Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The "Big Man" Steps Down

Some called him a saviour, a man sent by God to succour his people and defend them from a murderous and merciless enemy. Others called him a bigoted rabble-rouser and declared that his fiery oratory gave rise to bloody deeds on the streets.

But love him or loathe him - and there were plenty who did one or the other - he bestrode the political scene of his native land like some Titan of elder days. Whatever you thought, he was not a man you could ignore.

Yes, Lee Jasper has resigned.

Mr Gilligan's homework has been richly rewarded. Standard editor Veronica Wadley will be cracking open the Lidl Prosecco tonight.

His approach has been that of a chess player, planning several steps ahead and trying to anticipate the responses of the Mayor to the Evening Standard's stories. So after spending more than four weeks investigating a network of 11 companies and organisations, linked to Livingstone's race adviser Lee Jasper, that were in receipt of around £2.5m in public money but allegedly did little for it, Gilligan deliberately held back large amounts of material from his initial report.

"One of the most important things in this is to plan for the counterattack, because this is an extremely damaging story to Livingstone. We knew he would say it was all lies and there would be the inevitable dash of Lord Hutton thrown in. We held quite a lot of our evidence back. He's not a cautious politician, and we knew he would shoot his mouth off straight away. And then we rolled out more of our other evidence. He fell right into the trap in an absolutely amazing way."

The Mayor responded to the Standard's accusations by quoting Hutton's comment that "I have considerable doubt as to how reliable Gilligan's evidence really is" and insinuating that the stories were politically motivated and racist.

Apparently Boris gave him a job on the Speccie when his credit was low following the Hutton Report. He's certainly grateful.

So, whither Lee Jasper ? At Harry's Place they're saying he'll be back the day after Ken wins - if he wins.

He's been around a long time - I first heard him on a Five Live phone-in - one of those "how racist are we ?" discussions - when he was apparently a social worker from Bradford. There's some interesting background on the various three-men-and-a-fax anti-racist organisations with which he's been involved, as well as the politics and personalities, in this pdf - Black Politics and the web of Joined-Up Governance.

Lee's USP was for years, like Arthur Lisch, the "riot-on-the-street-unless" approach. And he seemed to be able to deliver - even when being paid £500 a day (in 1995 - you can see how the Lawrence report a few years later was kicking at an open door) to lecture the Met on diversity, he found time to make a "hardline speech which inflamed the crowd" preceding the 1995 Brixon riots.

Ken Livingstone stopped his radical mouth with taxpayer gold - and to be fair, Lee delivered on his side of the bargain. Black Britain, unlike brown Britain, has been remarkably riot-free in the last dozen years (there is a debate as to whether, post-Scarman, the police just left the criminals to get on with it, but that's too big a subject for this post). You could just imagine Lee outside a police station after the Menezes shootings, but he's been quiet as a mouse. And the Met's Trident operation IS actually reducing gun deaths - admittedly stabbings are up, but the once customary background anti-police chorus from black "community leaders" is absent nowadays. Some people would say he was cheap at the price.

If Ken falls at the last, and Lee decides that it's time to put the radical tam back on, he'll find a different scene. The Afro-Caribbean population is pretty static (this doc suggests that Afro-Caribbeans were 0.9% of the youth population but had 2.7% of the abortions among that age group) while the Asian population is growing. Power relations on the streets are changing - in the 1980s Birmingham riots Asian shopkeepers died, but in their 2005 counterpart the only fatalities were black. Nonetheless there is potential for trouble - particularly in North and South London.

We shall see. One other possibility is joining the lovely Karen in forming some kind of UK counterpart to Jesse Jackson's US shakedown operations. After all, what Jesse does isn't so far away from what we've seen over here.


Anonymous said...

If Lee Jasper's black, I'm Louis Armstrong.

This industry, which people like him and Chouhan live fatly off, has become positively farcical: If I was paid to point out racism, I'd find it on an uninhabited island.

Edwin Greenwood said...

I see the fragrant Karen's website (http://www.blink.org.uk) is now soliciting donations. With further funding from the GLA doubtful, and with even the benighted CEHR likely to be thinking twice about future subventions, this is perhaps to be expected.

Care to start a whip-round, Laban? One would not wish to see the lovely Ms Chouhan and her oppo the illiterate Lester Holloway deprived of their righteous sinecures.

Anonymous said...

"The Race Relations Industry" - was that a Peter Simple coining? It was certainly a good one.

Anonymous said...

I see that the 'Big Man' has already mounted, it's because I is black, defence' in The Voice.


DJ said...

You really can't satirise these people. From the Karen link:

Karen’s vision is for a radical overhaul of Britain’s race equality framework. She believes that we will only have genuine equality when black communities are able to directly set the race agenda.

Anonymous said...

Jasper proves the point that the paler a half-cast is the bigger the chip on the shoulder...