As I’ve mentioned before, Lutfur Rahman’s campaign does seem to have galvanised a section of the Tower Hamlets community and many, if not most, are certainly very angry young people who are fuelled by a fair degree of hatred.
That bitterness has been targeted in almost equal measure at the Labour NEC and the party’s official candidate, Helal Abbas. At Tuesday night’s hustings in Poplar, I heard many, including councillors who aspire to be MPs, hurl playground insults at him. Some said he lacks integrity for accepting the nomination after coming third in the voided selection process. They may well be genuinely held views, but more than one person I’ve spoken to who attended that hustings remarked on what appeared to be a fairly unpleasant and thuggish element to among some of his supporters; probably, that’s the case with all candidates, except of course the nice Greens…
Ordinarily, I’d put such opinions down to a generation gap which views all teenagers as yobs, but in the last couple of weeks I’ve been spending a lot of my time editing or removing comments from this blog which are not only potentially libellous, but which are also vile and outright nasty. There are many in the Labour party who believe the level of vitriol is similar to that experienced by Oona King in 2005 when she was beaten by Respect and George Galloway. They believe the tactics are similar: smear the candidate at all costs.
Incredibly, as Andrew Gilligan reports here, those smears have been published in full in the London Bangla newspaper, whose well-funded print run this week has been distributed en masse around large parts of the East End. Laughably, it describes Cllr Oli Rahman as being “traumatised” by a handbags-at-dawn incident at Stepney Green Tube station on Monday. Even Oli will laugh at that: yes, he was so traumatised he called me immediately after dialling 999 and said: “I’ve got a story for you.”
You can read the London Bangla edition in full here. You’ll notice that not one of the allegations has been put to Abbas, who tells me he strongly denies them and describes them as “outrageous smears”.
Before anyone starts chipping in about how Lutfur wasn’t able to respond to Abbas’s dossier to the NEC, that’s a completely different issue. Newspapers have a duty to give the subject of allegations a right of reply. I would be very surprised if London Bangla is not sued for defamation.
The issue is such a disgrace that Emdad Rahman has decided to resign his unpaid post as “executive editor” in protest. He tells me he has had nothing to do with those articles and he completely disassociates himself from them.
So Emdad, whom I’ve featured several times on this blog as an example of positive activism in Tower Hamlets, becomes the first casualty of the poison that has infected our borough.
Pity he’s not standing for Mayor.
UPDATE- 4.25pm, Saturday, October 16
Emdad tells me that Newham Labour councillor Forhad Hussain has also resigned as London Bangla’s news editor in protest. This really does raise the question who was behind the published smears. The editor and managing director is Shah Yousuf. He was awarded the Civic Award by Tower Hamlets council last year for his “outstanding contributions to the community”. Here’s what else he boasts about on his own website.
Shah Yousuf (Shajad) is a man who works to bring his dreams become true. A man with very high ambitions of making a difference to the community by bringing positive changes to the lives of the people he proudly serves.
An engineer of Information Technology and Graphic Design by profession, Shah’s laptop is his second self and is the vital tool that enables him to interact with the greater community.
Shah’s self satisfaction stems from the desire to ensure that the community benefits first and foremost, and his outlook defines his principles.
Shah is a perfect example of a self-made man. He learnt to succeed in life at a very early age, and is currently involved in various projects, mainly involving the use of Information Technology, new media, outreach and commerce.
To aid his vision, Shah created London Bangla Limited where he is the Managing Director.
The very first production of this company is London Bangla News Weekly, the first free English-Bangla Bilingual free weekly. As the Editor of London Bangla, Shah oversees and maintains strategic responsibility and management, including a highly skilled editorial team of volunteers, dedicated to serving the communities needs.
London Bangla LTD
London Bangla is the only bilingual newspaper in Britain and it is free. Its target reader group are the 153,893 Bangladeshi communities residing in the greater London Authority (GLA). The newspaper is published every Friday and distributed to many outlets including local mosques, Islamic and community centres.
London Bangla is the first step of Shah’s journey to making his vision become reality. His sheer enthusiasm and dedication has already spread to great heights, achieving much success, including public recognition since its creation.
Shah’s Business credentials
Royal Bengal Airline
Shah was the Marketing Director of Royal Bengal Airline (2006), aiming to operate domestic flights in Bangladesh with future plans of international operations.
Faith Business Ltd
In 2005 Shah started a print and graphic design company in East London; Faith Business Limited which is now operationally managed by a team of different stakeholders.
Primeland Property Services
In 2005 Shah also invested in property development with the aim of of selling lands and overseas property in the UK to residents. For Primeland Property Services, Shah achieved outstanding success, mainly due to his personal attributions; integrity, assertiveness and strong analytical skills.
EuroBangla and Notudin Newsweekly
Shah believes in personal development and sharing his expertise in the field with other members of the community that he proudly serves. Before London Bangla he worked at EuroBangla as the Managing Editor and Notundin Newsweekly as a Managing Director.
Shah in the media
Shah hosted a live TV show for Channel S from 2006 to 2010. He presented a live discussion programme where the public participated live regarding issues on a variety of subjects covering immigration, community safety and financial matters.
Shah’s success in business
Shah has received the Borough of Tower Hamlets Council’s Civic Award 2009 for outstanding contributions to the community and specifically praised for establishing London Bangla, the exclusive free bilingual newspaper where he is editor.
During Shah’s career, public recognition has been at the forefront, winning him commendations and several awards. Balancing these with his business commitments, Shah is proud that his strong efforts have brought greater contribution to the lives of young people and particularly improving the services of the Bangladeshi community.
LondonBangla Newsweekly received recognition of outstanding services to the community in 2009 by the Borough of Tower Hamlets. Since then Shah has received the 2010. Community Safety Award in tackling and reducing anti social behaviour, where Shah campaigned and overseen in particular the installation of CCTV in supporting community safety initiatives to address crimes in the locality.
While expressing his feelings about the award Shah said, ‘It is always a good feeling when your efforts are recognised. But now I feel more responsible as an award brings more responsibilities.
“For this I thank the LondonBangla team. It’s me receiving the award but I am just picking it on the teams behalf.’
Shah receives Tower Hamlets ‘CIVIC Award 2009’
‘Community Safety Award 2010’ from Tower hamlets Council.
Public commitments and appointments
Shah is a highly regarded individual within the Bangladeshi community; a positive role model and dedicated community activist.
Shah is the current elected Chair of Chicksand East Tenants and Residents Association (2008- to date) comprising of Hanbury Street, Pauline House and Davenant House near E1 Whitechapel. His appointment has been successfully acknowledged by the residents, in helping to deliver several community safety initiatives.
Chairing Chicksand East TRA Meeting
Shah is a founder and Co-ordinator of St. Mathias Bangla School. This school provides an after school service where children are taught their mother tongue, Bangla. The age group for children is 4-7 years.
Shah is a founder of the charity organisation “Help To Save Them”. helptosavethem.org is a non profit making organisation. This organisation aims to help abandoned children in Bangladesh.