WHEN Tulip Siddiq was in the heady thick of winning the Labour parliamentary nomination for Hampstead and Kilburn, her campaign team were said to have, once or twice, been rattled by people bringing up the fact she had been photographed with Russian President Vladimir Putin while visiting her famous relatives.
In a way, Tulip almost benefited from the fact this issue became so poisonous. One anonymous opponent rather shot themselves in the foot by emailing all councillors and journalists in such outraged tones and with more than a smattering of red text that the general reaction was to zap it directly to the trash. It also meant Tulip, as the victim, was on the front of the Ham & High in the week before members voted. Anybody who wanted to ask a calmer question about what the picture was all about was drowned out. She’s always maintained that she was hauled into a family photo – her aunt is Bangladesh’s Prime Minister – by surprise and wasn’t involved in any of the networking that day.
Still, as Tulip signs a joint letter to the Russian Embassy in support of imprisoned Gazprom protester Frank Hewitson, there has been more than one whisper this week of: Why doesn’t she just call up and have a word with Putin? Hasn’t she got a mobile number for Vlad?
THE LETTER TO THE RUSSIAN EMBASSY SIGNED BY TULIP, BRENT COUNCIL LEADER MUHAMMED BUTT SAYS:
“It is clearly outrageous to lock up peaceful protesters in this manner. President Putin himself has said he did not believe the team were pirates.
“We ask that you immediately release the 30 activists who have been detained by Russian authorities in Murmansk and while being detained, ensure the activists have access to full legal representation of their own choice, consular services, translators, and human rights inspectors.”