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‘I don’t like Muslims’: Conservative group objectively investigating the councillor

Zeinab Alipourbabaie, a Muslim, has won claims for religious discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal after a manager Kamaljit Chana, also a Conservative councillor in Harrow, told her, “I do not like Muslims” the Times reported last Sunday.
Bristol employment tribunal ruled that Zeinab Alipourbabaie, a senior electronic engineer at Dyson in Wiltshire, was excluded from meetings and emails, criticised unfairly to the company vice-president and advised against promoting her by a senior technical project manager, Kamaljit Chana.
The tribunal also found that in a one-to-one meeting with Alipourbabaie in February 2017, Kamaljit Chana, a Sikh, said: “Muslims are violent” and “Pakistani men are grooming our girls”, the Times reported.
In responding to the demands for action against Cllr Chana, Cllr Paul Osborn leader of the Conservative group on the Harrow council has assured:  “We take these allegations extremely seriously and are investigating them whilst following due process”.
Harrow Monitoring Group has reported Cllr Chana to the Conservatives with a specific question ‘how Chana with such unacceptable attitude towards Muslims can ever be a member of the party and a councillor?’
A Pinner resident expressed typical local concern: “To read the comments by Kamaljit Chana is frightening and damaging Muslims. How can we stop dangerous people like Kamaljit Chana?”
“We will not hesitate to take firm action accordingly. We await publication of the tribunal judgement and we will scrutinise this ruling” Cllr Osborn reassured.
Cllr Osborn appears serious: should he be point scoring, the easiest was to immediately suspending Cllr Chana then re-instate him later as the Conservative party has done in many such cases.
Although Cllr Osborn couldn’t say more at this stage, the reported evidence against Cllr Chana is overwhelming which is likely to result in his exclusion from the Conservative group or even him resigning from the council himself.

Another Harrow known Tory character in news!

UPDATE: pressure is building on the Harrow opposition group (Conservative) to immediately suspend Cllr Kamaljit Chana from the group while this matter is being investigated with the eventual outcome to expel him from the party.
Formal complaints have been made to local and national Conservatives, including by the Harrow Monitoring Group. Cllr Chana’s political future is seriously in danger.

Bristol employment tribunal ruled that Zeinab Alipourbabaie, a senior electronic engineer at Sir James Dyson’s bases in Wiltshire, was excluded from meetings and emails, criticised unfairly to the company vice-president and advised against promoting her by a senior technical project manager, Kamaljit Chana, (also a Conservative councillor in Harrow).
“Bristol employment tribunal found that in a one-to-one meeting with Alipourbabaie in February 2017, Chana, a Sikh, also said: “Muslims are violent” and “Pakistani men are grooming our girls”, reports The Times.
The company said it had disciplined Chana for bullying, “These allegations were investigated fully and disciplinary action was taken against Kamaljit Chana who was found to have acted inappropriately” the Times reports.
The Conservative Party said it would investigate if it received a complaint, according to the Times.
Harrow surprised? Before this:
Anjana Patel, a Tory councillor in Harrow, “tweeted angrily at Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, asking her “how are you going to help?” after Hindu girls in India were molested and converted to “her religion” (Islam). As if it was somehow Malala’s responsibility”, included in ‘LBC obtains dossier showing 10 Tory councillors sharing Islamophobic comments
Stephen Wright, a Tory councillor, was censured by Harrow Council’s standards working group, which unanimously found he had brought his office into disrepute.
It came following a complaint from a woman who alleged he had “used information to exaggerate his influence as a powerful decision-maker to form an inappropriate personal relationship with her” reported the Harrow Times.

Coronavirus concerns in Harrow

“There have been numerous reports in the press and across social media about the significant rise across the county of people being tested positive for Covid-19 and residents, like us, are quite rightly worried about a second wave of the virus” Cllr Graham Henson, leader of the Harrow council, has said.
National press reported the number of coronavirus cases have doubled in Harrow in the space of a week.
In the seven days to September 1, there were 41 new cases in the borough, which doubled in the week to September 8, reported MyLondon.
Cllr Henson informs the rate of infection in Harrow was at 26.4 people per 100,000 residents as the latest data show (32.3 according to MyLondon), below 40 that could trigger local lockdown.
“Currently, there are no plans for the drastic local lockdown action in the borough as there has been in other parts of the country, however we will not hesitate in using the new enforcement and closure powers if we need to” said Cllr Henson.
“If we are to reduce the spread of the virus in Harrow we must all continue to do our bit – by continuing to wash our hands and wear face coverings and social distancing where possible. Remember the Hands, Face, Space mantra” appeals Cllr Henson.
Cllr Henson reminds: “The new rule of six is now effective and we must all see it as a helpful means of virus control. It is there to protect our friends and families and save lives. Remember to get tested if you have any symptoms and let’s work together to track Covid-19. We must be all doing our bit to keep Harrow safe”.
Another local concern about the coronavirus is that some Harrow pupils have been tested positive on their return to now reopened schools (they have not been infected at the schools).
In any case, Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas has raised concern: “I am told that parents & their children cannot get an Covid test in or near Harrow”.

Coronavirus alert!

GHFollowing the national rise in coronavirus cases (352,560 cases and 41,586 deaths as of 9/9/2020), Harrow council leader Cllr Graham Henson alerts “Confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the borough, as well as other parts of London, are indeed rising”.
He informs that last week, council data showed there were 54 confirmed coronavirus cases in the borough in the final week of August – those aged 20-50 are the most affected group – but overall below the figure where a local lockdown would be considered.
“The rise comes as we return to places of work and school and bring about some normality in visiting shops and restaurants again. But the risks of catching and spreading the virus when we are outside of our homes increase. You are most at risk when in busy crowds, confined spaces or close contact with others” he said.
Both Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer showed less care for C19 spread and favoured fully re-opening the schools: we  drove pass some high schools in Harrow at the closing – streets were full of readily  mingling pupils – no masks, no social distancing – very worrying indeed!
In a separate move, the Socialist Campaign Group asks the government to pursue zero covid strategy which puts the health of the people first.

Council could reopen Neighbourhood Resource Centres soon

Harrow council is carrying out risk assessments to see how the three Neighbourhood Resource Centres in Harrow, closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic, could be reopened safely.
Council wants these assessments detailed and include all the measures that would be needed for the safe re-opening of the buildings, including social distancing, hygiene and regular cleaning, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), one-way systems within the buildings, and transport arrangements.
But the council alerted “We are also mindful that winter may bring some additional challenges – we wouldn’t want to reopen and be faced with having to potentially close them again”.
Opened in 2009, Neighbourhood Resource Centres in Harrow usually provide vital day care services and therapy for people with learning difficulties whilst also giving the families much needed respite from their roles as carers.
“To reopen safely we would need to use the spaces in the Centres differently – including reducing the number of people attending at any time to meet social distancing guides and to prevent the spread of covid. One way we could do this is by running morning and afternoon sessions rather than whole day sessions so that we could support more people in the centre.  We are also looking at how we could establish “bubbles” for staff and users to minimise risk” explained a council spokesperson.
Regarding the users concern about the loss of the centres services, the council spokesperson claimed “We are in regular contact with our clients and their families keeping them updated on the status of the centres. We have been carrying out social work reviews to ensure care plans are adapted to provide the right care and support needed. We have also developed outreach and community activities for some of our citizens, including home visits and taking some people out for short trips or walks and have moved some activities online using WhatsApp and Zoom”.
However, all users are not happy with the arrangements. A local GP whose severely disabled brother attended a local neighbourhood resource centre for many years, reported to the Harrow Monitoring Group that ‘poor communication has resulted from these closures as well as failure to negotiate the alternative services offered’.

 

Harrow opposition slipping back to Hall era negativity

barriersAs previously reported, Harrow has secured London mayor funding to deliver more pedestrian space to help with government required social distancing. This includes pavements in some areas are to be temporarily widened by using barriers as confirmed by the deputy leader of Harrow Council, Cllr Keith Ferry.
The extra width of the temporary pavements will allow pedestrians to pass each other while social distancing since public safety is a priority during the coronavirus.
No doubt coronavirus preventive measures, like use of the barriers in some parking spaces to widen spaces for public movement, have implications for businesses,  but most are not selfish and support the measures.
Given the significance of the barriers in ensuring public welfare and safety, the Harrow opposition’s play that the barriers ‘will upset a lot of people’ looks unpleasant point-scoring, as it used to be under Cllr Hall’s confrontational leadership of the Tory group.
As the opposition leader Cllr Paul Osborn seems more worried about a ‘decrease in footfall at shops’ because of restricted parking and his deputy  Cllr Marilyn Ashton about the possibility of  ‘more businesses forced to close’, it looks they are towing their party’s practice ‘money before people’.
However, Cllr Ferry on the basis of a council survey,  has said that ‘widened pavements are likely to attract more customers’.

 

Significant GLA cuts, alerts Brent & Harrow assembly member

Budget pressures

“Covid-19 has had a huge impact on all parts of the economy, with potentially damaging consequences for London. By implication, the Mayor’s Budget has also been significantly affected, forcing the Greater London Authority (GLA) to make savings across the board” alerts Navin Shah, Brent and Harrow assembly member.
NS2
London mayor Sadiq Khan has warned that City Hall faces making up to £500m in cuts to public services if the government fails to provide financial support to local authorities.
The London Mayor has called upon central government to do the responsible thing and provide the urgent emergency funding needed to protect policing, fire and transport services, but this has not been forthcoming, Mr Shah shares his concern.
Further savings are possible by relocating the City Hall to the ‘Crystal’ building based at the Royal Docks. This is estimated to save £55 million over 5 years.
“As Chair of the London Assembly, I am working on a cross-party basis to scrutinise the proposals to relocate City Hall and have written to the Mayor and Chief Officer of the GLA on the back of concerns raised by Assembly Members at a recent Oversight Committee meeting” he informs.
Regarding  the government’s short-term ‘bailout’ of Traffic for London, forcing TfL to suspend free peak hours travel for over 60s and abolished free travel for under 18s, Mr Shah says he  has been working with Age UK, alongside other campaigners to oppose these punitive conditions.
In a money saving measure, London mayor has taken a 10% pay cut as he called for Boris Johnson to bail out local authorities facing funding shortfalls due to coronavirus.

 

Thomas not a party expressing solidarity with migrants

refugeesSocialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs has recently signed a letter expressing solidarity with migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, and affirming the moral and legal right for refugees to claim asylum in the UK.
The letter, signed by over 30 Labour MPs, articulates that it is often aggressive wars led by the UK and our allies that forces people to flee their homes and that this gives us a special responsibility to these people.
As expected the letter has not been signed by Harrow West Labour MP Gareth Thomas who actively supported Blair attack on Iraq that killed innocent people and damaged the country. He was also one of the  Labour MPs who voted for bombing in Syria , out of line with their then party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and  remained active in undermining Corbyn.
The letter says rather than treating these people with hostility, with threats to deploy military vessels to deter crossings, the UK should provide safe and legal routes to people seeking to claim asylum.
As usual, the government is playing ‘immigration’ card when chips are down.
Latest drive by the Conservative government is a blatant attempt to distract from their calamitous handling of Coronavirus, which is leading to economic turmoil that will devastate working people’s livelihoods, reminds the letter.
The work of the social campaign group is supported by many including the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour Councillors – the national convenor Brent councillor Jumbo Chan and a prominent  member Harrow councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick. The group believes acting as conduit for socialist values in local government.
Although the Labour ‘civil war’ under its present leadership is not that big in Harrow, the next Harrow elections would be quite interesting as many Labour voters associate the party with socialism, and could react to the in-party drive against the socialists and might not vote.

Harrow secures London Streetspace Programme funding

St proposalsA total of £683K has been allocated to Harrow for the programme to deliver pedestrian space, low traffic neighbourhoods, strategic cycling and school streets as the government is keen to reopen the economy, despite concerning spikes of Covid19 cases in the UK (1,328 cases in Harrow).
The Mayor of London launched the London Streetspace Programme with government funding support to transform London’s streets to accommodate increases in cycling and walking as government C19 restrictions are eased.
Harrow could do with more and better physical exercise as the evidence indicates that a third of people in Harrow do very little physical activity and two thirds are overweight and both these factors increase the risk of developing diseases such as diabetes and/or cancer.
According to a Traffic and Road Safety Advisory Panel report, the Harrow programme aims to support the changes in the way the public travel during the health crisis through the measures including:
(a) To reallocate carriageway to pedestrians by suspending sections of  barriers to extend pedestrian space in 9 key locations in the borough, including Station Road, Harrow – Civic Centre, shops & Mosque, and High Road, Harrow Weald.
(b) To support the delivery of strategic cycling measures e.g. meaningful measures that reallocate road space from vehicles to cycles and provide physical segregation – primarily at Honeypot Lane, Sheepcote Road, Greenhill and Uxbridge Road Harrow Weald.
(c) Restricting the streets surrounding a school to traffic at opening and closing times except for local residents living in the street – three primary schools and one secondary school have been proposed – Grimsdyke School, Newton Farm School, Marlborough School and Park High School.
Apparently an online information and engagement portal was set up by the council in June 2020 to be a focal point for residents and businesses with regard to the Harrow Street Spaces Programme but not well publicised as usual. Very interesting that only the percentages of comments rather than the number of people participated in the  ‘Public Engagement Portal Feedback’ have been documented – therefore no way of knowing the level of public ‘engagement’!!

Anti-racist agenda: can Harrow council deliver what it has resolved?

Harrow council has made bold and somewhat ambitious commitment to becoming an anti-racist council (council meeting 11 July) by improving how council works and cares.
Key areas of focus include learning programme for councillors and staff on race, racism and unconscious bias; the BAME (‘Black, Asian and minority ethnic’) workforce, their pay gaps, their representation at senior levels, and developmental and mentoring programmes for them.
Another key area is to review and amend council policies which particularly impact on BAME residents.
Perhaps this Labour administration stands a better chance to drive the anti-racist agenda as previous similar initiatives finished up being photo opportunities, self promotion and fizzled out, needing to start fresh in July 2020.
In a Labour administration eighteen years ago: “The London Borough of Harrow is committed to achieving equality of opportunity both as a large employer of people and as a provider of service”: Forward to London Borough of Harrow Race Equality Scheme 2002 – 2005, signed by  leader of council Archie Foulds and chief executive Joyce Markham.
To implement this, the chief executive appointed two senior officers for overall responsibility for the day-to-day management of the scheme who were to report directly to the chief executive. In addition, a ‘steering group’ was set up to oversee the process and to help co-ordinate different activities.
Nothing substantial resulted from this well defined programme. All this becomes more concerning considering that there have been two Asian leaders of the council in the past fifteen years (their experience is not a pleasant story though) and the civic centre diverse population has rapidly increased.
Without a shift in the ethos of the council and criteria of its services and provisions, effectiveness of the diverse council members and officers has not been any different than others.
Big challenge for the council has remained, how to practise ‘different needs are equally important’ in policy formation and determining the criteria for the services the council provides – first step in becoming an anti-racist council.

Council supports Black Lives Matter

Council meetingHarrow council video-linked meeting (11 July), resolved to welcome the decision to light Harrow Civic Centre purple in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement globally.
Labour motion for ‘commitment to fighting systemic racism’, carried despite voted against by the Tory opposition, reminded that the killing of George Floyd at the hands of American police has created a powerful global movement around the cause of tackling systemic racism in society.
The motion included series of measures needed to address racism and what the Harrow council could focus upon, including to stand united against racism, injustice and racial inequalities, recognise the contributions that all communities, races and cultures have made to Harrow in the past and will continue to make in future and to give its support to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Mentioned in the motion is that the Harrow council has a plan to tackling entrenched inequalities, which disproportionately impact people from BAME (‘Black, Asian and minority ethnic’) backgrounds! Town hall archives are full of such plans, collecting dust – hope Harrow is an exception.
Racism affects black and while people both, but differently, and it is this specific focus on the difference that is missing from the Tory group’s motion and which is too general. However, in proposing and seconding the Tory motion good example was set for their group members to see how to speak sensibly, avoiding any racist overtone! For example, to learn that a toxic reference to the Black Lives Matter movement could be taken as anti-Black.
Harrow council ex-leader Cllr Sachin Shah, highlighted the key differences between the Labour and Tory motions: (click to listen)

 

Well deserved Freedom of the Borough

A special Harrow council video meeting on 7 July marked the commitment and diligent service of Alderman Keith Toms as a councillor of the London Borough of Harrow, and unanimously conferred on him the Honour of Freedom of the Borough.
“I’m greatly honoured by the Freedom of the Borough in a safest and most diverse borough where people respect others and the law” said Alderman Keith Toms.
“We have worked hard on race relations and pleasantly experience very positive communal relationships” added Mr Toms who stands for social justice and equality.
{Mr Toms previously recorded following interview highlights his experience of the socio-political changes:

Alderman Keith Toms was first elected Harrow councillor in 1974 and served continuously until 2006 when he stood down having completed 32 years as a councillor of the London Borough of Harrow.
As a councillor, Alderman Toms served on all the major council committees and was Leader of the opposition. He was Harrow Mayor in 1996/97.
From 1998-2002 he was deputy leader of the council and in this role he presented Harrow on the Association of London Government. The Association appointed him Ambassador for London in 1998.
In July 2006 Harrow councillors unanimously voted to invest him with the title of Honorary Alderman. He has been warmly and actively performing this honourable civic duty since.

 

Blackman voted against commissioning domestic abuse services

bb4Harrow East MP Bob Blackman (photo) voted against commissioning specialist domestic abuse services for victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse.
Tory majority at the Commons voted down to add the commissioning clause to the Domestic Abuse bill on 6 July.
This new clause would have established a statutory duty on relevant public authorities to commission specialist support and services to all persons affected by domestic abuse, including refuge and community-based services; specialist services for groups with protected characteristics; services for children and young people; services for perpetrators.
The services were to include counselling and other support, advocacy services, access to welfare benefits, perpetrator programmes, financial support, legal services and helplines.
The clause was to legislate that it is the duty of relevant public authorities in England and non-devolved relevant public authorities in Wales in the exercise of their functions to commission sufficient specialist services for all persons affected by domestic abuse regardless of status.
The clause would have ensured compliance with the duty where public authorities must regularly assess population and support needs changes in their area as well as take account of any strategy to end violence against women and girls adopted by a Minister of the Crown and to co-operate to discharge the duty.

 

Access dump yard by appointment!

Forward driveFrom Monday 29 June, the recycling centre on Forward Drive can only be accessed through booking the visit in advance  – link for booking is Harrow Recycling Centre
The council says the new system has been introduced to help manage the long waiting times and traffic which has had a significant impact on local households and businesses (big chaos really).
Opening hours are 8.30am to 4.30pm. Book the visit before hand, otherwise will be turned away. Booking slots are very limited (photo).Dump
Sort waste before arrival and use the right bays for different waste – 6 bays will remain open to allow social distancing and safe disposal of waste.
At the booking stage provide the time slot and date for the booking, contact details including name and address and the registration number of the vehicle bringing on the day.
A slot can be booked 14 days in advance. The booking confirmation would be emailed. Show the booking confirmation number on arriving along with photo ID and proof of address in Harrow.
Looks that the council assumes all Harrow residents are computer literate and have access to the internet as no alternative method for the booking has been prescribed on the webpage!!

 

Windrush Day in Harrow!

Harrow council announces marking Windrush Day today, honouring Britain’s Caribbean community.
Harrow council says, “This year we will be celebrating online. It is an important time for us to remember and value the contributions of the Windrush Generation who came to Britain to help rebuild the NHS, transport and public services following the Second World War”.
The recent political scandal about Windrush black people was the government wrongly detaining them, denying their legal rights, threatened them with deportation, and, in at least 83 cases, wrongly deported them from the UK by the Home Office.
Many of those affected had been born British subjects and had arrived in the UK before 1973, particularly from Caribbean countries as members of the “Windrush generation” (so named after the Empire Windrush, the ship that brought one of the first groups of West Indian migrants to the UK in 1948).
“There has never been a greater need to commemorate and celebrate the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush, the people on board and those who followed. The men and women who answered the call to help rebuild Britain did so with optimism, energy and passion” the council reminds.
This celebration comes at a time when the Black Lives Matter campaign has once again rightly highlighted racism and inequality in the society.
Harrow seems to have a mixed picture about black matters.
One Harrow MP, Bob Blackman, voted to prevent the release of secret documents about the Windrush scandal.
Harrow Labour Left organised ‘Black Lives Matter’ demonstration early this month but attracted illusive reaction seemingly from within and outside the local Labour party: far right style scaremongering on social media, organisers of the demo heavily criticised, a London assembly member seemingly asking to ban the demo and a Harrow icon Katie statue boarded by the council (however, the demo was graceful and peaceful).

 

Harrow socialists demand action against the party members involved in ‘Sabotaging a General Election’

In an open letter to the Labour leadership and executives, concerned socialist Labour party members in Harrow have articulated that ‘Sabotaging a General Election whilst being paid by our membership fees is not okay’.
The leaked  internal report ‘The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 – 2019’, described as a “hyper-factional” environment among Labour party staff hostile to Jeremy Corbyn, has caused anger within the party over Labour’s handling of antisemitism cases, and led to calls for party members named in it to be suspended.
Although Labour’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) has now appointed a panel to investigate the report, the report has not been submitted to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) as an intended  part of the material presented to the commission regarding anti-Semitism handling within the party nor any named members in the report have been suspended.
The letter, signed by 85 local socialists, asks the Labour party to move swiftly to address the genuinely concerning issues raised by the content of this report.
“We urge you to focus on the serious allegations contained within this report” they said.
They emphasise that “the evidence available from the leaked report suggests that the antisemitism investigations appear to have been mismanaged deliberately. Because of this practice, the integrity and reputation of the Party, including and especially that of Jeremy Corbyn, have been called into question and reputations grossly and manifestly unfairly tarnished”.
They demand that the report is submitted to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) as part of its investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party, and that all persons against whom there is prima facie evidence of misconduct are suspended with immediate effect, pending further investigation.

Where Harrow council stands on reopening schools?

UPDATE: Following our provocative article below, Cllr Graham Henson, leader of the Harrow council has now said:
I wanted to take this opportunity to reassure parents that our biggest priority is the safety of our residents – and that includes school children. With the government’s announcement to re-open schools, it is natural that parents will have a level of anxiety and worry.
“We have made it clear to schools that we expect them to open when they are ready and feel that it is safe to do so, and they have my full support. Their preparations to increase the number of pupils attending will be based on a thorough assessment and to a timetable that they will judge is safe for our pupils”.


At the time of closing schools in March due to C19 risks, Harrow council said it is doing so in the interest of  the health and well-being (“We are sorry for the inconvenience this has caused, but hope you will understand that health & well-being is our priority”), but it is now silent about the government obsession to reopen schools on 1 June, endangering  health and well-being of the school population/parents and carers.schools
Eighteen English  councils and as many as 1,500 primary schools could defy government recommendations as local bodies query the decision to loosen lockdown measures for primary schools during the coronavirus epidemic which has resulted in at least 35,341 deaths  in the UK so far (527 known cases of coronavirus in Harrow out of a local population of 250,149 – a rate of 2107 cases per million – the 13th highest rate in England).
The government has come under increasing pressure over the decision with teachers, parents, unions and councils questioning the reopening date.
Nearly 29,000 members of the teachers union NASUWT across England, found that around nine in 10 teachers believe that social distancing will be impossible, or will present major issues and a similar proportion are not confident that the proposed measures will protect their health or the health of pupils.
In a letter to the Education Secretary, Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the union remains “unconvinced” that wider reopening of schools from June 1 is “appropriate or practicable”.
Hope Harrow council would be able to issue a statement about reopening schools next month, keeping in view serious concerns by teachers, parents and carers.

 

Breaking news!

Top job2
“Over the past few weeks I have been contacted by many members asking me to put myself forward.  They have been distraught at the revelations in a recently leaked labour report and alarmed that some in our party do not appear to understand such conduct is unacceptable in the modern workplace.  I can recall only two occasions when members have been so angry, the scandal of MP expenses and the Iraq war” said Ms Fitzpatrick.
Ms Fitzpatrick who stands firm for social justice and equality could not win Harrow East at the last general election but did very well considering unfavourable circumstances – pro and against Corbyn division within the Labour party had adverse impact on the election outcome locally and nationally.
“The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the terrible consequences of austerity and inequality in our society.  We desperately need a Labour Government to rebuild Britain.  However, as any trade unionist knows we cannot win whilst we are divided and dysfunctional” she said.
“The labour party is at a crucial juncture at a time of unprecedented crisis. The incoming General Secretary must ensure that Labour is a party that genuinely lives up to its values and is one which uses all its resources fairly and effectively to achieve a Labour government.  If successful I will ensure this happens” Ms Fitzpatrick added.
Hope Ms Fitzpatrick would be able to patch the division in the Labour party which looks more pronounced now as those on the ‘left’ of the party have been seemingly penalised under new leadership. For example, active Brent North MP Barry Gardiner could not but rather tired Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas has retained his shadow position.

Coronavirus politics!

Amid the outcry that the government has been less than honest in addressing the coronavirus situation (for example, under reporting total coronavirus deaths – estimated about 15,000 by now), the two Harrow MPs are trying to let their presence known in their own ways.
Harrow East Tory MP Bob Blackman’s weekly email shots while quite informative, broadly highlight the government’s positive image re dealing with the impact of the coronavirus.
He informs the department of work and pensions is doing what it can in dealing with the increased Universal Credit applications – like by redeploying and recruiting new staff.
A national voucher scheme for children eligible for free school meals is in place, allowing every eligible child with a weekly shopping voucher worth £15.
The Government is providing an extra £1.6 billion worth of funding for local councils addressing extra pressures on their services due to the coronavirus implications – Harrow Council will receive over £6.3 million of this funding, he informs.
It would be interesting to find Harrow council plans to spend this money.
In somewhat delayed action, Harrow West Labour MP Gareth Thomas raises concern that the Government could have acted sooner and done more to support care and medical staff etc during the coronavirus outbreak.
For example, encouraging working from home, providing clear support for businesses and outlining lockdown rules that have been in place since March 24.
“It would appear that social distancing measures were imposed later than they should have been, that many opportunities were missed to prepare the NHS in particular properly, with all the personal protection equipment necessary and the testing regime in place to help keep key workers safe.
“The lack of PPE (personal protective kit) and testing remains a significant problem, particularly in care homes, but across essential services and that is deeply worrying” he said.
But the new leader of the Labour party, eager not to be seen at left,  seems to be less keen on addressing serious implications of the coronavirus or on pressing the government to come clean about the coronavirus situation, but is rather urging the government to publish an exit strategy from the coronavirus lockdown even before the virus had reached its peak risks, confusing the public.

 

Coronavirus (2)

Corona2Good to hear from the Harrow council leader Cllr Graham Henson that “We’ll also soon be launching a new helpline on Coronavirus to get you the support you need to help you through this crisis” as many London councils have done so weeks ago.
Now the council coronavirus web page looks more informative and includes ‘coronavirus hotline telephone number’ 0208 901 2698 [we raised concern about the lack of support plan and contact point on 19 March]. However, this number reportedly gives a very confusing and unhelpful recorded message: “this line in now closed as the council is prioritising services essential for vulnerable” – please council what does this mean?
Current registered coronavirus cases in Harrow are 196.
The leader also assures that “during this difficult time we are here for you” and that “our teams have also been working incredibly hard to ensure the right support is available for the many of you facing hardship over the coming weeks and months”.
It would be helpful to know how to effectively access the council during this difficult time and who the “teams” are, what their brief is and how to contact them for support. Is the council deploying additional staff to answer residents telephone calls or emails?
The leader’s statement further informs “I want to take this opportunity to say how proud I am of our community resilience. Thank you to our community groups, partners and voluntary sector who we have been working closely with us to ensure our most vulnerable residents get the support they really need. From delivering food and essentials, to checking up on neighbours (at the safe distance) your support is invaluable”.
No doubt the community support in Harrow is remarkable but what the council could do to make it more effective and accessible, is to provide good leadership and coordinate the individual support initiatives or at least list out at the web page how and where to contact the community groups for support.
At times like this (and much difficult times ahead), high quality council communications are vital. This aspect of the council work needs good focus, especially as communication has not been a council strength over the years, under various administrations.
Also and under the challenging circumstances, there is a greater need for firm and really caring leadership locally and nationally.

Council closures and service disruptions

Although the Harrow council has not yet provided a contact point* for care and support for the Coronavirus hit residents, including vulnerable, it has published the service status:
*[Westminster council sets good example:
If you are concerned about anyone who you think requires care and support please phone 020 7641 1444 or 020 7641 1175 or email adultsocialcare@westminster.gov.uk
If you or anyone in your household has symptoms you are advised to stay at home. If you are staying at home and need help please email westminsterconnects@westminster.gov.uk]
SERVICES
  • Harrow Recycling Centre (closed until further notice)
  • playgrounds, outdoor gyms and sports courts in all Harrow Parks (closed until further notice).
  • Harrow Leisure Centre, Bannister Sports Centre, and Hatch End Swimming Pool (closed until further notice)
  • school children should stay at home to limit the spread of the virus
  • Vaughan Neighbourhood Resource Centre (closed until further notice)
  • Kenmore Neighbourhood Resource Centre (closed until further notice)
  • the Bridge Day Centre (closed until further notice)
  • New Bentley Day Care (closed until further notice)
  • Wiseworks (closed until further notice)
  • all appointments in the council one-stop-shop have been postponed
  • elections and Democracy running a limited email service
  • allotment services and pitch bookings phone lines closed
  • Planning and Building Control phone lines closed
  • bins, waste and recycling phone lines closed
  • Council Tax phone lines closed
  • Business Rates phone lines closed
  • Housing running a limited phone line service
  • Benefits will continue to operate their phone lines as normal
  • Cedars Youth Centre (closed until further notice)
  • all Harrow Libraries (closed until further notice)
  • Harrow Arts Centre (closed until further notice)
  • Headstone Manor Museum (closed until further notice)
  • Kingsley High School (closed until further notice)

Source: Harrow council

 

Coronavirus (1)

CoronaCor2In responding to the concern about the lack of any obvious Harrow council plans to help and support the residents who are or will be in the government imposed Corona isolation, Paul Hewitt, corporate director people services, simply said “We are taking very seriously our public service duties in this matter”.
On further enquiry to understand what “seriously” means, the council press office sent a link to the Harrow council leader’s generic statement about  the Coronavirus which contains a link to a Harrow council Corona web page.
The leader’s statement and council’s web page broadly repeat information about the medical aspects of the Coronavirus which is already in public domain nationally. These contain no information about how to seek Corona specific care and support from the council.
Such a Harrow council shortcoming is highly concerning considering that at least 16% Harrow population (39,200) is aged 65 and over who are likely to face Corona isolation. Added to this profile, at least 36,677 Harrow children are on free school meals who will be without schooling from this Friday for an indefinite period – many families hit by the school closure are single parent families with or without social services involvement.
It is unbelievable that the Harrow council has failed to adopt Corona specific good practices by some councils – like planning to coordinate schools and community centre kitchens for out of school children, coordinate help and support organised by the community groups and teaming up volunteers to ensure that the council is reaching as many people as possible across the borough.
Another big council failure is not to reassure residents through positive messages – for example, like those well publicised by Westminster council:
[If you are concerned about anyone who you think requires care and support please phone 020 7641 1444 or 020 7641 1175 or email adultsocialcare@westminster.gov.uk
If you or anyone in your household has symptoms you are advised to stay at home. If you are staying at home and need help please email westminsterconnects@westminster.gov.uk ]
Harrow MPs can also play a positive role (instead of issuing meaningless PR emails and tweets) by working with the council to form a well coordinated Corona unit to actively provide care and support for those facing Corona implications.

Bailey leaflet hits Harrow

SB.jpgAs the Cabinet Office announces it would be bringing forward legislation to enact the elections delay in England, including the London mayor election, a leaflet from Shaun Bailey, Tory candidate for London mayor, has arrived.
He focuses on the level of crimes in London. Burglaries are up (including in Harrow), knife crime is up and assault is up, he informs. He fails to identify why things are as they are, except blaming Sadiq Khan and his community initiatives for the increase in crime in London.
His derogatory comments about multiculturalism are fresh in minds!
In a 2005 paper titled ‘No Man’s Land: How Britain’s inner city young are being failed” for the Centre for Young Policy Studies with support from Institute for Policy Research, he wroteYou bring your children to school and they learn far more about Diwali than Christmas. I speak to the people who are from Brent and they’ve been having Muslim and Hindi (sic) days off. What it does is rob Britain of its community. Without our community we slip into a crime riddled cess pool.”
His long wish list includes more police, re-opening some local police stations, free burglar alarms for over 65, and 24/7 police patrols.
His ‘emergency plan’ looks less credible as it  has no indication of cost or where the money is coming from to implement  it, especially in view of the government cuts which amongst other ills, create environment for crime.

 

Police checks at Harrow waste tip!

CA_site___2_Harrow council informs that a joint operation last month cracked down on rogues, people using the tip from outside the borough and businesses masquerading as residents to dispose of their waste!
Harrow council enforcement officers with the police carried out checks on vehicles recently using the tip on Forward Drive to dispose of waste.
The site had seen a rise in the number of people coming to the tip with no proof they are Harrow residents, provisional licences (with no L plate or instructor) as well as businesses masquerading as residents to avoid paying business rates to use the tip.
Trade waste licences were also being checked. Last month a vehicle driven by a provisional licence holder was seized, and a van trying to evade police – because he was uninsured.
The police also issued advice and warnings relating to offences such as seatbelts and number plates.
What this means is that along with Harrow resident ID, better carry a valid driving license, valid insurance certificate, check that the vehicle used fully complies with  MOT requirements and be prepared for tailbacks.

 

Labour selects Brent & Harrow candidate

HirAs expected Brent councillor and a council cabinet portfolio holder Krupesh Hirani won the race, defeating Momentum backed and a socialist Aghileh Djafari-Marbini by 5 votes despite she seemingly suffered triple jeopardy.
Delighted Cllr Hirani is a university graduate in politics and has good experience in the political sector where he held a number of posts.
During the Operation Black Vote Shadowing Scheme Mr Hirani was mentored by David Lammy MP. He seems to have good grip on a variety of socio-political matters, relevant to a wider society.
Though Cllr Hirani is seen more at certain cultural activities, he says he believes in representing all. He informs that he has spent his working life with organisations that support disabled people.
Cllr Hirani is proud of the local area and said: “I have been educated through the Brent state school system and am passionate about the area”.
Tory candidate for the seat is karate champion Molly Irene Samuel-Leport MBE from outside Brent or Harrow.

 

Child poverty

CPOver 30% of children in Harrow live in poverty where child poverty is rising to 40% in some wards – but there seems to be no urgency to solve poverty either by public or the authorities.
Harrow council report,  Child Poverty And Life Chances, reports that the poverty rises in some of the more deprived areas of the borough:  Roxbourne has the highest percentage of child poverty levels with 28.5% (before housing costs) rising to 42% after housing cost. Wealdstone, Marlborough, Greenhill, West Harrow, Queensbury and Roxeth have the next highest child poverty levels in the borough.
Harrow is a part of the system where there are 151 billionaires in the UK and 14 million people in poverty, including 4.1 million children in 2017-18 (Commons Briefing papers SN07096 and Child Poverty).
Children from Black and minority ethnic groups are more likely to be in poverty: 45 per cent are now in poverty, compared with 26 per cent of children in White British families, Child Poverty reported.
The Resolution Foundation’s projections suggest child poverty will rise within the next five years, and will be 6 percentage points higher in 2023/24 than in 2016/17: equivalent to an extra 1 million children in poverty, informs the Commons briefing report. This is bound to reflect in the Harrow profile as more and more social housing is provided in the borough.
The Child Poverty Act 2010 required local authorities and their partners to cooperate to tackle child poverty in their local areas but child poverty has never been high on the agenda in Harrow since the Act came into force because Harrow isn’t comparatively deprived at a borough average level.
Although the council budgetary situation does not help to allow to make valuable local connections across services and adequately focus on early intervention and prevention, Harrow has a child poverty action plan based on five priorities [including health and well being of children, support for families with housing, and tackling financial exclusion like debt management, financial literacy, affordable credit and maximise benefit take up].
However, the structure and programme to implement the plan is not impressive.
The Plan has no stated success criteria; for example, in terms of health and educational outcomes.  Actions and progress towards achieving unspecified outcomes is seemingly monitored by the child poverty task group (?) which reports into the health and wellbeing board who seems to have ultimate responsibility for owning the child poverty strategy and action plan.
Many say that the board gives sense of being a talk-shop which mostly notes reports rather than commanding improvement in the services.
Very odd that having identified strong connection between child poverty and child welfare, child poverty is not treated as a safeguarding issue and addressed within the Harrow structure of safeguarding children.

 

Harrow schools latest results

EDMajority of Harrow schools, including the state funded schools, are achieving higher, and some much higher, results than England average, according to the school performance data published on gov.uk.
However, A-level performance is broadly average.  Average point score per entry and AAB or above with at least two results being in “facilitating subjects”, most valued by top or mid-range universities, are not good enough and below Barnet or Brent.
Harrow leavers (as %) destination to mid-range or top higher education institutions like Oxford, Cambridge and Russell group of universities is therefore less secure which is likely to be a big disappointment for parents/carers who have high expectations of Harrow education.
The sixth form picture is concerning as most pupils move on to university on completion of their A-levels.
Further concern is that while Harrow pupils are generally doing very well up to KS4 and they progress to the sixth form mostly at the same school, why their performance is not sustained at the last stage of their schooling?
The sixth form pupil profile (or general population profile) in Harrow is not much different than that in some neighbouring boroughs which comparatively seem to be doing better.
Regarding the overall quality of the education outcomes in Harrow, healthy comparison could be with next door  Brent: Harrow is not, but Brent was included in the highest performing local authorities in 2017 and in 2018 it was included in best-performing academy trusts. In terms of ranking, Redbridge, Westminster, Brent and Kingston upon Thames were all among those performing above average in 2020.
Overall performance at end of Key Stage 2 (11 yrs) in 2019 – all pupils (58 schools):
At the end of Key Stage 2, 74% Harrow pupils met expected standard compared with 65% for England; and 15% of pupils achieved a higher standard (England 11%).
In 13 primary schools expected standards were much above England average, in 14 well above, in 8 above, 1 below and 2 well below the average – for others no data was available or applicable.
Overall performance at end of key stage 4 (16 yrs) in 2019 – all pupils (25 schools):
At the end of Key Stage 4, 50% Harrow pupils achieved Grade 5 or above in English & maths GCSEs (England 40%). Three high schools achieved much higher than England average; 4 above average and 3 below the average.
Harrow entered more in EBacc (65% – England average of 37%). Most schools entered well above, and two well below average.
The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) is a set of subjects at GCSE that keeps young people’s options open for further study and future careers.
Harrow Progress 8 is higher than England average – 5 schools well above, 2 above, 3 average and 2 below average. Progress 8 is government’s “headline measure” for judging schools. It shows pupils’ progress between primary school and GCSE in eight subjects.
Harrow Attainment 8 score at 50.9 was higher than England average (44.7):  8 schools’ score was above or well above the England average and 3 below the average.
A school’s attainment 8 score is the average of all of its secondary school students’ scores.
No data available or applicable for other school or college.
A level performance at the end of 16 to 18 in 2019 – all students  (23 schools and colleges):
Harrow is okay in A-level performance: achieving Grade C+ (pass 60-64%) in line with England average C+ (average grade: 2 schools had B-, 4 had C+,  2 gaining C and and two D+) but below England average in Point Score (33.14 against England 34).
Harrow A-level results are also below the England average in ‘AAB or higher in at least 2 facilitating subjects’ (12.2 against average 16.5) but slightly above the average in grade and points for a student’s best 3 A levels  (C+ 34.34 against average C+ 33.96).
From the data it appears that Harrow in not doing that well in A-levels at the state funded schools (vast majority academies).
Local authority & HSSE: given (a) the performance variations across the Harrow schools/education phases as well as secondary schools rank fluctuations from year to year, based on public examination results – in a few cases from ‘outstanding’ to a failing category (Ofsted) over time (b) few schools performance below average for long (c) the overall A-level performance dipping to average, Harrow School Standards and Effectiveness (HSSE) team and local authority roles become more challenging in monitoring school performance and ensuring that the schools maintain consistent and high standards across the education phases.
Hope professionals and politicians would work together to regain Harrow’s impressive position in education.

NICL

NCILConsultation meeting to improve South Harrow this month gave rise to concerns how well the Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL) funds have been used as councillors assertively floated the idea of spending £20k to £30k each on three murals.
An attendee later said that the meeting felt like consultation on a pre-determined outcome –  little was known about NCIL!
The meeting involved councillors, police, residents, community groups and traders.
There appeared uncertainty whether like other councils, for example Brent, can Harrow community groups apply for the funds for the projects they consider more important, for instance those specific to  street furniture, upgrading of park facilities etc?
In helpfully responding to the Harrow Monitoring Group enquiry, David Corby, head of community engagement service, said: “We always welcome projects that will have a wider benefit to the local community.
The Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy (NCIL) offers an opportunity for the council to engage with local communities to help fund small projects to support the local area – such as CCTV, gates for alleyways and improving Town Centres “.
He said the community engagement team engage with local groups to agree on how best to spend NCIL funding through consultation and engagement process such as community champions and park user groups.
Applications can be submitted to the Council’s Community Engagement team at community.engagement@harrow.gov.uk  but the information about NCIL funds or the process for the community groups to apply for the projects are not really publicised. 
The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is a levy on new developments to ensure that costs incurred in supporting the local area is funded by owners or developers of land.
Under the CIL Regulations 15% of CIL funds must be spent on projects that take account of the views of the communities in which development has taken place. But the downside is that the ‘view-seeking’ could be subjective, driving towards a pre-determined outcome.
CIL  Income and Expenditure  generally:
The amount of unapplied CIL brought forward from the previous year(s) to 2018-19 was £5,562,410 (comprising £3,926,240 borough CIL and £1,636,170 neighbourhood CIL).
A total of £14.5m of Harrow CIL has been received since 2013/14. Taking into account the 51 College Road infrastructure agreement, this increases to £17.8m.
Total expenditure or agreed allocation of borough CIL on infrastructure projects is £10.4m, or circa 89.5% of borough CIL receipts (£11.6m). Including the 51 College Road infrastructure agreement / new central library, this increases to £13.7m or 91.7%of total borough CIL receipts (£14.9m).
This expenditure is mostly on public realm improvements and parks / open space, and some capital programme.
Total expenditure or agreed allocation of neighbourhood CIL on infrastructure projects is £381,227, or 17.5% of total neighbourhood CIL receipts (£2.2m), mostly on public realm improvements or developing certain areas like Squares.
Harrow could do more to develop well publicised process for inviting community groups to apply for the projects under NCIL – Brent is a good example.

Would Harrow council fly union jack on Prince Andrew’s 60 birthday?

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has instructed councils to fly the union flag on February 19 to mark Prince Andrew 60th birthday.
Some councils have already rejected the instructions being “wholly inappropriate in the prevailing circumstances“.
Harrow civic centre needs not to take any notice of the government’s directive as they have the right facility and do fly the union flag every morning anyway!
Andrew stepped down from royal public life in November after his disastrous Newsnight appearance, and the Queen cancelled her son’s formal birthday celebrations soon after.
The interview was criticised for showing a lack of compassion for sex trafficker Jeffery Epstein’s victims and failing to show regret over his friendship with Epstein.
Virginia Giuffre, formerly Virginia Roberts, claims she was trafficked by convicted sex offender Epstein and alleges the duke slept with her, including when she was a minor under US law.
Prince Andrew, who denies the allegations, is facing calls to talk to the FBI and US prosecutors.

Selection of Brent and Harrow Labour candidate in final stage

candidateMomentum backed Aghileh Djafari-Marbini (photo with Corbyn) and Brent councillor Krupesh Hirani are on the One Member One Vote ballot where the party members will decide who will be the Labour candidate representing Brent and Harrow. Voting will commence on 5th February.
Aghileh Djafari-Marbini, a socialist, mum, school governor, NHS worker and resident of North West London for the last 20 years, believes that Londoners need an Assembly that fights the inequalities and injustices in their city and works for all.
She recalls seventy-two fellow citizens burned to death in Grenfell Tower and over 87,000 children in London are homeless, and says that the savage Tory cuts have decimated our youth services and damaged our town centres.
“Now more than ever London needs a City Hall with a socialist vision and the energy to engage people across the city” she says.
It would be interesting to see how well she is supported by those less keen on Momentum or Corbyn.
Labour is going through the selection process because Navin Shah, the sitting assembly member with over 20,000 majority, has decided to step down.  Navin Shah has retained the seat since 2008 when he defeated Tory member Bob Blackman, now controversial MP for Harrow East (Navin Shah came very close to defeat him at the last general election).
HirBrent councillor and a council cabinet portfolio holder Krupesh Hirani (photo), university graduate in politics, has good experience in the political sector where he held a number of posts.
During the Operation Black Vote Shadowing Scheme Mr Hirani was mentored by David Lammy MP. He seems to have good grip on a variety of socio-political matters, relevant to a wider society.
Though Mr Hirani is seen more at certain cultural activities, he says he believes in representing all. Mr Hirani informs that he has spent his working life with organisations that support disabled people.
Mr Hirani is proud of the local area and said: “I have been educated through the Brent state school system and am passionate about the area”.
Two Harrow councillors, both previous Harrow mayors, failed to reach the final stage of the selection process.
Tory candidate for the seat is karate champion Molly Irene Samuel-Leport MBE from outside Brent or Harrow.

Increased crime against retail workers needs focus

“No one should go to work fearing violence or threats” says Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas.
At the Commons debate on Policing and Crime on 29 January 2020, he pointed out that one particular area of crime that is on the rise is crime against retail workers.
“They face increasing threats of violence, many involving a knife and many, sadly, involving guns, particularly where age-restricted products are involved” he informed.
The debate took place as Diane Abbott Shadow Home Secretary moved a motion, asking that this house:
Policing
Tory majority, including Harrow East MP Blackman, voted no on Policing and Crime.
The debate heard that police resources in Scotland are much healthy where police officer numbers are up by 1000, despite significant cuts to Scotland’s budget from Westminster. As of 30 September 2019, the total police officers were up 1,022 on 2007 figures. Scotland has more officers per head of population than in England and Wales. The ratio in Scotland is 32 officers per 10,000 members of the population versus 21 officers per 10,000 members of the population in England and Wales.

Harrow to make council tax rise less painful for some

Following the last year’s maximum legal limit increase (4.99%), the council tax rise for 2020-21 is close to 4% which, like previously, has serious implications for those worst affected by government cuts.
Harrow follows the London pattern where the poorest pay 8.1 per cent of household income in council tax, while for those in the top income decile contribute just 1.3 per cent of their earnings.
This disparity is mainly because property valuations, on which the system is based, have not been updated since 1991, while house prices have rocketed. But the inability of cash-strapped local authorities to offer the poorest full relief from the tax as was the case in the past, when the relief was funded by central government, is another factor.
Harrow has agreed to invest an extra £400,000 a year to help those worst affected by government cuts. The new funding will give extra Council Tax relief to families on Universal Credit, freeze Council Tax for low-income households, and create a new Council Tax Protection Fund for people.
Under the new Fund, families making their first claim for Universal Credit will receive a two-week Council Tax discount, helping to see them through the long wait before they get their first payment.
Universal Credit is a single payment designed to replace the current benefits system. The amount of Universal Credit can change as people’s income changes, and claimants can wait six weeks for their first payment. This means frequent changes to Council Tax Support, uncertainty for claimants and higher costs for the council.
Cllr Adam Swersky, cabinet member for finance, said “The wait for Universal Credit can be an especially uncertain and worrying time and can force families to rely on food banks or even become homeless. Our new investments will make thousands of people better off at their time of greatest need”.
Tory opposition group on the council once again let down the residents as they failed to produce a shadow budget, and therefore missing opportunity to hold the administration to account through well informed argument.

 

No to Tory play!

15120 titleOpposition Tory group on the Harrow council has failed to produce a shadow budget which they owe to the residents, but instead indulges in political point-scoring about the general election results in Harrow.
They asked the forthcoming Council meeting to debate a motion regarding the local outcome of the 2019 general election. The mischievous motion has now been rejected by the chair, Harrow mayor, for being  inappropriate.
The rejected motion noted that Harrow East MP Bob Blackman returned with an increased majority while Labour MP Gareth Thomas returned with a reduced majority.
According to the Tories, this represented a “round rejection of the Marxist ideology” associated with the Labour leadership (Jeremy Corbyn).
While the Labour candidate for Harrow East Pamela Fitzpatrick ran a clean and positive election campaign, Bob Blackman relied on exploiting Indian and Jewish background voters and ran an aggressive smear campaign against Labour leader and the candidate.
In his election letter he described the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as being “under the thumb of Momentum, who has revelled in regarding terrorists as his friends, regards Venezuela as a role model and failed to root out antisemitism and an anti-India culture which has become entrenched in his Labour party” and then posed a question whether he should be voted in or the “Jeremy Corbyn’s representative in Harrow”.
According to Harrow’s constitution, motions can be declared invalid if they risk defamation, are frivolous or offensive, do not relate to the council or the borough, could disclose confidential information, or have been discussed at full council in the last six months.
Quite rightly, sober Harrow has no place for allowing foreign helped anti-Corbyn hysteria to divide the community.
But of course the Tory group deputy leader Cllr Ashton, backbone of the Harrow East conservatives that nurture the divisive characters like the Belmont Cllr Patel and Blackman, thinks otherwise and rubbishes the mayor’s wise decision.

Harrow much behind in suicide prevention measures

SPWhilst all councils are expected to develop and implement a Suicide Prevention Action Plan, and many have, Harrow currently does not have an up to date Plan.
Documents before the forthcoming Health and Wellbeing Board inform that a coordinated and new Plan is required which will enable a strategic approach to suicide prevention, particularly where services cross over in to neighbouring boroughs such as Brent.
Data produced from Public Health England (PHE) show that suicide rates for all persons during 2016-2018 in Harrow, is 6.4 per 100,000 compared with England’s rate of 9.6 and London’s rate of 8.1 per 100,000.
The data also show that the suicide rate for men in Harrow mirrors the national picture, where rates for men are higher when compared with females. The suicide rate for men in Harrow is 9.0 compared with 3.6 for females. However, nationally, rates for females taking their own lives are increasing.
Now a draft Action Plan that has been developed by Brent and Harrow Public Health and is before the board, aims to reflect actions on the national six key priorities including self-harm.
The Plan has been developed in partnership with local organisations that either commission or deliver services related to mental and emotional health, suicide and bereavement support, using data mostly generated by them.
The Plan has 31 actions across each action area ranging from promotion of suicide prevention training in businesses to supporting schools to deliver suicide prevention messages.
The Action Plan that will focus on the tackling suicide rates in men and children and young people in Year 2019-2020 is not costed nor shows success criteria.
The plan of this nature cannot be without resources implication. For example, imaginative preventive measures include audio/video resources like a guide to suicide prevention in easily digestible presentation format to help anyone needing to make the case for suicide prevention and key areas of work within this. The resources could also include charts, images, maps, statistics, quotes – that are useful for illustrating the importance of suicide prevention.

 

Blackman not honest about NHS

bb4Hustings after dustings in Harrow, Bob Blackman, than Tory candidate and now MP for Harrow East, assured that NHS is not up for sale – but it is!
After misleading Harrow residents this way, he sought temple blessings in vote capturing exercise without any confession. It would be difficult to disagree with those who say such an opportunist can’t be trusted!
‘Private firms invited to run NHS services with cancer and kids treatments on sale’, Sunday Mirror reported on 28 December 2019.
Bids for chunks of the health service are invited in complete contrast to Boris Johnson ’s repeated election campaign denials.
Cardiology, gynaecology, paediatrics and oncology are among the services being offered to companies.
A new framework drawn up by NHS Shared Business Services for hospital trusts to buy clinical care from a list of suppliers, could lead to deals worth up to £117million being handed out over four years.
Furthermore, trade experts have pointed out that there is a degree of inevitability that, when agreeing a free trade deal (FTD) with the US, it would automatically expect access to the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry in the UK.
Apart from giving publicity to those who hold hustings, including the places of worship, the hustings are out of date and waste of time activity as they do not have any mechanism to hold the candidates to account once they are elected.
It would be appropriate for the hustings-holders in Harrow to ask Mr Blackman why he misled about the NHS future, and then make his apology public.
Also ask Gareth Thomas, MP Harrow West, how exactly he is going to implement his sweeping statements at the hustings about this or that?

 

Harrow divisive politics

Untitled-23Politics around the world is now more aggressive, vicious and divisive – be nasty and win, be nice and lose!
In Harrow both Harrow MPs retained their seat, seemingly through divisiveness, though differently.
Harrow East Tory MP Bob Blackman does not hide the sense of extensively using temples and temple communities for votes, as his after election newsletter demonstrates – he even took MP oath holding Gita (Sanskrit scripture, part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata).
He is not worried about what his inclusion, exclusion and cheap gimmicks do to the community relationships till he gets his votes.
Harrow West Labour MP Gareth Thomas makes obvious his disliking for the ‘left’ and therefore reservation about Jeremy Corbyn leadership and the spirit of social justice that has inspired Harrow, particularly through the Harrow East Labour campaign.
Pro and against Jeremy Corby Labour streams in Harrow are too obvious to miss where Brexit issue and anti-Corbin offensive remain combined, and who cares about considering its socio-community implications generally or for the party till Mr Thomas  gains from this.
In his dog whistle, Mr Thomas tweeted: “In the last 50 years Labour has won just 4 of the last 14 General Elections. How many more do we have to lose before a Labour Leader recognises that it’s not enough to be principled, we have to be perceived to be moderate, patriotic & fiscally responsible as well?”
Could a reference to ‘moderate & patriotic’ be to Tony Blair and alike, operative shadow of Tories, supporting the spread of colonialism, attacks on middle eastern countries to destroy and kill like in Iraq, covering up seminal role of banks in 2008 crash which made Tory austerity measures ‘common sense’, lodged in millions minds, including Labour?
And perhaps it was in the spirit of patriotism that Mr Thomas voted for the Cameron motion to bomb Syria while even some Tory MPs, including David Davis, voted against!
Labour party is to start process to find a new leader soon.
Mr Thomas, a member of Labour Friends of Israel, first supported Liz Kendall  and then Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.  His choice of the type of Labour leadership seems obvious!
Most probably Mr Blackman would not but would Mr Thomas publish an action plan to fulfil his stated pre election commitments.

 

Harrow matters!

Untitled 22As the Harrow MPs have managed to retain their seats, through whatever means they could, they should now concentrate more on addressing the challenges that Harrow faces.
Harrow Council is one of the lowest funded councils in London and it is estimated that by 2020-21 the council will have to find £125 million to balance its budgets. This means huge pressure on Harrow Council to deliver effective public services.
GP appointments are getting very difficult, Harrow walk-in services that helped out are now closed and A&E overflowing. Added to this is the NHS ‘rationing’ where GPs have been urged against referring patients to hospital specialists and consultants for such treatments as hip and knee replacements and cataract surgery.
Mental health care, especially effecting young people, is in crisis, needing, for example,  more and better Counselling.
Austerity measures have hit Harrow badly – 30% of children in Harrow, and 40% in some parts of the borough, live in poverty.
Harrow food bank fed over 2617 people this year, including over 1041 children, and it is feared that there will be 1,532 homeless children in Harrow this Christmas.
Metropolitan police budget cuts have serious implications for policing e.g. to cope with increased knife crimes in Harrow.
In Harrow, in the 12 months to Sept 2019 there were 648 racist and religious hate crimes reported, up from 288 the previous year.
About 27,723 private renters in Harrow need protection from bad landlords.
And the list of deprivation and unfavourable conditions confronting residents can go on!
It would be professionally sound for Harrow MPs to publish action plans to address the dire local situations that adversely impact the quality of life of residents, more so the lives of vulnerable and those groups of residents who have different but equally important needs.
In demanding best value for money, at £79,468 salary (MP annual salary), a manager in service industry will be required to plan and deliver effective services.

 

Election 2019 – Harrow (final)

Untitled 21General election 2019 gave a sense of ‘presidential’ election with an overriding objective to defeat/oust Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who constantly faced smear campaigns from within and seemingly from outside Britain.
Divisiveness worked and Tory candidate Bob Blackman retained his Harrow East seat. No doubt he would keep supporting government policies and practices which have adverse differential impact on groups of people including vulnerable and those who have different but equally important needs.
Momentum backed Harrow East Labour candidate Pamela Fitzpatrick worked hard and carried out positive campaign but was too good to win in most aggressive political climate: soon after she was selected, there were whispers ‘how can she win, she has no standing in the Gujarati households’ – this seemingly remained the theme throughout, compounded by the ‘vote against Labour’ campaign, recycled by some Labour and places of worship – looks she was set to fail!
Divide for/against Momentum and Corbyn looked so obvious!
Despite Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson lost her seat, Lib Dem Lisa-Maria Bornemann (Harrow West) and Adam Bernard (Harrow East) increased their share of votes.
Harrow West Labour candidate Gareth Thomas, more experienced in muddy community politics and played a variety of race ‘cards’,  retained his seat but with reduced majority which does not reflect well considering that Tory candidate Anwara Ali was a new comer to Harrow, had only few weeks to canvass and was almost dumped by her party.
votes

 

Election 2019 – Harrow West (3)

Untitled-20Latest leaflet from Lisa-Maria Bornemann informs that at the European election earlier this year, the Liberal Democrat in Harrow gained their highest vote share in a national election for over a decade.
Apparently their vote share increased by 19 per cent (2017 general election and 2019 European election) while Labour were down 28 per cent and Tories 27 percent.
She wants society to be open and welcoming to everyone and says “Harrow’s wonderful diversity makes her glad to live here”.
Lisa-Maria Bornemann, a team manager in the public sector, founded Liberal Democrat immigrants, promoting the rights of all who choose to live in Harrow.
She believes in a more prosperous Britain by staying at the heart of a modernised EU, tackling the climate change challenges and protecting public services.
It looks there are wider choices for Harrow West voters who are fed up with the divisive community politics to please some at the cost of others, using priests and places of worship, and the Brexit, both distastefully dominating the election campaign.

 

Election 2019 – Harrow East/West

Untitled-19Harrow could do well with at least one MP who could really champion social justice and equality, given the level of deprivation, vulnerability and disability in Harrow due to the government’s socio-economic policies and practices which have differential impact on groups of people and which have not been effectively dealt with – if they could not deliver yesterday, can they be trusted to deliver tomorrow?
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Election 2019 – Harrow East (3)

Untitled-17Tory candidate for Harrow East Bob Blackman is number 510 on the People-Power Index, a measure to see how hard MPs work.
The assessment criteria include MP’s availability to their constituents, participation in parliament and how an MP listens to the public, representing all constituents.
So what Mr Blackman does to remain in Harrow East marginal seat – the following references to him indicate how:
“The Tory candidate in my late parents’ constituency of Harrow East seems to be up to his neck in this cynical attempt at divide and rule by faith (Labour is accused of being pro-Muslim and anti-Hindu
“People in Harrow have already spoken out. Bob Blackman is neither Hindu nor Muslim but employs this far-right playbook at the expense of others so as to weigh their votes without counting the long-term cost of fanning the flames of racial tension” said Shami Chakrabarti, shadow attorney general for England and Wales.
“The approach of Bob Blackman during his nine years as Harrow East’s MP has been widely criticised for dividing communities. Wrapping himself in Hindu and Jewish causes, he has drawn fury by hosting events in parliament attended by extreme Hindu nationalist Tapan Ghosh – Blackman demurs that he didn’t invite him – sharing and then retracting Islamophobic articles by the likes of Tommy Robinson, and speaking proudly of his opposition to equal marriage” as Joshua Neicho pointed out.
Mr Blackman’s divisiveness has been compounded by others, for example, a letter  apparently from Lord Popat (Con) sent to the Harrow East Gujarati households, supporting Mr Blackman, said:
poput
(The protest march was redirected away from the Indian High Commission building on the request of the Indian High Commission and not because of what Mr Blackman said at the Commons!!)

 

Election 2019 – Harrow West (2)

Untitled-15In an interview with the Muslim News the then Labour/Co-operative MP for Harrow West Mr Thomas (Coop chair 2001-2019) felt that “Muslim should vote Coop” and  said that Muslim and Coop values “lean the same way” and thought that there’s significant overlap between the Coop and Muslims.
“I would support a Muslim credit union that borrows money interest-free,” Mr Thomas added.
What was true some years back, is most likely true now!
The Co-operative Party and Labour Party have had an electoral alliance known as the ‘National Agreement’ since 1927, meaning they don’t stand against each other in elections.  Instead both parties agree joint candidates to stand as Labour and Co-operative Party.
Mr Thomas now Labour/Co-operative candidate for Harrow West considers himself far more suitable but somewhat insecure than the Tory candidate Anwara Ali who he said has been “parachuted into Harrow West from the other side of London”.
Anwara Ali might not win but her name seems to have caused significant political ripples.
Having heard concerns that Mr Thomas appears to be following the tactics of divisive Tory candidate for Harrow East to capture Indian background votes, wider views gleaned indicate that this was not generally the case.
Although Mr Thomas is only in the mid range (number 312) on People-Power Index list which is a measure to see how hard MPs work, he seems to be catering for wider community interests.
For example, his historic interaction with the Pakistani community is well appreciated, like when shadow foreign secretary in 2014, he was chief guest at the conference about Kashmir where he thanked the organisers: “I am thankful to SDM (Jammu Kashmir Right of Self-Determination Movement) leadership and Julie Hilling (Lab MP) as they provided me chance to come in this conference”, he said.
He is seen at various mosques and is an active supporter of the under construction Salaam Centre, a project to build a truly unique space for the Muslim and the wider community in North Harrow.
Votes of ethnic minority groups are obviously vital to the outcome on 13 December whose support can be expected to break in different ways, some more predictable than others.

 

Election 2019 – Harrow East (2)

Untitled-13Snapshot survey indicates that with the exception of some mischievously poisoned against Labour, most consider Pamela Fitzpatrick (Lab) a suitable MP candidate for Harrow East.
In contrast, Bob Blackman, Tory candidate for Harrow East, suitability rating is much down, for example, he is number 510 (almost bottom) on the People-Power Index, a health check of how Parliament is working and how MPs are listening to, and engaging with, their constituents.
Ms Fitzpatrick is well trusted to address the dire NHS situations where ‘under Tories, NHS is being critically underfunded and is at risk of being sold off to Donald Trump’.
Much appreciation for Ms Fitzpatrick leading the ‘Save our walk-in clinic’ campaign to avoid the closure of Belmont Walk in Centre which she said could not come at a worse time. The winter is here, Northwick Park is already overstretched and local people are often having to wait weeks for a GP appointment.
Mental health is another major concern: “We have a mental health crisis with our young people – here in Harrow and around the country” said Pamela Fitzpatrick in welcoming Labour plans for a counsellor in every secondary school, including in Harrow.
As a voluntary legal advisor, Ms Fitzpatrick has been dealing with many ill effects of austerity in Harrow.
Over 30% of children in Harrow live in poverty where child poverty is rising to 40% in some wards. Last year, the Harrow food bank fed over 2617 people, including over 1041 children.
The government has cut the budget of the Metropolitan police drastically, forcing a reduction in officer – Harrow has seen an increase in violent crime with knife crime becoming a more frequent occurrence.
In Harrow, in the 12 months to Sept 2019 there were 648 racist and religious hate crimes reported, up from 288 the previous year.
Pamela Fitzpatrick said “It saddens to me to speak to local people in the area and hear them worried about the safety of them and their family. The people of Wealdstone should feel as safe as people in Windsor”.
Ms Fitzpatrick in committed to see more police on the streets and funding youth services to stop crime at its root causes.
On the homelessness in Harrow, Ms Fitzpatrick is touched by people who sleep out in the cold in Central Harrow and Wealdstone and another, unseen, side where children and families sleeping on someone’s sofa, or in temporary accommodation.
“The way to solve this is building more council housing, strong protections for renters’ rights, and proper funding for homelessness services. That’s how we’ll solve our broken housing market” said Ms Fitzpatrick.
In responding to the news that there will be 1,532 homeless children in Harrow this Christmas, Ms Fitzpatrick said “It’s appalling at any time of the year, but it’s especially shocking at Christmas”.
Ms Fitzpatrick who believes in putting power in the hands of tenants welcomes a new Labour ‘charter of renters’ rights which will protect private renters from bad landlords.
There are 27,723 households in Harrow – 31% – that will benefit from the plans.
Odd that there are no louder echoes of this injustice and inequality issues from Harrow West, perhaps because it is seemingly locked in Tony Blair era (many believe Blair should be tried as a war criminal over the Iraq War that resulted in half a million people dead)!

 

Election 2019 – Harrow East

Untitled-12When at the Brent council, Bob Blackman, now Tory candidate for Harrow East, blocked honour for Mandela. He took Brent councillors to the High Court to stop them awarding Nelson Mandela the ‘freedom of the borough’ when he visited the area’s Wembley Stadium for a marquee concert broadcast in 60 countries.
Mr Blackman won the comments like “It’s a shame that even after Apartheid South Africa had forgiven Nelson Mandela, one British political wingnut couldn’t”.
Mr Blackman still seems to be proud of what he did.
He supported Zac Goldsmith campaign soaked in racism at the last London mayor election in one of the most ethnically diverse cities on earth. He has not distanced himself from that campaign.
Mr Blackman voted to prevent the release of secret documents about the Windrush scandal.
The political scandal last year was about black people who were wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation, and, in at least 83 cases, wrongly deported from the UK by the Home Office. Many of those affected had been born British subjects and had arrived in the UK before 1973, particularly from Caribbean countries as members of the “Windrush generation” (so named after the Empire Windrush, the ship that brought one of the first groups of West Indian migrants to the UK in 1948).
“Bob Blackman, the MP for Harrow East, shared a story which had the headline: “Muslim Somali sex gang say raping white British children ‘part of their culture’.” reported the Independent newspaper.
Mr Blackman supports the Boris Johnson who has been called “a racist PM and a racist candidate” by the Momentum founder Jon Lansman, brought up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Southgate.
Mr Blackman has not condemned the hateful ‘vote against Labour’ campaign, seemingly engineered by despicable elements outside the UK.
He works closely with his temple visits facilitator the Harrow councillor Anjana Patel who has been included in an Islamophobia dossier.
Mr Blackman has been described as a right-wing extremist. He has opposed equal marriage, called for the reintroduction of the anti-gay Section 28, as well as backing the bedroom tax, austerity, cuts to taxes on the rich, trebling tuition fees, privatisation and other unjust Tory policies, including removing hot meals for children from low income families.
In the last election, Labour slashed his majority from 4,757 to just 1,757 despite he has calculated his votes and stirs up emotions in the Indian and Jewish background voters for political gains all the time.

 

Election 2019 – Harrow West

Untitled9Mr Thomas, a member of Labour Friends of Israel, first supported Liz Kendall  and then Owen Smith in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.  After Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in the leadership election (Corbyn remains under attack since), he was one of the first Labour MPs to go for the frontbench.
It is very concerning that this general election seems to be full of divisive, untrue and hateful smear campaigns against the opposition, particularly Labour leadership, seemingly engineered by despicable elements outside the UK.
What also seems to be worrying Mr Thomas is the fact that unlike Harrow East, Harrow West had always been won by the Tory party until Labour’s landslide in 1997 when a swing of 17.5% was the eighth-highest swing in that election, and it was the safest Conservative seat to be lost to Labour.
Added to this tension is that Tory candidate Anwara Ali could snatch considerable number of votes that Mr Thomas has taken for granted for long.
In view of all above, it is understandable that unlike Harrow East Labour graceful campaign based on Labour policies, Mr Thomas is keen to retain his seat, perhaps with reduced majority, and has developed his own tactics, deploying most local Labour resources. Therefore, some panicky and patronising political gestures on social media to survive from the widely condemned ‘vote against Labour’ campaign and to access the ‘Gujarati community’!!
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Election 2019 – Harrow concerns!

Untitled-4Harrow councillor Anjana Patel (Con) has been widely reported for her ‘anti-Muslim tweet’ but she and Harrow Conservatives have failed to apologise for her unprompted tweet to the Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, demanding to know “how are you going to help?” after two Hindu girls were allegedly kidnapped, “molested and forcibly converted” to “your religion, Islam”.
This suggests that Yousafzai is responsible for the actions of other Muslims, which comes under the all-party parliamentary group’s definition of Islamophobia (Harrow council has adopted the definition).
Despite all this Brent North Tories selected her for the parliamentary seat.
The Harrow Times who has covered the story locally reports that ‘Harrow Conservatives have been contacted for comment’ (but obviously they have not responded).
Not only this but she is sharing photo evidence of her  close association with Harrow East Tory candidate Bob Blackman, home secretary Priti Patel and PM Boris Johnson.
PAIn the same Harrow, Harrow councillor Peymana Assad (Lab), candidate for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, has apologised for 2012 Twitter post referring to Israel which used the word “gassed”.
She said “Some man I just met thought I was Israeli so I cracked the 10 lost tribes of Israel joke to him and he got gassed (slag for when one is overwhelmed or cannot hold your excitement any longer)”.
AA24Similarly Harrow West Tory candidate Anwara Ali distanced herself from Kate Hopkins, a commentator well known for her habit of demonising Muslims, when her attention was drawn to a widely circulating twitter reply to Hopkins, seemingly by her.
Hopkins was included in the reply that described “women power – the lovely¸ witty, intelligent”.
“I do not share KH abhorrent & racist views, Judge me by the work I have done” said Dr Ali.

 

‘charter of renters’

Untitled-3Labour has set out plans to put power in the hands of tenants with a new ‘charter of renters’ rights which will protect private renters from bad landlords.
The charter will enable new open-ended tenancies, protecting tenants from unfair eviction; new minimum standards, backed by a new annual property MOT as well as fresh local enforcement powers, and local housing allowance increased to cover the cost of renting.
The national ‘property MOT’ would introduce a legal requirement for landlords to complete an independent annual inspection to ensure homes are up to scratch, with tough fines and forced repayment of rent to tenants if landlords let out sub-standard properties or flout the rules.
Nationally, one in four private rented homes are classed as ‘non-decent’, meaning they are damp, cold, in disrepair or unsafe to live in.
There are 27,723 households in Harrow – 31% – that will benefit from the Labour’s plans.
PamLabour’s candidate in Harrow East, Pamela Fitzpatrick, said “As the number of council homes has been cut by the Tories, there have been more and more private renters, with fewer and fewer choices.
“Now one in three families are renting privately here, and none of them are protected by the government if their landlord tries to get one over on them.
“It doesn’t have to be this way: what we need are rent controls and strong rights to help renters against dodgy landlords. That’s real change for renters.
“Everyone deserves high quality housing – and this is how we’ll make sure we get it. Labour’s got your back.”

 

Election 2019 (continued)

Untitled-2Snapshot survey by the Harrow Monitoring Group indicates that Tory candidate Bob Blackman has disappointed many voters who feel that he is more interested in retaining his seat than resolving the overriding Harrow issues.
In the 2017 general election, Labour achieved +5.3 swing, slashing Mr Blackman’s (Con) majority from 4,757 in 2015 to 1,757, despite his divisive politics, like using places of worship and exploiting sectarian and international issues, to attract the Indian or Jewish background voters.
Many others did, but did Mr Blackman distance himself from the toxic messages (‘vote against Labour’) circulating within a certain community which he extensively works on?
After rubbishing Jeremy Corby in his recent letter to the residents, Mr Blackman poses a question: would they vote for him who has “actively represented” them or “Jeremy Corbyn representative in Harrow”?
Far from representing the interests of majority constituents, he is supporting Brexit even when reminded that majority in Harrow East voted for Remain!!
He remains unconcerned about the brutal force of Tory enforced austerity that has harshly cut down the expenditure of local government which has serious implications for the council services – Harrow council has lost £50m.
The austerity and the resulting socio-economic deprivation might not be significant issues in the four Tory dominated wards, these are very real matters in the other wards in Harrow East.
Harrow CCG is almost £40 million in the red and its financial position worsening, resulting in three walk-in centres have closed or are closing. Mr Blackman has not supported residents concerns regarding the closure but is rather pleased that the clinics are now appointment only GP services.

 

Election 2019

Untitled-1Entry of the Brexit party candidate Richard Jones, who believes that “trust in our democracy is under threat” and who is ready to “reform” the political system, could have the same beneficial effect for Tory candidate Dr Anwara Ali as did the *Referendum party in 1997 when Gareth Thomas unexpectedly won since there are many Labour Leavers in Harrow West – (*Referendum party gained 1997 votes and Gareth Thomas won by 1200 votes).
AAAThough Harrow has a possibility to have its first Muslim MP, perhaps her party is not enthusiastic about it.
Dr Anwara Ali and few of her fellow Bangladeshi friends from her town Tower Hamlets were seen distributing her introduction leaflet outside the Harrow mosque this Friday. They were pleading for a vote for her just because who she is – no professional canvassing!
Not only that she seems to have no local prominent Tories around (like the leader and deputy leader of the Tory group) but she seems to be missing political direction for a meaningful campaign.
Politically rather immature leaflet, printed in East End and probably from her money, says “I understand the issues and concerns faced by many of you, rising gang crime, fly-tipping, high rise developments with loss of historic skyline, stretched NHS services and loss of green space”.
Is there ‘gang crime’ in Harrow? Usually these are the councillors and not an MP who try to resolve ‘fli-tipping’ issues. Most of the ‘high rise developments’ in Harrow have already taken place and the use of green spaces is according to the local, regionally and national planning policies and guidelines.
While Dr Ali has been left to swim or sink, her background is well used by local and national Tory party to veil Islamophobia in the party.
For example, nationally, to shield Boris Johnson who is a “racist PM and a racist candidate”, according to the founder of Momentum Jon Lansman  who was recently speaking in Harrow.
Locally, to defend the well exposed Harrow East candidate Bob Blackman for his endorsement of anti-Muslim elements, and the Belmont councillor and Brent North Tory candidate Anjana Patel for her anti-Muslim comments.