs of our new Leader’s words.

Facing a new world with new challenges, we need to think again about how we can best serve the people we seek to represent. Labour’s new generation must be different – with different attitudes, different ideas, different ways of doing politics as we shape the centre-ground.

We must have the courage to admit the mistakes we made and to embrace fresh thinking if we are to win back people’s trust. Whether people are angry about the economy, lack opportunities or feel like they can’t get on in life – our party must be there for them.”

I am Cllr Rabina Khan and was elected on 6th May 2010 as a Labour Councillor for Shadwell Ward.  Shadwell was a Respect stronghold from 2006 until 2010. During which time the previous Council Leader Michael Keith fought and lost twice to Respect.  I also worked to campaign for MP Jim Fitzpatrick in Shadwell and targeted key Respect areas to ensure a Labour MP was elected in the Poplar and Limehouse constituency last May.

Personal background

I am a Writer and Creative Consultant by profession and have an office in Oxford House Community Centre.  I have worked for the BBC, ITV, delivered commissions for the Arts Council, London Metropolitan and many other organisations.  Much of my work has been underpinned by a sense of community cohesion. Having being brought up to believe in Labour values and to be committed to the party from childhood I have always supported the party as did my father.

Councillor and Experience of Labour Group

Since becoming an elected Councillor I have thoroughly enjoyed learning and being part of Local Government.  I have developed deep connections with people from all backgrounds in my ward and take pride in representing their concerns and issues.  I have also fostered positive partnerships with local leaders, faith leaders, women’s and young people’s groups and council officers.

Labour Mayoral Candidacy selection process

Since the 21st September 2010 when the NEC decided to de-select Cllr Lutfur Rahman as the Labour Mayoral Candidate and impose Cllr Helal Abbas in his place I have questioned whether there is true democracy in the Labour Party.

If Cllr Lutfur Rahman was elected by 433 votes through a process rigorously overseen by Regional Labour Officers why then is there a necessity for him to be de-selected?

I am also deeply disturbed with Cllrs Abbas and Turner’s behaviour as from the statements for it is obvious that they had written them six days before the 21st September 2010.  In Cllr Abbas’s statement the date is 16th September 2010, both councillors, in particular, the Leader sat through a Labour Group meeting knowing that they had submitted allegations against Cllr Lutufur Rahman. 

NEC and impact of their decision

I find the NEC’s behaviour to ignore Members votes in favour of two dossiers that contain no evidence or for the alleged person to have a fair say in favour of an imposed candidate disgraceful.

I understand that the NEC will not be investigating these allegations and I find the most baffling is that the imposed candidate is one of the councillors who brought about such allegations.

My ward residents and members are appalled by this decision and are requesting me to follow this up as they believe that the NEC has overturned their choice, the Members choice for unjust reasons. 

The NEC should be an example of good Party comradeship promoting Labour values for Tower Hamlets Labour Group meetings to follow.  But one can see that if such appalling acts of unjust decisions can be made at a higher level, then it allows the Tower Hamlets Labour Group the scope to behave with each other inappropriately. 

The decision of the 21st September 2010 is an example of acts from a higher level that ensue division, vicious scheming and deep hatred amongst councillors. 

 

False accusations and dossiers

Many years ago the Labour Government under Tony Blair’s Leadership went to war in Iraq using false dossiers that contained no evidence of weapons of destruction. Tony Blair went to war even though the British Public were against it. Even though there were very brave MPs who voted against this decision. 

On 21st September two dossiers were presented to the NEC against Cllr Lutfur Rahman and yes like Mr Blair it was accepted blindly by a certain number but not all of the NEC members influenced by various senior sources.

And influenced by Andrew Gillighan, a culprit journalist solely aimed at breaking the Labour Party unity

 

The Labour Party should be influenced by its members not journalists with their own breaking news agenda.  In the previous elections the Labour Party was torn to shreds by the media and we still continue to allow this to happen showing that we are led by the media and can not make the right decisions for ourselves.

The NEC thought fit to de-select a democratically elected candidate by the member’s choice for an imposed candidate who came third in the members vote destroying the very essence of free thought.  The same candidate who brought allegations against the democratically elected candidate but whose allegations will not be investigated.

Election parallels

It is strange that many people thought that David Miliband would win the Labour Leadership and yet it is his brother Ed Miliband who won the election.

We know David Miliband’s politics and we know Ed Miliband’s politics. And so do the members, they want a different kind of leadership that will listen to people and not be driven by dossiers, Tory driven journalists who drove Labour out of power in May 2010.

I remember under the Thatcher years no matter how much she cut and shredded Labour could not win at the polls because it could never manage to get its house in order, its values in order.

The Coalition Government is getting stronger not weaker but Labour will get weaker if it does not start listening to its members.  The Coalition Government does not fight but we do and the NEC decision of the 21st September 2010 has not let Labour come out smelling like roses.

That is why I find it too difficult to support the imposed Mayoral candidate Cllr Abbas but find it ethical to support the Members Choice candidate Lutfur Rahman who received 433 votes on 4th September 2010. 

Cllr Rabina Khan

Reader Comments (1)

"I remember under the Thatcher years no matter how much she cut and shredded Labour could not win at the polls because it could never manage to get its house in order, its values in order."

What exactly did the Thatcher regime cut and shred that did not need cutting and shredding? The taxpayer funded state machine (it pays councillors' and MPs' salaries and expenses and pensions) has grown and grown. Was it not just being cut down to a rational size?

October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMorena Thabo

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