Thursday 12 June 2008

Will Greenhalgh Act Over Cllr. Lucy Ivimy’s Race Slur?

The Daily Mail has scooped a story exposing Ravenscourt Park Councillor Lucy Ivimy (Con) writing racial slurs in an official email. Cllr. Ivimy was promoted to be H&F Council’s new Cabinet Member for Housing on May 28th this year. One of her first acts seems to have been to write to Nick Johnson, the Chief Executive of H&F Council’s housing management company, in which she expressed her “personal” prejudice about “foreign born residents”. You can read the Mail’s online version here. BBC and ITV London also headlined the story all day yesterday. You may still be able to view the ITV version here.

Having been told by residents that Woodfood Court had increased levels of litter (presumably after the cuts to the caretaking service) Cllr. Lucy Ivimy, wrote to Nick Johnson, to say "I know that in India, throwing rubbish out of a window and total disregard for the cleanliness of a public area is normal behaviour and I dare say a number would change behaviour if firmly told that in London this is not acceptable behaviour." You can read more of her comments in the article.

The Daily Mail says there are “only a handful of Indian families” living in the area. Cllr. Ivimy clearly had no evidence on which to base her views. There are problems with littering but it is done by a minority of people from a wide range of backgrounds and completely wrong to say it is the fault of “foreign born" or "Indian" residents.

Defending herself Cllr Ivimy told the Mail that “This was a hastily written, ill thought out, stupid, personal email” Let’s unravel that explanation. Firstly, when someone writes down their “personal” views they are expressing their inner-most private thoughts. Thoughts that in this case expose Cllr. Ivimy’s gut “personal” prejudice against Hammersmith and Fulham’s “foreign born” and “Indian” residents. To say her comments were written in “haste” simply means that she did not spend the time to ensure she had camouflaged those “personal” views.

There has been no comment from Cllr. Stephen Greenhalgh (Con), the Leader of the Council. I guess he is hoping that by keeping his head down this problem will go away. This is a failure of his leadership as it won’t. I am sorry to say that he is obliged to immediately sack Cllr. Ivimy from her new role as the Cabinet Member for Housing. Any cabinet position requires a politician who will engage their brain when dealing with the myriad of issues they are presented with. Not someone who engages their “personal” prejudices. The housing role makes Cllr. Ivimy responsible for 18,000 local council homes and for deciding the policy of how vacant homes are allocated. She is also currently in charge of deciding the development policy for all of the borough’s new housing and has a responsibility for community cohesion and integration. Hammersmith and Fulham has residents from a diverse range of backgrounds. All have a right to expect that the politician elected to deal with those issues will do so without “personal” prejudice. Cllr. Ivimy has disqualified herself from that brief.

Sadly, for Cllr. Ivimy, Greenhalgh must go further. David Cameron has been telling the public for some time now that the Conservatives have changed. Mr. Cameron calls it his “strategy to decontaminate the Conservative brand”. Well, if that is to be believed then Cllr. Stephen Greenhalgh has to remove the whip from Cllr. Ivimy and call a by-election in Ravenscourt Park ward. It is unfair on her constituents to do anything else.

Meanwhile, Cllr. Ivimy's comments have brought H&F Council into disrepute. That's certainly the view in India which is one of the world's great democracies and a country which modern Britain enjoys long-standing friendship, family and cultural links and increasingly important trading ties. The Hindustan Times covers the story here and the Mumbai Mirror covers it here. The Times of India says this and Yahoo India published this. The Hindu has this take on the story and the Telegraph (India) said this. India's IBN network is broadcasting the story today (you can read the text here) as is the Indian News Channel. The story has been covered on all the main Indian media but is also getting other international coverage including in Malaysia, China and the United States.


Anonymous said...

Does she know this is 2008, not 1948?

Anonymous said...

Thank God she does not represent me.

She cannot stay in her job. Does Cameron know?

Greg Wiseman

John said...

Thanks to Stephen for raising this.

This is a fundamental issue made all the more worrying by the "personal email" nature of the communication. Has this lady been saying one thing in public whilst expressing another view in private?

This is not a party political issue.

I understood that the Leader of the Council, Mr Greenhalgh was also closely engaged with Boris Johnson the mayor.

How does the mayor feel about one of his closest advisors condoning this action by one of his team, by his lack of action? Does this reflect on a position held privately by many in the Conservatives?

Has Shaun Bailey commented yet?

Best wishes to all.


Anonymous said...

Greenhalgh and Cameron have made it worse as they have implicitly condoned her comments by failing to sack her. I am deeply offended by this.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... Lucy Ivimy? This is the lady who last autumn, as chair of planning, pushed through the big strawberry looking office building at the bottom of Hammersmith Grove, is it not? It seems that her judgement is worse than I originally thought.

Anonymous said...

I am an "Indian" business woman in hammersmith and have just been given a court summons on what is an unfair penalty from 12 months ago. Contacting Lucy & her co-councillors last summer to discuss the case and resolve it, clearly did not work and this came out of the blue 9 months later. To top that LBHF waste guys take our recycling waste bagged for another company and put it into their general (non-recyclable) truck. We called their office and they know it's happening, yet do nothing! Paid by the tonne I guess? Where's the justice. Anyone got contacts in news desks.

John said...

Is this a growing problem? Over the weekend the London Mayor lost an aide for comments that were made see for detail.

This has been dealt with swiftly.

This story lists Stephen Greenhaigh as a member as refered to in my previous post.

Anonymous said...

David Cameron promoted Mrs Ivimy to be the Vice Chairman of Housing for all London within just a few months of this happening. That act alone says all we need to know about Cameron's real feelings toward tackling this sort of racism does it not?