Posts Tagged ‘Tower Hamlets’

Lutfur Rahman: now let’s see Labour’s ways of working change

24/04/2015, 12:33:31 PM

by Rob Marchant

It is surely hard for any Labour member – okay, Ken Livingstone excepted – to shed a tear for former Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman.

The man who was yesterday unceremoniously turfed out of office, after an unequivocal judgement against him in an electoral court, has become the subject of arguably the worst scandal in local government since Westminster council leader Dame Shirley Porter’s conviction for gerrymandering two decades ago. Criminal charges may yet be brought.

But as we look at it, we have to ask ourselves: what have we learned? It would be good to think that the party leadership is right now taking a few moments to reflect, thinking “how can we make sure this never happens again? How did we ever get here?”

It seems, sadly, that the reaction seems more likely to be “phew – good job he left the party before all this”.

But although Rahman created his own vehicle, the “Tower Hamlets First” party, he was a clear product of the Labour Party as it was in the 2000s (let’s not forget, he was Labour leader of the council for two years before he was an independent mayor). A monster we created. We cannot just congratulate ourselves that we – partially, at least – dodged the bullet.

Think about it. Logically, we can draw three possible conclusions.

One: that he was a one-off. That his rise and fall is a product of his particular personality and not symptomatic of a wider problem in the way Labour deals with ethnic and religious communities. Looking at the problems Labour has had in twelve other constituencies where electoral tampering has also been alleged, previously documented by Labour Uncut, this seems unlikely.


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Tackling racism is important but we can’t just see minorities as eternal victims

25/01/2013, 11:04:21 AM

by Dan McCurry

When I was a child, a lad in our street threw a stone through the window of the first Bangladeshi family to move into our street. We were rounded up by the local vicar and taken around to the family, and they gave us biscuits and lemonade, and made friends with us. Other Bangladeshi families arrived over the next few years, but they didn’t get their windows smashed.

More recently, I did some community work on the Boundary estate, near Brick Lane. One of the issues was the relations between the new middle-class white residents and the existing Bangladeshi community.  Leila’s cafe and shop, which sold organic food, had her windows smashed by the local Bangladeshi teenagers. Her response was to make friends with them, and these days they treat Leila with great respect, because they all want jobs in the cafe.

As one wave of migration gives way to another, similar tensions occur. Today is a different world to the 80s, bananas are no longer thrown at black players on the football pitch, but as socialists, we still hold some of the views that were developed in different times. These views are outdated.

It would be difficult to imagine the socialist movement mobilising to defend the Shoreditch web designers in Leila’s organic cafe. The Labour party are not going to arrive en masse to chant “fascists out!” at the Bangladeshi teenagers, even though the many issues are the same, just a different time and place.  Why is that?

There’s an experience I had as a teenager that is worth recounting here. It was rather like when Huckleberry Finn asked the question, “What’s a feud?” In my case, I asked “What’s Paki bashing?” I was told, “Aw, it’s brilliant. You get tooled up, then go about with your mates till you see one, and everyone shouts out “Paki!” He runs, and you all leg it down the street after him, and you catch up and….”


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Time for Labour to root out the rotten politics of race in the Tower Hamlets party

25/07/2012, 07:00:14 AM

by Rob Marchant

It was with a heavy heart that Labour Uncut uncovered a little-reported nugget from seasoned east end politics commentator Ted Jeory: the expulsion of five Tower Hamlets councillors from the Labour party.

Actually, no. It was rather with delighted surprise and relief.

At last.

One of the councillors, Shahed Ali, tried to compare their floor-crossing – to join the non-Labour cabinet of independent, Respect-backed mayor Lutfur Rahman – with the failure of Dan Hodges and Alan Sugar (neither of whom are elected politicians, incidentally) to endorse Ken Livingstone.

And where Ali lost all credibility, as Jeory points out, was with his somewhat risible cry of “racism”. Ah yes, it was nothing to do with the councillors’ abject disloyalty: they were being picked on because they happened to be Bengali Muslims. Of course.

The harsh realpolitik is that Labour could not expel these councillors before the mayorals, because then they might have had to expel someone else who campaigned openly for Rahman – one Ken Livingstone.

This latest episode in the colourful history of Tower Hamlets Labour highlights not only the level to which party discipline nationally has diminished, but also how Labour is struggling to retain control over its local party in the east end.

It’s as if a small corner of the party had mutated, like in some bad sci-fi flick, and taken on a life of its own outside Labour.

This is not a criticism of long-suffering party staff, constrained by the political direction and resources they are given: nor of the many decent people in the local party, or its decent MPs such as Jim Fitzpatrick or Rushanara Ali.


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The real reasons Ken wants Lutfur back in the party

13/11/2010, 12:00:13 PM

by Jessica Asato

It is clear that, despite trying to arm-twist some quite senior members of the Labour party into allowing Lutfur Rahman back into the fold, Ken Livingstone has failed the new mayor of Tower Hamlets for the time being. Instead of pushing the issue at the next meeting of the NEC, Ken has recently rowed back – having had the riot act read to him by Victoria Street – and said there’s no timescale. Though the ambition is still there. Earlier this week Ken said “there is a lot to be said for letting this all calm down and seeing how Lutfur performs”. So why has Livingstone gone out of his way to find such common cause with Rahman?

When I last wrote about the Mayoral election, some commenters suggested that Ken was merely being politically pragmatic by supporting Lutfur. This was not an endorsement of Lutfur’s ideological position, but instead a calculated partnership with an eye on the future. They pointed out that his vote doubled in Tower Hamlets during the 2008 London Mayoral election, arguing that the East London mosque and the Islamic forum of Europe (IFE) were key to his success. By siding with the Labour candidate three weeks ago, Livingstone might have alienated these two important lobby interests in the borough, which could create a mass desertion of Muslim voters from Labour’s cause across London ahead of 2012. (more…)

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Livingstone had face to face talks with Ed Miliband over Rahman

10/11/2010, 12:12:28 PM

Ken Livingstone and Ed Miliband have held face to face discussions about Lutfur Rahman’s future in the Labour party, an official Labour mayoral spokesman has confirmed to Uncut.

Responding to yesterday’s Uncut story that Livingstone would push for Rahman’s readmission to the party at this month’s NEC meeting, the spokesman said, “Yes, Ed and Ken have met and discussed the issue. I’m not going to go into the details. It was a private meeting”.

The spokesman denied that Livingstone planned to raise the issue at the NEC meeting scheduled for the 30th, but refused to deny that he planned to raise it at a future date. When asked specifically if the denial meant  that Livingstone was not pushing for Rahman’s readmission at all, or simply that he did not plan to raise it on the 30th, the spokesman replied, “let me seek clarification, and I’ll get back to you”. The spokesman subsequently called back, and responded, “Ken will not be raising the issue of Lutfur Rahman at the NEC meeting on November 30”.

When asked on 5 successive occasions to confirm or deny whether Ken Livingstone wanted Lutfur Rahman readmitted to the Labour party, the spokesman responded “We’re not going to get into hypotheticals on what’s going to happen in the future to Lutfur Rahman”.

When asked if the fact Ken Livingstone had raised the issue with Ed Miliband indicated that it was significant rather than hypothetical, the spokesman responded, “That’s your interpretation”.

The spokesman added, “The reality is that the position re the NEC on the 30th is the complete reverse of the story you printed”.

Asked if that meant that Ken Livingstone had accepted Rahman’s exclusion from the Labour party, the spokesman replied, “No”.

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Livingstone to push for Lutfur Rahman’s readmission to Labour

09/11/2010, 01:15:04 PM

Labour disciplinary problems come not in single spies, but in battalions. As Woolasgate rages, Uncut understands that the NEC meeting on 30 November will see Ken Livingstone stage an audacious bid to get Lutfur Rahman reinstated to the party.

According to Labour officials, Ken has already discussed the issue directly with Ed Miliband, talks which a Livingstone insider described as “positive”.

Rahman, who defeated official Labour candidate Helal Abbas in last month’s election to become directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets, has asked Livingstone to broker his return to the Labour fold.

Sources close to Tower Hamlets Labour party confirmed that discussions have taken place between Rahman and Livingstone about his bid for re-inclusion, and that Rahman had decided to delay appointing a full cabinet in the borough until his status in the party had been confirmed. In contrast to the Livingstone camp, they believe that Ed Miliband will not endorse a return for Rahman, and that Livingstone does not enjoy sufficient NEC support to secure his readmission otherwise.

The decision to push for Rahman’s inclusion will create serious tensions within the local party. Local MP Jim Fitzpatrick has made his own submission to the NEC calling for disciplinary action against Ken’s public show of support for Rahman during the campaign.

Sources close to Ed Miliband have indicated that such action is unlikely.

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The lessons from Tower Hamlets, by Jessica Asato

22/10/2010, 02:00:27 PM

Were you out campaigning in Tower Hamlets yesterday?

I thought not. You’re not alone; lots of Labour campaign stalwarts stayed away. They took one look at the situation and thought that their precious holiday could be saved for a more deserving campaign.

Even without knowing the complex saga of Tower Hamlets politics, trying to elect an imposed candidate who came third in a party selection seemed like electoral suicide. It was. Despite a valiant ground campaign which I witnessed yesterday, our candidate Helal Abbas was beaten solidly by Lutfur Rahman on 51% of first preferences. I can’t remember the last election day in which I felt so outnumbered by the sheer presence of opposition campaigners. Rahman’s supporters drove round in cars plastered with his literature and quite happily flouted electoral rules by crowding round the entrance to polling stations with leaflets. The few of us who did make it there were stretched thin. It won’t count as one of my happier campaigning experiences. (more…)

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Monday News Review

04/10/2010, 08:10:19 AM

Hague picks on the brothers

William Hague says he will not nominate David Miliband for the post of European Union foreign minister, nor any other international job in the foreseeable future, scotching suggestions the defeated Labour leadership contender could be heading for Brussels. David Miliband may be regarded by Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, as “vibrant” and authoritative, but Mr Hague is far less smitten with the man who preceded him at the Foreign Office. “I’ve no personal quarrel with him,” Mr Hague tells the Financial Times. It is just that Mr Hague thinks that under Mr Miliband the Foreign Office was left financially stricken and marginalised in Whitehall, failed to build relations with emerging economies, and left Britain vulnerable to accusations it was complicit in torture. – The FT

NEWLY ELECTED Labour Party leader Ed Miliband faced a barrage of criticism yesterday from senior Conservative Party figures who will outline a multibillion-pound spending cuts programme later this month. They insisted Mr Miliband must produce a list of cuts that he will support if he is to build credibility with voters. The co-ordinated attacks upon Mr Miliband on the first day of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham came after early polling figures showed Labour now leading the Conservatives. Asking whether Mr Miliband would now say what he supports, foreign secretary William Hague said: “Or will he follow the unions who fixed the election for him, and Ed Balls and Gordon Brown who tutored him, in running away from the biggest problem facing the country and abandoning the centre ground of British politics?” – The Irish Times

Coulson listened to messages

Andy Coulson

Andy Coulson is alleged to have listened to hacked voicemail

The prime minister’s media adviser, Andy Coulson, personally listened to the intercepted voicemail messages of public figures when he edited theNews of the World, a senior journalist who worked alongside him has said. Coulson has always denied knowing about any illegal activity by the journalists who worked for him, but an unidentified former executive from the paper told Channel Four Dispatches that Coulson not only knew his reporters were using intercepted voicemail but was also personally involved. “Sometimes, they would say: ‘We’ve got a recording’ and Andy would say: ‘OK, bring it into my office and play it to me’ or ‘Bring me, email me a transcript of it’,” the journalist said. – The Guardian


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