Archive for September 26th, 2010

Some snippets from tonight’s incredibly popular Labour Friends of Bangladesh fringe meeting at the party conference in Manchester…

Tonight Helal Abbas received the backing of:

– Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali, who, according to several people, made a “fantastic speech” saying how important it was to get Abbas elected (I missed the beginning)

– NEC member and chair of the Commons Home Affairs select committee Keith Vaz, who described Abbas as a “long time friend…and it was time for the Bangladeshi community to have a mayor”. He also lavished enormous praise on Rushanara, saying: “I’ve sat mesmerised listening to her speak on the great issues of the day in the House of Commons.”

– Newly elected NEC member Oona King, who said: “This is the most important election in a long time because we all know what we are facing and every single one of us has to make sure we redouble our efforts to get Abbas elected.”

– New Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk, who promised to come to Tower Hamlets and bring his supporters to help elect Abbas  

– Camden Council leader Nasim Ali, who, like Danczuk, said he would organise swarms of north London activists to canvass for Abbas

– London Assembly member Murad Qureshi

Intriguingly, I was also told that before the start of the meeting there was a row involving a Newham councillor. Apparently, she was demanding to read out a speech from Tower Hamlets councillor Ohid Ahmed, who, surprise, surprise, could not attend the gathering in Manchester.  (Ohid, you’ll remember, was Lutfur’s campaign manager in the controversial selection process and is one of eight Labour councillors to have declared support for him at his campaign meeting last Friday – a move that effectively ends their Labour careers.)

Not only that, the Lutfur-supporting Newham councillor was, I’m told, trying to insist that Abbas should not be introduced to the meeting as “the Labour candidate”. She was eventually overruled and Ohid’s ghost failed to appear.

Small details, but it’s a sign of the problems facing London regional party chief Ken Clark. He may well have to consider many more expulsions than he realised…

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Some snippets from last night’s meeting of Labour’s London members (sponsored by Canary Wharf Group) in Manchester, where Tower Hamlets mayoral candidate Helal Abbas received:

– a warm handshake and endorsement from new party leader Ed Miliband

– an even warmer pat on the back and cheeky wink from deputy leader Harriet Harman, who urged a packed room to descend on the East End to “support our fantastic candidate”

– an endorsement from a grimacing and slightly red-eyed Ken Livingstone who told me Labour’s selection process in Tower Hamlets had been “a disgrace” and urged voters to place Abbas first on the ballot paper and Lutfur Rahman second “otherwise we’ll get a Tory”.

I also chatted to someone closely involved in defending the party’s legal interests against Lutfur. I was told that Lutfur’s first case against his omission from the shortlist did not actually make the High Court and that the party had settled before that stage. Labour continues to be liable for Lutfur’s tens of thousands of pounds’ legal costs.

However, Lutfur’s second – and failed – case last week did make the High Court. Costs incurred there remain his liability.

Campaign expenses for all the candidates are going to make interesting reading.

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Waiseul Islam was elected as a Respect councillor in 2006. When George Galloway refused to grant him two favours, firstly to grant his desperate request for a personal loan (I was told this by a very close friend of George’s), and then to make him the parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow, he jumped ship to Labour. Senior bods in Respect laughed off his departure, labelling him a strange Walter Mitty type without brains.

Labour welcomed him with open arms because he helped bolster their slim overall majority in the pre-2010 council chamber.

After he agreed to support Lutfur for Labour group leader in 2008, he was suddenly given the new and paid title of Tower Hamlets Olympics Ambassador. He even tried, but failed, to secure a tax-paid trip to the Beijing Games in 2008.

Last May, the voters booted him out. Despite the tensions of covering a place like Tower Hamlets politics, we always got on OK…or so I thought.

Yesterday, I posted that Wais had effectively expelled himself from the Labour party after urging in an article for London Bangla to vote for Lutfur.

Here’s the actual article:

In the first in a series of unsavoury anti-Semitic exposes of Respect-linked comments on various websites, here’s Wais Islam insulting me on his Facebook site (as he knows I’m monitoring such things, it could well be deliberately provocative, but that’s no excuse; and as it happens, he does not know what faith, if any, I hold):

Wais Islam is seeing Labour GenSec Ray Collins to save my political career from Ted Jeory who says I’ve been expelled apparently. But why is Ray still writing to me? Come on pussy Jewry, try harder u low life peasant!

18 minutes ago via Mobile Web · · Share

    • Wais Islam I saw this working class ‘wanna-be-upmarket-urban-rat-low life who hates Labour drinking a pint outside my local rather posh pub Morgan Arms in the Bow Conservation Area last year and said in my mind, ‘nice try asshole’!
      3 minutes ago
    • Wais Islam They can’t expel me unless they also expel all the white Labours members who are with me on this Save Democracy in Labour campaign!
    • Wais Islam is urging Andrew Gilligan and Ted Jewry to investigate what percentage of Lutfur’s so called ‘extremist Islamist’ or Muslim votes Ed Miliband got that won him Labour Leadership because some people in fish pakiland Tower Hamlets are dying to produce a dossier to complain to the NEC for Ed’s suspension!

Does anyone think this is inflammatory?

UPDATE – Thursday, Sep 30

Wais Islam has sent a personal message apologising unreservedly to me for his remarks, which he says he made during a time of intense personal stress and family grief. He insists he is not anti-Semitic and I have accepted it. He says he will be taking a break from politics for some time.

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