As Anjem Choudary sits in his prison cell awaiting his sentence in September, he has the consolation of knowing that he is not a defeated man. He leaves a personal legacy of death and destruction among the young, and he has the knowledge that his version of Islam has been tolerated if not yet fully embraced by most major institutions of the British state. So overwhelming is the influence of his culture, or perhaps the weakness and squeamishness of his host nation, that for twenty years while he openly preached hate and encouraging violent Jihad, the British state could not frame a single new law to stop him.
The British Prime Minister and Secretary of State at the Home Office worried about preserving freedom for his culture to express itself even if it actively allowed the democratic process to be undermined.
Last week 12/8/16 on the BBC Today programme, Sir Eric Pickles, former Secretary for Communities and Local Government, soft voiced and cautious, described how ‘The Mother of Parliaments,’ ‘our democratic foundation’ has been ‘systematically undermined’ by Islamic electoral fraud. Of course he missed out the word ‘Islamic.’
He said more politely that because of, ‘Political correctness and sensitivities towards ethnicity,’ ‘state institutions’ had ‘turned a blind eye to the intimidation of voters.’
Anyone who saw scenes from Tower Hamlets, east London, on the news last year could see crowds of Muslim men gathered outside polling stations stopping people going in and intimidating women, while British police stood outside the gates doing nothing.
Since then Sir Eric has written a report on electoral fraud in the UK, which has taken a year to complete. Discussing his views, Mishal Husain on the BBC Today Programme became a very exacting interviewer.
‘Pressure was put on women and vulnerable people in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi community?’ She asked Pickles. ‘Where is the evidence?
He had plenty including landlords in Tower Hamlets demanding that tenants photographed and showed them their postal voting papers.
‘How many cases?’ demanded Husain, ‘And was it just in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities?’
Pickles was approaching hot water. He carefully edged his way, making a very salient point: ‘With those communities there is a sense of collective action rather than individuals making a decision. I want the Muslim community to fully enter into public life but in a fair way.’
He wasn’t safe yet.
‘Are Muslims more likely to commit electoral fraud than other groups?’
It was Husain’s killer question, which she knew he could not answer truthfully and remain in public life himself. The great tank that is Pickles rolled to a slightly juddering halt. He hummed and hawed a bit then gathered himself: ‘The report does deal with other ethnic groups…’
‘Such as?’ demanded his interrogator.
‘White people’ he said rather lamely, then picking up momentum a bit, ‘But it’s fair to say that we have probably seen it at its most extreme with (he missed out any reference to who he was talking about now) with voting ware-houses, with personation, than anywhere else.’
Vague but we all knew exactly what he meant, and he still had his professional life intact. There would be no apology for inadvertent racism followed by his prompt resignation.
She moved on to less tricky matters where he was not obliged to name any ethnic groups, instead naming some of the institutions of our state which have wilfully allowed the Islamic groups to commit unmitigated fraud.
The Electoral Commission he pointed out gave Tower Hamlets a ‘five star’ score for probity. Husain denied that the Commission knew what was going on there. Pickles put her right. They moved on to the police who he said had been very reluctant to investigate, let alone prosecute. She didn’t think they had any evidence. Pickles pointed out that a court case against the mayor of Tower Hamlets had ‘laid out a whole catalogue of corruption,’ and he said, ‘the police should have followed it through.’
The mayor Lutfur Rahman was found to have intimidated his critics with accusations of ‘Islamaphobia’ and racism, and he was accused of using ‘corrupt and illegal practices.’ Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey made findings during the trial which suggested that grants had been given to Bangladeshi or Muslim groups in return for their electoral support. Up to 300 votes in his election were ‘dubious.’ Many local men had voted twice.
Mawrey said Rahman had ‘driven a coach and horses through election law and didn’t care.’ The Police didn’t care either and earlier this year a Met Police investigation concluded that it had insufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution.
Then we got to the problem of postal voting. This was once reserved for the house-bound who cannot hobble to a polling station. It is now available to everyone even the dead, and has allowed massive corruption. Following a postal voting scandal in the Muslim community of Birmingham in 2005 a judge said that the situation would have, ‘disgraced a banana republic.’
Here Husain had Pickles, not for racism which would have finished him, but for the lesser crime of being in the ‘Westminster bubble.’ He had to admit that his government had done nothing about the postal ballot situation at all, putting in no safeguards. He admitted sadly that we still have wide-spread postal fraud which involves people who do not actually exist getting votes, sometimes several, false addresses and ‘vote harvesting;’ collecting postal ballots so that a community can vote as a bloc with vulnerable members forced to vote ‘according to the will of the elders.’
Husain ended in a flourish of liberal relativism by suggesting that the MPs recent expenses scandal invalidated the whole issue anyway. Such fashionable notions happily bounce off Sir Eric’s hide. Among his fifty recommendations are: Putting ink onto voter’s fingers to make an indelible mark and prevent them from voting twice, banning political activists from handling postal ballot papers. Police cordons around polling stations if there is the prospect of intimidation, the abolition of ‘permanent’ postal votes, to ensure that the ballot papers are only sent to electors who still reside at their address. A new role for the National Crime Agency to tackle complex election fraud cases. Only English to be used in polling stations. He also wants the press to have greater freedom to look at council papers to protect local government from the broader culture of corruption which is now setting in, in all our major cities.
Some are just common sense but Husain might have asked how anyone was going identify ‘political activists’ within the Muslim community, which is largely closed to outsiders. What is ‘the prospect of intimidation?’ when to say it’s Muslim men gathered together would be considered racist. As for the ink, would everyone in the country have to be treated in that way, or only certain ethnic groups? Which again would be called racist.
It’s more than likely that his plans will be scuppered by being batted about between two very reluctant institutions. The Electoral Commission has said that it takes ‘electoral fraud extremely seriously,’ but it quite rightly blames the government which set it up but left it toothless. In response to Sir Eric’s report is has urged the government to ‘finally respond’ to recommendations it made in 2005, including a call for voter ID at the polling station, at present they only have to give their name and address. Even its limited ideas were completely ignored.
Cabinet Office Minister Chris Skidmore said, ‘The government is determined to ensure that the electoral register is as complete and accurate as possible,’ and promised to look ‘closely’ at Sir Eric’s proposals.
Anjem Choudrey can rest easy on his plank. His community is still free to lead their lives just as they and he wish, or as he put it on his Twitter page last year: ‘Islam is a threat and the government can do nothing about it.’