Bengali Platform

The fallout has begun.

The election results were not particularly bad for the Labour Party but they were disastrous for Tony Blair. A carefully planned reshuffle (as opposed to a last minute scramble) has not been able to see off the detractors, the internal infighting and the downright badly timed and badly judged acts of self-preservation.

The Lib-Dems have been shafted, royally, ending any hopes that the next general election will be a three-way contest. This election has seen the electorate swing rightwards. Votes went either to the Tories whose traditional prejudices nowadays lurk behind the slick urbanite geniality of “Call me David” Cameron or they went to the not-so-thinly disguised xenophobia of the BNP. Well, I for one am looking forward to seeing the BNP fall flat on their faces, which is when we can raise our glasses and sing the anti-BNP anthem by old Saint Bob. But don’t take my word for it. Sunny H, far more qualified than I at taking on the bastards, thinks so as well.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Respect Coalition seem to be extremely pleased with their performance, particularly in the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham. It comes as no surprise that both areas have high Bangladeshi populations. And since RESPECT is now clearly regarded as an alliance of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and politicised Muslims of UK, the latter seems  to be representative, in London at least, of Bangladeshis whose erstwhile unconditional support of the Labour Party has disintegrated in favour of this new partnership.

There are many who are antagonised at the thought of “politicised Muslims”. This attack on RESPECT by Harry’s Place ticks the usual boxes of full-on paranoia:

What has RESPECT delivered for the revolutionary socialists in the SWP? They’re tied to an uncontrollable self-serving narcissist of a Member of Parliament with no affection for the SWP’s particular brand of Trotskyism. They spend their time blushing over the lunacy, bigotry, and extreme conspiracism of their more colourful non-SWP party figures. And they’re still as far from power as they were when they started off.

Some of those points are valid. It’s true that Muslim politics have tended to surround itself with all manner of racists, deranged bigots and non-progessive elements as long as they have a Muslim name and have made the Shahada. And worse, there seems to be no system of checks or balances in place to filter out the nutters from the sincere activists.

I selected that passage to demonstrate how exponents who are averse to Muslim politicisation (and I use the word ‘averse’ in its widest possible sense and in that regard Harry’s Place is up there) will have no qualms in using the loosest and the most indiscriminate definitions of Muslim politicisation, whatever its stripe, as ultra reactionary, bigoted, lunacy and hence the insinuation, by way of strategic hyperlinking, to this as the epitome of a politicised Muslim.

In response to this, I read a great comment made to the Lenin’s Tomb post I linked to above by a West Bengali:

In reference to the [Tower Hamlets] elections, I do not believe that religion was a factor in influencing the Bengali vote. It is not part of Bengali political tradition. Those who argue that Respect’s success in [Tower Hamlets] was some Islamist vote encouraged by the SWP do not understand the political dynamics of either Bengali society or the East End. There is no evidence, in my mind, that political Islam played any role in British Asian voting behaviour in these local elections. It is a lie perpetuated by anti-Muslim prejudice.

Fortunately the Bangladeshi community is not going to shrivel up and die because of snarky anti-Muslim prejudice a lá Harry’s Place. There is, however, the real possibility of real damage being inflicted upon the Bangladeshi community by supporting the RESPECT Coalition. The community cannot afford to invest its future in the divisive race politics that is the RESPECT meal ticket. There is bound to be a loser in this coalition of politicised Muslims and Far-Left Socialists and that loser will be the greater community of Bangladeshis in the UK because the Lefties can always “go mufti” and merge into the crowd. Bangladeshis cannot.

Bangladeshis cannot afford to contain themselves in a socio-ethno-religious box all of their own. They must merge their politics, grievances and aspirations with one of the three mainstream parties and work from within the corridoors of power, like everyone else. But most of all, Bangladeshis must fight against the prospect of forging their political future with this man.

39 Responses to “Bengali Platform”

  1. Garga Chatterjee Says:

    Wonderful blog and the issues are right on.
    Way o go for RESPECT.

  2. Sid Says:

    Thanks Garga. I definitely do not think the Bangladeshi community is doing itself any favours by hitching itself to RESPECT.

  3. Serious Golmal » Blog Archive » Nickziety Attack Says:

    […] There is the tendency to brand as ‘Islamist’ any stripe of politicised Muslim. This is a lie perpetuated by an anti-Islamicate prejudice and the consequential fallout caused by the internecine rivalries and factionalism of the Left. When Nick Cohen trots out pieces like this, we know that he is willing to malign entire communities merely for the sake of point-scoring for his side of the Left. […]

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