The Mail on Sunday story on Dudley North candidate, Afzal Amin, is a shocking end to the political career of an individual who brought with him, ambition, military service, charisma and a flair for politics.
The Mail on Sunday story highlights how Amin suggested that the EDL should announce a march against the Dudley mosque just before the election, only to back down after a series of meetings (organised by Amin), with the local police and Muslim communities. The aim was to give the public the impression that he had lowered tensions in the local area by halting the EDL march and thereby to gain enough support the overturn the razor tight Labour majority in the area.
Furthermore, the investigation revealed that he wanted to possibly pay EDL activists who could talk to voters at the doorstep and who may have been persuaded to vote for him due to his military service. Amin must have assumed that the EDL activists could target specific profiles of potential voters and advocate his military credentials and service to them.
There are times when individuals over-reach themselves and make mistakes. There are positions that individuals and elected officials take that make clear their red lines and their desire to speak out on issues that matter to them. We understand that in an information rich and fast moving media cycle, these things happen and positions are taken. This is the rich tapestry of what makes life so exciting and sometimes so infuriating.
Yet, the investigation by the Mail on Sunday opens up a whole array of issues in relation to this ex-candidate. To use the EDL, a far right extremist group, to promote tensions in an area that has been blighted by tensions due to objections to the Dudley mosque, is jaw dropping. No-one should under-estimate the local fractures and tensions that the Dudley mosque has caused and which has ramifications for communities to this day. This is not to side with people who object to the Dudley mosque, nor is to support the vile campaigning by anti-Muslim groups like Britain First who seek to agitate and increase divisions. However, it is to acknowledge that the Dudley mosque has become a focal political point in the area and that tensions need to be reduced by cool heads.
With this in mind, we hope that the future Member of Parliament for Dudley North strives to bring together communities in the area and to keep out those who seek to divide, spread fear, intolerance and hatred. That is the last thing that Dudley needs.