Sunday 22 March 2015

Afzal Amin and the Politics of Cynicism

As Tory scandals go, it's a bit of a corker. Forget Grant Shapps and his name-changing hijinks, the furore that has erupted over Afzal Amin's attempted dealings with the EDL is the real deal.If you don't know what I'm talking about and asking "Afzal who?", then where have you been? Here is an incriminating extract from one recording made between Amin, the Tory PPC for Dudley North (where they're trailing Labour and UKIP in the polls), and representatives of the EDL:
This is my fantasy. My idea is this – I’ve discussed it with Tommy and lots of other people – if I could demonstrate to the people in Dudley that I can be a positive voice for community cohesion, for campaigning against the evils and the terrorism and the child grooming and all the rest of it, then that would help me a lot in the forthcoming Election.

One way of doing that is, if you were to announce a second march about the mosque, and then we have two meetings with the chief of police, members of the Muslim community, we all play our roles. You say, ‘Yeah, we’re going to do a march, we’re campaigning and so on.’

We have a second meeting where things are a bit calmer. Then at the third one, we have a press conference where you say ‘We were going to do a march… the chief police asked Afzal Amin, members of the Muslim community, we’ve sat together and... we’re going to work closely together.’

That will ... bring the English Defence League out of the shadows into the mainstream political debate.

... And if I win my election in Parliament, you’ve got a very strong, unshakeable ally who is going to work hard to get you involved in all the institutions of the State and get you the exposure you need and the people in Parliament need to us... Like I said from the very beginning, 95 per cent of what you want to campaign against, we’re with you.
Crikey. To have a Muslim court an anti-Muslim organisation to engineer a faux protest against Muslims is real deal cynicism. The Tories have rightly suspended Amin, pending an investigation and as such he is entitled to presumptions of innocence, etc. Yet when our Afzal is not so much handed a spade by the EDL, but gleefully starts digging his political grave with it. But I've got to hand it to Amin. Taking his cue from his masters, he's trying to brazen it out by denying the allegations. "They're part of an ongoing dialogue" seems to be the message. Be that as it may, then why offer "get you involved in the institutions of the state"? Sounds something straight out of Golden Dawn's attempts to colonise the Greek state apparatus.

This spotlight on Amin has drawn attention to his role as a jobbing lecturer on the taxpayer's tab at £2,400 per talk. Clearly I'm in the wrong game. How many other friends of the political establishment pocket huge monies?

What else can be said about this sorry affair? As many people have pointed out, because the Tories are trailing third in Dudley North by some margin it's quite clear Amin was looking for a short cut that could get him back into the race. I pity the fool for mistaking an election campaign for a cross country run. As he offered cash to "a couple of white working class lads" who would go canvassing for him, perhaps Amin and other Tories might wish to reflect why their party has a hard time attracting working class people of any sort, especially when a stubborn section of it has traditionally turned out and lent them their votes at election time.

When a movement decays, it becomes capable of idiotic and counter-productive things. Such is the lot of British Conservatism. As it slips away, it cannot but help inflict wounds upon itself. And that will forever remain the case until it does what needs to be done to reinvent itself as a moderate centre right party. There may well be one, two, many Afzal Amins rrady to trip up and hasten Tory decline. Of course, there is no evidence of collusion between the EDL and party higher ups, but it can only serve to toxify them further. Forget vote Conservative, get UKIP, it's now vote Tory, get EDL.

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