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Archive for September 23rd, 2010

Lib Dem “rescue” call

The moribund Lib Dems in Tower Hamlets (they used to rule this borough, but now have only one councillor, albeit in Stephanie Eaton, one of the best – and that’s a cross-party view) have issued the following press release:

Time to Bring Sanity to Tower Hamlets

Electors in Tower Hamlets are being urged by Liberal Democrat candidate John Griffiths to use their vote in the Mayoral election on 21 October to rescue the borough from sleaze and mismanagement.

A longstanding Tower Hamlets resident and former councillor for Bethnal Green North, John says: “In recent years, politics in Tower Hamlets have been dragged down into the gutter by Labour and the now moribund Respect Party. The latest shenanigans over Labour’s candidate selection for the Mayoral election are yet another example of the way the borough is being brought into disrepute.”

But John has rejected suggestions that the Mayoral election should be scrapped because of the Labour fiasco. “Local voters showed clearly in the referendum in May that they want an executive Mayor. It’s important now that they have the chance to elect someone of integrity who is committed to clean and transparent local government.”

John is campaigning as the principled voice of experience who can represent all communities in Tower Hamlets. “People shouldn’t be distracted by Labour’s infighting and rumours of Respect rising from the grave,” he says.

At the Lib Dem conference in Liverpool last Saturday, Canary Wharf Group hosted a reception for all the party’s London members. They were all encouraged – although not, I must say, by CWG’s Labour-supporting host for the night, Howard Dawber – to converge on Tower Hamlets to help campaign over the next month. (The same will happen at Labour’s conference next week in Manchester and then in Birmingham for the Tories.)

So Tower Hamlets is going to be swamped by awkward-looking politicos for the four weeks. Great.

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The grand arrival

Breaking news: Lutfur Rahman has just arrived at the town hall to sign his nomination papers….and his Labour party death warrant. According to one witness, Mllionaire businessmen and social housing tenant Shiraj Haque was there to greet him, cheering away.

More later.

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Lutfur, Labour and civil war

So, the deed is done, it seems. The East London Advertiser is reporting that Lutfur Rahman has finally jumped ship and decided to stand as an Independent in the mayoral election on October 21. It says that nomination papers have been served at Tower Hamlets Council, although a town hall spokesman has just told me that they’re not aware that has actually happened yet.

However, those in Lutfur’s camp have confirmed his decision, so let’s assume it’s true.

This will cause civil war in the Tower Hamlets Labour party, make no mistake about that. And it’s probably the purge that many members have been hoping for. While Lutfur is not standing as a Respect candidate, it will be George Galloway’s battle bus driving the thrust his grass-roots campaign.

So the question is who from Labour will join Lutfur on the road? Anyone making that leap will, like Lutfur surely will, be expelled from Labour. A lot of Labour councillors have some serious thinking to do over the next few days and up in Manchester. They include Marc Francis, Ohid Ahmed, Alibor Choudhury and the gang of three former Respect councillors Oli Rahman, Rania Khan and her mother, Lutfa Begum.

If they go they will be joining some pretty unsavoury characters in Respect, of which more later….

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