Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Sir Peter Soulsby on Keith Vaz

Leicester Labour's internal politics can be hard for outsiders to fathom, but one thing at least is clear. Keith Vaz (MP for Leicester East) and Sir Peter Soulsby (the city's elected mayor) do not get on.

In 2011 I quoted a Leicester Mercury article on the funding of Soulsby's first mayoral campaign:
Sir Peter's was funded by the three city constituency Labour parties. Leicester South and West branches gave £3,100 and £2,100 respectively. Leicester East's branch gave just £80.
What I didn't know then is that the Vaz/Soulsby enmity had reached Westminster.

In February 2001 the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee investigated a number of allegations against Vaz. Some were upheld and some were not - you can find the committee's report on the investigation on the Parliament website.

One of the witnesses who gave evidence to the inquiry was Sir Peter Soulsby. Here are a few extracts from his evidence:
397 ... There have been a number of occasions when members of the community in Leicester, particularly members of the Asian community, have been critical of Keith and have made statements criticising Keith and subsequently changed the position they have taken in public. Indeed, there were a number of occasions around this time I am talking about when people changed their positions. How the trick is achieved, I do not know, but it has happened on a number of occasions.
406 ... I think there have been a number of occasions in the past when I have felt Keith's attitude to the truth is different from the attitude I feel appropriate for a person in public life. It ranges from a whole range of issues: from telling one group in the community that he is in support of a road scheme, while telling another that he is opposed to it; through to rather more national or even international issues, such us his message of support to Salman Rushdie followed by taking part in a march with a group of Muslims wanting to burn the Satanic Verses; through to the difficulties he is having with his attitude towards Kashmir, telling different communities different attitudes, which has caused a number of problems, not just in Leicester but at a national level.
449 ... I am sure he would suggest to you I have a vendetta against him. I think the reality is, as I described earlier, we have a very different view about what is proper in public life, and how one ought to behave, and a different attitude as to what is true and what is not. That has inevitably led to us falling out a number of times over the years. That is not a vendetta; that is a difference in personality and attitude.
I cannot vouch for the truth of what Sir Peter said, but it  is the evidence he gave to the committee.

1 comment:

Phil Beesley said...

Whenever a politician says "community" I don't know what to believe. Peter Soulsby says community a lot.

Soulsby says "members of the community in Leicester" which is a mouthful compared to "Leicester people" or "Leicester residents". Or perhaps Sir Peter Soulsby is over accustomed to circumlocution.

I take my daily exercise and say "hello" to the dog walkers and dogs. It defines me as a member of a community but what further?