On Thursday I bumped into Yasmin Qureshi, the Labour candidate for Brent East, on Salusbury Road just outside the friendly and well stocked Queen’s Park Books (yes, I do work there, how did you guess?). She was out on the campaign trail, meeting and greeting, probably kissing babies, seeking places to display her posters. Yasmin was accompanied by the Queen’s Park ward local Councillor Neil Nerva.
I’ve met Neil Nerva before. He contacted me about Comwifinet and the Queen’s Park Wireless Club. We talked about the community project and about encouraging participation in the democratic process. I told him about the Sarah Teather Blog, and we talked about ‘Why Politicians Need Weblogs.’ I’ve emailed him a couple of times via his @brent.gov.uk email address. I’ve even called him and left messages on his answer machine. But since that first telephone conversation, all efforts as contacting him have resulted in no response. When I pushed him on this, he said something about ‘having a job and working hard’ and then he was interrupted by Yasmin how wanted to point out that they are working harder than Sarah Teather. It is no longer a mystery why Sarah is not getting prompt responses from the Labour government - the whole party, from the cabinet and ministers down to local councillors are poor communicators who fail to return calls or emails.
But I digress.
Meeting Yasmin Qureshi was squally, pressured and damp. It was windy and we were just about to be showered by hail. Neil was blustered about by the weather. Yasmin, ever smiling, was pleased to talk to me - a young voter, unlikely to vote at all but most likely to vote LibDem. I talked about the ‘political web log movement’ and about the blog I run about Sarah Teather. Yasmin was keen to know if I was ‘engaged’ by Sarah to write the blog and wanted to know if I was critical of her. I told her she could read it and leave comments on the blog - for that is the purpose of the comments button!
Brent East was taken from Labour by Sarah and the Lib Dems in ‘03. For Yasmin, this means that the electorate deserted Labour due to the illegal and immoral war waged by the UK and US in Iraq. Well, I paraphrase. Yasmin sees Sarah as a hypocrite. She, Yasmin that is, hammers on about how the LibDems were ‘anti-war’ yet “Sarah voted for further troop deployments in Iraq”. For Yasmin, the Lib Dems should not have support the government in their efforts rebuild and repair what had been broken into a million tiny pieces by war. From what I can make out, Yasmin thinks it is more important to stand firm to ones principles (being anti-war) rather than be pragmatic and flexible and prepared to support secondary measures (i.e. troop deployments).
I pointed out the EDM signed by Sarah and other MPs that would remove the royal perogative of military engagement from the cabinet and place the decision in the hands of parliament. I couldn’t get chance to ask Yasmin if she would support this EDM if she was elected - Neil was herding her away.
As a parting shot, Yasmin asked me if I had googled her name. I hadn’t, but I have now. Well well well. From the first link it seems that the illegal activities in Birmingham were not the only dubious votes to have affected the Labour party in recent times…
Furious Labour members accused their party of a vote-rigging stitch-up after Robert Evans beat his nearest challenger, Yasmin Qureshi, by two votes after party officials disallowed two postal votes cast in favor of Qureshi