Labour vote declines in Handsworth Wood Ward

For the first time in many years I was not in Birmingham for the May elections. I was a candidate in the West of Scotland, so I took a trip to look around, including the Isle of Arran. I fitted in a trip here and to the Robbie Burns museum just out of Ayr.
Meanwhile I was missing out just what was going on in Birmingham, in particular Handsworth Wood Constituency. In contrast to West Scotland Labour was regaining ground in Birmingham, but in Handsworth Wood the candidate African Caribbean Paulette Hamilton found herself in a sectarian squabble. The Conservative candidate, Rabinder Singh Gill was a former Labour Party member who, having tried unsuccessfully to deselect Paulette, took his ball away and joined the Tories. The outcome was a victory for Labour, but with a hugely slashed majority for Labour against the marked trend elsewhere in the City. Cllr Narinder Kaur Kooner had previously won the seat with in excess of 6,000 votes whereas Paulette fell below 4,000 with Gill getting within a few hundred votes. How did this happen? Well supporters and family of Rabinder Singh who remained within the Labour Party put support for a Sikh candidate above support for Labour. I have it on good authority that one of the Labour councillors requested people to vote Tory. I wrote to Cllr Albert Bore, leader of the labour Group on Birmingham City Council about the matter. I left the Labour Party but had I done such a thing I would have been summarily suspended.
The influential group supporting all these sikh candidates is centred around the Nishkam Centre. This is promoting the first “Free” Schools in Birmingham and causing great concern in existing schools in the area. “Nishkam” I understand means “selfless”. Their leader is one Bhai Mohinder Singh, elected as leader in pope-like fashion. Instead of the Holy Book being the object of veneration, followers kiss his hand and even prostrate themselves in his presence. He also has the blessing of the Blair Foundation. As with other aspects of Blair’s activities it has the air of the bogus.This is most uncommon among Sikhs whose religion was founded on the basis of equality. Although the wider community who know about this are alarmed. The problem is that there has been a distinct lack of community consultation and the agreement for the new schools has come straight from government.
Dangers of sectarianism are evident where ever separate facilities are created. This has been avoided until a few years ago when the local labour paid officers felt they knew better than members of the local parties and began to dictate selection. Ian Reilly who I told to resign many times is still there and the results of his meddling are becoming apparent to the detriment of the community. He and his ilk work in rarified offices and do not know what is happening in the community. This hang over from the Blair era persists and undermines the democratic foundations of Labour.

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