The full impact of Labour’s handling of the Lutfur Rahman saga is now beginning to show. Last May, they obliterated Respect in the council and parliamentary elections and now thanks to the shambolic way in which officials ran the selection process for mayor, they have, as one councillor said to me, created Respect Mark II.
This morning, I hear, seven Labour councillors have expelled themselves from the party by throwing their weight behind Lutfur.
I hear that they are Oli Rahman, Lutfa Begum and her daughter Rania Khan (all of whom defected from Respect a couple of years ago!), controversial Alibor Chodhary, and new councillors Aminur Khan and wife Rabina Khan, and Shelina Aktar.
Hardly heavyweights, but still significant. In addition, another Respect defector, Wais Islam, who lost standing for Labour in May, has also left the party by urging people to vote for Lutfur in a Benagli newspaper article yesterday.
There are now serious worries that Lutfur, with the help of those Abbas supporters who allocate their second preference vote to the only other Bangladeshi name on the slate, could creep in come October 21.
For many in Labour, that is the worst of all worlds: a independent mayor controlling the executive without any check from a constituted party.
I have a feeling that this borough will soon be the focus of some pretty interesting national attention.
Cllr Rania Khan has just confirmed to me that she did attend a campaign meeting with Lutfur last night. She said: “As you know, I will fight against any injustice and I think there has been injustice to Lutfur.”