Respected ex Labour member Atma Singh was adviser to Ken Livingstone on Asian issues from 2001 to 2007. His article in the Sunday Times is given below in full.Let Red Ken be a warning about hard-left mayors and Islamists
The last time I spoke publicly during a mayoral election, it was to blow the whistle on Ken Livingstone. I was one of his advisers for seven years, and I witnessed first hand the damage his brand of radical far-left politics did to London. At this mayoral election I am speaking out again because I fear we are about to make the same mistake with Sadiq Khan.
I was a Labour party member most of my adult life — until last year. I ripped up my membership card when Jeremy Corbyn was elected because I didn’t want to see a return to the nasty, deeply divisive politics he and Livingstone represent.
It’s not just their obsession with the old battles of the 1980s, or economic policies from the 1970s that led to a three-day working week and rubbish piled high in the streets. Most seriously, it is their unacceptable tolerance for extremism.
Virtually my last act as a Labour member was to vote for Tessa Jowell in the selection for London mayor. I voted for her because I like and respect her brand of inclusive, progressive politics. But I was also voting against Khan.
I know for a fact he shares the hard-left, radical politics of Livingstone and Corbyn. It was no surprise to me that Khan nominated Corbyn for leader — he used his voters to secure the Labour mayoral nomination. He was an architect of the Corbyn insurgence because he shares his political outlook. He was Corbyn’s candidate in the selection race, and I am in no doubt he would be Corbyn’s mayor.
Writing in the Evening Standard recently, Livingstone asked Londoners to vote for Corbyn’s vision. And I know what that looks like because I was a part of it when Ken was mayor. Platforms, power and public money given according to political loyalty. The police undermined. Oxygen given to extremists.
When Livingstone rolled out the red carpet for Yusuf al-Qaradawi — who defends Palestinian suicide bombing and believes the Holocaust was “divine punishment” — I was horrified. I argued against it, but was overruled.
During al-Qaradawi’s visit in 2004, a young Muslim lawyer was asked at a parliamentary hearing whether he thought it was appropriate to invite him. Khan, then a human rights lawyer, refused to condemn him: “What I can say with regard to personal views is that I would not believe all the hype. Quotes attributed to this man may or may not be true.”
I voted against Khan because I felt his record shows he, like Livingstone, has been too willing to turn a blind eye to extremism. I can accept he was just doing his job representing Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker” on 9/11.
But I cannot accept his decade-long campaigning for convicted terrorists Babar Ahmed and Talha Ahsan — responsible for the first western jihadist websites.
I cannot accept his decade-long association with Tooting imam Suliman Gani, who on the night of the Paris attacks attended an extremist event calling for an Islamic state. Khan shared platforms with Gani over many years, including speaking outside Tooting mosque following a march for Palestine in 2009 that called for a boycott of Israeli goods.
And I find it troubling that he has never said whether he tried to dissuade his former brother-in-law — who used to call openly for a “full-scale war of jihad” — from being involved in the extremist group al-Muhajiroun.
This is exactly the same attitude to extremism I saw with Livingstone and I see with Corbyn. Extremists rely and thrive on politicians who look the other way. They muddy the water by responding to any challenge with the charge of “Islamophobia”.
Sadly, politicians of the hard left fall too easily for this ploy. Politicians like Khan, who know full well with whom they are dealing, but choose to hear no evil because it suits their electoral ends.
Whatever Khan says now, it is clear to me that if elected, he will revert to type. We will see the same radical politics at City Hall we saw under Livingstone, with profound implications for the police, transport investment, council tax rates and our global reputation.
He would “fight” against the Tory government — like Livingstone fought the Blair government — to make political points, rather than working with it to get a better deal for London.
Corbyn will use Khan’s city hall as a shield to bolster the hard-left Momentum movement. He will use a Khan victory as evidence that he can win. And don’t be surprised to see Livingstone back in the administration. He and Corbyn will be the winners, and London will be the loser.