Saturday, 30 January 2010

BNP to stand in Hackney Mayoral elections this year

According to this website - - the BNP is aiming to find a candidate to stand in Hackney's Mayoral elections 2010.

The site is not officially BNP. In its "about us" section it says: "We are an independent site for London nationalists. We fully support and will promote the British National Party as we believe it is the only serious vehicle for the advancement of British Nationalism. However, any opinions expressed in posts or comments are those of the authors and not necessarily that of the British National Party."

I couldn't find any mention of the plan to stand in Hackney on the BNP's main website and I don't know if the BNP often stand in Hackney elections either.

According to Londonpatriot, a BNP spokesperson said the party needed money and candidates.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Democracy problem in Stamford Hill?

Is there a pact between Jewish politicians in Stamford Hill not to stand against each other in elections?

Some Hackney politicians have commented on this - unfortunately most of it was off the record. One suggested that there may be a pact between the Lib Dems and the Conservative Jewish candidates not to stand against each other.

But this week Cllr Matthew Coggins, leader of the Hackney Conservative group denied this.

The evidence suggests that Orthodox Jewish candidates don't oppose each other, whichever political party they represent. If this due to a comfortable arrangement between politicians in opposing parties, it would be antidemocratic.

But the conspiracy theory - and its implications for democracy - is not the only explanation.

1. A religious principle?

One non-Jewish councillor said: "The main reason they won’t stand against each other is a reluctance to promote division within the community. They don’t want to encourage that.
At the same time they are not terribly interested in it. There are religious principles about not having these arguments publicly."

The same councillor claimed that there may be a scriptural justification for this avoidance of conflict. Asked if there was some specific text that dealt with this he said: "There is, yes, but I’m not entirely clear about what it is. But it is not a rule."

Ian Sharer, leader of the Lib Dems said there was no religious reason why candidates from the Jewish community couldn't stand against each other: "It is not a scriptural thing. The basic thing is that the Jewish community votes for Jewish councillors. They don't care which party you're in. They support you if you're Jewish."

2 Not enough candidates:

One councillor said: "Another reason why they aren’t standing against each other is that there aren’t people there who want the job."

He said that parties didn't have Jewish candidates queuing up and said that Labour had been looking for an OJ councillor for years before Joseph Stauber defected from the Lib Dems.

But Ian Sharer said that having more than one Jewish candidate in an election made it "confusing" and that these conflicts could get "nasty and a bit silly". But he didn't say there was a formal agreement not to stand against each other, adding that it had happened in the past.

3. Conspiracy:

That Jewish candidates agree not to split the Jewish vote and so do not stand against each other.

The evidence is simply that Jewish candidates very rarely stand against each other. I've been told - but haven't checked - that the last time Jewish candidates stood against each other was in the New River by election in 2005 when Harvey Odze (Conservative) and Mani Silver (Lib Dem) stood against each other.

But prior to that there is a long gap going back to Abraham Pinter - who became a Labour Councillor in the 80s/90s.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Telegraph's City Diary and Hackney South Lib dem candidate

Just in case some people in Hackney haven't read the Telegraph's City Diary column today. Apparently the Lib Dem candidate for Hackney South has an odd car. The Telegraph website refers to a photo of this car which I couldn't see.

The Telegraph writer said: "I can't imagine the car will endear him to the good people of Hackney, but what do I know? If there are enough estates agents living in the borough it might just work."

With a picture being 'worth a thousand words' and the Telegraph story coming in at 80, it's hard to know how seriously to take Dave Raval's car problem.

On his website Dave says: "The Lib Dems are in second place. But most people in Hackney don't vote. If more did Labour could easily be beaten."

However, according to the Guardian (found via Meg Hillier's seat has been Labour since 1974 (and was Labour from 1950 as Shoreditch and Finsbury in 1966 Sir Oswald Mosely was one of the candidates).

In the past, the more people who have voted in the constituency, the larger the Labour majority. In the last General Election (2005) Labour voters were upset by the Iraq war but Labour still won reasonably comfortably.

However, both previous Labour MPs of Hackney South and Shoreditch, Brian Sedgemore and Ronald Brown, defected to the Lib Dems while still holding the seat.

Other interesting info on Dave's site includes: "The Liberal Democrats recently surveyed 8,000 people in Hackney and 62% of the respondents said that our council wasn’t doing enough for the environment." What else did 8000 people in Hackney say?

Last year Dave moved to Amhurst Road from Walthamstow in an effort to get to know the borough. He points out that neither Meg Hillier or Diane Abbott live in the borough (Which is wrong - as per comment below, Diane has lived in Hackney for 22 year. I didn't know that either)

Link to recent Dave Raval Hackney event -

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Hackney Vs Trinity Mirror over Hackney Today

All of this is stolen from the Guardian and there's more there:

Last week Bailey attacked councils for producing "mini Pravdas" and yesterday branded an Audit Commission investigation that found little wrong with them as "a complete waste of time".

But councils suggested she was not acknowledging the financial benefits to Trinity Mirror of printing the papers.

"While local newspapers might not get the traditional advertising they once did from councils, the newspaper industry is benefiting in other ways, such as through print contracts with local authorities," said a spokeswoman for Hackney council.

"In Hackney we have an excellent working relationship with Trinity Mirror who print our council paper and who put a huge amount of effort into pitching for the contract.

"It seems odd, to say the least, that Sly Bailey so vocally opposes those publications which she is happy to print, and happy to bill us every month for."

Monday, 25 January 2010

Hackney Christians - money, power, demonic possession

The last two issues of Private Eye have noted high profile "squillionaires" backing the Dalston-based Christian Party. One is hedge fund manager Crispin Odey who paid himself £28m in 2008. He gave Reverend George Hargreaves' Christian Party £25,000.

The other is Sir Paul Judge - former Director General of the Conservative Party who now sits on the boards of several large companies - who has teamed up with the Christian Party to form the Popular Alliance

But pop producer turned politician Hargreaves, and his party, don't seem to be short of cash -

His Hackney-based operations seem to attract support: Between them, East London Christian Choir School and the Hephzibah Christian Centre on Beechwood Road showed £493,229 revenue in 2007 - the last time they were audited - (Accounts Hephizbah Christian Centre) - £310,000 of this was in donations received.

Back in 2004, the Daily Mail reported: "The song (So Macho) reached number two in 1985, sold over a million copies and still generates around £10,000 a month for the man who wrote it, the Rev George Hargreaves, a songwriter and promoter turned Christian."

Hargreaves' response to an atheist campaign of bus posters saying "There is no god" was a counter campaign of bus posters saying "There is a god" which couldn't have been cheap.

But does he have local support in Hackney? For example the Hackney and Walthamstow - based KICC - which apparently made £4.9m in 2008 and has a 12,000-strong congregation - Or Guardian version (2009) - Richer than St Pauls with headquarters in Waterden Road, Hackney. It's leader, Matthew Ashimolowo, seems to have supported another of Hargreaves' operations the CPA? (Christian People's Alliance).

And Hargreaves' views certainly set him apart from the majority of the borough's political figures who tend to be skeptical of religion - (Does your councillor believe in ghosts?)

A clash with Diane Abbott could be interesting. Her reaction to media hype about child exorcism and ritual murder was: Ban these witchcraft churches (not the original) she said: "Multiculturalism is one thing, but I draw the line at being asked to respect the views of people who believe in demonic possession." She said that "fringe churches", specifically African ones, were "a serious problem" in some London Boroughs - most notably Hackney.

I don't know how serious he was when he said it, but Hargreaves' seems to think the whole of Wales is cursed by Satan: According to the Western Mail, Hargreaves said: "Wales is the only country in history to have a red dragon on its national flag. This is the very symbol of the devil described in The Book of Revelation 12:3. This is nothing less than the sign of Satan, the devil, Lucifer that ancient serpent who deceived Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. No other nation has had this red dragon as its ruling symbol. Wales has been under demonic oppression and under many curses because of this unwise choice."

The Christian Party has yet to reply to an email asking whether it has any plans to battle for the soul of Hackney.

Psychology professor interprets Hackney politicians...
  • Do Hackney politicians believe in ghosts?
  • Religious charity anomaly in Tower Hamlets
  • Most Hackney charities are religious
  • Is the supernatural significant?

  • The Christian Party was last mentioned in Blood and Property when its founder, Reverend George Hargreaves, was (unfairly) accused of vote harvesting in Nigeria - by what appeared to be a BNP blogger. Hackney Christian politician in BNP 'mistake'.

    Friday, 22 January 2010

    Hackney: slowest employment recovery

    Hackney has the highest percentage of unemployment of all London boroughs despite making a slight recovery. The figures for December (published this month) show that 6.7% of the borough's 140,000 workforce are on Job Seeker's Allowance.

    The next worst borough is Tower Hamlets which has 6.5% claiming JSA. The gap between Hackney and Tower Hamlets widened in December.

    December (published in January) - 9743 (6.7%) - next highest was Tower Hamlets at 6.5%
    November (published in December) - 9,795 (6.8%) - next highest was Tower Hamlets at 6.7%

    In October Tower Hamlets and Hackney had equal highest percentage claiming JSA. But Hackney has been the slowest to recover.

    December: 9743 (6.7%) - next highest was Tower Hamlets at 6.5%
    November: 9,795 (6.8%) - next highest was Tower Hamlets at 6.7%
    October: 9,827 (6.8%) - equal highest with Tower Hamlets.
    September: 9,884 (7%)
    August 9,826 (6.9%)
    July: 9550 (6.7%)

    Divided into constituencies: - Diane Abbott (North) and Meg Hillier (South) -
    Meg Hillier Vs Diane Abbott on unemployment (I did ask where Diane got her figures but have had no reply)

    Hackney North
    May - 4,081
    June - 4,118
    July - 4206
    August - 4,331
    September - 4,338
    October - 4365
    November - 4386 (6.3%)
    December - 4331 (6.2%)

    Hackney South
    May - 5,296
    June - 5,190
    July - 5,344
    August - 5,495
    September - 5,546 (7.8%)
    October - 5,462
    November - 5,409 (7.5%)
    December - 5,412 (7.5%)

    BBC - Half of young black people unemployed
    Diane Abbott comments on this in the Guardian -

    Hackney's political ambassadors?

    Yesterday another blogger (Stephen Glenn) noted the busy schedule of Meg Hillier's surgery organiser. In a story titled "Serial applicant heading (or not) for Livingston" he said: "As even my brief research showed this is the fifth seat in recent months she (Adenike Rachel Abimbola-Akindele) has been mentioned as being on the shortlist for."

    Back in December she turned up in Thurrock hoping to replace Andrew Mackinlay - from the Thurrock Gazette

    In October Blood and Property mentioned Abimbola-Akindele after the North West Evening Mail mentioned her fight for a Labour candidacy in the North West (Barrow):

    She told the paper: “I have recruited many members since I became the chairperson of Queensbridge ward in Hackney.

    “I also hold the post of the surgeries manager at Meg Hilliers’ (MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch) surgeries assisting the senior caseworker.”

    A commentator on Labourhome was not a fan (comments section) and seemed to have done some similar research: "Adenike Rachel Abimbola-Akindele is a serial applicant who is putting her cv for most seats, she does not turn up at selections or go to the area but because she is a woman and BAME is always shortlisted. It’s a shame as it is blocking places for more worthwhile applicants who have worked the area for many weeks before nominations. Also, as can be seen in Barrow, she is being tactically nominated by some branches to ensure that their man (John Woodcock – Gordan’s Spad) faces less competition."

    I don't know if these criticisms are fair but similar complaints have been levelled at Nargis Khan, another ambassador for Hackney politics, who is up north somewhere (Wigan) after leaving confusion in Haggerston and being de-selected from Dalston.

    Tuesday, 19 January 2010

    Hackney booze chief: Cull off licences, ban super strength

    Councillor Alan Laing, Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods, architect of Hackney's alcohol-free zones, wants powers to cut down off licence 'saturation' in local areas and ban the sale of "super strength" drinks in Hackney.

    Writing in Progress Cllr Laing said: "What we want from the government, however, is to be able to tackle off licences and how they interact with other alcohol outlets and, as a key way of doing this, to consider the number of outlets in totality within an area. Local authorities should be able to limit their number and declare ‘saturation' in line with their own policy without the excessive restrictions that are currently placed upon them. This is the best way of determining the supply, regardless of type of premises."

    He said that he understood concerns that raising the price of alcohol would affect responsible drinkers but he said: "those concerns don't prevent the government demanding that the drinks industry define ‘super strength' products which could then be specifically prohibited from sale by local authorities."

    Councillor Laing's position may sound aggressive but the view of the borough's experts is that Hackney has a problem - at least with street drinkers - because it is more tolerant than its neighbours.

    In May Hackney's Drug and Alcohol Action Team said: "Street drinking is a problem and it appears that about 30% are coming from outside the borough. This is possibly due to less tolerant attitudes in neighbouring boroughs such as Islington & Camden. Many of these drinkers are housed. There is a need for a clearer message on street drinking in Hackney and a greater take up of ‘wet centre’ places such as that in Finsbury Park."

    The same report (Drug and Alcohol Action Team said) said DAAT would "determine whether the £95k spent on Alcohol Review was value for money" - but I couldn't find anything to say whether or not this question had been answered.

    Monday, 18 January 2010

    Clissold terrapins attack dogs

    According to the Independent (Look out abandoned terrapins about): "Of particular concern is the common snapping turtle, a powerful American species, which has a vicious bite and is known for its aggression. One of the creatures was captured in the trawl of Clissold Park in Stoke Newington, which netted 51 critters, while another was suspected of carrying out attacks on several dogs and a Canada goose in east London."

    Did Meg Hillier mislead parliament?

    That's the allegation being made by a story in Open Democracy called Roll calls, body searches and sex games.

    Clare Sambrook of End Child Detention Now, says that Meg Hillier's defence of child detention at Yarl's Wood perpetuated misrepresentations and created new ones:

    "When Home Office minister Meg Hillier, stood up in the House on Monday 14 December to defend the detention of children, she repeated one of Wood’s inaccuracies –

    "Let me point out that the report in question did not take into account the views of the clinicians who worked with those children and who know them."

    – and threw in one all of her own: "There are many pressures on children, and it is not clear that those pressures and problems arise merely from detention."

    The evidence is crystal clear. According to the peer-reviewed medical evidence, children experienced "a sudden deterioration in mental health due to the experience of detention rather than any pre-existing problems."

    "While the Government misrepresents the evidence, children’s suffering goes on."

    At least four children a week who are seeking asylum go missing from the care of local authorities, a BBC investigation has discovered.

    Sunday, 17 January 2010

    Al Sharpton visits Hackney Schools: a good idea?

    A press release from Operation Black Vote says Al Sharpton will be visiting schools in Hackney this week.

    Sharpton, civil rights activist and politician, is not seen by everyone as a positive or peaceful force.

    Some blame him for the deterioration of race relations in the US. In 1991 Sharpton said: "If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house" - that was in the run up to the bloody Crown Heights riots which pitted the black and Jewish communities against each other.

    All of this stuff resurfaced last year when right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal condemning Sharpton. Sharpton threatened to sue Limbaugh but the story is still on the WSJ website.

    In its press release OBV director Simon Woolley said that there was no greater figure to awake the “sleeping giant” of the Black vote than Sharpton.

    OBV also said Sharpton would hold a reception with Black MPs and church leaders, and visit schools in Hackney and Lewisham: "Sharpton’s trip is aimed at inspiring the UK’s Black communities to get involved in politics and make their voices heard ahead of the forthcoming general election."

    No one was in the Operation Black Vote (OBV) offices on Friday to say whether or not Sharpton's Hackney schools visit is still going ahead.

    Pagan ritual in Springfield Park

    Wassailing in Springfield Park, from Sousveillance (with picture):

    "A pre-Christian traditional ceremony held on the old 12th night of 17 January and stemming from an Anglo-Saxon pagan ritual of visiting your apple trees and leaving them libations of cider and cider soaked toast to encourage their fertility next year."

    Back in 2002 there were believed to be between 50,000 and 200,000 pagans in the UK - BBC

    Pesky pagans at work on horse manes: police investigate and an update on pagan cops

    Saturday, 16 January 2010

    Glamorous, hedonistic... vampires squatting in Hackney?

    In case you didn't believe that squatting in Hackney Wick was hedonistic, corrupt, glamorous:
    "Only ever leaving the house at night, their lifestyles lie somewhere between True blood and The Young ones."

    Hackney child protection cop reveals all

    The Guardian/Observer has published an extract from a book by a detective sergeant who worked in Hackney's child protection team until 2006. In the piece titled - How can a child be beaten to death and no one is jailed for murder - he describes the death of 19 month old Tyrell.

    "he had been taken off the child protection register six days before he was killed. Social services had seen Tyrell four times in the month before he died..."

    Hackney Council also gets unhappy mention for failing to be transparent about its social services:

    "After the Tyrell trial, Hackney council issued a statement: "The area child protection committee is concluding its investigation. Recommendations will be implemented by the respective agencies. Appropriate action will be taken as required if individual failings are identified." But the results of their investigation were never made public.It is precisely this sort of reaction that increases the public's antagonism towards social workers."

    However the piece is clear that these social workers often have their hands tied and are doing one of the toughest jobs with the least recognition.

    Friday, 15 January 2010

    Dalston daylight highstreet stabbing

    I cycled past a cordoned-off Kingsland Road - north of Dalston Junction - on the way home this evening. I was told it was a stabbing - this gives more detail:
    Apparently it happened at 3pm.


    According to the Times Educational Supplement City Academy in Homerton "has adopted some of the strictest and old-fashioned lunch rules".

    The story says: "As soon as the meal is served, the deputy head and the other members of staff raise their hands to indicate to the children that they should settle down and sit in silence. After announcements have been made, the children are encouraged to sit quietly for a few seconds, considering those less fortunate than themselves."

    Will parents half-jokingly see this as cult-like behaviour?

    Wednesday, 13 January 2010

    Hackney academies: too good to be...?

    A number of theories have been offered up to explain the success of Hackney in the latest GCSE league tables. The BBC suggests an influx of aspirational immigrants as well as high levels of graduates in the borough.

    This year Hackney is the most improved education authority in the country this year which might have something to do with 5 out of 12 secondary schools in the borough being listed as academies.

    Unlike other schools these are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act so no one has a right to know how the improved results of academies were achieved.

    So what? Well back in 2003 Tower Hamlets held the title of most improved education authority. At its most improved school every pupil had to take a science GNVQ which was the equivalent to 4 a-c GCSEs. As one of the borough's less 'successful' headteachers pointed out - most of those pupils credited with 5 A-C GCSEs had actually only taken one.

    Is something similar going on in Hackney? This report (The secrets of Academies' success) by Civitas suggests that it probably is.

    In its conclusion the report says: "Whilst the government has expressly asked us to judge Academies on their results, we are being expressly prevented from doing so."

    Civitas asked 118 academies to take part in its research, 40 responded, only 16 gave a breakdown of their results.

    The most worrying claim made by Civitas is that academies are not acting in the interest of their students when they decide which exams they will be taking but rather to bolster the overall grades of the institution.

    The Civitas report says: "To target Academies for potentially using weak vocational qualifications to bolster their results may seem unfair when this is also happening in other maintained – as well as private – schools. This is indeed a legitimate point, however: firstly, in the case of mainstream maintained schools there is no accompanying 'hype' about their rate of improvement. Academies by contrast are extolled as the 'vanguard' of school improvement and educational excellence. Furthermore, the aim, in theory at least, is for Academies to improve rather than diminish the life chances of their deprived targeted cohort."

    50% of people in Hackney North have degrees

    According to research carried out in October Hackney North and Stoke Newington has the highest density of people with degrees in the country... or something like that according to this BBC story: "Hackney North and Stoke Newington and in Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush, 50% of the population has a degree, making these two constituencies better educated than more affluent areas such as Winchester and Bath."

    Tuesday, 12 January 2010

    Nargis Khan - Wigan a la Haggerston?

    She was de-selected from Dalston and then controversially re-selected in Haggerston only to stand down - apparently from politics all together.

    But now Hackney Councillor Nargis Khan - Cabinet Member for Community Services - has resurfaced in Wigan amidst 'angry scenes' at a Labour Party selection battle.

    Six prospective Labour candidates were selected to take part in the contest to replace MP Neil Turner but a popular local candidate was squeezed out. The defeated candidate's supporters blamed a last minute venue change and selective crowd control.

    So conspiracy theories abound - as they did in Haggerston. That was where hard left Cllr Barry Buitekant was beaten by New Labour Cllr Khan in what the Conservatives claimed was a New Labour effort to save one of its own. Cllr Khan - who had been de-selected by the Dalston ward she will represent until the election - moved on Haggerston and allegedly benefited from a poor turnout of unsuspecting Buitekant supporters at the selection meeting.

    In Wigan six people were selected to take part in the contest including Cllr Nargis Khan.

    Wigan Today quoted one Labour Party member: "The meeting was moved from The Deanery High – which obviously has loads of room – to the Unite office, which doesn't.

    "Officials decided there was no more room and locked the doors before we were due to start, leaving supporters out in the cold.

    "When the result was announced people couldn't believe it. There was booing and people broke into a round of chants for 'McGurrin, McGurrin' before there was a mass walkout. It just wasn't right."

    Monday, 11 January 2010

    Police collusion claims in court: Seray-Wurie

    Dr Adu Aezick Seray-Wurie has claimed in court that his neighbours and the police colluded in order to bring criminal charges against him.

    Seray-Wurie was charged with criminal damage in September 2009 after writing on parking signs posted in the gated community where he lives - Gateway Mews in Hackney.

    Seray-Wurie pleaded not guilty to the charge despite admitting that he had written on the signs. He claimed that no damage had been done and that as a freeholder on the development he partially owns the signs.

    The case, which has already had two preliminary hearings, could take two days to hear when it next comes to court - a provisional date has been set for 3 June 2010.

    Initially the District Judge and the prosecution set aside two hours for the hearing but changed this to two days after Seray-Wurie demanded his right to cross examine witnesses.

    The prosecution counsel asked why Seray-Wurie wanted to cross-examine witnesses if he did not dispute their evidence - that he had written on the signs - and said that the trial would centre on legal issues surrounding ownership of the property.

    The Judge asked: "Do you accept that you wrote on the signs?"

    Seray-Wurie: "Yes I wrote on them but they are not signs, they are notices."

    The Judge said: "Your defence seems to rely on legal issues, not on a factual dispute."

    S-W: "There are factual disputes"

    Prosecution: "The defendant has the (witness) statement, is there anything in it which is not accepted?"

    S-W. "Many things."

    Prosecution: "If he agrees that it is him (who wrote on the signs), what is it in there that is not accepted?"

    S-W. "Many things."

    Judge: "What things?"

    S-W. "These statements have no date on them. There is collusion between the police and these witnesses. I should have an opportunity to cross examine them."

    Seray-Wurie also said: "No property was damaged. When this case comes to trial it will be exposed for what it is."

    "Gateway mews is private housing and what the prosecution is trying to do is use criminal procedures to solve a civil process." He also said that particular individuals were responsible for the action and claimed that some of it related to a quarrel dating back to 1997.

    At the hearing on Friday 8 January Seray-Wurie also called for the trial location to be moved claiming that he would not get a fair hearing at Stratford Magistrates Court. He based this claim on a dispute he had had with a District Judge at Thames Magistrates Court which led to a Judicial Review. This was in relation to an on-going civil case involving Hackney Council.

    At the hearing on Friday he told Stratford Magistrates court: "I have reason to believe that I will not be given a fair trial if the case is heard in Thames or Stratford." However the presiding Judge said that although Thames and Stratford were administratively linked, the legal staff were independent and refused the request.

    The case was adjourned and a provisional June 3rd date has been set for the trial.

    Saturday, 9 January 2010

    Hackney's religious 'vigilantes' have Conservative support

    This story in the Independent describes the Stamford Hill Orthodox Jewish community's private crime fighting force, the Shomrim Rescue Patrol, which has been operating for two years.

    Hackney's chief of police - borough commander Steve Bending - is not a fan of the organisation. Nor is his counterpart in Golders Green which has a similar organisation.

    However the story quotes Michael Levy, Conservative councillor for the Springfield ward: “The police are understandably nervous because it is a new organisation but they will soon pick it up and realise that the group is a benefit and can help to drive down crime. It is a valuable service and will be able to augment the police service.

    “The police encourage neighbourhoods to have a neighbourhood watch service and I cannot see a great deal of difference between that and this, apart from the fact that this is active rather than static. But that is a good thing because it will inevitably provide a great deal of intelligence for the police service.”

    With six out of nine Conservative councillors coming from the Orthodox Jewish community it is hard to know which policies come under the umbrella of Conservatism and which are related to the Jewish community. Does Cllr Levy's support mean that the Conservative party supports the establishment of religion-based security forces?

    And would this relaxed attitude to religion-based security forces be extended to the Muslim community?

    (Can this Wikipedia entry be correct? "Shomrim SHSRP is backed by the local rabbonim and councilors and community police liaisons and volunteers are on call 24hrs." The Independent story quotes Hackney borough commander Steve Bending: "Whilst I have a great amount of respect for the Orthodox Jewish Community within Hackney, I do not support the concept of any community having its own form of patrol service. There is a risk of other communities feeling intimidated by this course of action.")

    Thursday, 7 January 2010

    Hackney Gazette: Death knocks and dream jobs

    The Hackney Gazette is looking for a new Chief Reporter.


    Earlier this week the Guardian journalist Tim Dowling revealed that working for the Gazette was his dream job. His story on Monday described doing work experience on our local rag:

    "Have you ever done a death knock?"
    "No," I say, feeling the blood drain from my face. I want to go home already.
    Starbrook (editor) has a chat with reporter Victoria Huntley about an incident the previous week when a local man doused himself in petrol and set himself alight in front of his estranged wife and their two kids. He tells her to go out and find the family, and instructs me to go with her. It will be my first death knock...

    The Press Gazette noted the coincidence: "Tim Dowling you’re in luck – Hackney Gazette is looking for a chief reporter"

    1 in 5 disabled children from Orthodox Jewish community

    The Jewish Chronicle reports: "One in five disabled children in Hackney are from the strictly Orthodox community and there is a constant demand for respite care, where the child is cared for temporarily to help out the parents."

    "Out of the 141 approved foster families available in the borough, only three are from the Charedi community — just two per cent, despite 29 Charedi children assessed as requiring respite care."

    Wednesday, 6 January 2010

    The Mossbourne again cult joke

    Yesterday a story in the Guardian quoted Sir Michael Wilshaw, headteacher at Mossbourne, saying: "I have an evangelical zeal to do Christ's work on earth. I want to do the sorts of things Christ asked us to do: doing your best for children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds."

    According to the author of the article this, amongst other things, "leads some parents to compare the school, only half-jokingly, to a cult."

    This sounds a bit sinister but it looks like this "parents worried by cult" might have originated from Dave Hill's story on Mossbourne in September in which he said: "Sometimes parents joke that Mossbourne is like a cult: a self-contained society with its own weird rules and rituals."

    Joke... half joke?

    Education flagship, captain needed?

    This post appeared on Stroppyblog before Christmas. It publishes a letter, apparently from Diane Abbott, calling for a bright Hackney schoolboy to take up a scholarship at the school she sent her son to. "Dear Friend, I am writing to you about a full fee scholarship for the Sixth Form of City of London Boys School I have been asked to find applicants for this. City of London Boys School is one of the best boys schools in the UK. It has wonderful facilities and regularly comes near the top of the examination league tables. I can vouch for the school because I sent my own son there!"

    The blogger says: "Frankly, I am appalled that a supposedly socialist MP is promoting a fee-paying private school. She would be better off fighting for more funding, places and accountability for Hackney's state schools so that all the borough's boys and girls can benefit, rather than offering one youngster a leg-up into privilege."

    And she's not alone. Clearly people still get annoyed if education and Diane Abbott are mentioned in the same breath.

    In August 2009, Luke Akehurst's blog was the arena for Diane bashing: "Anonymous said... If Hackney's schools are so terrific these days, why does Dianne Abbott choose to pay £15k a year to send her kid to the City of London. Terrific but not terrific enough for her son."
    To which Luke Akehurst replied: "None of the academies were open when her son was 11 - though that doesn't excuse her decision."

    So, what does Diane think? Like everyone else she supports successful Mossbourne but in a 2006 NASUWT-sponsored paper (Academy schools: case unproven) she said: "The trouble with the academies is that, popular as they are and supportive as I am of Mossbourne, there is a danger that they take us back to that past. All the research shows that if you introduce an element of selection, working-class children will lose out. If you have a borough like Hackney and have four academies and four wonderful heads there will still be a residue of children and I know what those children will look like... We know what parent power means in London. In practice, it means giving power to small groups of white middle-class parents, or if not to capture by one ethnic group as opposed to another, the best organised. Actually, if you want to empower the breadth of the parent body in inner-city areas you have to look to the local education authority."

    Will she be on the invite list if Gordon drops in on Mossbourne?

    Five years to clear Hackney housing waiting list

    Figures from Shelter say it would take 5.78 years to clear the borough's waiting list. That's pretty good compared to 21.69 years in neighbouring Haringey, 8.38 in Islington, 24.12 in Newham and 10.12 in Tower Hamlets.