Friday, 28 May 2010

Pipe: too much fuss over white middle-class victims

Last week Jules Pipe was criticised for his comments about the London Fields Shooting. ("Despite this very worrying incident, hundreds of people were able to enjoy the event in London Fields safely and without interruption.”)

Criticism of his comments (Hackney Citizen) (and Hackney Hive) led to a revision in which he said he was "deeply concerned" by the incident.

But did he mean it?

On Friday May 28, nearly a week later, the Guardian claimed that Pipe: "suggested the shock and indignation at the shooting stemmed in part from the background of the victim, who is white." (According to the Hackney Gazette the victim is "of Lebanese origin")

Pipe's actual quote was: "You can almost grade the coverage and shock that society gives to these events," he said. "If a victim was a white, middle-class passer-by, it is when it would be on the front page of a tabloid."

Will Hackney residents get the impression (again) that the Mayor's balanced views are based on not caring about black or white victims in equal measure?

Also could his observation about unbalanced "coverage" in favour of white people be just as easily aimed at his own Hackney Labour group? At a glance 38 out of his 50 Labour councillors appear to be white with British sounding names ranging from Akehurst - Webb meaning 76% of the Hackney Labour group is White British when it should be nearer 48%.

Hackney Council's Key Facts and Figures says that 61.8% of Hackney residents are various versions of white. But, in a small note at the bottom, it says that white categories include Stamford Hill's ultra-orthodox Jewish Community (7%) and the Turkish Community (6%) which, between them, make up 13% of the borough's population (this estimate is higher still in the Council's 2008 study: Estimating and Profiling the Population of Hackney ). That means, to be representative of the borough, the Hackney Labour Group should be around 48% white British. Judging by the names and appearance of councillors (a dangerous thing to do), it looks as if the Hackney Labour group is 76% white British... that's not including the white Mayor.

Diane: Hackney like pit village facing mine closures

Writing in the Mirror Diane Abbott said: "The front-runners in the Labour leadership race all assume that, sooner or later, we have to have big cuts in public expenditure to fill the hole in the public balance sheet.

"But as an MP from the inner city, I know that these cuts will hit my people twice. Firstly, they will have a worse service, but secondly they will lose their jobs. I live in an area where 90 per cent of people work in the public sector.... Just as closing the mines devastated many pit villages, big cuts in the public sector could devastate some inner-city areas."

In yesterday's Hackney Gazette, Mayor Jules Pipe, listed his Labour administration's achievements (London Fields Lido, Clapton Library etc...) then said: "We have been able to achieve this through sound financial management and it is this sound management which means we are in a better position than many to weather the inevitable storms ahead, protecting services that matter to people."

Can they both be right?


Meanwhile Meg Hillier maintains her usual low profile. The Aberdeen Press and Journal describes her as "Labour home affairs spokesman" but her role in the opposition will probably be related to who she supports in the Labour leadership contest and whether they win. In one of the few post election news stories about her, she appeared to have burnt a couple of bridges.

The Times reported: "Meg Hillier, MP for Hackney South, said sadly: “It looks like it’s becoming a beauty contest of young men in their forties in smart suits.”"

But it's worth noting that the it was the Times that added "sadly" without which it appears to be a judgement-free observation.

Before the election, she told Blood and Property: "Were the Conservatives to get in they would be bored of the word Hackney because I’d be bringing it up so often. I’d be looking endlessly at the Parliamentary end of things, looking at the detail of everything going through, every funding formula, any slight amendment or tweak that could benefit Hackney. Whether or not we could ever change it is another question but we would have to be ever vigilant."

Will she be able to do this properly and hold a major role in the opposition? Especially if she's not able to employ the staff that she needs to run her constituency (Guardian).

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Cops turn to blogosphere/Diane favourite

The Daily Mail says: "Left-wing firebrand Diane Abbott has sensationally topped the first major opinion poll since her shock entrance into the Labour leadership race." However the best odds you can get on Diane winning are 25 to 1 and she's still fifth behind Ed Balls, the Milibands, and Andy Burnham, according to Paddy Power and the odds are even wider at other bookmakers, according to
Tottenham MP David Lamy said he had nominated her yesterday but his nomination has yet to be registered on the Labour Party website.


The police sent out a statement earlier today (Tuesday) calling for witnesses after the London Fields shooting. No doubt it went to lots of media organisations (Hackney Hive published it hours ago) but it is the first statement the police have ever sent to Blood and Property unprompted. Could the inclusion of Hackney bloggers in police witness appeals be due to the online response to stories on Hackney Hive (29 comments) and Hackney Citizen (32 comments) following the incident - many of the posts by people who were clearly witnesses?

DS Steve Desmond from Trident said: "We need to hear from witnesses who may have seen people armed with weapons. Anyone with information are asked to call Crimestoppers anonymously 0800 555 111.

Sun attacks Diane for Mandela tribute payment

The Sun Newspaper says that Diane Abbott "charged" £300 to speak in an ITV obituary for Nelson Mandela. The cash was mentioned in the official register but Mandela's name wasn't. Not the crime of the century (No doubt the Sun will sell more papers and ITV will win more viewers when Mandela dies) but could affect her bid to win enough votes from Labour MPs to take part in the Labour leadership contest. Also her credibility amongst black (or any of her) constituents might be damaged.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Correction re £2 bullets and surge in blogosphere

A recent Blood and Property post called "£2 bullets and conspiracy theories: Hackney's worst enemies this summer" said "Are the police selling guns and drugs in Hackney? A significant chunk of Hackney residents appear to believe this." This has now been corrected to "a minority of Hackney residents" after it was pointed out that the original was misleading.

Also, it may not have been clear that the issues discussed were raised by the audience and were not the views of Black Parent Community Forum which runs these monthly meetings. It was pointed out that Blood and Property coverage wasn't particularly helpful - so apologies. It was an impressive and friendly event (with the head of London's armed police fielding any questions thrown at him) and I'd recommend anyone going to the next one - I don't think it's been decided yet who the guest will be.

OTHER NEWS: The role of the blogosphere in Hackney seems to be growing as websites provide a platform for unprecedented numbers of comments in the wake of the London Fields shooting.

Criticism of Mayor Pipe's immediate comments (Hackney Citizen) and Hackney Hive appears to have led to him making some new ones.

Middle class guilt/angst debate(Hackney Citizen) and here for criticism of middle class angst debate (

The Hackney Gazette also has a statement from Hackney's borough commander on the event.

Has Oona King dashed Diane's real hope?

Today Oona King announced that she would fight Ken Livingstone for selection as Labour's London mayoral candidate. Was this post the real target of Diane Abbott - she hinted as much to the Independent before the election?

Is this rivalry between the Labour Party's two most prominent black women or has there been an agreement? May be their relationship has improved since 1997 (from the Independent in 1997): "There is also, it is said, a "history" between her and the first black woman to be an MP, Diane Abbott, about whether or not Ms King tried to take Ms Abbott's seat in the neighbouring constituency, Hackney North. A Labour Party source described the relations between the two as "at best an armed neutrality".

There was some mention of Diane in Oona King's autobiography "House Music" but I can't remember if it was happy or not.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

£2 bullets and conspiracy theories: Hackney's worst enemies this summer?

Below are some of the issues discussed at a meeting between Hackney residents and Chief Superintendent Bill Tillbrook - head of London's armed police CO19 - organised by Black Parent Community Forum.

The meeting was held between 2-4pm on Saturday 22 May at the Adeline Centre on Belsham Street and was punctuated, at about 3.3opm, by the departure of the Hackney Gazette's chief reporter to cover the shooting on London Fields.

The aim of the meeting was for the CO19 chief to tell Hackney residents what his unit does. Tillbrook said that the 700-strong unit's most impressive statistic is rarely mentioned: that it is called out between 12-13,000 times per year but the average number of times that any weapon is fired is just 2 per year. But a number of more general issues were also discussed:

Has the shortage of bullets - seen as a major curb on gun violence in Hackney - come to an end? Homemade bullets are not uncommon due to the shortage. On April 22 Hackney Borough commander, Steve Bending told the Gazette: "Most firearms are converted, blank-firing guns and most of the ammunition is home made... they are inaccurate weapons with poor ammunition."

Rev Joyce Daley, the meeting organiser, said she had heard that bullets may now be for sale in Hackney for £2 each. (Telegraph piece: “There would be a lot more murders,” says Professor John Pitts, who has studied the phenomenon extensively, “were it not for one factor: the difficulty in obtaining bullets.”)

Are the police selling guns and drugs in Hackney? A minority of Hackney residents appear to believe this. So powerful is this belief that Hackney police has apparently agreed to publicly display 2.5 tonnes of recovered and destroyed weapons.

During the meeting Chief Superintendent Bill Tillbrook pointed out that police corruption had been one of the main areas of concern at a meeting in November - the last time he took part in a Black Parents Forum meeting. He said that some people believed the police had killed people but that these incidents were never reported: "This tells me what a huge gap there is between what's going on and what people believe is going on. For someone in London, in 2010, to think we can shoot someone in the street and it wouldn't get reported... there's an information gap."

Other items discussed during and after the meeting:

Information and educational material about the dangers of gun crime need to be aimed much more at primary schools.

Kids being stopped several times a day on some estates need to be made aware that this will not be the result of random borough-wide powers but will be due to a specific incident or piece of intelligence about the area that they live in (Section 60) (These have been issued almost every week for several months in Hackney.)

The culture of silence surrounding these crimes may be related to what goes on in prison as well as what happens on the streets of Hackney.

The media needs to be more accountable for glorifying gun culture.

Chickenshed theatre group's "Crime of the Century" will be showing at St John's Church, Lower Clapton Road on Saturday June 5, 5pm-7pm, dedicated to Shaquille Smith who was stabbed to death in London Fields in August 2008. For tickets, 020 8292 9222

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Sorry, Diane Abbott 20-1, fifth behind Ed Balls

Last night's post said 100-1 for Diane Abbott to be leader of Labour Party. That's now changed to 20-1 since announcing that she'll actually be taking part in the race.

According to Paddy Power she's now fifth behind Ed Balls who lives in Hackney.

Before the election she let it slip to the Independent that she was thinking of running for Mayor of London - discussed here.

Who was she talking to (apart from Operation Black Vote) about her leadership bid? Meg Hillier? Not long ago Meg told the Times: "It looks like it’s becoming a beauty contest of young men in their forties in smart suits.” Or another Hackney resident and Times political columnist and sometime critic of Hackney council's anti middle-class stance on sure start centres, Rachel Sylvester: "It says something about the Labour gene pool that all the serious candidates for the leadership are white Oxbridge-educated men in their forties who were special advisers in 1997. They are, as John McDonnell — the leftwinger who is standing but won’t win — put it “the sons of Blair and sons of Brown.”

Clearly it wasn't black commentator Lester Holloway, (Wikipedia profile) and (apparently editor of OBV's blog) who said in his own blog yesterday(about the OBV piece): "I hazard a guess this is not a serious suggestion but merely a means of promoting the need for black politicians and women at the highest level in politics. If so, it may be better to stick to the arguments rather than personalising the issue around one occasionally divisive personality. The fact is, Britain does not have an Obama yet."

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Tony Blair catches Diane Abbott in leadership stakes

After a pre-election suggestion that Diane Abbott could fight to be the next Mayor of London now Operation Black Vote (who brought Al Sharpton to Hackney Schools) think Diane should lead the Labour Party.

Back in January Political Betting said bookmakers were giving Diane an 80 to 1 chance, just ahead of Tony Blair. Now Paddy Power has her at 100 to 1 and joint 18th-in-line alongside Tony Blair and John Hutton.

Another Hackney council mention in Private Eye

Lee, Lea, Leela O'Dea and morbid geography

New reed beds are being installed on the banks of the River Lee, according to Waterscape. But if you read the Gazette reed beds are being installed on the banks of the Lea (and the Lee) - Both quote Leela O'Dea who sounds like she might know the difference (I don't).

Waterscape says: "Improving the ecological value of these waterways, whilst maintaining their character and use is an important part of the WFD"

Hopefully it's not unfair to say that Hackney's waterways have slightly sinister characteristics (the kind of place you might meet a borrible). If anyone is offended, this bit from Luke Jenning's book Blood Knots, turns sinister into a virtue: "The best big pike waters have a numinous, forbidding air. Cold, reed-fringed East Anglian meres. Desolate Irish loughs. Dark, secretive waters "as deep as England", as Ted Hughes puts it. You feel that you're trespassing, that you're violating some natural law just by being there. Certain stretches of London waterways, like the Regent's Canal and the River Lea, fall into this category."

"These silent conduits barely figure in most local people's lives. As the years have passed they've become invisible, walled off from residential areas and the footpaths of commerce as if they present a danger. And perhaps they do: what could be more fatal to the garishly hyped-up business of consumption than, like a memento mori, a sudden glimpse of black water, sliding past as silent as the Styx? I will be here when your lifestyle accessories are landfill, such a vision promises. I will be here when the music ends.

"Hidden from the public gaze, transfigured by changing circumstance, London's waterways have been absorbed into an alternate, morbid geography. At night, with their dank concrete and rusting ironwork, they're the domain of fly-tippers, graffiti taggers (lots of proof here), drug dealers, pimps and drunks. If you're fishing there, you have to watch yourself. Even so, it's worth it."

Monday, 17 May 2010

Blog across the border, some law stuff and a new weapon in Hackney

If you like your politics raw and dripping with blood then you'll enjoy the world of Tower Hamlets council as portrayed in Ted Jeory's new blog Trial by Jeory. Find out here why Hackney residents have a few things to be grateful for.

But, in Hackney, how are things settling down after the election?

Disappointingly in the legal department. Bambos Charalambous, in-house lawyer for Hackney Council was the unsuccessful Labour ­party candidate for Enfield Southgate (he lost to the Conservatives - 14,302 votes to 21,928). According to the Lawyer: "He was one of those who experienced the deflation of returning to the day job on Monday morning."

But, as the Lawyer explains, Bambos will still have his political hands full for a while to come: "For Charalambous, the night was one of mixed fortunes due to his local Labour group winning back Enfield Council from the Tories after eight years in opposition. The result means Charalambous has become acting leader of the council until the party can find someone with a less demanding day job."

A relief considering the problems facing Hackney's understaffed legal team. Hopefully his time in the legal department will be spent doing something useful... (possibly not pursuing a local community newspaper, as suggested in a comment at the bottom of this piece in the Citizen)

No doubt he'll be getting the same flexi-time deal as all those Conservative council leaders working in Hackney Council.

A new weapon used by Hackney kids: If you can make it past the claim that the whole of "Hackney has become known as murder mile" you'll find there's a new weapon on our streets. An interviewee told the Daily Star: "Beware if you see a big group all on crutches - they're the new weapon of choice."

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Hackney North unemployment up 10% in a month?

According to the latest Office of National Statistic figures, the number of Job Seekers Allowance claimants in Hackney North has risen from 4336 to 4727.

That's an increase of 391 jobseekers in one month or nearly 10%. This looked like a typo but it appears to be the result of constituency boundary changes. If so, then Hackney North has swallowed a large chunk of Hackney South's unemployment problem.

Could this encourage Hackney North MP Diane Abbott to take a deeper look at the unemployment problem in the borough? Meg Hillier Vs Diane Abbott on unemployment (I did ask where Diane got her figures but have had no reply)

Meanwhile, despite a fall in the number of JSA claimants, Hackney is still the London borough with the highest proportion of its working-age population claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), ahead of Tower Hamlets.

Other employment figures were also published this month which showed that the proportion of Hackney's working age population registered as 'economically inactive' has remained level at 24%.

Last month (Regional Monthly Data - April 2010) the Office of National Statistics reported a nationwide decrease in employment levels and an increase in economic inactivity (highest since 2004). Also the number of people unemployed for more than 12 months also rose and is at its highest level since 1997. The figures do not break down these changes to local authorities or constituencies so it is not clear how this may have affected Hackney's economic inactivity levels.

Levels of long-term unemployment in Hackney fell from 47,100 in 2005 to 26,900 in 2007 - a much faster rate than neighbouring boroughs. The reasons for this large drop in economic inactivity remains unexplained (Worklessness miracle) and a related issue: 42% of Hackney households on benefits

Hackney JSA claimant count:

April: 9,663 (6.7%) - next highest is Tower Hamlets with 6.5%
March: 9,846 (6.8%) - next highest is Tower Hamlets with 6.6%
February: 10,044 (7%) - next highest is Tower Hamlets with 6.7%
January: 9,905 (6.9%) - next highest is Tower Hamlets at 6.6%
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) -

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%)
January - 4,402 (6.3%)
February - 4,450 (6.4%)
March - 4,336 (6.2%)
April - 4,727 (6.3%)

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%)
January - 5503 (7.6%)
February - 5,594 (7.7%)
March - 5,510 (7.6%)
April - 4,908 (7.1%)

Hackney unemployment deteriorates fastest
Minister: Hackney unemployment nothing to complain about.

Hackney PR disaster

One of the less terrifying entries on this spiky conversation about law on Stokey Talk provided a link to Private Eye's defence of the Hackney Citizen.

If you have a look you'll notice that Private Eye has published the conversations that Hackney Council is trying to censor - an issue which is discussed in

What is Private Eye's circulation? About 250,000? Is this what Hackney Council might call a PR disaster?

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Meg Hillier: Zero tolerance of Lib Dems

There's not much in this piece from the Times other than: "Harriet Harman, acting party leader, later convened a meeting of Labour MPs where anger was voiced towards the Tories’ new partners in government. Meg Hillier, a former Home Office minister, demanded that Labour abandon co-operation deals with the Lib Dems on local councils."

Both of Meg's Labour MP predecessors in Hackney South defected to the liberals... "Oddly enough two Labour MPs for Hackney South in a row have defected to the centre party. Ron Brown, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch from 1974-1983 defected to the SDP in 1981, when he was defeated by Labour`s Brian Sedgemore. Sedgemore in turn defected to the Liberal Democrats shortly before 2005 when he stood down from Parliament. In the 1990s the Liberal Democrats enjoyed success at a local level here, but it never translated into Parliamentary strength and following a difficult period of Liberal Democrat-Conservative control of Hackney council they largely collapsed, leaving every council seat in this ward in the hands of Labour."

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

A tale of two Labour Parties? Conservative implosion


Hackney Labour Councillors now outnumber opposition councillors by more than 6 to 1. The number of opposition councillors has fallen from 12 to 7 while the number of Labour Councillors has risen from 45 to 50.

Labour's gains were achieved without fielding any ultra-orthodox Jewish candidates - an impressive feat considering the size and political clout of this community in Hackney. In addition, Jules Pipe and his Labour group appear to specifically avoid making deals with ethnic/religious groups.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Haringey, Labour councillors staved-off the threat of a Conservative breakthrough by pushing through planning concessions that will help large families - a demand that has been made by the ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Hackney, with the support of the Conservative group - but which was refused by Hackney Council.

The reason for the deal making in Haringey appears to have been the by-election in the Seven Sisters ward last year when the Conservatives fielded an ultra-orthodox Jewish candidate who lost by just 64 votes.

But the planning deal may have been unnecessary. Last week's elections saw a massive turn out for Labour in Seven Sisters with all its candidates more than 1000 votes ahead of the Conservatives - including the same ultra-orthodox Jewish candidate who nearly won last year.


Before the elections Rabbi Abraham Pinter told Blood and Property that the Seven Sisters ward in Haringey would prove or disprove claims that ultra-orthodox Jews will only vote for candidates from within their community. The claim was made by Jewish historian Geoffrey Alderman and the leader of Hackney's Lib Dem Group, Ian Sharer.

However it is unclear whether Pinter or Alderman and Sharer have been proved correct by the election result. The huge London-wide turnout for the Labour Party swamped local subtleties.
But, whether it needed to or not, it appears that the Haringey Labour Party specifically sought the support of the ultra-orthodox Jewish community and it did so by offering planning concessions. This seems to be exactly the kind of deal making that Hackney council avoids and the last election seems to have put Hackney Council in a stronger position to resist the race-based politics that Geoffrey Alderman believes will eventually take over. (Stop worrying and learn to love race politics)


The Hackney Conservative Group has been reduced from 9 to 4. There are no longer any Green Councillors. However the Lib Dems gained one seat - Abraham Jacobson - who replaced Joseph Stauber (a Lib Dem who defected to Labour). (ALSO, A CORRECTION IS REQUIRED IN RELATION TO Cllr Jacobson, I referred to him as an ultra-orthodox Jew but he is modern orthodox. He left a comment at the end of this post.) The Lib Dems now have three seats.

The Conservative group's most obvious problem was in the Lordship ward where the party lost two of the three seats it held.

Ultra orthodox Jewish councillor Bernard Aussenberg was the only Conservative who held his seat in the ward, doing so with 1,401 votes. The other seats were taken by Labour candidates Edward Brown - took the most votes with 1,827 - and Daniel Stevens who took 1,378.

This left the leader of the Hackney Conservative Group, Matthew Coggins, in fourth place with 1,261 votes, too few to regain his seat.

The other Conservative seat in the ward that had belonged to another ultra orthodox Jewish councillor - Simon Tesler. But Tesler was deselected by Lordship Conservatives. His replacement, Alexander Ellis, failed to win enough votes.

There was some kind of dispute over Tesler's deselection which was intensified when Tesler stood as an independent. Coggins told the Jewish Chronicle: "Mr Tesler was deselected not because of the time he spent representing the strictly Orthodox community but because of his lack of attendance at council meetings. "

The cost of this dispute may have been at least one seat. Coggins won 1,261 votes and Ellis 1,079.

They were beaten by Labour's Daniel Stevens who took 1,378 votes.

Simon Tesler won 467 votes.

Although 118 votes is pretty clear margin at this level, Coggins will probably wonder what would have happened if the disgruntled Simon Tesler had not decided to stand as an independent.

Who stood,
Who was elected
Hackney councillors

Monday, 10 May 2010

Is Jules Pipe behind legal feud with "lying little rag"?

The Hackney Citizen's decision not to buckle to Hackney Council's legal threats over a telephone conversation posted on its website has been reported by

Hackney Council told that it was concerned about how the recording was made. Hackney Citizen replied: "We take the view that it is in the public interest to disclose the way the Council was dealing with the issue, as evidenced by the audio clips."

The last time the Citizen clashed with the council was when it reported an alleged £40m hole in the council's budget. This, combined with Lib Dem criticism of Hackney Today (the council's free newspaper) prompted Mayor Jules Pipe to publicly attack the Hackney Citizen in a full council meeting in which he called it a "lying little rag".

Could Pipe's wrath have had anything to do with the Citizen's apparent alliance with Pipe's mayoral rival, Andrew Boff? Keith Magnum, founder and editor of Hackney Citizen - and former Green Party candidate - told Blood and Property that this appearance was just a coincidence: Hackney Citizen: Boff-tastic or intelligence wing of the Green Party?

A very short Hackney crime story

Beginning: Yesterday my bike was stolen on Shoreditch High Street despite being locked, with a £70 lock, to a lamp post on a busy pavement next to St Leonard's church. The bike and the lock had both gone.

Middle: The old bike was resurrected this morning and, as I arrived at the bike shop on Chatsworth Road/Brooksby Walk, to get it checked over, so did about 20 cops. Apparently a Loomis security man was robbed on the other side of the street while filling the cash machine. By-standers said it took about 15 minutes for the cops to get there.

End: When I reported the bike theft I was told that iPhones are now the number one items being stolen on the streets of Hackney.

The moral: Should we be bracing ourselves for a busy criminal summer?

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Are Hackney unions ready for the last stand?

The Governor of the Bank of England believes "whoever wins this election will be out of power for a whole generation because of how tough the fiscal austerity will have to be".

So Hackney's next generation of politicians will probably face an elongated economic disaster and the mounting hatred of council employees and everyone else in the borough.

But when the cuts come will they be properly scrutinised? That could depend on the state of Unison and whether the "witchunt" of four London reps - including Brian Debus - trade union activist, Hackney Unison Branch Chair is as serious as some reports make out? The four even won the support of the Daily Mail. But will the dispute, at a critical time, result in regular members suffering?


I know that the Mayor of Hackney will have a bigger impact on my everyday life than my MP. But the reason I aim to change the habit of a life time and vote for the first time is the existence of Denny De La Haye's direct digital democracy campaign.

De La Haye has killed-off some of my usual excuses for not voting and if I don't vote for someone this time I'll have to accept it's because I'm lazy.

I wish I'd asked other candidates if they'd adopt his technology if he doesn't win.

In this Blood and Property interview he was asked: Would you set up your system anyway and make it available to whoever does become MP - if it's not you?

Denny de la Haye: Yes, absolutely. I intend to continue setting up the system and make it available to every MP and PPC in the country. The difference is that I (and perhaps some other independents, over time) will agree to be bound by the polls - whereas any party MP is ultimately bound by their party whip.

Any way, the decision that I will vote is as far as I've got. I'll probably vote for Denny but I'm not sure it's a good idea (As Dave Hill points out on his Clapton Pond blog: "The temptation to vote for anyone who's shaking things up a bit is rather large.")

In fact it feels irresponsible to be voting on things I don't know about, with just a few hours to go. Does that bring me back to square one and not voting? I don't think so.

Judge: Don't trust the cops on election fraud

In 2005 Judge Richard Mawrey voided the elections of six Muslim Asian councillors in Birmingham. He didn't have any faith in the ability of the police to deal with electoral fraud.

In his judgement Mawrey said:

147. Quite apart from the lack of training, there is a marked reluctance on the part of the police to involve themselves in electoral matters. If they are presented by somebody else with hard evidence of fraud, they will investigate but they tend not to go out of their way to look for it.

148. This is not helped by the invidious position in which a police force is put when investigating electoral fraud in a local authority context. The alleged fraudsters may, after all, be members of the political authority to which the force is answerable. The noble cop who fights corruption at City Hall at risk of his career may well be a staple of Hollywood movies but he is much rarer in real life.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Christian Party flashes cash

Until recently Hackney's billboards were Conservative Party territory. But below is a giant poster on Lower Clapton Road proclaiming Hackney South's Christian Party candidate, John Williams. According to the BBC the Christian Party launched its poster campaign three days ago.

This story mentions that the Christian Party raised over £100,000 in 2010 - small fry compared to many other parties. However it seems to have been attracting cash from all quarters. "Hackney Christians: Money, power, demonic possession"

Rev George Hargreaves, the founder of the Hackney-based Christian Party, has caused controversy with his campaign in a Barking and Dagenham campaign, while his wife, Maxine, is taking on Diane Abbott in Hackney North: God on her side

Other news:

If you haven't seen it yet, take a look at Hackney Citizen's story on Hackney Council saying there is no Conservative Mayoral Candidate.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Is Diane on the ropes? "Black people will kick themselves"

Diane Abbott told the Voice that it is her middle class constituents who are talking about voting Lib Dem.

The Voice reports her saying: "I think my working class voters will vote for me and my middle class voters have been asking a lot about the Lib dems."

But she also said: “Black people will kick themselves if they wake up on May 7th and discover that we have David Cameron as our Prime Minister.”

Could this be a confirmation of Lib Dem candidate Keith Angus' claim that Diane's Afro-Caribbean support is deserting her? Angus re-iterated this claim on Sunday after the hustings at the North London Muslim Centre (Mayor Pipe says Learning Trust is "disgusting").

He told Blood and Property that Hackney's Afro-Caribbean residents are turning to the Lib Dems in greater numbers than he's ever seen. He said that he had been canvassing in the borough for two an half years.

Ian Sharer, leader of Hackney's Lib Dem group, also said that he hadn't seen anything like either.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Learning Trust has "disgusting" attitude says Mayor

Mayor Jules Pipe said that the Learning Trust's treatment of Hackney nurseries, parents and elected politicians was "disgusting" at a hustings organised by the North London Muslim Centre (on Sunday).

The Learning Trust delivers education for more than 27,000 pupils in Hackney.

The Mayor made the criticism despite denying claims that the Learning Trust will cut funding for nurseries in the borough. Pipe said that he had very recently been told that funding had actually increased but that it was now being re-allocated to where it was needed.

It was, he said, the Learning Trust's failure to communicate this with parents and elected officials like himself that he found "disgusting".

However the 're-allocation' claims sound similar to those that sparked a class war over sure-start centres in March.

The newer concerns over nurseries were reported here by NurseryWorld and apparently there was a hustings on this issue on Thursday last week - does anyone know what happened there?

Is this open hostility between the Learning Trust and the Labour administration something new?

According to other audience members it is. After the hustings Andrew Boff, Conservative Mayoral candidate, told Blood and Property that he'd not heard Mayor Pipe being so rude about the Learning Trust before and said: "You've got to realise that that the majority of improvements to schools in the borough are down to educational institutions outside of the council's control."

I spoke briefly to all three mayoral candidates, the briefest of all was Jules Pipe who refused to talk to me once he knew I wrote this blog. All he said was "no", and "Pale, male, stale" probably in relation to this story: Jules Pipe: pale, male, stale apparatchik of New Labour? back on February 12 (The words were George Galloway's).

It was an odd grudge to hold considering he managed to answer an extensive list of Blood and Property questions in March: Jules Pipe answers Blood and Property questions. I was hoping to ask him if he approved of moves made by the Labour Party in Haringey to allow large families to build extensions on their properties: Will Jules Pipe back-track on ultra orthodox planning rules?

I lost my notes and can't remember the details of the rest of the hustings. But the event was filmed for the Islam Channel. Candidates: Andrew Boff, Mischa Borris, Jules Pipe - Diane Abbott, Keith Angus, Matt Sellwood and Darren Caplan said pretty much what you'd expect. All were impressive in their various ways. (For a proper report on the event try Hackney Citizen's report which covers pretty much everything.)

Caplan stood his ground on Iraq and Afghanistan. The hustings organisers were spotted coaxing a couple of angry men away from him after the meeting. The audience heard that Diane Abbott had actually been to Afghanistan

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Nazis... complaints, crackheads, alkies


Read Election Selection on to find out which Hackney North candidate this might be wearing a swastika. There's some other interesting background here: "master of the black arts to speak at the springbok club" and here.

Otherwise, I've had a complaint about the presentation of the last Blood and Property story about Suzanne Moore (corrected version). It was pointed out that people like me make it difficult for people to be honest - and it could be the reason why politics is full of people who are as boring and faceless as me. Any way, it was not my intention to discourage honesty, so I apologise.

A little nervously, here's another interesting Suzanne Moore story - written by herself - in which she says that while canvassing in Hackney she has met "a series of crackheads, alkies and people who said they won’t vote" although she said a few other things too.

Leaving aside the crackheads and alkies, the issue of not voting now seems to be approaching the top of the political agenda in Hackney. In a video discussion (Question Dine) the biggest bust-up was when Hackney politicians - Diane Abbott and Andrew Boff - clashed with Worldwrite volunteers over the issue of not voting. The discussion led the makers to investigate the issue on the streets of Dalston.

Then back to where John Eden's story Election Selection (the same as above) where he wrote: "So it’s easy to say “don’t vote – it only encourages them” and in fact I probably won’t. I am certainly not going to “vote x to keep y out” because that just perpetuates the whole charade."

I've never voted either.