Shahmir Sanni on Whistleblowing and Corruption
Gerry and Paul from Not Another Fake Newscast talk to Shahmir Sanni who worked in the very heart of the Vote Leave Campaign & the various think tanks & lobbying groups operating out of 55 Tufton Street before becoming a key whistleblower about corruption in the Leave campaign and in wider British politics.
Previously Chloe Farand maps the nine organisations that Sanni accuses of colluding over a Hard Brexit:
“According to Sanni’s claim, the organisations involved in this right-wing campaign for media coverage include the TaxPayers’ Alliance, the officer of Peter Whittle, the former deputy leader of UKIP, Civitas, the Adam Smith Institute, Leave Means Leave, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Brexit Central, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Institute for Economic Affairs. ”
In the latest Not Another Fake Newscast Sanni talks about the aftermath of his whistleblowing, and being publicly outed by Downing Street. But he says it was not just his homosexuality which was weaponised, his race & religion were too.
“All the language that was used around me when I was outed was so racialised, and so inherently rooted in the Islamophobia which has permeated in British society for a long time. People would constantly say ‘he lacks integrity’.” Sanni compares this to the experience of fellow whistleblowers such as his friend Chris Wylie, Edward Snowden & Chelsea Manning.
“Yes there were accusations that they were traitors, but there is this constant coded language that comes with this belief that Pakistanis are fraudulent, that they have money laundering schemes or all live together in a house claiming benefits. These were always tied up with comments about my appearance. I’ve never really spoken about this before. Even my outing in itself was racialised. They wouldn’t have used that as their big weapon if I wasn’t a brown Muslim. It wouldn’t be seen as that big a deal, or as a reason to doubt my integrity.”
Does Shahmhir think his sexuality was used as a weapon to undermine him within his own community?
“Absolutely. Sayeeda Warsi was the only Pakistani politician who reached out to me. There was no Pakistani Labour politicians who reached out to me, no Muslim Labour politicians who reached out to me. And of course this had to do my sexuality. There is homophobia in the Muslim community, in the Pakistani community. There is no denying that.”
Shahmir’s intervention eventually led to Vote Leave being found guilty of electoral fraud, but the only punishment was a nominal fine. “This is what is rotten about the British democratic system. It’s essentially what’s rotten about this country. No matter what you do to pervert democracy, there’s no real ramifications for it. You get a fine and that’s it. There’s no further investigation because that’s all they can do. Sure you cheated to win the race but you can still keep the medal. Just don’t do it again.”
“This was the biggest breach of campaign finance law in British history. There was a coordinated campaign by the most influential policy groups and research groups who advise the government of the UK on what policies to go for, what decisions to make. Who to give money to and who not to give money to. Which country to bomb and which not to bomb. There was a coordinated effort by these individuals and groups to bury a story, bury information and bury evidence of the single biggest breach of electoral law in British history. I have to remind myself of this sometimes because it seems to have had so little impact. I just have to tell myself that my role is done. I did my part”
When it was suggested Shahmir could come up to Scotland and work on an Independence campaign, he had this to say:
“I’m totally pro-Independence. I am totally pro-Independence. They (the government) hate the Scottish. This is what a lot of people don’t understand – they genuinely, genuinely do not like Scotland. The whole idea of Scotland they don’t like, and this is something I never understood because I grew up in Pakistan. The way that they would talk about the Welsh & the Scottish… You really should seek Independence – because they hate you. Get out as soon as you can.”
Listen to the full interview here …