That nothing has appeared on this blog during the last week or so does not mean, of course, that nothing has been going in the unpredictable world of Tower Hamlets politics. Far from it.
Tonight, as Labour members turned up to a hustings in their wacky race to choose a candidate to run for directly elected mayor, instead of enjoying the honour of listening to three of the East End’s greatest orators (er, Sirajul Islam, John Biggs and Shiria Khatun) they were treated to a boring old leaflet. However, by Labour standards, this leaflet was actually rather interesting.
It said that the selection process, which was due to conclude with a one-member one-vote ballot this Sunday, had been suspended…due to a “legal challenge”.
Unsurprisingly, this challenge came from Cllr Lutfur Rahman, the former council leader whom Labour was so keen to keep off the slate. As I wrote here last month, the selection process did have the whiff of a stitch-up…largely over worries that the party had been infiltrated by supporters of one particular man.
I understand that Lutfur’s challenge means that all applicants are now likely to be re-interviewed by a new panel of the party’s great and the good–a process which will draw up another shortlist. This is serious stuff: the last panel included some extremely high ranking figures.
The selection process, largely believed to have been designed to suit London Assembly member Biggs, is now in chaos. As one senior party member told me tonight: “We always manage to screw these things up. just let the membership decide these things. Why not let every applicant be put to the ballot.”