Wednesday, 23 July 2014

London's Most Misreported Borough: Tower Hamlets

Last week London's 'Evening Standard' published an article entitled: 'A culture of smearing, candidates badged racist and MP slurred as having bastard children. Welcome to London's most divided borough: Tower Hamlets.' I was approached by one of their journalists to make a response in less than 200 words. Here it is below. Sadly, it wasn't published (kind of proved my point, really!).

There’s a popular narrative about politics in Tower Hamlets - the place I love, my home. It goes like this: polarised, poisonous, prejudiced, corrupt – ‘the most divided borough in London’. Write it, blog it, tweet it, repeat it. It must be true, then. Not in my world.

It’s time to tell a different story.

Have you heard the one about 450 people queuing for an hour in the rain to get into the Tower Hamlets Citizens mayoral election assembly? Active, diverse, politically conscious citizens from mosques, schools, churches, unions and community organisations presenting a radical and democratically agreed agenda to candidates John Biggs and Lutfur Rahman? I doubt it.

Or the one about the Bengali Muslim woman in a niqab supported by a white male student challenging the candidates to tackle the borough’s housing crisis with a living rent? Probably not.

Or the time the 13 year old school girl received a standing ovation for looking the politicians in the eye and demanding they make our street lights as bright as Kensington and Chelsea’s? It’s unlikely.

Not enough slander? Too united a front? A narrative spoiler? Welcome to the most misreported borough in London: Tower Hamlets.

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