By Patricia H Kushlis
London May 8. I spent May Day in London including ten minutes or so observing what amounted to a minuscule Socialist Workers demonstration whose participants had assembled on a small green near Karl Marx’s house in Islington and the pub across the street where, I was told, Marx and Lenin met. The demonstration also took place in front of the London Philharmonic Society’s office. A curious juxtaposition to say the least.
I saw the demonstration enroute to a far more popular sort of walking street next to Spa Lane where sidewalk cafes served fresh squeezed orange juice, lattes and baked goods and provided sunny respites from this year’s frigid spring. I can only presume that a far larger workers’ demonstration had been organized for Hyde Park or somewhere else because if this was the best the Far Left can now do, it might as well hang up its banners and go home.
Meanwhile, British politics seemed consumed with itself but not in the ways I would have expected. Last week’s Tempest in a Teapot story involved a couple of ill-considered comments on Facebook by a young Labour MP. They were certainly anti-Israeli government policies but were also being considered to have anti-Semitic overtones. Regardless, not a good thing to have had happen in the run-up to Britain’s local elections but my guess is that the pre-election fervor had something to do with the public revelations.
The young woman's FB posts were made a couple of years before she first ran for office. So take heed if you haven’t already figured this one out: the Internet is like living in a fishbowl. Think of the unintended consequences before you write even to your nearest and dearest friends.
Her most offensive observation with which the media made hay?
That the state of Israel should be picked up and dropped into the US. Well, not a smart thing to write on Facebook or elsewhere especially in a country where its Jewish population has been a respected part of the society for generations - but still it’s far from wishing for the return of the Holocaust.
It’s certainly embarrassed the Labour leadership if that’s the goal of whomever resurrected the FB comments but should it really have be the lead story 24/7 for a week when the British will be voting June 23 on whether to stay in or withdraw from the EU or in the run-up to last week’s race for the mayor of London? Hopefully, this story has now disappeared but the chances are good it will simply be replaced by some other scandal.
Sadiq Khan, London's new mayor
Moving right along: In the meantime, Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of a major European city, has just replaced Conservative Boris Johnson as mayor of London. Khan is fascinating and telegenic: he is the son of Pakistani immigrants - a unionized London bus-driver and a stay at home seamstress. He saw his father profit from his union membership and his mother lose out from doing piece work at home.
Seems to me that Khan represents the face of this now multi-ethnic city far better than Zac Goldsmith, his Tory opponent.
Khan was favored to win - and he won big. He’s media savvy and ran a smart campaign that included distancing himself from controversial Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who nevertheless has likely profited from Khan’s win especially since Labour did poorly in Scotland, a piece of this country that continues to edge towards the exit. Khan, a human rights lawyer and politician, had been involved in Labour politics from the time he was 15.
Goldsmith ran what amounted to a campaign with increasingly racist overtones - claiming that Khan had associations with terrorists aka Islamist ones. This was a mistake - at least in a cosmopolitan city like London: whoever gave Goldsmith, a man with the reputation for being decent and presumably well liked, this poor political advice should be fired.
My guess is that Khan’s election to this powerful position will only help the moderate Muslim cause in the UK, if not more widely in Europe, because, if nothing more, it demonstrates that second generation Muslims whose families immigrated to Europe for economic reasons can make it big despite their hard scrabble beginnings.