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This is a guest post by Anonymous

We know there will be 204 candidates standing in Tower Hamlets for the 45 seats on the council.

Of these 90 will be from the Labour and Conservatives parties who are contesting every seat in every ward and 44 for Tower Hamlets First, which is, to all intents, the Lutfur Rahman Party. The 45th pro-Rahman candidate will be Anwar Ahmed Khan, who is contesting Bow West as an Independent. There is, in Bow West just one Tower Hamlets First candidate, Jainal Chowdhury.

Anwar Ahmed Khan was elected in Bow West in 2010 as just Anwar Khan. However his expanded name will ensure that he is first on the ballot, two places above his sister in law who was chosen by the Labour party as his successor.

One record that will enter the record books even in the ever changing world of Tower Hamlets will be Cllrs Shahid Ali and Oliur Rahman: they’re standing in their third successive borough election, but for a different party each time; Respect in 2006, Labour in 2010 and Tower Hamlets First in 2014.

Will it be four for the party-hopping duo in 2018? In Tower Hamlets any political label is possible, so watch this space.

The major story of the nominations is the collapse of the Liberal Democrats in a borough they controlled as recently as 1994. In 2002, 2006 and 2010 they contested every seat. This year they are fielding just a single candidate in each of the 20 wards in the borough. In the 28-year period between 1978 and 2006 the Liberals/Liberal Democrats won every local election in Bow. They are now fielding just two candidates for five seats, despite several former Liberal Democrat councillors being resident in the area.

The Greens are fielding 19 candidates in 14 wards, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition 14 candidates in 13 wards, and Ukip 13 candidates in 13 wards.

Apart from Anwar Ahmed Khan there is a single Independent standing in Mile End, a representative of the Red-Flag Anti corruption group in Bow East and the Peace Party in St Dunstan’s.

In previous years there have often been a range of Independents, there noticeably few this time.

Labour, as the majority party, have had tried their hardest at diversity. However, Tower Hamlets being Tower Hamlets, there are just 15 women as against 30 male nominees. There are 24 Bangladeshi candidates, one Somali (woman), 18 white British and two black British nominees.

Expected to make their marks will be housing expert Rachel Blake and ultra loyalist, who is also known as Mrs Marc Francis.

Mamun Rashid from Shadwell could be interesting. He served as a Respect councillor for a period and was one of their more impressive performers.

Labour have also put up a strong team in St Peter’s against the expected Rahman onslaught, to be led by former Respect leader Abjol Miah who is fighting under his second label in his third different ward.

As expected, the Rahman team is overwhelmingly Bangladeshi. Micky Ambrose, Stephen Beckett, John Cray, Kathy McTasney and Stuart Madewell, along with one or two Somali nominees, are his attempts at diversity. The rest of the ticket is, as said, overwhelmingly Bangladeshi and male. Cllr Rania Khan is standing down, for reasons as yet unknown.

It will be interesting to see the Tower Hamlets First nomination papers. Apart from George P Wood in Bow East, Lillian Collins in Lansbury, Brenda Daley signing for Rofique Ahmed in St Dunstan’s and a friend of Kathy McTasney in Island Gardens all the other proposers have Bangladeshi names.

Micky Ambrose in Bow East is a former footballer, and he also worked in Lutfur’s office earning £25 an hour as “advisor on youth engagement”. He did, however, earn far less than Stephen Beckett, who was collecting in excess of £30,000 in Lutfur’s office.

Micky Ambrose lives in Newham, as does his fellow Bow West Tower Hamlets First candidate, Sabia Kamali. This is an interesting point as Yousuf Khan, Tower Hamlets First in Weavers ward, gives an address in Barking as his home.

There are four other Tower Hamlets First candidates who are known to have addresses outside of the borough but have given addresses within Tower Hamlets. The legal point is that there are four qualifications to stand for election. However, the address on a nomination paper, which is described as home address should be exactly that. It is an illegal practice to use an address as a home address that is not that.

This was what caused Fazlul Haque to be deselected by Labour in 2010 after it was obvious that his actual home was in Ilford. Equally Fozol Miah stood down this year when details of his home address in Barking were regularly circulated including to the police and the Electoral Commission.

Details of four other actual home addresses outside of Tower Hamlets are known to the authorities and other parties. Lutfur, as a solicitor, should have thought about that, as these matters will not go away. In any case, with the broad support that he claims, why could he not nominate 45 genuine local residents as candidates?

The Conservatives, contesting every seat, will concentrate on their stronger areas. They are losing four well known councillors: Cllr Tim Archer, one of the best debaters in the council chamber since 2006 is moving to be closer to his recently widowed mother; Cllr Emma Jones is marrying a serving; Cllr Zara Davis has a new job that requires more work commitments; and Cllr David Snowdon wants to concentrate on other things.

However, the Tories do hope to bring back former councillor Ahmed Hussain, who is standing in Canary Wharf.  Previous candidates standing include barrister Neil King in Wapping. There are several other candidates who have asked public questions at the town hall.

In terms of diversity they have eleven BME candidates including Chinese, Sinhalese and Bangladeshi nominees.

The Liberal Democrats, reflecting their withdrawal from the borough, have just two well known candidates, former councillors John Griffiths and Azizur Rahman Khan. An interesting nominee is Alex Dziedzan in Weavers ward. The Liberal Democrats and Ukip are to be congratulated in reaching out to EU citizens as potential candidates. Ferdy North, candidate in Spitalfields and Banglatown, is proposed by one Jemima Khan.

The Greens are fighting widely, with a concentration on wards in the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency. Another Green proposer for the Bethnal Green candidate is Alice Livingstone Boomla, whose doctor parents have both been involved in socialist parties of differing names.

Interestingly, Ukip are not fielding a council candidate in the Shadwell ward where their Mayoral candidate lives. They also found the nomination process perhaps more complicated than they thought. However, they are also to be congratulated in fielding Lubov Zsikhotska, an EU national in Bethnal Green.

Amongst TUSC’s 14 candidates are four candidates from outside of the borough. These have addresses including Basildon and Romford. The Whitechapel candidate who lives in E10, Michael Wrack, is understood to be the son of Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, previously involved in both Militant and The Socialist Party. Obviously TUSC finds the political situation in Tower Hamlets interesting!

One thing that we know as the count grinds to a halt at The Troxy (who on earth chose that as a venue?) late on Friday night, May 23rd, Tower Hamlets will surprise. There will be recounts, split wards controversy resulting in new faces across the chamber.

In 2006, Respect, reliant on the Bangladeshi vote, was unable to elect a single councillor from amongst their white, SWP element. It is likely that this will be the same this year, hence how few Tower Hamlets First candidates are non Bangladeshi.

A John Biggs win will see any Tower Hamlets First councillors completely isolated. Labour and Biggs will want nothing to do with those that are most likely to be elected.

A Rahman victory will cause enormous tension within the Labour group, in which case sit back and watch the musical chairs.

One final thought: as Respect so famously did in 2006, ‘decapitating’ the Labour leadership including Michael Keith, so too is Tower Hamlets First this time around. They would love to defeat Carlo Gibbs, Amy Whitelock Gibbs and Josh Peck. The battles in those wards is vicious.

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About this time two years ago, I wrote this:

My own view, as outlined here, is that the EDL should be banned as an organisation. I’ve seen them for myself on marches and they’re little more than a bunch of football hooligans who give both football and free speech a bad name. They go out to provoke and they glory in trying to outwit the likes of Anjem Choudary and the police when it comes to the former’s demonstrations.

So the Met’s decision yesterday to ask Theresa May to ban the EDL marching through Tower Hamlets last week is a good thing. Well done to Mayor Lutfur Rahman and all the other politicians and grass roots activists who helped persuade Scotland Yard. It was an easy win-win for Lutfur, but he grabbed the opportunity.

Plus ca change.

Pic credit: East London Advertiser

Pic credit: East London Advertiser

Credit must again go to Mayor Lutfur and his advisers for seizing yet another gift on a plate from the thickies of the EDL. How he must secretly love them.

And how his people must be laughing at Labour on this: he’s run rings around them.

Last year, Labour’s then group leader Josh Peck and many of his councillors decided to abstain from attending the counter-EDL rally. Josh’s view was that the UAF (Unite Against Fascism) was staging a demo as a precursor to a punch-up with the EDL. As it happens, he was right on that point of fact. But politically, even some of his allies think that was a mistake.

I’m told John Biggs thinks it was an error, which is why he was there in Altab Ali Park yesterday. Yet even under his leadership, Labour has allowed itself to be the object of ridicule and on the back foot. Their long-planned summer barbecue scheduled for yesterday was unfortunate timing, but how anyone failed to spot much earlier that it would be politically problematic is really quite odd.

If they are to beat Lutfur next May, they need to sharpen up their PR act big time…and quickly.

But let’s look at Lutfur’s tactics. His strategy for more than three years now has been to present himself to the Bengali community (via the press, satellite Bangladeshi TV channels and The Guardian) as the martyred Muslim victim of an evil racist plot by the Right-wing media, the institutionally racist decision-making bodies of Labour’s NEC and the anti-Muslim Peter Golds-led Tower Hamlets Tory party.

So when the English Defence League threaten to march this way, he becomes not just the martyr but also the hero leader: a modern-day Boudicca of the East End (in a Mercedes, not a chariot). He’s been telling his friendly uncritical TV channels (including the ones he now so generously helps to fund with council money) that it’s all Labour’s fault the EDL are coming.

He tells them that Andrew Gilligan’s Channel 4 Dispatches programme in March 2010 (disclosure: I appeared in it) was the main inspiration for the EDL. He says because Labour also played a part in that documentary (Jim Fitzpatrick was another interviewee), and because the accusations he was linked to Islamic fundamentalism were a big factor in his expulsion from Labour in summer 2010), Labour is thus responsible for the arrival of Stella-swigging monsters on the borough’s doorstep.

He then gleefully adds: “Look at what Labour are doing to stop them coming: they’re having a barbecue!” He has skewered them.

A classier group of politicians would then have let their actions do the talking; if you have the moral high ground, keep quiet and stay there. But Lutfur’s people can’t help themselves: they say any political leader not at yesterday’s rally cannot be in favour of Lutfur’s One Tower Hamlets mantra. The irony of this rally fascism is undoubtedly lost on them.

So where were the borough’s two MPs yesterday, they ask? Where was Peter Golds? I had a Twitter conversation about this with Lutfurite councillor Kabir Ahmed this morning.

There seemed to be some underlying implication that Peter is not as opposed to the EDL and fascism as Kabir is. Which given the sufferings of Peter’s family in the Holocaust is more than unfortunate. I then asked Kabir if he condemned the homophobic and anti-Semitic abuse that I’ve witnessed aimed at Peter by Lutfur’s supporters in the council chamber.

He was among the first Tower Hamlets councillors to sign the Hope not Hate pledge, he told me; he was a Hope not Hate champion…but repeatedly, Kabir refused to condemn those specific incidents by his own supporters. Such leadership.

There were probably other factors in the decision by some to stay away yesterday. They probably didn’t want to be associated with two of the rally’s predominant contingents: those strange bed-fellows, the Socialist Workers’ Party and the Islamic Forum of Europe.

I’m told the IFE had a 1,000 stewards out on the streets of Whitechapel yesterday. They were everywhere, even guarding the main stage in Altab Ali Park where speakers couldn’t help talking about the need not to strike Syria (the EDL would have applauded that). It was also the same stage onto which John Biggs was apparently initially declined entry.

I also saw a couple of IFE stewards standing guard opposite the Yummy Yummy sweet shop in New Road. I thought that might have been a coincidence, but it probably wasn’t. That sweet shop was no doubt highlighted as a potential EDL target…because, as I revealed earlier this year, it’s run by Anjem Choudary and his crowd.

You see, although the East London Mosque hasn’t exactly helped itself by failing to prevent homophobic and hate-fuelled sermons from the likes of Anwar al-Awlaki in the past, Anjem is the EDL’s biggest enemy. They follow him and his helpers everywhere. They’re on the same intellectual level.

Wouldn’t it be nice to see the United East End umbrella group of community groups etc etc take a stance on Anjem’s presence in the borough? Perhaps Lutfur and Kabir should organise a rally against him and his gang of terror groupies. I doubt we’d ever see the EDL again if he did that.

(And by the way, I hear that the Black Bloc anti-fascist group, many of whose members were arrested trying to attack the EDL yesterday, have started taking an interest in the Islamofascist tendencies of some Jamaat e Islami groups in the borough: that could be very interesting…).

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