Q356 Kevin Brennan: But you have got a big bee in your bonnet and what I am saying to you is that that is fair enough, but are you saying that things are worse in this country than they are in comparable western democracies? I am not trying to make a comparison with a country that might be run by a dictatorship.
Ms Alibhai-Brown: Why does that matter? We can do better. We should do better. We are in the 21st century. It does not matter if Italian politicians are more corrupt than ours in a different way from ours. I think the level of unwholesome influence is greater than perhaps people realise and it is not just money. There are, for example, votes. If you go to certain localities in our country where there is supposed to be a proper democracy where people make individual choices about where they want to vote, henchmen deliver votes en masse and often they find themselves honoured or given all sorts of very privileged positions.
Q357 Kevin Brennan: Could you give me an example of that?
Ms Alibhai-Brown: In the last election I went to all of our northern towns during the whole ten days of the election and followed the candidates. It was a very interesting experience because of the kinds of deals that were being done, and because I speak a number of Asian languages they could talk to me in those languages while they were saying something else publicly. All the public meetings were entirely male. Deals were being done as you watched, that “We will deliver all these votes to this particular party”. I asked some of the women whose homes I went into, “Who do you want to vote for? Who would you like to vote for in this?” “Oh, it is not up to us”. It is up to not the husband but, if you like, the henchmen who are constantly being named. Some of those henchmen have done very important deals one way or another. I think it should disturb us that we are not as good as we could be.
Q358 Kevin Brennan: But could you give us the name of a henchman who has received an honour after corruptly delivering votes to the Asian community?
Ms Alibhai-Brown: I cannot do that but you can look at some of the people who have done well since the election. I cannot do that, obviously: put a name down. There is confidentiality.
Q359 Kevin Brennan: Why not?
Ms Alibhai-Brown: No, but it seems very clear to me that lots of politicians—and they know who they are—in certain localities are privileging—
Q360 Kevin Brennan: Do you not think you do have a responsibility if you make a serious accusation of that kind?
Ms Alibhai-Brown: It is what I observed. I observed it; I interviewed people.
Q361 Kevin Brennan: It is a serious matter, possibly criminal.
Ms Alibhai-Brown: I have written what I have observed in my columns many times.
Q362 Kevin Brennan: But you will not say who is responsible?
Ms Alibhai-Brown: I cannot do that in an open meeting, but it is very clear to me. It is not just money. We like to think of ourselves as not as bad as A, B, C, D, but I think we should be very careful.
Q363 Kevin Brennan: You have parliamentary privilege while you are here. It is a good opportunity.
Ms Alibhai-Brown: No, I cannot. But as an example and without prejudice, I would like to know, what was the reason for Lord Patel getting his position.
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