Cllr Peter Golds is Leader of the Conservative Group on Tower Hamlets Council
On the eve of the Conservative party conference, Greater Manchester Police handled a crowd of 59,000 people attending the Manchester City versus Newcastle United Match. Next Saturday, an estimated 75,000 will be at Old Trafford as Manchester United play Everton. It is a matter of record that Greater Manchester Police have considerable experience of policing large and volatile crowds as other football stadiums in their area include, to name but three, Bolton, Oldham and Wigan.
Those of us who regularly attend football matches know that to spit, attack opponents and use racist language will quickly result in arrest and potentially a ban from attending future games.
Yet twenty four hours after this football match it was so different. A crowd little larger than that at the Etihad stadium besieged central Manchester and assaulted, physically and verbally those whom they politically opposed. Yet the police response, the very same force responsible for managing the crowds the previous day, was pathetic.
Why were masked thugs allowed to be within spitting distance of people going about their rightful business, attending the conference of the political party which forms the government of this country? How come a black woman was verbally abused as a racist for merely entering the conference?
Finally, why was nothing done when an anti-semite calls on an obvious Jew to “go to Auschwitz?”
This is similar to the inaction by the police following on from the Tower Hamlets election petition. A six week court case which laid bare in public view electoral fraud, bribery, forgery, intimidation and perjury, results in silence from the organisation supposedly in charge of enforcing the law. Perhaps not quite silence, as one of the leading Rahman councillors has told council officers here that he has been informed by the police that the “matter is closed.”
There were dubious practices, involving employees of a council organisation distributing Rabina Khan’s election address folded into an official newsletter during the June Mayoral by election. This was raised by residents and covered in several newspapers. The police response has been to speak to those identified as distributing the material, whilst assuring the public that the Met takes electoral fraud seriously.
Last summer, a defeated Tower Hamlets First candidate, who was a school governor and council nominee to a charity, posted on Facebook and also tweeted:
“Let me salute Hitler The Great – I would have killed all the Jews of the world, but I kept some to show the world why I killed them.”
When this became public I complained to the Met, the council and the school.
I met two officers of the Met, one of whom asked had I contravened any rules by looking, uninvited, at the Facebook profile of this man.
Eventually I received an email containing the following statement:
“I have spoken with my Detective Inspector and due to the nature of the alleged offence, he has suggested that Mr Miah be spoken to and given words of advice regarding his conduct on social media.”
The timing of the Hitler tweet coincided with Lutfur Rahman flying the Palestinian flag (upside down) from the Town Hall, which was followed by the appearance of a black flag with Arabic script at the entrance to a local estate.
Two journalists – Ted Jeory, then with the The Express and Rajeev Syhall, from The Guardian went to the estate and were subject to anti-semitic abuse, although neither is a Jew. Here is Ted Jeory’s account of what followed:
“Then one stared at me.
“Are you a Jew?” he asked.
I’m not. I have a large nose; I fitted his stereotype.
I glared back at him. “What if I were? Would that be a problem for you?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “F*** off Jew, you’re not welcome here.”
I looked at one or two of his mates. “Your friend wants to be a bit careful using language like that,” I said.
Another one, apparently more sensible, told him off. This older one then asked whether I was “the police”.
I asked him whether I looked like police. He said I did. I told him if I were, I’d probably be arresting his mate for what he just said.
“You wouldn’t have the balls, man,” he said. “The police don’t have the balls to arrest us.”
The police response to the above incident, in broad daylight involving two well known journalists is as bizarre as that to me. A statement was issued by the Met denying any anti-semitic incident.
Until recently I clung to the belief that the police are simply wary of entering what can be seen to be politics. A possible indication of this was the code name the West Midlands Police gave to their original enquiry into vote rigging in Birmingham: Operation Gripe.
My opinion began to change when a police officer held a press conference outside the former home of the late Sir Edward Heath. Then came the Harvey Proctor press conference and now the revelations that the police hounded the late Lord Brittan almost on his deathbed based on what can only be said to be hearsay evidence provided by the new deputy leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson MP.
Furthermore, this hearsay evidence could appear to be politically motivated as one source is a convicted fraudster and former hard left Labour councillor and another apparently attended hustings meetings during Tom Watson’s election campaign. Yet whilst unfounded allegations are pursued by the police at the behest of Tom Watson, there are still questions to be answered as to what exactly happened to vulnerable young people whilst in the care of Hackney, Islington Rochdale and Rotherham councils in the fairly recent past.
If Labour’s deputy leader is unwilling to look at these councils, and in each case there is extremely strong evidence as to the levels of abuse, where are the police? Tom Watson may not wish to see the police examine Labour-controlled local authorities, but if the police are more than willing to take instruction from him on baseless allegations, they should be looking at incidents where there are real and named victims.
My surprise arose this week when I discovered that a senior Met Officer, Commander Graham McNulty, involved in Operation Yewtree, who according to the Daily Mail, “was said to have appeared ‘very anxious’” on receipt of the Watson bombardment.
Commander McNulty is known to us in Tower Hamlets. He was also in charge of electoral malpractice and indeed wrote to me on 9th January 2014 saying:
“That is not to say that I do not acknowledge that there have been issues in the past, both in terms of electoral fraud and less than ideal communication from the police.”
Nothing changed in 2014 as the Tower Hamlets local elections became an international scandal and the scale of electoral fraud was exposed in Court over six weeks.
Yet Commander McNulty and his team are prepared to pursue innocent people on their deathbed at the behest of partisan allegations based on political hearsay from Tom Watson and continue to brush over electoral fraud, exposed in excruciating detail in the High Court in March and April of this year.
In addition, why are the police so reluctant to act on incidents of blatant anti-semitism?
Why, with all the experience of handling crowds in Manchester, were anarchists allowed to both physically and verbally assault people attending a legitimate event?
The public deserve answers to these questions.