Wannabe MP is wary of links with USA
PUBLISHED: 22:39 28 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:09 05 October 2010
SOME seriously bitchy things are said about Rushanara Ali, Labour's clever candidate for the Parliamentary Bethnal Green & Bow seat. I found her charming and caring about the East End, social issues particularly. That's why it comes as a surprise to discover
Ted Jeory puts East End politicians in the dock
SOME seriously bitchy things are said about Rushanara Ali, Labour's clever candidate for the Parliamentary Bethnal Green & Bow seat.
The times I've met and spoken to her, I've found her charming, engaging and deeply caring about the East End, social issues particularly.
So that's why, perhaps, it comes as little surprise to discover she's a member of the British American Project for the Successor Generation, more fondly known by the transatlantic elite as BAP.
This organisation was founded in 1985 after Ronald Reagan called for influential thinkers in both countries to "work together in the future on defence and security matters" as a way of strengthening the "shared values" between Britain and the United States. It meets every November.
Reagan specifically wanted to target Britain's young elite to combat growing anti-Americanism in the 1980s via a transatlantic networking 'think tank.'
BAP says it "brings together young people who have each achieved distinction in their field" and that it "exists to help maintain and enrich the long-standing relationship between Britain and America."
But one of its loudest critics, the investigative journalist John Pilger, once described it as "shadowy" because it seemed shy about publicity.
Some 24 people from each country are admitted each year and nominees go through a grilling process in which they have to demonstrate "interest in the Trans-Atlantic dimension of the project," leadership and "a personality which combines well with the chemistry of the conference."
Rushanara clearly fitted the bill and was invited to attend the 2004 conference on urban policies in Chicago, along with her long-time mentor Nicky Gavron, the Deputy mayor of London.
BAP tell me she has attended a number of events since, but none of the subsequent conferences.
I called Rushanara about this last week. She said BAP was a useful 'think tank.'
But she also appeared nervous and vague, saying she still receives occasional invites, but now has little to do with it.
That's probably because she partly trades in Bethnal Green & Bow on her anti-Iraq war views and is worried that being associated with US policy-makers might be fuel for her political opponents.
WHY BACK KEN, BUT NOT LABOUR?
I REPORTED in February how Mike Mogul, a then-Labour councillor in Croydon and the man in charge of Bethnal Green & Victoria Park Housing Association's now-defunct bid to win a regeneration contract on Stepney's huge Ocean Estate, had organised a dinner in Mile End to 'devise strategies' for Ken Livingstone's re-election campaign for Mayor.
On the invite list for that February 8 bash were a number of Tower Hamlets councillors and influential figures in the Stepney community.
So impassioned was Cllr Mogul's desire to get Ken back in at City Hall that he defected last week to the Tories, admitting he'd been "very unhappy" with his local Labour leader "for some time."
Good to see that it's not just Tower Hamlets that's home to funny politics.
The predictive text function on our mobile phones is extremely clever. Typing in the first names of a few of our Tower Hamlets councillors gives the following results.
On my Nokia, Shahed Ali returns 'Riched'... Abjol Miah, 'Calm'... Anwara Ali, 'Cowara'... Ohid Ahmed, 'Nige'... Abdal Ullah, 'Bad?' and...
Ominously, council leader Denise Jones predicts 'Demise'...
Advertiser Chief Reporter Ted Jeory