Labour executive dumps members’ choice for Tower Hamlets Mayor

Labour National executive has decided to replace party members’ choice for Tower Hamlet’s Mayor, Lutfur Rahman, on the basis of complaints which have not been disclosed to Lutfur Rahman or anyone in Tower Hamlets.

Lutfur had to take legal action twice in order to get onto the shortlist, as was documented here. In the end he was backed by 45% of members’ first preferences and won the final round with 433 votes compared with 251 for local London assembly member, John Biggs, and 157 for council leader, Helal Abbas.  Cllr Abbas (in third place) has now been imposed as candidate.

The decision is an outrageous infringement of the party’s own rules which are committted to the “right of Labour Party membership includes the opportunity to select candidates for public office.”

The statement from the London Labour Party reads as follows:

Having received a number of serious allegations concerning both the eligibility of participating voters and the conduct of Lutfur Rahman, the NEC has decided to investigate the allegations made. As a result, administrative action has been taken to remove Lutfur Rahman as a candidate pending the investigation. Nominations for Tower Hamlets mayor close this week and in the circumstances the NEC had no option but to impose another candidate. The NEC has voted to select Helal Abbas Uddin as Labour’s candidate.

This statement is mendacious on several grounds:

  • The eligibility to vote was carefully checked by the London Labour Party itself, who have also been responsibile for vetting all applications to join the Labour Party for several years. They have done their job thoroughly – and recently their primary motivation was to prevent Lutfur Rahman being re-elected as Leader of the Council, selected as a candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow or for the Mayoralty of Tower Hamlets. Any allegation is therefore an allegation against the London Labour Party itself, not against Lutfur (or indeed any other candidate).
  • The conduct of Lutfur in this selection has been exemplary in the selection, especially in relation to his fellow candidates whom he took care to thank following the selection. He was forced to take legal action by the totally unreasonable actions of the various selection panels that excluded him.
  • No attempt was made to put the “accusations” (which are understood to come from people who have opposed his selection from the beginning) to Lutfur — a breach of natural justice. There is no basis for believing that any “investigations” will even be carried out. The so-called “administrative action has been taken to remove Lutfur” is a political action and, in reality, no alternative action to imposing (a more appropriate term than “selecting”) was considered.

Lutfur Rahman should take legal action against this action — the views of local party members speak for themselves! The last time the party used such disgraceful tactics to prevent local members’ choice of Mayoral candidate standing in the election was against Ken Livingstone. Party leaders and managers should note the precedent carefully.

  1. Hi Jon,

    You’re right. This is a stitch up and a disgrace. Lutfur might well “do a Ken”. It will be tough battle against the New Labour machine but he can do it.

    Would you support such a bid?

  2. Dear Shaun – The refusal of people like you to re-join the Labour Party is what makes it harder for us to fight against this sort of activity