It’s 4th April, 2005 at Birmingham Midland Institute and the judge, Richard Mawrey Q.C.is summing up at the end of gathering evidence in a four week trial. The room isn’t full but there are many who are familiar figures on the political scene. Prefessor John and Theresa Stewart have attended the hearing throughout, and John was interviewed. There were many prominent trades unionists and of course the actors in the local elections of 2004 when every seat in Birmingham was contested. There were those who conducted the election, the Chief Executive Lin Homer and the Chief Elections Officer, John Owen who had “thrown the book out of the window” to ensure the elections were concluded with a massive increase in the number of postal votes. From the political parties John Hemming, Leader of the Lib-Dems, was there as was Raghib Ahsan from the Peoples’ Justice Party. The PJP had led on the case against the Bordesley Green councillors and the Lib-Dems against Aston.
The Government’s line is to tough things out hoping that other headlines will overshadow these events. The Pope’s funeral is on Friday, and the royal wedding now on Saturday. This is now a well-tried tactic for New Labour, but it hasn’t been shown to be particularly effective in the past.
If we rewind to Khalid Mahmood’s selection as MP for the last election there was a dress rehearsal for what went on in the local elections of 2004. The West Midlands Regional Office of the Labour Party was clearly implicated in that and it gave at the very least an impetus for this outrage to occur. There are others who have once more ducked out at the present hearing, except that all of us still in the Labour Party are tainted. Some of us have been trying to tell the paid officials, with substantial evidence about continuing fraud. There are still those on the deliberately placed on the electoral register when they don’t live at that address. In some cases there have been 8 or 9 names at a small semi-detached house. Some of the perpetrators are now in public office. And they have a track record to match any self-respecting criminal.
Mike Griffiths from the Labour National Executive Committee has now come to Birmingham, and has taken the step to suspend a few from the party. Why has it taken so long? A number of us spoke to him prior to the selection meeting for candidates for last year’s local elections about what we saw going on.
Many long serving, loyal and able members of the party have either left or are considering leaving the party. Raghib Ahsan is one who has gone after his long drawn out battle against racism. Although he won his case he has not had so much as an apology. He is now a formidable opponent. While some honourable people remain in the party, let’s hope that they will at last be recognised and supported so that we can elect a Labour Government rather than an apology calling itself “New Labour”.
Birmingham Post 5/4/2005