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Archive for December, 2013

Al-KalbaniRemember this photo from 2008? I wrote about it on this blog in 2010.

It shows Lutfur Rahman, then the council leader rather than his current position as executive mayor, with Sheikh Adel Al-Kalbani walking by the Tower Hamlets town hall at Mulberry Place.

Behind them are Rofique Ahmed and Shafiqul Haque. Both were then, like Lutfur, Labour councillors. They are now, according to officers who have worked with them, two of the least productive independent members of his cabinet (but they still get some £20k a year for their ‘work’).

Al Kalbani was at that time the Second Imam of Kabbah, the Grand Mosque in Mecca, considered by Muslims as the most sacred place on Earth.

He had been appointed to the position by the Saudi royal family shortly before his trip to the UK where he was attending the annual Islamic Global Peace and Unity event at the ExCeL centre (Lutfur spoke at this year’s gathering last month).

As he had some down time, according to a conversation I had with Lutfur about it a bit later, he decided to pop over to the town hall where he found Lutfur’s office door open and so they had a cup of tea. “He’s a very pious man,” Lutfur told me.

Ever so spontaneously, Al Kalbani then led prayers at the town hall’s second building, Anchorage House, for staff and councillors.

The episode was cited by Cllr Helal Abbas in his dossier of evidence to Labour’s NEC in 2010 as proof that Lutfur was taking a less than secular approach to politics.

In the months and years after his visit, Al Kalbani, a Sunni, seemed to develop some rather hardline views, arguably against Christian and Jews in Saudi Arabia, but particularly about Shia Muslims.

This five minute YouTube video of him in a broadcast interview is fascinating:

He says Shia scholars are apostates (the punishment for whom in Islam can be a bit harsh), that Shia laymen are ignorant, that there can be no such thing in Saudi Arabia as a “Christian citizen”: they can only be guests, because the guidance from the Prophet Mohammed was to drive Christians and Jews from that land.

In Britain, there is increasing concern about the Sunni/Shia divide. Counter-extremism experts believe the crisis in Syria, which on a simple level is Sunni rebels trying to topple Shia President Asad’s regime, might fuel latent dislike.

In May, Anjem Choudary’s hardline Salafi mob (Salafis follow the Sunni tradition) led a violent demonstration against Shias in Edgware Road.

It is possibly for this reason that the “very pious” Al Kalbani has been refused entry to the UK. Harry’s Place had a piece on this a couple of days ago, while I wrote this article for the Express yesterday. The Home Office refused to elaborate on why his visa was declined.

This Government is clearly taking a much harder line against potential problem preachers coming to these shores.

It means the Water Lily Centre on Mile End Road didn’t have a star guest today, and neither did the Esha’atul Islam Mosque in Whitechapel last night.

Adel-al-Kalbani-UK-tour
Here’s the piece I wrote for the Express:

ONE of the most senior Muslim clerics in Saudi Arabia has been refused entry to the UK, just as he was to embark on a speaking tour of British mosques.

Sheikh Adel Al-Kalbani, a former senior imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, was prevented from boarding his plane in Riyadh on Wednesday.

He was due to fly to London, where he had been expected to give a lecture in Whitechapel last night and another one in Wembley today.

It is not known why a visa for Al Kalbani was refused.

He has previously been allowed into the country and in 2008 he was a guest of the then leader of Tower Hamlets council in east London, Lutfur Rahman.

Mr Rahman is now the directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets.

Since 2008, the Sunni cleric has been quoted expounding potentially divisive views regarding Shia Muslims. 

There has been increasing concern among extremism experts over attempts to divide Shia and Sunni Muslims in Britain.

Followers of radical hate preacher Anjem Choudary led a demonstration in London in May against Shia Muslims.

According to the Arab News website, Al-Kalbani had performed the noon and afternoon prayers before heading to the King Khaled International Airport.

He was quoted as saying: “I was stopped at the door of the plane and told that the authorities received a message from the British Embassy saying that I was not allowed to enter Britain.”

He said he had received his visa from the British Embassy in Saudi Arabia in October, just two weeks after submitting his application.

The British Embassy apparently did not explain why he was then later refused.

He said: “I don’t really know why they denied me entry. I was in Britain about four years ago and other countries.

“I was told that other Muslim scholars have also been denied entry and had their visas cancelled. 

“My gut feeling is that they don’t want to see me interacting with the Muslim community there.”

He said he would not be appealing the decision. He said Allah “has chosen the best for me”.

Al Kalbani was the star billing on the Qibla speaking tour over the next 10 days.

He was due to talk at the Water Lily centre in Whitechapel tomorrow, then at Luton later in the day, then Swansea and Cardiff on Sunday.

He had a talk planned in Kingston, Surrey, on Monday while Muslims in Birmingham and Walsall were due to welcome him on Christmas Eve.

A Home Office spokeswoman said she was unable to comment on specific individuals, but added: “All visa applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules. 

“The onus is on the individual to ensure they provide the correct evidence when submitting an application.”

I’ll leave it for you to debate whether this sheds new light on Abbas’s warning three years ago.

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I’m told Mayor Lutfur Rahman only became aware of the quote issued in his name on the Anjem Choudary demonstration when he read it on this blog.

I’m also told he was “furious and horrified”; I’m told he never authorised it.

Here it is again:

We strongly believe in the right to free speech and association, and I am pleased that, with the police’s support, this group were able to exercise that right whilst upholding respect for our communities, which is the hallmark of our ‘No Place for Hate’ pledge.

I must say, I was also extremely surprised he’d say anything so stupid.

Today, Tower Hamlets council issued this clarification:

Statement from Tower Hamlets Council on 19 December 2013 15:11

Last Friday, 13th December, 2013, Tower Hamlets Council issued a statement regarding the demonstration on Brick Lane. For the record the statement released at 17:16 was not authorised for release and had not been approved by Mayor Lutfur Rahman. That statement is formally withdrawn and internal processes have been reviewed.

He has instead approved the following statement in the aftermath of the demonstration:-

Commenting on the demonstration in Brick Lane, Mayor Lutfur Rahman said: “As part of our pledge to ‘No Place for Hate’, we oppose all groups that seek to impose their views on and bring division to our communities. Council staff worked with the police to ensure that the businesses, residents and visitors on Brick Lane were protected during the demonstration.”

Lutfur’s supporters are incandescent. They believe the original quote has damaged the mayor.

So what happened?

I understand the original quote was drafted by a press officer in the council’s communications department, ie the one run by £100,000 a year Takki Sulaiman. I know the name of the press officer who sent it but I won’t embarrass them right now.

It’s not clear whether Takki or Lutfur’s own mayoral media adviser Numan Hussain read it before it was sent to the East London Advertiser.

I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t read by someone more senior than the person who drafted it.

Either way, it’s Takki’s department and he’s responsible. It seems the processes he drew up have failed. But I’m sure no one will lose their gold-plated pension over it.

The question is: which officer actually thought the original statement was appropriate?

Time for an FoI.

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Here’s an interesting insight into the mindset of Mayor Lutfur Rahman.

On December 7, Giles Broadbent, the editor of The Wharf newspaper, wrote a strongly worded opinion column detailing his exasperation with Lutfur’s refusal to answer questions from either members of the public or councillors at full council meetings.

At the previous meeting, opposition councillors fired a whole series of allegations his way, questioning whether council resources had been misused to help his re-election campaign. The council also voted to launch an investigation into claims by the Love Wapping blog that people purporting to work for Tower Hamlets Homes were canvassing for Lutfur during the day.

On each of these questions, Lutfur, though visibly reddening and seething, remained silent. Instead, he exercised his “right” to delegate the answers to his cabinet councillors who then stumbled and mumbled their way through the explanations.

Giles quite rightly thought this shameful.

Here’s part of what he wrote:

And what did the man himself have to say about all this at a recent council meeting when challenged? Furious denial? Tearful apology? The mayor said nothing. Being made to answer to the people “is contrary to his human rights”.

To the rest of the world, this continuing policy of silence is a joke, a punchline to a risible tale of East End lunacy. To the residents of Tower Hamlets, it is a serious and barbarous insult that damages their prosperity.

Compare Tower Hamlets to Newham. Both struck by terrible social and structural problems. Yet Newham – far from perfect – is at least outward looking and positive. It has embraced the Olympics and the Docks in order to share the dividends of growth.

Mr Rahman’s Tower Hamlets is backward, self-indulgent and dim. It is ripped apart by factionalism and stymied by cronyism. And the mayor, who sits atop this stinking pile, has nothing to offer but a sulk – truly a slap in the face for the residents who crave a future, not a
fiefdom.

It is to be hoped in the 2014 election the man who has tried so hard to undermine the principle of democratic accountability will feel the potency of its sting.

Lutfur took this rather badly and feeling the sting of The Wharf’s right to free speech in an opinion column based on the events of a full council meeting, Lutfur penned a letter of reply, which has been added to the original article. Here it is:

“Your column, ‘Spiral Notebook’; ‘Rahman’s insult to Tower Hamlets’, contains a series of gross inaccuracies and unfair innuendoes.

Surely, The Wharf has a responsibility to report and comment fairly? On the basis of this particular column it would appear that neither you nor your newspaper intends to do so in the run up to the Mayoral and local government elections in May.

You made no attempt to contact this council’s communications department or me, before publishing what amounts to a series of gross inaccuracies and innuendoes.

You have made direct allegations relating to the use of branded letters.

Such allegations are very serious and potentially imply a breach of electoral law.
The actual complaint relates to unbranded, council acknowledgement letters sent pursuant to casework.

The allegations that bogus representatives from the social housing company were using their access to residents in Wapping to flog [my] re-election bid are also completely untrue.

Cllr Alibor Choudhury categorically refuted these allegations, also made by the local Labour Party, in Full Council on 27 November. I also categorically refuted these claims in Cabinet on Wednesday 4 December. My rebuttal and that of Councillor Choudhury were carried in the East London Advertiser on Monday 2 December.

How, in these circumstances, you could run with these heavily contested and baseless allegations, let alone print them without putting them to me, is beyond me.

Similar claims have been made before, and the resulting police investigations have consistently found them to be baseless and a waste of police time.

Your comparisons between Tower Hamlets and Newham are insulting and inane. You may be interested to learn that not a single question has been asked of Mayor Sir Robin Wales, in any meeting of full council in the past seven months. In Tower Hamlets most of the political parties are represented. In Newham, all sixty councillors are from Sir Robin Wales’ party.

Perhaps The Wharf prefers a ‘one party borough’ solution?

I have never claimed that answering questions would ‘breach my human rights’ as you claim. I simply delegate the business of council to lead councillors, as is common-place in other local authorities.

I attend hundreds of public meetings where I am directly accountable to electors (rather than to opposition parties who were roundly rejected at the last election but by mere virtue of the electoral cycle continue to boast a majority in the chamber) and hold frequent press conferences where you and other journalists are welcome to hold me to account.

As a regular contributor to The Wharf, I had come to expect a whole lot better from your newspaper. I do hope that normal service may be resumed shortly.

Some who have read that last paragraph believe it’s an implied threat to withdraw his frequent offers of editorial magic. I’m not so sure it is, but if so…how the editors of the Bengali press must quake…

And as for his statement he holds frequent press conferences, does he? I don’t think I’ve ever been invited to one.

Anyway, let’s all applaud Lutfur’s determination to hold himself to account and also his championing of free speech.

I mean, free speech without intimidation and threats is a good thing right?

So what was Lutfur’s response to Anjem Choudary’s trip down Brick Lane last Friday when his Shariah Project groupies handed out mock-legal leaflets warning Bengali restaurateurs they faced hellfire or 40 lashes (take your pick!) for selling booze?

The East London Advertiser reports him saying:

We strongly believe in the right to free speech and association, and I am pleased that, with the police’s support, this group were able to exercise that right whilst upholding respect for our communities, which is the hallmark of our ‘No Place for Hate’ pledge.

He has to be kidding, right? Exactly what respect was Anjem showing to those he wants burnt in hell? Let’s remember that included in Amjem’s band of supporters are those convicted or terror and hate-related offences.

Only nine days ago, Anjem was reported in the Standard as saying the Muslim Patrol thugs who were convicted this month for abusing and attacking non-Muslims in Tower Hamlets deserved a “pat on the back”.

So isn’t Lutfur effectively saying, ‘You’re welcome to come back to protest and intimidate in Tower Hamlets any time you like?’

Which is a bit different to the message he rightly sends to that other fascist group, the English Defence League, which also claimed it merely wanted to exercise free speech.

I wonder if Lutfur, with this potential ‘one rule for one’ mentality secretly wants to provoke another visit by the EDL before next May.

By way of contrast, here are the thoughts of Labour group leader Sirajul Islam and the Muslim Council of Britain on Anjem’s visit:

Cllr Sirajul Islam, leader of the Labour group, said: “While Muslims may choose to abstain from alcohol, it is not right to forcefully push one view upon others.”

He added: “Provocative attempts to push a radical Sharia agenda will serve only to widen the divide between our communities, especially in light of the recent challenges we have faced from the EDL and so called ‘Muslim patrols’.”

Salman Farsi from the London Muslim Centre said: “While Islam may prohibit the consumption and sale of alcohol for Muslims, it is not for any particular groups to impose those views on others, nor bully other communities.”

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During an interview with Sadiq Khan last Thursday, the day before he launched a booklet he edited for the Fabian Society on policy ideas for London, I asked him about the contrasting approaches to community cohesion followed in Newham and Tower Hamlets.

As well as being Shadow Justice Secretary, the Tooting MP is also Shadow Minister for London. He ran Ed Miliband’s leadership campaign and  during 2014 we may well get strong hints (and more) that he is Ed’s favourite for Labour’s next candidate for Mayor of London.

Officially, Sadiq hasn’t declared himself, but it’s all but certain he will. In the meantime, he’ll be in charge of co-ordinating Labour’s council campaign in London for May and Tower Hamlets is top of the party’s hit list.

He’s a big fan of Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales, as are many in Labour’s top team judging from the amount of policy ideas they seem to be adopting from him.

As I disclosed here in April, Sir Robin has City Hall ambitions of his own….but but but… . Sadiq describes him as a “good friend” and he asked him to write a chapter for the booklet Our London. His piece was on the potential power of local councils to help create jobs: not in the way that Tower Hamlets has traditionally done by using public cash to create non-jobs, but by training up youngsters and encouraging businesses to hire them through a scheme called Workplace.

Since Sir Robin outlined his ambitions to me in April, he’s been fairly low key on the subject. I suspect that’s because he now sees himself as a future driving force deputy/chief of staff…to Sadiq Khan. A Labour version of Sir Edward Lister, as it were.

Sadiq is also more impressed with Sir Robin’s attitude towards community cohesion, particularly compared with the Lutfur Rahman model in Tower Hamlets. During our chat, I raised the issue of Tower Hamlets council funding free Bengali Mother Tongue classes for kids whose grasp of English isn’t often up to scratch. He was shocked. Such finite public money should be used for English lessons, he said.

He also said he was not particularly in favour of using grants for mono-ethnic projects and events: that if taxpayers’ money was to be offered, there should be some demonstration of inclusiveness to people of all backgrounds. Clearly, public money being used for things like Eid in the Square or London-wide Diwali celebrations would be exceptions.

These mirror Sir Robin’s thoughts, as he outlined on this blog here.

Anyway, all this is b way of background…and because it’s of relevance to Tower Hamlets, I thought people might be interested in reading the interview I did with Sadiq, which was published on Express Online yesterday.

I tried to explore his personal background, what shaped him…suffering racism as a kid in London in the late Seventies and early Eighties certainly had an effect, as it had on so many in Tower Hamlets.

FOR football mad youngsters growing up around Wandsworth, southwest London, the question of which team to support isn’t usually the hardest decision they’ll ever make.

But in the early Eighties, Chelsea weren’t much good. And neither were their fans the most welcoming group to teenagers of Pakistani heritage.

Which is why Tooting MP Sadiq Khan, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary and an aspiring Mayor of London, is a passionate and lifelong Liverpool fan.

One of his elder brothers did go to the Shed end at Stamford Bridge, but he and his friends were so appallingly attacked and abused, supporting Chelsea just “wasn’t an option”.

He says he feels uncomfortable talking about his experiences of racism–some of them violent–but they have clearly helped shaped him, first as a leading human rights lawyer, also as a Wandsworth councillor, then as an MP and minister, and now as a yet-to-be-confirmed challenger for London’s City Hall in 2016.

Today, he launches a fascinating pamphlet of essays that he’s edited and entitled ‘Our London – The Capital 2015’.

In some ways, the pamphlet is groundbreaking: it’s been sponsored by both the City of London and Unions Together, the political campaigning arm of 15 trade unions.

As one MP joked, “that’s harmony”, but the collection contains thoughts from a number of leading London lights, including from Baroness Doreen Lawrence, the recently ennobled mother of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

Khan’s own chapter is on housing (“housing, housing, housing” should be Labour’s solution to poverty, he argues) but almost all of them tap into the theme raised by Labour leader Ed Miliband in his own foreword: the cost of living crisis.

Arguably, that crisis is greater in high cost London than anywhere else.

The pamphlet is something of a Labour vision for London: more housing, a London minimum wage, new tunnel and bridge crossings for the east of the capital, more grassroots access to the booming arts scene, greater representation of ethnic minorities in the Metropolitan

Police, and more harmonious community cohesion are just some of the ideas explored.

But who would deliver them for Labour?

MPs David Lammy and Diane Abbott are known contenders, as is Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales, but when Sadiq Khan was made Shadow Minister for London 11 months ago, it was a strong hint he was the leadership’s favoured candidate.

In fact, Sir Robin, who has written an essay for the pamphlet and whose policies have been admired by Labour HQ, might well end up as Khan’s deputy.

Does he want the job, though? Of course he does, but he won’t confirm it.

“I’m happy in the Shadow Cabinet, but if the ball comes my way, I’ll certainly play it,” he says.

But what would he be like as the capital’s most powerful man and London’s first Muslim mayor.

Unlike current incumbent Tory Boris Johnson, or his Labour predecessor Ken Livingstone, he doesn’t seem to have an ego that mirrors London’s massive scale.

Yet a more thoughtful, subtle and softer approach is perhaps just what is needed after years of division and bombast.

Now 43, he grew up the son of a bus driver in Earlsfield and has lived in the Tooting area all his life.

He is married to a fellow solicitor and has two daughters, both of whom went to the same state schools as their parents.
And the fact that they haven’t had to endure some of the racism he suffered when their age is to him a mark of how much London has changed.

“Things have definitely moved on in the sense that the sort of name calling [I experienced] would not be tolerated and schools are now far, far better at stamping it out,” he says.

“There’s much more a zero tolerance now. My big brother used to go to Stamford Bridge a few times and was given a hard time. They used to have this this thing called The Shed. And if you were a person who looked like my big brother–Asian–you weren’t welcome there.

“People we know suffered really bad racial abuse. They were beaten up and all the rest of it, so because of their experience of Chelsea, at that stage, I wanted nothing to do with Chelsea.

“Supporting them really wasn’t an option for me.”

Asked about his own experiences, he says: “I feel uncomfortable talking about these sorts of things because I don’t want younger people of ethnic origin to feel discouraged, but when I was growing up you’d often suffer racial abuse, verbal abuse name-calling, people driving past and spitting on your car.

“It didn’t happen all the time but it wasn’t unusual, so you’d be playing football in the park, and somebody would call you the P word. You’d be walking down the road or on the estate, you’d see a group coming along; the sensible thing to do would be to cross the road and just to avoid it, so you became street wise and you’d learn ways of avoiding trouble if you could.

“That said, I can look after myself. We knew how to look after ourselves if we got into a fight. I’ve got six brothers. It wasn’t an issue about being a coward and running away but it was about being sensible. Life’s hard enough as it is without looking for trouble.”

“It was part and parcel of life in those days, hearing about someone being attacked or beaten up. That’s why the murder of Stephen Lawrence had such an impact on people like us because we feel the ripples.

“There but for the grace of God that could’ve been me, it could have been my brother.”

Does he suffer racial abuse now?

“In recent times, not to my face. One of things that happens when you become middle aged and you wear nice clothes and you drive a nice car is it doesn’t happen so much, but I still know which estates to avoid and how to be streetwise.”

As mayor, he would be responsible for overseeing the Metropolitan Police Service whose struggle to recruit and retain ethnic minority officers is known to be a concern for Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe.

Khan has similar concerns. “Do we really want a London where people feel like second class citizens because of the colour of their skin?” he says generally.

While he believes abundant and genuinely affordable housing, including private rented accommodation (which he wants regulated) is the key to social mobility and poverty, community cohesion is also a key theme.

“Community cohesion is not gobbledegook,” he says. It’s vital.

He argues for more “community hubs”, places such as playgrounds, local football clubs and schools where people of all backgrounds and faiths actually mix and learn about each other.

The earlier the mingling starts in life, the better.

What he would not want is public money directed to projects that encourage a mono-ethnic identity and introspection.

In Tower Hamlets, where many young Bangladeshi children struggle with English when they first attend primary school, grant money is used to subsidise free Mother Tongue classes to teach them Bengali.

He himself is fluent in Urdu but is adamantly against such policies: “When you have finite resources, that money should be used to teach them English.”

Khan, regularly goes to Hyde Park Corner to watch the soapbox Sunday orators, is not shy of a debate.

But will he fulfil his dream for London? As one of his Labour colleague points, his 2010 election slogan in Tooting was “Yes we Khan.”

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Anjem Choudary, the brains behind the chain of Yummy Yummy sweet shops in Tower Hamlets (and a charming hate preacher to boot) is calling on his little groupies to march in Brick Lane at 2pm today.

His target is alcohol, which he apparently used to love in great quantities while Andy Choudary the student at Southampton University.

anjem-choudary-b

His message could be that if you drink loads of booze, you’ll turn out like him. And that surely would be a good warning.

But he’s not saying that. He’s saying alcohol is an abomination os Satan and if you “leave it, you can be successful”. Er, just like him.

Having had many of his predecessor groups such as Al Muhajiroun and Islam4UK banned by the Home Secretary, another website called the Shariah Project has popped up.

And that’s where we can see his latest threatening leaflet, which might well have been distributed in Brick Lane (i don’t know if it has) where the intention is to intimidate the many Bengali curry restaurant workers from selling booze. It’s the Muslim Patrol v2.

They purport to be “legal notices from the Department of Regulation at Tower Hamlets Council”. But they’re clearly fake because any fool knows Tower Hamlets council doesn’t do regulation.

Anjem letter

Department ofBusiness Regulation

Tower Hamlets

RE: YOUR LICENCE TO SELL ALCOHOL HAS BEEN REVOKED – DO NOT IGNORE THIS LETTER

Dear Business Owner

This letter is legal notice that you have no legal permission to sell, serve or stock alcohol atyour premises. If you are still stocking, serving or selling any alcoholic products beverages, you must cease immediately.

Failure to comply with this notice to cease trading in alcoholic products is illegal and you will be liable to severe penalties as will be explained in this letter. Please note that you have noright to appeal this decision and you cannot apply for any further licences to serve alcohol on these premises or any other businesses you are associated with.

You have been formally warned that you are breaking the Prohibition of the sale of alcohol law chapter 4, sect. 90 of the Quran, which states: “Alcohol, gambling, divination of arrowsare only abominations of satan, so leave it so that you can be successful.” And in thetradition of Muhammad recorded in Abu Dawood v.4 p.207, “Whenever Allah has prohibiteda thing, it is prohibited to benefit from it or its outcome.” And in Musnad Ahmed, “Verily if Allah has prohibited for people the consumption of a thing, He also has prohibited its sale.” And in Tirmidhi No.2776, Anas ibn Malik narrated that “Allah’s Messenger cursed ten peoplein connection with alcohol: the presser, the one who has it pressed, the one who drinks it,the one who conveys it, the one to whom it is conveyed, the one who serves it, the one whosells it, the one who benefits from the price paid for it, the one who buys it, and the one forwhom it is bought.”

The penalty for failing to cease drinking, serving or selling alcohol includes the curse of Allah, punishment by hellfire in the afterlife and if found guilty in a shariah court following theestablishment of the upcoming Islamic state you could be liable to forty lashes publically. 

DO NOT IGNORE THIS LETTER

If you have any questions regarding this notice or if you would like more information aboutwhat to do next, please visit http://www.iqaamah.co.uk/legalnotice/ or you can contact us by phone on 07956041034. For further information in Bengali contact 07939349760

The thing is, I agree with him. I think anyone buying booze from Brick Lane’s curry houses deserves to go to hell fire. I mean,you never know what they’re serving. Remember this?

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With the fluid movements between the various parties over the years, Tower Hamlets politics has always been a bit of an incestuous affair, but the Labour’s new slate of 45 candidates for the May 2014 council elections has taken it to a new level.

We seem to have couples, mums and sons and brothers at war everywhere. It’s like Dallas and Dynasty combined. John Biggs, the Labour puppet-master, has become JR.

The candidates were announced last night. As mentioned before, Judith Gardner has stepped down; Bill Turner has moved to Barking and Dagenham where he’s secured a candidacy for that council; Kosru Uddin and Ahmed Omer are departing; Mizan Chowdhury has been axed, as has Anwar Khan, who is in dispute with the council over an alleged fracas with a parking attendant…something he denies.

So there are many fresh and young faces, which in part reflects a determination to bring in a new generation. Robbie Scott will be interesting to watch: I don’t think he’ll shy away from confrontation.

And I’m told Amina Ali, a BBC journalist selected in Bow East, might well be a star of the future. If she’s elected of course.

Standing with her in Bow East are Cllr Marc Francis and his wife Rachel Blake.

Anwar Khan’s place in Bow West is taken by his sister-in-law, Asma Begum, who is married to Anwar’s brother, Tarik Khan, who is a lovely placid chap.

Raju Rahman, who has been selected in the new ward of Island Gardens, is also said to be a bright rising star; he’s the son of Cllr Zenith Rahman, who is married to ex-Councillor Helal Rahman.

Cllr Carlo Gibbs and Cllr Amy Whitelock Gibbs were married earlier this year.

Cllr Rachael Saunders is married to Tower Hamlets Labour chair Chris Weavers, while Cllr David Edgar is married to Lib Dem Cllr Stephanie Eaton.

It’s not just Labour, of course. Among Lutfur’s camp, Cllr Aminur Khan is married to Cllr Rabina Khan, while Cllr Rania Khan is the daughter of Cllr Lutfa Begum.

The latter two were in Respect, as was ex-Cllr Mamun Rashid, who has been selected for Labour to stand in Shadwell, where he has a big following. (Rashid and Lutfur, by the way, have past links…I was once handed a tape recording transcript of Lutfur, when he was fighting to become the Labour parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow in 2007, calling on Allah to bless Mamun and another Respect colleague for helping him fight the eventual victor, Rushanara Ali. I must dig it out).

If you want to see all the pictures of Labour’s candidates see here, here and here.

I’ll try to find time to do some substantial analysis of the slate; if anyone has any inside info, do please email me.

In the meantime, here’s a list (Y/N signifies sitting councillor or not).

 

Amy Whitelock Gibbs  Bethnal Green Y Married to
Carlo Gibbs
Abdirashid Gulaid  Bethnal Green N
Sirajul Islam  Bethnal Green Y
David Chesterton  Blackwall &
Cubitt Town
N
Iqbal Hossain  Blackwall &
Cubitt Town
N
Candida Ronald  Blackwall &
Cubitt Town
N
Rachel Blake  Bow East N Married
to Marc Francis
Marc Francis  Bow East Y Married
to Rachel Blake
Amina Ali  Bow
East
N
Asma Begum  Bow
West
N Brother-in-law
of Cllr Anwar Khan/Married to Tarik Khan
Joshua Peck  Bow
West
Y
Zenith Rahman  Bromley North Y Mother
of Raju Rahman
Khales Uddin Ahmed  Bromley
North
Y
Danny Hassell  Bromley South N
Helal Uddin  Bromley South Y
Shahaveer Hussain  Canary Wharf N
Debbie Simone  Canary Wharf N
Raju Rahman  Island Gardens N Son
of Zenith Rahman
Andy Cregan  Island Gardens N
Rajib Ahmed  Lansbury Y
Shiria Khatun  Lansbury Y
Dave Smith  Lansbury N
Catherine Overton  Limehouse N
Rachael Saunders  Mile End Y  Married to TH Labour chair Chris Weavers
David Edgar  Mile
End
Y Married
to Stepanie Eaton
Motin Uz-Zaman  Mile End Y
Kahar Chowdhury  Poplar N
Mohammed Mamun Rashid  Shadwell N Was
‘married’ to George Galloway
Farhana Zaman  Shadwell N
Helal Uddin Abbas  Spitalfields &
Banglatown
Y
Tarik Khan  Spitalfields &
Banglatown
N Brother
of Cllr Anwar Khan/Married to Asma Begum
Mohammed Ayas Miah  St. Dunstan’s N
Abdal Ullah  St.
Dunstan’s
Y
Denise Jones  St. Katharine’s
& Wapping
Y
Robbie Scott  St. Katharine’s
& Wapping
N
Clare Harrisson  St. Peter’s N
Sanu Miah  St. Peter’s N
Carlo Gibbs  St.
Peter’s
Y Married
to Amy Whitelock
Victoria Obaze  Stepney Green N
Sabina Akhtar  Stepney
Green
N
Abdul Mukit  Weavers Y
John Pierce  Weavers Y
Faruque Ahmed  Whitechapel N
Jamalur Rahman  Whitechapel N
Robert Robinson  Whitechapel N

 

 

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