Archive for July 12th, 2011

What a happy family snap this is. It was taken at the Baishakhi Mela in Weavers Fields in May. A beaming Mayor Lutfur Rahman stands shoulder to shoulder with his greatest supporters.

To Lutfur’s right, I can see two Tower Hamlets council cabinet members councillors, Lutfa Begum and Rania Khan.

And three to the left of him is Kabir Ahmed, the newest of the Labour rebels and now the mayor’s “executive assistant”.

But of course, there’s also Labour’s London mayor-wannabe Ken Livingstone pouting in delight and centre-stage.

Well, after all, just before this was taken, he was actually on the stage at the event addressing the huge crowd and a large television audience on Channel S.

Look, here it is. (I suspect you might see these pictures again later today…)

And with him in both cases was our favourite millionaire housing association tenant, Shiraj Haque, who, of course, organised the whole event despite having had that honour stripped from him by the council over financial concerns in the pre-Lutfur leadership days.

I’ve always predicted that, together Deputy Mayor Ohid Ahmed, Shiraj will prove to be Lutfur’s undoing. He’s a larger than life character who charms most who pass his way, but he’s someone with two major hobbies: listening to his own voice too much; and controlling local politicians like puppet muppets.

His latest wheeze to glorify the name of the Mayor is a nationwide cricket tournament called the Mayor’s Cup T20 Cricket.

He sent the following email to selected media yesterday, announcing that the competition will be launched at a press conference at his Clifton Restaurant at the bottom of Brick Lane today.

From: “Info \(CliftonGroupUK\)” 
Date: 11 July 2011
Subject: Invitation to the Press Launch of the ‘Mayor Cup T20 Cricket’
Dear Friends and Colleagues

We are pleased to inform you that the most awaited ‘Mayor Cup T20 Cricket’ finally has been put into order.  Everyone throughout the country is looking forward to participate at the prestigious event, and is only one step away from the first prize of £6k.

Now, how hard the players hit on the ball and how hard the players can take the wicket, is what we are all waiting for……

So you are cordially invited to attend the grand press launch of the ‘Mayor Cup T20 Cricket’, taking place Tomorrow, Tuesday, 12th of July.

Venue: Clifton Restaurant, 1 Whitechapel, London E1 6TY

Time:  7pm – (Please do not forget to book this event on your diary)

Our events will be graced by the honourable Mayor; Lutfur Rahman and the most exciting other participants of the event will be the Captain of Bangladesh National Team; Mr Shakib Al Hasan – Number 2 all rounder in the WORLD! And the leading National Team Player; Tamim Iqbal. 

Come and be a part of the most anticipated event of the Year!

We had to call this on a very short notice, however I would appreciate confirmation of your attendance.   Either via email or you can call the office and speak to Sandra on 020 7377 5300.

Let’s have closer look at this tournament. Here’s a YouTube clip of what’s planned. It’s run by Clifton Group and a group called the Bangladeshi Students Union UK (I’m told that Shiraj has good relations with the student community and that he persuaded many to canvass during Lutfur’s election campaign).

The event is also being sponsored by those favourite Lutfur “media partners”, Channel S and London Bangla, the publishers of the Abbas wife-beating smears. Watch the advert here:

And on this link here, you can see how much it costs to enter. It’s £499 per team (yes, a full quid less than £500) and the prize for winning is £6,000, which means at least 12 teams need to enter to have any chance of getting any money back.

But who will benefit from any surplus? There’s no mention of any charity in the advert, nor Tower Hamlets Council, so it’s quite possible that this is a profit-making venture.

Could it be that Shiraj has simply named the tournament the Mayor’s Cup to sex up its appeal, to attract sponsors and in return give Lutfur the glory of presenting the trophy in front of a large TV audience at the end?

Earlier this year, the council organised the Mayor’s Cup football tournament, which was the brainchild of Oliur Rahman who took his inspiration from Abdal Ullah’s ‘Safer Neighbourhoods Team’ Cup. Shiraj, with the help of Ohid Ahmed, tried to muscle in on that show as well.

However, that was an official council event. This cricket gig appears to a private venture to which Lutfur has lent his official title. Can this be right? Talk about payback.

More questions to be asked here.

UPDATE – 1.30pm, July 12.

The Evening Standard’s Peter Dominiczak reports that Ofcom is now investigating Channel S over its coverage of the Mela and Shiraj’s campaigning for Ken Livingstone from the stage. When will Lutfur cut this man loose? (By the way, Ken was on the radio this morning complaining that other politicians are too close to certain businessmen. Ken does irony as well, it seems.)


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