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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mark Trotter And Meral Ece - The Fakehurst Debate

I try very hard not to look at life too pompously. Much of the time I fail, as when I make unconsidered pontifications about Finnish social democracy, anti-social behaviour and the Australian Labor Party, only to discover subsequently that I actually know b****r all about these subjects. My spoofster revels in all this, of course, constantly trying to take the p**s out of me. It's a sad indictment of the world we live in that he/she/it even managed to achieve 274th place amongst the Top 500 Political Blogs in the UK. Nowhere near my own 72nd place, of course, but deeply worrying for those of us who take our politics deadly seriously.

But recently the tables have been turned. I've enjoyed (if that's the right word) the raging debate on Luke Fakehurst over the post "The Political Undead", the political spoof of my own post of the same title published earlier the same day. In my own article I described how years of chaos had resulted from the undisciplined behaviour of 17 Labour Councillors who we constructively expelled from Hackney Labour Party by forcing them to sign a renunciation of their attack on Labour's handling of "Trottergate". This was the sordid episode in Hackney Labour Party's past when certain members were alleged to have misguidedly continued to support and protect local Party activist Mark Trotter, a former Hackney children's home manager, after initial suspicions that he might be a paedophile. Unfortunately this meant that by the time the police moved to arrest him, he had not only allegedly raped many young boys but had already infected several of them with the AIDS virus, a condition from which Trotter himself subsequently died. OK, I did suffer an unfortunate slip of the finger when I typed: "those Labour Group members who supported an enquiry into Labour's cover-up of the Trottergate paedophile scandal". Obviously what I meant to write was: "those Labour Group members who supported a muck-raking enquiry into Labour's excellent handling of the Trottergate paedophile scandal".

I went on to describe Meral Ece's role in the whole sordid affair. Meral was one of the dissenting Labour Councillors who crossed the floor and can now be found in the LibDems, launching non-stop attacks on the Labour Party and all of the excellent achievements we have made in turning Hackney round from an impoverished working-class slum to an affluent property developers' playground. Those of you who know me will understand why the fact that Meral chose to join the LibDems makes me hate the woman even more. So... I'm revelling in the debate on Fakehurst's blog. On this occasion the spoofster has represented me so outrageously that everyone has piled in as if they were really talking to me. Whereas it's been relatively quiet on my own blog, with comments mostly about Jeannette Arnold, Facebook, whelk stalls and Jessica Crowe. Here's a re-publication of the fine, intelligent political debate (I can only assume that signed comments are genuinely by those whose names the contributors have provided). The debate is far too long for a single post, so I've displayed the first part only. To read the remainder, click on "More".

Islington LibDem Councillor Meral Ece suggests that things would improve if I spent as much time and energy improving the lives of Hackney's residents as I do on promoting myself. She adds that many of her Labour opponents on Islington Council think we Labour lot in Hackney are "a basket case".

Someone responds anonymously: "Meral seems to spend a lot of time in Hackney for an Islington Councillor who must be registered to vote at an address in Islington." I'm sure that this commenter was not a Labour Party member, as we would never launch libelous and disgraceful smears against members of other parties.

Another anonymous commenter states: "I always preferred the term "The Shits" to "The Undead" when talking about the disgusting scabs that betrayed Labour and wrecked our borough in the 90s." Now that's the kind of constructive comment that I like to make myself.

A third anonymous poster asks: "Do you still keep in touch with Tony Elliston, Meral?" This is a perfectly innocent and friendly enquiry about the progress of Councillor Ece's alleged relationship with the (then) Hackney Council Chief Executive.

The next anonymous contributor generously adds: "This woman seems determined to commit political suicide. Doesn't she have any advisors to tell her to shut up and prove herself through a campaign rather than ranting in retaliation on a blog making criticism of her. If she's going to spend all her time responding to blog posts she doesn't like I wonder how much time she'll be spending campaigning in the GLA constituency she's been chosen to fight? I hope this row gets picked up by the press."

Somebody pretending to be Hackney Labour Councillor Katie Hanson asks: "Is that a troll or the real Meral Ece posting replies? [Insert own joke about whether it's possible to tell the difference between Meral Ece and a troll.]" Clearly this is a fake comment. Obviously no real Labour Councillor would post something like that!

An anonymous commenter, apparently scared of reprisals says: "I have just seen these nasty postings about Meral Ece, someone who is very well known and respected in the Turkish and Kurdish community in London, and I am really disgusted at the attacks on her. I am a member of Halkevi and deplore such sexist and racist attacks on one of the few Turkish woman in our community to have stood up for our community's rights. You so-called Labour Party people should feel ashamed of yourselves. I will not give my name because I think you are dangerous people."

The spoof Hackney Councillor Akehurst replies: "I just have a downer on Lib Dems and particularly people who betray the Labour Party - I don't care what their ethnicity or gender is... As a member of the Halkevi you must be aware that the current Hackney Labour Group includes 4 Kurdish and Turkish councillors - including 2 women - so any claims Ms Ece has to in some way represent that community are somewhat out of date." Again - obviously a spoof. You wouldn't catch me lecturing members of the Turkish and Kurdish community on who should represent them.

This elicits the rejoinder: "Do you hate everyone who leaves the Labour Party? Then you must hate many people."

Lord London Fields Lido questions the extent to which chaos can in any event be attributed to a brief interlude in what was otherwise a very long period of Labour Party control of the Borough.

This leads to the following, posted anonymously for obvious reasons: "Lord London Fields Lido is right. I was a Labour councillor during the period of 95/96, and came close to also leaving the Labour Party, but didn't in the end. I saw at first hand how Meral and others were hounded and vilified by the Labour party and the old Labour comrades, who had run Hackney as a Stalinist fiefdom for years into the ground. A Chief Inspector from Liverpool arrived in Hackney during this time to arrest one Mark Trotter, a Labour loyalist, and former head of a children's home, because they had strong evidence that he had abused children in Liverpool children's homes. Trotter had died of an AIDs related illness days before the police came to arrest him. Meral was then Deputy Leader of the Council, and pushed for an Inquiry into what happened during his time running children's homes in Hackney and also called in the NSPCC to track down the young people who had been in Trotter's care. The full force of the Labour Party came down on all those councillors who wanted an Inquiry. They were told to remove their names from this request, and hush things up. They were threatened with disciplinary action. 17 Labour councillors resigned from the Labour group, rather than bow to this. I was there, almost went, didn't but regret I didn't as I have since resigned from the Labour Party. Luke - you should be ashamed of yourself for not being honest about why 17 Labour councillors resigned. And 'anonymous' you and the remaining councillors who have tried to airbrush this shameful episode in Hackney's rotten politics are the 'shits'."

An anonymous 'Victoria ward member' states: "Katie Hanson - you are my ward councillor. You have just lost my vote and anyone else I can speak to and persuade. What a disgraceful way to speak about another woman. You are evil!!!"

My doppelgänger responds: "The poster above has a warped historical analysis that doesn't stand up to a quick look at the relevant dates that anyone with a cuttings database can do. The resignation of the 17 councillors cynically used the cover of the very real issues about the Trotter case to cover up their real reason for quitting, which had already been in the pipeline for months. This was that they had lost their majority in the Labour Group because of the suspension of five members of their faction, including Meral, following an NEC investigation conducted by Vernon Hince and Brenda Etchells. This investigation uncovered breeches of Labour rules going back years before the Trotter case and involving the operation of a party within a party with its own whip, the election of the leader by a totally unconstitutional annual borough conference, voting against the whip on the issue of Hackney Downs school and on the election of the mayor, etc etc. One of the 4 other suspended councillors, Isaac Lieibowitz, later did 6 months in jail for electoral fraud after joining the Tories. Another, David Phillips, is regularly in Private Eye because of his laughable switching between at last count six different political groups, labels or parties in under a decade. No wonder that once this poisenous [sic] group of people and their taste for rule-breaking and infighting were removed first from Labour, then after 6 years of hung council chaos from the council, Hackney Labour's electoral fortunes and the council's finances and services have bounced back." My spoofster was clearly revelling in the mischief being caused by this stage, pretending to be me wriggling and squirming to find some plausible way out of the argument. A ridiculous slur on me. I would never defend myself by venomously attacking everyone around me with such blatant slurs.

Lord London Fields Lido rejoins: "Luke, I really don't understand your argument. We're talking about a paedophile preying on our children here, not some petty rumblings within the Labour hierarchy. Five councillors who pissed off Millbank do not explain seventeen leaving. And frankly, which is more important - internal politicking... or the safety of the most vulnerable children in our local authority's care? As far as I am concerned, there is no way that you can reduce what constituted a gross breach of the trust we put in our public authorities to some kind of internal squabble. It was disgusting and it still tars the political group to which you belong. My impression from your comments are that you are implying that a refusal to hold an enquiry into this was not a valid reason for members to feel aggrieved enough to leave. I cannot for a minute believe that you mean this, as it would be tantamount to saying that child abuse is unimportant and we know that even you are more of a man than that. I don't want to get in any more of a mudslinging match with you than I already have, but you have to realise there are things where you can spin your (collective) way out of it, and things where you can't. This is clearly one of those where you can't."

By this point my spoofster is getting very wound up. I would have just quietened the whole thing down, but he decided to pile mud onto mud with a stupid attempt to bluff the whole story away. It would have been far better to simply sweep it back under the carpet. I don't think anyone will believe the story put out by the fake "Luke".

"Councillor Akehurst" states the truth about Trottergate: "It went a bit beyond "petty rumblings" - there was a full scale NEC investigation and loads of national press coverage of the divisions in the Group and issues like Hackney Downs and Crofton way before the Trotter case came to light. The 5 suspended councillors were facing expulsion anyway and had nothing to lose and everything to gain by persuading as many as possible of the 'Manifesto Group' to leave Labour voluntarily at the same time they left involuntarily. They had already voted with the LDs and Tories on some issues and knew it was possible to construct an anti-Labour council majority. If it hadn't been Trotter they would have found another big issue - Crofton or closure of Hackney Downs - to trigger the final split, once they knew they had no future in the Labour Party. Maybe they really thought the exact nature of the Trotter inquiry - whether it should be independent or a standard social services inquiry - was justification enough in itself for walking. I certainly don't think that if a similar case had happened without the history of infighting in 1994-6 it would have resulted in a mass defection of councillors. A big row yes. Demands for resignation of Committee Chairs, yes. But in this case the political context dictated the extreme nature of the political reaction - because both sides had come to see the other as not just wrong on issues, but fundamentally bad people who would stop at nothing to get control of the council. Remember control of the council meant a lot for some BME communities - funding for voluntary groups, council funded jobs, planning permission, allocation of funds for community-specific nurseries etc. It meant enough that a Lib Dem and Tory councillor were both prepared to cheat in an election to such an extent they went to jail for it. Only the 17 defectors know their real motives for leaving the Group. Some of them were easily led and believed the line they were spun that by calling themselves 'Hackney New Labour' they would persuade the NEC to make them the official Group. At least one privately says he was reluctant to leave Labour and only did so because of threats and bullying. Others did so because of personal and communal loyalties. No doubt some really believed their own rhetoric about a 'cover up' over Trotter!"

Shambolic adds facetiously: "Yeah, Luke, let's get rid of these 'fundamentally vile' and 'poisenous (sic) group' of LibDems. And with their 39 year old Malaysian boyfriends, they're probably paedophiles anyway. Oops, sorry, I forgot. In Hackney, it was us that had the paedophile ring to cover up, wasn't it. Still, party loyalty comes first, doesn't it, Luke? Party loyalty, regardless of the cost. Now, how are we going to whitewash the latest Hackney Social Services balls-up? Anybody got a light?"

To which Like Akehurst responds: "The comment above from 'shambolic' gives just a taste of the charming smear campaign waged against Labour in Hackney in the 90s. You can draw your own conclusions." A somewhat strange comment to make, given that it was the fake Akehurst who spread the "Malaysian boyfriend" smear with his piece on Miranda Grell, one day before I followed up the same story.

Lord London Fields asserts: "Now there we were with me thinking you'd actually managed to give what approximated to a vaguely reasoned (if rather bizarre) answer to my point, and then you have to come back and again try and put a paedophile scandal down to a 'smear campaign'. You just don't seem to get it - you can't make excuses for this one. Children need protection, especially the most vulnerable ones in our borough, and this simply didn't happen on this occasion and Labour tried to hush it up. Maybe if you just said 'it should never have happened and we'll make bloody certain it never will again' we'd all be as happy as we're going to be. I am SO glad that you are not responsible for the Social Services portfolio. And I really can't see why you feel so threatened by lib dems? It just doesn't make sense. There aren't exactly a lot of them in Hackney. Maybe you should see a shrink? Especially if they're giving you nightmares. And talking of smear campaigns, don't Hackney Labour like to go in for that sort of thing? I remember some pretty nasty stuff being said about both Andrew Boff and David Philips at the last local elections, and the campaign against the greens in Clissold was pretty shocking. Luke, I just remembered another smear campaign - this one. Honest bunch, Labour, aren't they?"

To which spoofie responds: "Lord London Fields Lido - I am very happy to say it should never have happened and we'll make bloody certain it never will again. The smear was not about Trotter - the smear was a leaflet circulated anonymously in Hackney in 1996 that had photographs and descriptions of Labour councillors, with the caption 'the Hackney paedophile ring'. I think it's pretty legitimate to describe that as a smear, and one that was not possible to redress through the libel courts because the perpetrators were anonymous."

Hinting at misogyny, Daisy comments: "Luke - You seem to have a problem with strong women like Merel Ece and Diane Abbott."

Eliciting the unguarded response: "No, I have a problem with women and men with flakey [sic] politics." Now that was just inviting trouble. I'm sure he could have expressed it better. I would never have accused anyone else of flaky politics. Pots and kettles would come flying.

Fakehurst continues: "The other smear repeated by Lord London Fields Lido is the accusation that Hackney Labour tried to 'hush up' any aspect of the Trotter scandal. This was investigated by a QC, and the resulting report concluded there was no 'cover up' or 'hush up'." Well said. I couldn't agree more. The report covered up the issue really well.

Kris rejoins: "Yes. [Luke's] got a big problem with non-dittoheads who refuse to blindly toe the party line. The thing Ece and Abbott appear to have in common LA can't abide is that they both think for themselves from time to time." What's a 'dittohead'? And what's wrong with following Party policy? Typical LibDem wishy-washy liberalism.

Shambolic adds: "A 'fundamentally vile' and 'poisenous (sic) group' are Akehurst's words, not mine, and a taste of the charming smear campaign he wages. Yes, we can draw our own conclusions."

And anonymous questions: "Tony Elliston was recruited and appointed by John Macafferty, what he thought later of the little photocopier rep is another matter. Why is this being put up as an insult to someone who was merely a foot soldier - is John one of the shits? I don't understand."

Leaving Treehugger to conclude: "'Lord London Fields Lido said... Luke, could you please nicely remind me exactly when the time was when and for how long Labour were not a part of the controlling group on Hackney Council? And of course, in which of the highly successful (ahem) coalitions they constituted the largest group?' Luke's response is deafening, isn't it? Let's hope he doesn't ever expect to have a successful career involving honesty!"

Well, there's no chance of that. I have no intention of giving up my successful career in PR in order to engage in anything "involving honesty". In the meantime, I look forward to reading more about Mark Trotter and Meral Ece, although not necessarily in the same sentence I hasten to add.


Anonymous said...

How is Cllr Samantha Lloyd, she who campaigned for a statue of Cde Mark Trotter be rerected in Town Hall Square?

Luke Akehurst said...

The Town Hall Square Statue Competition is still open (see sidebar). So it wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment until the results are declared in November 2025. What I can say, however, is that Julian has been practising, with plenty of erections in the square.

Anonymous said...

Meral Ece has never been Deputy Leader of Islington Council.

Luke Akehurst said...

Quite correct. She has only been Deputy Leader of Hackney Council, as I stated.

angel thighs said...

Didn't I read recently in the Hackney Groveler something about an erection in the Town Hall Square - commemorating Mr Pipeshaft's act of bravery when a defenceless boy was stabbed to death there? I think it was quite recently that Julian humbly accepted a stone bench acknowledging his Mayorship's single-handed act of bravery beyond the call of duty. N'est pas?

Luke Akehurst said...

We've closed the door on that one. It's time to move on.

angel thighs said...

"Closed the door" Right, geddit, ha ha!

Luke Akehurst said...

God, you're slow. Maybe I should have written: "We've rushed in and slammed the door behind us on that one."

lord london fields lido said...

luke, thanks for the cut and paste job there... at least it means the prick can't delete the thread without looking like a very silly boy indeed.

Anonymous said...

Luke Akehurst is simply part of a secret paedophile ring in Hackney. He is their new spoke person, a front man.
When he talks about the organisation getting damaged in 1990's he is talking about paedophile ring not the Labour Party. After the scandal it has become difficult for them to infiltrate the Labour Party and get connected to leading politicians.

But they are addicted to child sex , so they wont give up, so there you are they found a new spoke person, Luke Akehurst. People like him and his previous predecessor like Peter Watson, chief whip in 1990's should be displayed naked in The Town Hall Square, tied up to the gates of the Town Hall and whipped by all the children of Hackney, as lesson to other paedophiles.

Anonymous said...

The public inquiry could have established the true reasons why
inquiries from Liverpool Police
against Trotter with Hackney Social Services was ignored for so long.

Peter Watson was the chair of the Social Services at the time and, Diana Morley was the Director,
and Trotter working and abusing children in his care; they all had one thing in common that they were all leading local Labour Party members under John Mcerferty's leadership. Local Labour Party got rid of them all.

In addition Trotter in his past life has been acting as election agent to number of politicians including, Brian Sedgemore, Tony Blair, Peter Watson.

The 17 need to be got rid of in order to put a blanket onto the scandal. Enquiry need to be scaled down , so to protect complicity to the crime to be investigated. Internal inquiry as opposed to public.

So they all got off lightly from the involvement they may have had to the actions and the crimes Trotter was committing, apart from victims of the crime. They died and him.

Did anyone learned any lessons out of this inside the Labour Party?
Obviously not. That is sad.

May be residents in Hackney should start another legal proceedings against the council for neglect, and demand the investigations to be reopen.

Children's Act clearly establishes that their interest are paramount under all circumstances. Public inquiry would have protected that right, internal inquiry protected local politicians.