Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Afzal Amin resigns as Conservative candidate in Dudley North, it is never a good strategy during an election to get into a dialogue with the EDL, it was a major error of judgment, can’t see Conservative HQ approving this or his logic, his mistake, his fault, his resignation

Dear All

You may have heard of the Nolan Principles, these are guidelines for how to act and behave in public office, when people stand as candidates for a political party they sign up to behave in a certain manner.

So, following the Nolan Principles during your campaign is a good benchmark to adopt.

No lying, no cheating, show leadership, have integrity etc etc etc.

When you stand for a party, you have to behave yourself, parties invest more than the £500 it costs for you to be their candidate. In some cases they plough thousands of pounds into winning, and then there is the time that the activists give up for you.

You therefore have responsibilities to the party, to the voters and to the people who come out to work on your campaign.

Afzal Amin was the Conservative candidate in Dudley North, until today, I had never heard of him, which isn’t unusual as most candidates tend to be anonymous prior to standing for election and in some cases after it, even when elected.

On the surface, he seems to have ticked all the right boxes, former army officer, served his country in Afghanistan and even taught Princes William and Harry. Dudley North is a key general election marginal, so you want someone who is a safe pair hands and who can exercise good judgment.

In my youth, I, on occasion used to train up people for Sandhurst, oh and to blow my own trumpet, 100% success rate.

It requires a lot of hard work to get into Sandhurst and for the most part, the quality of the officers is impressive. If you are going to get military education, this is the place to go.

It is steeped in history and tradition.

Afzal Amin has been suspended by the Conservatives after allegedly hatching a plot with far-right extremists to win votes by stirring up racial hatred. He is accused being in contact with the English Defence League (EDL). The English Defence League has a really bad reputation for their stance on Muslims; their style of protest is rather old fashioned and really doesn’t get them anywhere. In the main, they are shunned by all the mainstream political parties.

The story goes that the EDL was to have a march against a new “mega-mosque” in the seat of Dudley North and then for the march to be scrapped, this apparently would allow Mr. Amin to be the hero of hour.

Where this story gets really bizarre is that Afzal Amin allegedly promised that he would be an “unshakeable ally” for the EDL in parliament and help bring their views to the mainstream.

At this point, you have to stop and say…. eh?

This weird episode was apparently covertly filmed by the EDL which has led the Conservative Party to suspend Mr. Amin with immediate effect.

It is the right decision, even just reading this snippet, it is hard to wrap your head round why Mr. Amin could ever think this was a good idea in the first place, especially in the run up to a General election.

I couldn’t see anyone at Conservative HQ saying to him, ‘aye okay, get on with it and tell us how it went’, I mean it is like going to the Bingo Hall to see the grannies and have a chat and muffin.

A Conservative Party spokesman said:

“Following an emergency meeting it has been decided to suspend him as a candidate with immediate effect. The Conservative Party views this as a matter of extremely serious concern.”

In a statement on his website, Mr Amin said the footage had been “grossly misrepresented and present an inaccurate picture of the reality of what was happening. While the meetings were intended to be private and discreet, I made sure I involved Chief Superintendent Chris Johnson from the start and I made clear, which is evident in the recordings; that I refused to do anything illegal”.

I think people would also be rightly concerned about the judgment displayed in the first place.

Amin added:

“During a time of heated tensions between various communities in our country, it’s vital that we tackle these problems and take difficult, sometimes uncomfortable, steps. The potential for inter-communal violence has become a real threat to the destabilisation of our country and we must prevent this at all costs. I recognised this as an opportunity to promote better community cohesion. Politics requires an amount of bravery and using my experience as a strategist in Afghanistan, negotiating between pro-Taleban militias and the US military, I decided to use the same tactics to improve community relations here in my own country between the EDL and Muslim communities.”

This is Britain, not Afghanistan.

To add to this tale of woe, apparently Mr. Amin allegedly suggested that EDL members could be paid to canvass on his behalf. I don’t know about you but I cannot see too many happy smiling faces down at Conservative HQ if that had gone ahead. In fact, I would imagine that someone would be screaming blue murder and going what is called ‘radio rental’ for hours on end.

If you haven’t done canvassing, you tend to want people who are smartly dressed, able to articulate the party message and convey a certain image. Although an interest in politics helps, a friendly personality coupled with an attempt to answer questions is more effective. In general, the public aren’t politically well up on issues to do with politics, recently highlighted in a London School of Economics post. Sadly, the British public have a tendency to be tribal and just look at the slogans etc without going into any real depth, which is a pity because there is someone real tripe out there as candidates would have never had an original thought in their political lives.

In politics as well as law, if you mess up, you need to be able to have a good story, having read some of Afzal Amin’s version, I don’t see how any disciplinary hearing can over look his judgment in entering into a dialogue with the EDL.

How could he not work out that this had disaster written all over it during an election campaign?

Afzal Amin said: 

“If I could demonstrate to the people in Dudley that I can be a positive voice for community cohesion then that would help me a lot in the forthcoming election”.

If he wanted to a ‘positive voice for community cohesion’, he could quite easily do this by getting off his rear end and working hard, actions speak louder than words. You don’t have to favour a section of the community or make up stories, you just have to show that whoever comes through the door you will try your very best to help, this is the acid test.

The Conservatives will be choosing a new candidate for Dudley North, that is a racing certainty, I am sure that there must be a local person who is a safe pair of hands. Being a Westminster MP is a position of trust and carries with it a responsibility to act in professional manner. Afzal Amin isn’t going to Westminster in 2015, and I doubt many would disagree if his candidacy was scrubbed.

It seems his ‘mission’ was a failure to achieve all objectives, it is easily recognised in the military that proper planning prevents piss poor performance.

Yours sincerely

George Laird

The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University


Anonymous said...

All politicians should be open and honest. I have no problems if a candidate has a criminal record, provided that they have been open about it and have made positive steps to rehabilitate.

But when a candidate starts something like has been alleged, this is shocking. In the name of getting himself elected (not his party, he's selfish), it seems - allegedly - that he was prepared to put others at risk. Whatever the policies of the EDL, using tactics such as these can put people in danger.

"Error of judgement". One of my pet hates when used by a political figure. Sorry mate, if you can even judge something as simply obvious as this, then you have no place in politics.

Freddy said...

Seen this over the weekend George, like people offering bungs for services rendered seems like commonsense went out of the window both times. You couldn't make it up actually and if you did it would be duismissed .

G Laird said...

Dear Anon

Afzal Amin let down the people. his party and the people who campaigned hard to get him to where he was.

I agree with Conservative HQ, he had to be suspended.


Sherbie said...

This is probably going on IN EVERY POLITICAL PARTY. What about those who have helped themselves to taxpayers money?? Even "small fry" Joan MacAlpine did it for a photographic session with her "secret boyfriend's wife",, shhh,, although she did pay it back when she was found out.