Moderate Labour Lewisham East Chair Suspended After Corbynista Campaign

Labour say the Blairite chairman of Lewisham East CLP has been suspended pending an investigation into his tweets about Emily Thornberry. UPDATE 0824: A Labour spokesman gets in touch to clarify that he hasn’t been suspended yet. UPDATE 0940: He has indeed now been suspended. Chaos at Labour HQ…

Ian McKenzie is loathed by the left because he limited the power of Momentum and Corbynistas within Lewisham party – this paid off when moderate Janet Daby defeated both left-backed candidates in the parliamentary selection. Since the result became clear McKenzie has been targeted on social media by prominent Corbyn outriders including Aaron Bastani and Owen Jones. Corbynistas widely shared tweets where McKenzie wrote: “Emily Thornberry is too old for Isis. They won’t make a sex slave of her. They’ll behead her and dump her in a mass grave.” McKenzie also wrote: “Maybe she’d agree sex slavery to one man only, provided he didn’t sell her on or insist on gang rape.” 

A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of abuse and discrimination extremely seriously. Any complaints are fully investigated and any appropriate disciplinary action taken in line with our rules and procedures”No delay when it comes to cracking down on moderates…

Lewisham Labour Candidate is Progress-Backed Prevent Champion

Having lost the Lewisham East selection, Corbynistas are boldly spinning that the successful candidate, Janet Daby, is one of them as she voted for Jezza for the leadership. Apparently her victory is proof of a new left-wing “hegemony” in the Labour Party. Not quite…

  • Her selection campaign was run by a rival faction on the right of the party, Labour First, led by Corbyn arch-enemy Matt Pound. Their operational success on the ground is infuriating Momentum and Unite.
  • She was the Progress candidate – the Blairite faction’s support was crucial in helping her win the selection.
  • Daby vowed to “continue Heidi Alexander’s work” campaigning to stay in the single market – a position directly at odds with Labour policy and Lexiteer Jezza’s plan to escape state aid rules.
  • Her role as a local Prevent champion will rile the left – how can Corbynistas who say Prevent is Islamophobic possibly back a candidate who has a key role in delivering the programme in Lewisham?
  • As a councillor, her centrist credentials go way back, even to 2010, when she backed Oona King against Ken Livingstone, a position she took once again alongside Progress.

Does that sound like Corbynista hegemony to you?

Three Labour Lewisham East Candidates Promoted Extremist Imam

Three of the Labour candidates on the Lewisham East shortlist promoted a radical imam who the High Court ruled “clearly promoted and encouraged violence in support of Islam and espoused a series of extremist Islamic positions”. 

Shakeel Begg is the imam at Lewisham Islamic Centre. In 2016 he lost a libel action against the BBC after a judge ruled he had promoted violence. Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said “he has shed the cloak of respectability and revealed the horns of extremism”. The court heard that in 2006, Begg gave a speech urging his followers to travel to Palestine to “fight the Zionists”. In 2008, Begg praised Muslims who had travelled abroad to fight enemies of Islam. Two further speeches were found to have contained extremist content. The judge ruled:

“The various core extremist messages which emerge from the claimant’s speeches and utterances would, in my view, have been quite clear to the audiences. The claimant’s ostensible cloak of respectability is likely to have made his [extremist] message in these speeches all the more compelling and seductive. For this reason, therefore, his messages would have been all the more effective and dangerous. It is all too easy for someone in the claimant’s position of power and influence as an Imam to plant the seed of Islamic extremism in a young mind, which is then liable to be propagated on the internet.”

Lewisham Islamic Centre is one of the most controversial mosques in Britain. In 2013, it was revealed that Lee Rigby’s killers Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale had links to the mosque. A Whitehall source told the papers: “It does attract a radical crowd and radical speakers and has its fair share of converts. From that perspective it is significant. Adebolajo and Adebowale did go there, and anywhere that attracts extremists is of interest”.

Despite these extremist links, Labour’s candidates in Lewisham East have repeatedly promoted Shakeel Begg and the Lewisham Islamic Centre.

Two weeks ago, Sakina Sheikh, the Momentum-backed candidate, was filmed sharing a platform with Begg at the Lewisham Islamic Centre. During her recent council campaign, Lewisham Islamic Centre produced a leaflet urging local Muslims to vote for Sheikh. It said: “We pray that Allah (God) Almighty blesses… Ms Sakina Sheikh”.

In February, Janet Daby, also a Lewisham East candidate, took part in a panel discussion with Begg at Lewisham Islamic Centre.

In October last year, Brenda Dacres, another Lewisham East candidate, promoted a lecture given by Begg at Lewisham Islamic Centre. In August last year, Dacres joined Begg at a Unite Against Fascism rally.

Begg is clearly a player in Lewisham, he was certainly seen as important by Labour politicians seeking votes on their council campaigns, so much so that one candidate even publicly appeared with him the night before this month’s local elections. He is also someone who the High Court says is a dangerous extremist. At the height of Labour’s anti-Semitism scandal, it is unfortunate that three of Labour’s candidates in Lewisham East have promoted someone who told his followers to travel to Palestine to “fight the Zionists”…

Seen Elsewhere