Three Labour Councillors have pledged their support for working with Independent Mayor Rahman. Kabir Ahmed and Shahed Ali cited Labour’s refusal to work with the Mayor as primary reasons for breaking the Labour Group Whip. Cllr Abdul Asad also announced his decision to work with the Mayor.
“Rahman was elected with a clear mandate, therefore, we need to respect that and work together for the good of the community. Instead of bringing Tower Hamlets together, the current leadership is exercising personal rivalries because there is no difference in the manifesto, said Shahed Ali.”
Cllr. Kabir Ahmed said that since Labour leader ?Helal Uddin Abbas was defeated by Rahman, the atmosphere among Tower Hamlets Councillors had become “poisonous’: He said, “The leadership are trying to run a party within a party. Legitimate debate is being stifled and anyone who doesn’t do exactly what they’re told is branded as a ‘Luthfurite’.
“Even Phil Woolas seems to have got a fair hearing before being suspended and Labour MP’s can support him without being threatened with expulsion or notions of self-expulsion.”
Cllr Asad states “As the longest serving member of Tower Hamlets Council, I feel that in order to serve the community as I have been elected to do; I will have to work with the Independant Mayor for the future benefit of the people of Tower Hamlets’ Cllr. Shahed Ali cited the Labour group decision not to work with the Mayor as a turning point: “We had our group meeting immediately after the election at Westminster. Many felt that an emergency motion seeking non-cooperation with the Mayor was premature. Pressure was put on us to vote against working with Mayor Rahman. However, I firmly believe residents elected us as councillors to run their council, not just merely to oppose any opportunity to deliver its needs.”
Cllr. Kabir Ahmed added: “Six months ago, Labour was riding high in Tower Hamlets, we returned two MPs and forty one Councillors, but the current leadership threw that away. They are blinded by ego politics and personal ambitions within the Labour party. I’ve been a Labour member for many years and I am loyal to the party’s ideals, but if it’s a choice between the egos of Labour group leadership and the people who elected me, the voters win every time.”
“The two Independent Mayors of Hartlepool and Middlesbrough work hand in hand with a huge majority of Labour councillors in their respective cabinets. Equally, the pool of experience and talent within Labour group should not be wasted.” Cllr Asad also reflected similar sentiments.
“Tower Hamlets Labour party has to admit to the mistakes and ill-judgements it has made throughout this mayoral selection process and must re-double its efforts if it is to regain the trust and support it requires to avoid further electoral casualties.” said Cllr. Shahed Ali.
Lutfur Rahman, the newly elected Independent Mayor of Tower Hamlets has welcomed the support from both councillors, but also appealed for unity: “I’m proud to welcome the support of councillors to my administration and look forward to working with them for the good of the whole community. But I also reiterate my call to the Labour Party and other opposition Groups to end this madness and work with me. The coalition has imposed cuts that threaten to tear the heart out of our community; I’ll be working to make sure that doesn’t happen. I want all parties to join with me to help one of the most deprived communities in the UK prosper”.
The two councillors have not defected from Labour, but keeping in mind the interests of the community have admirably agreed to work with Lutfur Rahman. Resigning the whip will mean the two Councillors will still remain Labour councillors but unable to vote in Labour Group meetings. Cllr Ali has expressed he will refuse a cabinet position if offered because he ‘is loyal to Labour’, it is not expected that Cllr Ahmed will be given a cabinet position either.
Members unhappy with imposed candidate
This week party members have shown concern at the Labour party candidate chosen for the Spitalfields by election. Chair of Spitalfields and Banglatown Labour Party, Mosabbir Ali has written directly to regional director Ken Clark.
Ali has made an official complaint on behalf of all ward party members and raised objection to the selection process that was used to determine the candidate for the by-election scheduled for December 16.
He wrote, “Local party members are outraged and completely unfamiliar with this ‘imposed’ candidate, Abdul Alim, whom we have nothing against personally but who has very little connection or knowledge of local politics in this ward let alone the ability to win in this complex ward without their support.”
“Graham Taylor, the chair of the borough party and interview panel failed to consult local party members on who would make a good candidate amongst those on the approved panel who had nominated themselves. We believe that the candidate was chosen because he is from the same village as the Labour group Councillor Helal Abbas (who has led the party into Opposition after sixteen years in power).
“We are aware that several candidates who had nominated their CVs were not even invited to the interview on Saturday. Neither were local members even aware of this so-called interview. This is a failure on the part of borough party officers responsible such as Chris Weavers and others sitting on the interview panel. Many of those ‘approved candidates’ that applied including the ones who were invited to the interview possess far better experience and skills than the current candidate, who has never been seen campaigning for the party in Spitalfields and Banglatown.”
Ali finished his letter, “There is still a bit of time left before the submission deadline of candidate nomination to the council. We urge the London Regional Labour Party to cancel the current selection altogether and put forward to all the branch members the names of candidates who nominated themselves so that we can, as paid members, select the best candidate whom we believe will win this important council seat against any heavyweight Opposition candidate from George Galloway’s Respect Party.
“Failure on your part to review the incumbent candidate’s suitability and replace him with one who is strong will reflect negatively on the party’s reputation locally and possibly regionally, ahead of important mayoral and general elections. We are extremely disappointed by the manner in which local ward party members have been ignored. That is why we believe that you should allow the selection of a candidate who has broad support from most ward party members.
“We, the Spitalfields and Banglatown ward party members, would like to meet all the approved candidates and select the best one we believe can defeat the Opposition candidate.”
Ali, who is a long term Labour member with excellent political credentials himself has warned that members will take further action if Labour lose this election due to “negligence as Director of the London Labour Party.”
Ali’s letter has been copied to the chair of the London Labour Party, all the members of the NEC and Labour leader Ed Miliband.
Calls for Abbas for Stand down
There have been calls for the Labour Group Leader Helal Abbas to stand down by Labour Councillors and Labour Party Members. Helal Abbas is widely blamed for the embarrassing defeat of Labour at the Mayoral Election polls on the 21st of October. Many feel that if Abbas does not stand down it will further damage the Tower Hamlets Labour Party, possibly permanently.
Names touted for the role are Abdal Ullah and Marc Francis. “Ullah and Francis have what it takes to drag the party out of this mess,” said a party insider. “I prefer Ullah becase I feel he has the ability to work across faiths, cultures and unite the many factions that are tearing the borough apart.”
Mayor Lutfur announces his cabinet
Lutfur Rahman who was elected Mayor as an independent candidate on the 21st of October announced half of his cabinet last night. The positions are as following:
Cllr Alibor Choudhury: Resources
Cllr Rabina Khan: Housing
Cllr Oliur Rahman: Children’s Services
Cllr Rania Khan: Regeneration and Infrastructure
The other positions will be managed by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor for the time being
Ken Livingstone the Labour Mayoral candidate for London is in talks with officials to try to negotiate bringing Lutfur Rahman and the eight Independant councillors back into the Labour Party.
Article by Shahanara Begum