… is that he is an apologist, and possibly worse, for the fundamentalists of the East London Mosque and the Islamic Forum of Europe. As my story in yesterday’s Telegraph describes, in 2008 IFE members “got out the vote” for Ken – to an astonishing, indeed miraculous degree. In one Tower Hamlets ward, Spitalfields, Ken’s vote share rose from 29.6 per cent in 2004 – an election he won – to 68.4 per cent in 2008, an election he lost. A rise of nearly 39 percentage points.
By complete coincidence, in the years running up to this election triumph, Ken’s London Development Agency (that is, taxpayers) paid the mosque £1.3 million – including £500,000 to help build the IFE a new headquarters – even though LDA officials were firmly against the latter payment, making clear their “major concerns” about the project.
Even on the remaining £800,000, supposedly for job creation, leaked LDA minutes from 2008 show that the mosque missed its targets by a mile. Never mind – the targets were simply changed and the contract duly extended for another two years!
That City Hall funding is about to end – and I’ll be watching the new Boris Johnson regime very closely to see if it gives any more. If it does, I think you can rely on a story being written about it. Not a penny of our money should go to an institution that hosts extremist and hate preachers as regularly as the East London Mosque.
PS: I hear, by the way, that poor Ken was pretty angry with me on Friday’s Any Questions for having the temerity to point all this out – and I’m also told he had another one of his fortnightly pops at me on his LBC show on Saturday, too. Froth away as much as you like, old chap. Not even most Muslims support this crowd, and every time you defend people like these, you lose another five thousand votes.
PPS: But, in an interesting sign of Ken’s sensitivity about this issue, the name of Azad Ali, the IFE’s community affairs co-ordinator, has been quietly removed from the list of those who spoke at the annual conference of Ken’s re-election vehicle, Progressive London, on 30 January this year. (He spoke in the “There is no progressive imperialism” session, 11.45- 1.15, in case you were wondering.) Glad to see that Lutfur Rahman, the leader of Tower Hamlets council, who refuses to deny that he gained his post with the assistance of the IFE, still makes the cut, though!
Don’t worry, Ken – I’ve got printouts of the unbowdlerised speaker list, I covered the story in the Telegraph (as did the Mail on Sunday – complete with picture) and I’ll be around to remind your would-be voters when the time comes.