I had a visit to my blog the other day by John 001, who describes himself as a friend of Stella. (Stella Creasy is our local MP). John 001 has visited previously, usually to defend her, as is his right, and also demanding political 'balance' here. This is usually when something which is different from Ms Creasy's carefully choreographed image has come to light. I take the 'balance' thing with a big pinch of salt, of course, as Stella Creasy is quite capable of promoting herself in the media. She runs her own slick operation, tweeting, blogging, appearing in the dead tree press and also elbowing herself onto the telly from time to time. And of course, she has a little help from her friends. Which got me thinking, John 001.
In politics, of course, there are very few real friends. Over her career there will be a succession of people praised and cosied-up-to by politicians like Ms Creasy. Some of them will be party colleagues who would probably testify to that effect, if they could a) remember who she was or b) overcome their bitterness at her abandonment of their 'friendship' long enough to bear the sound of her name. Category a) 'friends', of course, probably include Gordon Brown, one of the worst Prime Ministers this country has ever known. Here she is trying to support him:
Category b) 'friends' would be a list of various types from her past. Especially from her inconvenient past, for instance people who know what was really going on in the Labour group when she was a mere councillor, Labour group whip and Mayor of this esteemed, but sadly corrupted, Borough (before she was deselected).
But Ms Creasy does have a few friends now, surely? Well, the short answer is 'yes'. Let's call them 'Category C'. We are reminded of one of these 'Category C' types of friend on the Crap Cycling blog today - where a link to a picture of Ms Creasy sharing a platform with the liar and expenses fiddler Hazel Blears reminds us yet again of the dodgy company which Ms Creasy has been known to keep from time to time.
[Here at the Archipelago her palling up with the odious Peter Hain and Keith Vaz has been mentioned previously].
There is also a new shadow cabinet, (sans Stella), and a new round of Category 'C' contacts to ingratiate herself with and nurture: people such as Sadiq Khan, who Stella had the foresight to invite to a 'meeting' on the 30th November last year at our Mother of Parliaments. (Well, she probably didn't actually organise the 'meeting' entirely, as she was a mere 'community campaigner' in those days. Neil Gerrard may have been involved in booking it.) The 'politics' of this jamboree for the faithful turned out to be some of that 'dog-whistling' Stella got up to prior to the last election - pretending that the BNP would soon be besieging Walthamstow if people failed to vote for her. At least, that is according to the Rt Hon. Sadiq Khan MP, who addressed the 60-strong crowd. They can be seen squeezing in as closely as possible in the photo on his blogsite , with the staged toothy enthusiasm which is so fashionable among politicos pretending to be 'residents' for such shots.
What a fine choice of speaker the fellow Fabian member was for Stella. He turned out to be the man who ran Ed Miliband's election campaign to be leader of the Labour Party. As long as she can overcome the embarrassment of having put David Miliband as first choice in preference to brother Ed, this is a connection which Ms Creasy will probably wish to capitalise on as she continues her attempts to climb the greasy pole.
The rest of the world, sadly, may not be quite so delighted that she cultivates such company. Mr Khan, who is a man capable of voting one way and lying in public about it an hour later, was after all, yet another wilful expenses fiddler during the last government. In 2007, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Sir Philip Mawer, upheld a complaint against him and asked Khan to pay back £500 parliamentary expenses.
In 2010, following another complaint, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards John Lyon said Khan had submitted a £1,051.34 claim in December 2005 for 1,500 greetings cards, which was initially turned down by the House authorities. A month after the claim was declined, it was resubmitted with an invoice that did not identify it as being for greeting cards. Khan accepted he should not have claimed for the expenses and agreed to return £2,551.
According to Guido Fawkes there may be an outstanding fraud investigation which relates to this incident. (Mr Fawkes has other beefs against Mr Khan, but these tend to relate to his professional life and I do not propose to hold most of those matters against him. As a solicitor, Mr Khan would necessarily have had dealings with a number of dodgy folk and should not have his clients or efforts on their behalf held against him). More interestingly, Mr Khan has a record of having voted very strongly in favour of ID cards and against any investigation into the Iraq War.
So, he is not, in my view, such great company for Ms Creasy. But presumably this is company which she chose to keep in order to further her career and so is happy to be judged by, because as she was at pains to stress before her election, she is not naive.
[Update 12 October 2010: Guido Fawkes allegations do seem to rather more serious than I thought at first, relating as they do to varying accounts given by Mr Khan to the authorities, including the House of commons and the Prime Minister about his relationship with a man in prison on terrorism charges:
" Khan We Have A Straight Answer Please?
As an up and coming human rights lawyer specialising in anti-establishment cases, you can understand why Sadiq Khan might have been interested in getting as many controversial briefs as possible. However Khan’s two visits to the terror suspect Guido referred to yesterday, Babar Ahmed,were made ,he claimed at the time, in his capacity as a “friend”. The Sir Christopher Rose Report into why Khan was bugged on those visits concluded that he made no effort to reveal to prison security that he was an MP. Despite this, two years later the then Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman misinformed the lobby by saying Khan was there “acting as a local MP”.
Gordon Brown’s spokesman and Babar Ahmad’s own sister Sara have claimed that Khan and Babar were friends since their childhood. However Khan told constituents in 2006 that he had only known him for a fifteen years and told Parliament that it was even less time. But what did he tell the prison authorities?
When he was filling out an application to visit Babar Ahmad in 2005 Khan told the prison that he had known Ahmad “since they were 12 or 13 years old; they were locals and attended the same mosque”. That’s wasn’t what Khan was saying publicly a year later.
If it was a honest mistake then clear it up and have Hansard corrected, but as it stands Khan has mislead the House of Commons. Along with the deliberate removal of details of their relationship from his own website, Khan is looking very slippery here. There is a big difference between meeting someone as a boy of 12 and a man of 21.
Still the questions remain:
•Given Khan did not tell the prison authorities he was an MP when visiting Ahmad in 2005, why was the PMOS briefed, presumably by Khan himself, that he was there on parliamentary business?
•Why did Khan try to downplay the extent of his friendship with Ahmad in 2006 only to have the truth revealed by Sir Christopher Rose, Sara Ahmad and the PMOS in 2008?
For a lawyer he can certainly be careless with the facts, hardly appropriate for the Justice Department… "