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A Step Back from Racism in Tower Hamlets?

Two weeks ago, we criticised the shortlist of only three imposed on party members in Tower Hamlets for the selection of their directly-elected Mayoral candidate as either patronising – or just plain racist, because  it was “seemingly chosen to minimise the chances of selecting a Bangla candidate”, as both the current and previous Council Leaders, both from the Bangla community, had been excluded. Labour has now stepped back from this disgraceful action and a new panel of NEC and Regional Board representatives will re-interview the long-list of potential candidates and agree a new shortlist.

This was revealed in a letter to all Tower Hamlets members from John Biggs, London Assembly member, former Leader of Tower Hanlets Council and, of the candidates on the first shortlist, front-runner in the selection process.  He quoted the Labour Press Release which stated:

Following a complaint regarding the procedure to select Labour’s candidate in this autumn’s elections for the first directly elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets, the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee has this evening agreed to re-run the shortlisting process. The complaint has been looked at carefully. While the Labour Party does not accept that it has any substance, to ensure transparency and fairness to all potential candidates, all long-listed candidates will be re-interviewed by a different panel to be appointed by the NEC.

The question is whether the party is merely seeking to minimise the chances of successful legal challenge following the complaint by Cllr Lutfur Rahman, the Leader of the Council until the May elections, or whether it really intends to give local members a fair and open choice of candidates. The test of a fair choice will be:

  1. The size of the shortlist — there is no excuse for a shortlist of fewer than five, and six would be better;
  2. The inclusion of the leading Bangla candidates — namely both the current Council Leader, Cllr Helal Abbas, and the previous incumbent, Cllr Lutfur Rahman. Both have significant support in the Bangla community and beyond, the latter has the support of much of the Left in the party. The inclusion of Bangla candidates who stand little chance of winning will not prevent continuing accusations of racism.


  1. Robert says:

    Nice to know we still live in the Uk.

  2. Zakir Hossain says:

    When labour pary selected Una King as parliamentary candidate a lot of benglali people and polititians thought labour party let them down and this was the exact reasont why Una king lost to George Galloway. This forced labour party choose a Bengali candidate (even though she was relatively unknown and many people were suspicous of motive behind selecting her). Labour party is playing the same game again by short listing relatively unknown bengalis. This is a real blow to democracy in tower hamlets. The ‘islamist’ in the area may point finger and say ‘ Look what happens when you try to play by their rule – they simply change the rule to exclude you.’ The dirty game played by labour party executeves will only help in alienating more bengali youngsters from being part of politics and start to join groups who publicise comments like ‘voting is haram, vote today and become kufr (non-muslim) tomorrow.
    I hope labour party will come to its senses and act for the long term benifit of democracy in Tower Hamlets.

  3. Masoom Ali says:

    This course that the Labour executives are taking is plain and clear racism, if Bengali people get involved with local democracy, and other people don’t then its only right they should have a fair chance to take up positions in that democratic process. This is the only borough where the members are not allowed to choose their labour party candidate. It was only because of RSPECT party that we have a Bengali MP, George Galloway promised to stand down after one term and allow a local person run for MP. This forced all other parties to put up worthy Bengali candidates, unlike what the Conservative and Lib-Dem were doing for years putting up the likes of Farook and Dulu. Labour put up a new face like Ali who was naturally going to win on the labour ticket. It seems the Labour Execs do everything they can to short-change the Bengalis. ITS NOT ON!!! ITS RACISM!!!

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