Saturday 25 June was the day that supporters of Apsana Begum MP asked the local community to come together at Altab Ali Park to ‘March Against Mysogyny’ in protest at the alleged mistreatment of the Poplar & Limehouse MP and generally show their love and support for her in person.
What could possibly go wrong?
Throughout history mass gatherings of ordinary workers have been the only way for the oppressed to show their resistance to tyranny. United in their struggle, red banners flying proudly in the breeze, tens of thousands have taken to the streets to shout “Not In Our Name!” as one then watch the tyrants quake.
In 2003 at least 750,000 marched in London to protest against the plans by Bush and Blair to invade Iraq.
On August 28 1963 more than 200,000 people gathered to hear Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
Between March and April 1930 Mahatma Gandhi and a small group of followers conducted the Salt March, a 241 trek across western India to collect salt from the sea and defy the British Empire.
No dictators were humbled on Saturday though as not a single person turned up in support of Apsana Begum.
Not one. Not even a Cockney sparrow.
Four of her mates did though. Solidarity!
Our observers consider that the gathering was a success because it did show the level of support for Apsana.
Undeterred her mates in the Local Women Organising Team issued another flyer for the demonstration telling the masses that it had been ‘postponed until further notice’
The reason for the postponement was given as allowing Ms Begum time to recover her health after being signed off work with stress.
Odd her team did not consider this before ‘cos Ms Begum announced to the world via twitter that she was feeling under the weather on Wednesday 22 June.
In fact the postponement may have had more to do with the realisation that the initial flyer had used various organisation’s logo but the promoters had not asked for permission. So instead of the support of six organisations she only had the support of two, hence the need for a new (edited) flyer.
Even the Newham and Tower Hamlets Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) stated that they were aware of the event and that ‘the publicity for which lists East London PSC & national PSC were listed as supporters with our logos. But this was without our permission.’
Did the All-Russian Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies have these sorts of problems in Petrograd in 1917? We doubt it.
So let’s all use some common sense instead of parroting the contents of someone else’s tweet like some robot shall we?
Apsana Begum – the complaints
Apsana Begum MP seems to be a pretty crap MP. It’s nothing more complicated than that. This has been the most frequent comment by every person who we talked to when researching this story and also seems to be the opinion of around 80 female members of Poplar and Limehouse Labour Party.
That’s the bottom line and that is why at the time of writing she has lost seven out of nine trigger ballots. The last two votes will be taken in the next couple of days and expectation is that she will lose these as well.
Some of the complaints against Ms. Begum are that she does not hold surgeries at consistent times, is slow to reply to residents queries, does not complete casework, has not had time since being elected to meet with local Labour councillors although has time for her chums in the hard-left Socialist Appeal group (membership of which is proscribed by the Labour Party), does little campaigning for local Labour and while happy to do what Labour’s left asks, her stance on key political policies is unclear.
Ms. Begum’s most recent newsletter dated 30 May 2022 states that she has hosted ‘hundreds of surgery sessions’ since being elected and ‘raised over 38,283 casework emails, and 17,864 pieces of casework.’
By pure chance this is the one and only detailed mention of her surgery work in any of her nine other newsletters – but then the others were not published when she was facing trigger ballot for re-selection.
Another weird fact is that Ms. Begum is a great believer in the re-election process, so what’s the problem? During her campaign to become an MP in 2019 she stated that:
“Consistent with my support for mandatory re-selections, if selected and elected I will work to ensure an open selection process in Poplar and Limehouse and beyond in the next term of Parliament.”Apsana Begum September 2019. ‘Why I am standing.’
Lutfur Rahman’s bestie
During the elections Ms Begum was far more interested in supporting her bestie Lutfur Rahman, only rarely being seen on the streets with Labour campaigners. She was also seen at the election count congratulating the new Mayor.
Possibly not great tactics when the re-selection process was imminent Apsana?
Then there is the Mystery of Apsana’s Constituency Office. As in she seems not to have one. We have asked her about this multiple times to no avail as we are blocked by her on twitter and receive no replies to emails. (The latter being confirmation that she does not reply to constituent’s emails.)
Boris Johnson has a constituency office. So does Rishi Sunak, Sir Keir Starmer and Ms. Begum’s neighbouring MP Rushanara Ali in Bethnal Green and Bow (who has sailed through her re-selection no problems at all.)
The fact that nobody of any political persuasion has ever managed to find her constituency office undermines her public persona of being a tireless campaigner for the people just a tad.
Compare and contrast with the previous MP for Poplar and Limehouse, one Jim Fitzpatrick. His constituency office was always active and Jim could often be seen on the streets in Poplar or Limehouse or Wapping or Shadwell or Whitechapel or… (you get the idea) with his wife Sheila on the way to or on the way back from a community event. Sometimes both at the same time.
‘We had a Rolls-Royce service, now we have Uber’.
One Labour councillor summed up the difference between the current and former Poplar & Limehouse constituency MPs to Moley like this: ‘we used to have a Rolls-Royce service, now we have Uber’.
Harsh. But seems to be true.
Some people have problems dealing with reality and instead of realising that they have messed up, putting their hands up to it and changing their ways they blame everybody and everything else. They take no personal responsibility. They are the blameless victim.
There is a widely held belief amongst local politicians in Poplar and Limehouse that all the allegations of conspiracy, misogyny and smear campaigns by Apsana Begum MP and her claim to now be suffering from stress are just a clumsy ruse to persuade Labour Party HQ delay the Poplar and Limehouse re-selection process, nothing more.
Which makes total sense.
Where is the evidence Apsana?
Instead of dealing with any issues in the way Apsana may be working, her supporters are busy putting it about that Ms. Begum is currently subject to a ‘misogynistic campaign of harassment, rule breaking, bullying, intimidation and abuse’, that re-selection meetings were not properly constituted, members have been harassed, there has been a sudden influx of new members and that, horror or horrors, ‘misinformation may be being disseminated.’
So where is the evidence Ms Begum? By now you must have a bulging file that documents these allegations. Can you publish this for everyone to see please?
If this campaign of hate has been bad enough that you have been signed off sick because of stress you may have reported this to the police. Harassment of a public servant is a serious matter. If you have reported this could you publish the date you did so please?
To bolster the numerous conspiracy theories alleging murky dealings within the right of the Labour Party by those who want Ms. Begum out of the party, more well worn conspiracy theories have also been resurrected.
These centre around her court case in July 2021. Although the case was solely about allegations of housing fraud Apsana Begum portrayed herself as a survivor of domestic violence. This was because her defence partly relied on her allegation that it was her then husband, ex-Labour councillor Ehtashamul Haque, who had made the housing claims not her.
Ehtashamul Haque has denied these claims.
Statement of Ehtashamul HaqueCllr Ehtashamul Haque statement 21 August 2021 (First published in East End Enquirer here.)
“I am aware that a number of serious allegations were made against me during this trial. At no point was I given an opportunity to respond to a number of false and defamatory accusations.
I completely deny that at any stage I behaved inappropriately towards Apsana Begum during our marriage.
These allegations come as a surprise to me as they are the first time I have heard Apsana make such accusations against me. Our separation a number of years ago was amicable and I have been in Apsana’s company whilst campaigning for the Labour Party many times since.”
Since the court case Mr Haque has been portrayed as a callous thug in social media and someone who made Ms. Begum’s life a misery.
The inconvenient detail here being that Mr Haque has not only never been charged with any offence of any type relating to Ms. Begum he has never been investigated by the Metropolitan Police for anything either.
We know ‘cos we checked.
And it was only when Apsana Begum was within the privileged confines of Snaresbrook Crown Court that she named Ehtashamul Haque as her alleged abuser. She did not do so before and has not done so since for the very good reason that if she made this claim outside of a court of law she would be open to litigation.
It is completely up to Ms Begum as to why she has never made a formal complaint of domestic violence to the police against Ehtashamul Haque and she has no need to explain why she has not done so to anyone.
The fact remains that she has not.
So why mention this here?
For the simple reason that the claims of domestic violence made against Mr Haque by Ms Begum, despite never being proven, have been conflated by her supporters with the current allegations to make her the victim once again.
This is why it is so important that this time round she produces and publishes evidence relating to her allegations of a misogynistic campaign of harassment, rule breaking, bullying, intimidation and abuse which some have claimed are the work of Mr Haque. Without any evidence.
Is that fair? Or does this country now allow individuals to be tried and found guilty of crimes on social media?
Condemned by her own comrades
To conclude this sorry tale there is another recent development that not only goes against Ms Begum’s allegations of a conspiracy it also damns her conduct and is likely to end her Parliamentary career.
Over 80 Bangladeshi women from Poplar and Limehouse local Labour Party have written a letter to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer formally complaining about the behaviour of Apsana Begum and her allegations that she is a victim because of her race, gender and religion which they regard as untrue.
The reason these Labour Party members are angry is because they are Bangladeshi women of the Muslim faith who are being accused of being misogynists by their own MP.
The same person they worked to get elected in 2019.
You can read more about this letter here.