MY FIRST conversation with the relatively new Batley West councillor Shabir Pandor was in the early days of The Press, when we were busy exposing the scourge of the district’s drugs gangs.
Recent news suggests their criminal cousins in rape gangs were equally busy across the district.
The same week that we reported a young man’s heroin overdose in Staincliffe, I found myself confronting Yunus Shaikh in a dowdy flat on Manor Way.
His windows had been shattered and his car firebombed, and he would shortly be beaten up and hospitalized.
He was in his late 40s/early 50s, a wizened thing, sitting cross-legged on the floor. I sat on a sofa between two very large young men.
Shaikh’s girlfriend was a young local lass – white, obviously – who I watched staggering round the room, emaciated, her arms raddled with needle marks, eyes rolling in her head.
I’d watched from my car as people went to the heavily bolted door, knocked and put money through the letterbox, before receiving their ‘goods’.
Yunus claimed the attacks were because someone wanted his flat – glass still on carpet, what looked like blood on walls and ceiling – and not because he was a drug dealer on someone else’s turf.
He said he couldn’t possibly be a drug dealer, because he was somehow related to Coun Shabir Pandor and was from the same village. Pandor would vouch for him!
The local councillor for Manor Way did no such thing of course and, as you’d expect, nearly soiled himself in panic and denial.
But neither did the councillor destined to lead Kirklees Council visibly do anything about the drug war and associated fatalities in his ward, or act on the plight of that girl who looked weeks from death.
That was left to the late and much-lamented councillor, Margaret Bates, who had no civic Batley responsibilities but was a proud former Staincliffe lass.
As Pandor kept his head down, Margaret got angry. The den was shut down, prison sentences followed.
That young woman wrote to me from HMP New Hall in Flockton saying it saved her life.
I’ve not had many conversations with Shabir Pandor over the years, but such as we’ve spoken it’s largely been off the record.
I’ve always found him pleasant. And no, I won’t reveal those private conversations, even as he acts with what I consider malicious intent and treats the citizens of Kirklees with utter contempt.
His scurrilous attack on people raising legitimate concerns about the covert supply of non-stunned halal meat in schools exposes him as a man of limited intelligence, poor political judgment and – worst – a dangerous player of the race card.
Can’t argue based on logic? Call ‘em racist. Won’t discuss a touchy subject? Call ‘em racist. It demeans a position he is clearly unfit for.
I like my curries. I’ve eaten lots of halal meat – most of it humanely slaughtered I expect, because to the vast majority of UK Muslims, that’s acceptable.
I make an informed choice and this entire subject boils down to that simple issue for most reasonable people.
It’s only the religious fundamentalists – people like Shabir Pandor’s brother, mufti Mohammed Amin Pandor – who insist on non-stunned.
And as we’ve come to expect from Kirklees Council, those people are the highly political faction they pander to – riding roughshod over ordinary people’s sensitivities and a basic right to information and choice.
Others who oppose cruelty to animals have an equally valid argument, one that would ironically be defended to the hilt by Labour activists in any other circumstance but this.
But they don’t because the ‘M’ and the ‘R’ words can be played, like Jokers in a pack of cards.
They are used to trump all reason, all rational argument, to defame honest people and to demean the issue. It’s shameful.
No-one is, or has, criticised – let alone attacked – a community or a creed here, just a questionable practice and the deceiving of the wider populace. It’s as simple as that.
As such the only people playing the divisive game are councillors Shabir Pandor, Fazila Loonat and their mob of far-left keyboard warriors.
Coun Loonat is currently trying to blame some alleged abuse she’s received on a column I wrote in November.
You should have informed us Fazila, because that’s unacceptable and we will always challenge it.
But – and it’s a big but – given the subject matter involved, the adage ‘don’t like the heat, stay out of the kitchen’ is quite apt, because what she will still not acknowledge or take responsibility for, is her part in bringing that ordure down on her own head.
Faced with defending an uncomfortable situation when the halal story broke, she chose to throw the race bomb, then run and hide.
It was cheap and divisive – and if Loonat and her fellow Momentum devotees who are busy trying to intimidate me and blacken my name haven’t yet realised, that doesn’t work either.
But hers was a minor error of judgement compared to Pandor’s.
Launching a full-frontal race attack by way of shutting down debate was outrageous and the man should resign.
Mind you – so should every cowardly Kirklees councillor that didn’t roundly condemn him for it.
APPARENTLY I’m a bully, which came as both a surprise and a disappointment. Not a physical bully – let’s be honest, I’m a bit over the hill for that.
But verbally and literarily (and try saying that when you’re three sheets to the wind!) it seems I’m a bona fide beastie.
And worse, much worse to my mind, I stand accused of being a misogynistic bully, in that I pick on women. Women in politics, specifically, but not exclusively.
I’ve been made aware of this mostly via a wave of far-left hate, courtesy of recent TV appearances on the BBC. I won’t be going back on Newsnight or Politics Live, because even General Custer wouldn’t have gone back to get ambushed again. Twitter’s been binned.
I was almost literally gobsmacked when Emily Maitlis dropped a bombshell that female Labour MPs wouldn’t share a TV platform with me. My shocked request that she reveal their identities made me a sinister revenge-seeker, it seems, one step removed from Thomas Mair.
No matter that my reaction would have been the same if it had been Labour men, I’d fallen into the Beeb’s trap. More fool Locky, but that’s what we’re up against, folks.
As someone who suffered childhood bullying and whose every significant adult role model was female, that accusation hurts.
It’s one human characteristic I despise and will combat wherever I see it – but of course there’s an agenda here, there always is.
Who were those MPs? I’d guess people not well equipped for intelligent debate like Naz Shah or Diane Abbott – and no doubt that makes me a racist and sexist bully. But I’d happily say the same of men of very limited intelligence like Jeremy Corbyn, or intellectually pompous ideologues like Vince Cable.
You see, this supposedly enlightened age of sex and race equality applies only so far as it suits either the sex or race rottweilers – because only they get to define who can say what, before they weaponise the hate-labels that belong exclusively to them.
I’m accused of bullying Fazila Loonat in November, the clear subtext being that it was because she’s female/Muslim.
No. She’s an elected councillor and Momentum activist. In the game, by choice. And pray tell, what category did my ‘bullying’ come under when holding to account ex-MP Simon Reevell (Tory) or ex-Kirklees Labour leader David Sheard?
This column deals in equal opportunity insults, both ways, and I consider the bullying tag a cheap cop-out.
We pride ourselves on giving prominence to critics so bring it on, but bring your best game, because just as you question me, I’ll question back.
Isn’t that what debate and opinion is about?
MENTION of equal opportunity platforms and take a minute to look at the letter sent by the Freemasons this week.
It seems my mickey-take about the ‘shared characteristics’ of the 55 men arrested on historic child sex allegations has “angered and upset many members”.
In the words of the great Castleford rugby league pundit Mick Morgan, “ah carnt speyk”.
Still, I won’t add further insult to the injury felt by the Grand Master Poohbah and his well-meaning acolytes.
Instead I’ll stand by the door awaiting notification from the Vatican of my excommunication from the church…