Further to my last post, it’s not just the Tories and Labour who are facing splits after last night’s Commons vote on gay marriage. Respect are as well.
While their single MP George Galloway voted in favour of the proposed law, that doesn’t seem to have gone down well with his chief lieutenant in Tower Hamlets, its former leader and wannabe MP, Abjol Miah.
For why else would he create a discussion on his Facebook page highlighting the vote by his long time enemy and Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara Ali, also in favour of gay marriage.
Hat tip to Graham Taylor, who today resigned from the Labour party over the issue, for pointing out the discussion. Graham has also gone one step further and written directly to George, who has seen his tweet about it, asking him to condemn many of the homophobic comments on Abjol’s page. Some of the comments suggest Rushanara has cast herself out as a Muslim for her vote.
Here is Graham’s letter to George:
Open Letter to George Galloway
In 2010 you and your party officials once condemned me and called on me to resign my (then) position as Tower Hamlets Labour Party agent for Islamophobic comments made by others on my Facbook page. In fact I withdrew the post as soon as this was brought to my attention.
Will you now condemn as Abjol Miah, The Respect Party’s parliamentary candidate in Bethnal Green and Bow in 2010, publicly and in as equally vociferous terms?
And here’s a copy of the Facebook discussion. The comments by a Mohammed Hussain are particularly thick.
Rob Hoveman, George Galloway’s chief of staff, replied to Graham this morning. Rob says because Abjol hasn’t made any homophobic comments, he shouldn’t be condemned. I suppose the question is why hasn’t Abjol used his own Facebook page to condemn the homophobic comments? Rob, if you’re reading this, do you think Abjol should condemn them?
Here is Rob’s reply:
Dear Mr Taylor,
You have sent George Galloway a screengrab of a number of people exchanging views, none of whom appears to be Abjol Miah. Your suggestion that George Galloway should condemn Abjol Miah on the basis of the evidence you have supplied is palpably absurd.
As for the events of 2010, may I remind you that you referred to Tower Hamlets town hall as a centre of Islamic Fundamentalism on facebook, a claim that was an Islamophobic insult to every Muslim that worked in the Town Hall. You may have taken down the offending comments that you made and also encouraged but I do not recall any apology and you remained, of course, the Labour Party election agent for Rushanara Ali and the Labour council candidates.
Rob Hoveman, Chief of Staff to George Galloway MP
UPDATE – Friday, Feb 8, 9am
Shortly after the last update above, Rob Hoveman emailed me with some clarifications about his discussion with Graham Taylor. They were a bit odd, so I asked Rob if he had anything else to add. He hasn’t.
So here’s his letter to me:
You have posted the first of a number of emails I sent to Graham Taylor this morning concerning his allegations. The email I was responding to had a screengrab of a number of people exchanging views on Rushanara Ali’s decision to vote to legalise gay marriage. In that first screengrab Abjol Miah had not in any way participated in this exchange, never mind made any homophobic comments. Mr Taylor then sent me a second screengrab with Abjol Miah stating that Rushanara Ali had voted for gay marriage, as did George Galloway. Again there was no homophobic comment attached to this plain statement of fact. I pointed out to Mr Taylor in response that there were no comments attached to this screengrab and therefore I was still at a loss as to what it was he expected George Galloway to condemn.
Mr Taylor then referred me to your blog where I have now seen a fuller screengrab. However, nowhere in this does Abjol Miah appear saying, encouraging or endorsing any homophobic comments. So I am still at a loss as to why George Galloway should in any way condemn Abjol Miah.
The issue of gay marriage is one on which people hold strong views. There are many people who have profoundly held religious convictions that gay marriage is wrong. The free vote in the House of Commons reflected that this is a matter of conscience. We should accept that there are people who oppose gay marriage without being homophobic and that it is perfectly reasonable to respect such views whilst disagreeing with them. That is why, after all, the law that has been passed exempts religious institutions which choose not to opt in to holding gay marriages. Of course, George Galloway and The Respect Party would condemn any homophobic comments where those comments are motivated by hatred and prejudice, but it seems to me that Mr Taylor is simply confusing matters.
Chief of Staff to George Galloway MP
The Rob Hoveman with whom I used to have regular contact when I was at the East London Advertiser would certainly agree that some of the comments on Abjol’s Facebook page were motivated by hatred and prejudice, eg this latest one:
Mohammed Hussain Brother Abjol miah! Your in big trouble now! She will set her gay friends on you now! Watch your back!!!