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Tower Hamlets: victory for Lutfur Rahman

Lutfur Rahman is Mayor of Tower Hamlets. He won 23,283 votes,  52% of the total — 10% more than Labour did in the general election in the borough — and Labour’s Abbas won just 11,254 or 25%. The Tories won 12% and the Lib Dems 6%, little more than half  and a third of their general election scores respectively. Only the Greens, of the established parties, increased their vote — from 1% to 5%. Respect, who had won 17% of the vote in May, did not stand but their voters clearly rallied behind Lutfur.

It is a victory for the local Labour Party members who selected him as a candidate and a massive defeat, not for Ed Miliband, but for Ray Collins, party general secretary, and the witch-hunters who hounded him into standing as an independent. We can only hope that efforts will now be made to re-unite the party and retain or re-admit to membership Lutfur and any Labour members who supported him.

Lutfur grew up and went to school in Tower Hamlets. He has been a member of the Labour Party for 21 years and has campaigned in every local and national election for the Labour Party since then. He has served on numerous community and regeneration organisations, the local hospital trusts, law centre, and the borough council for eight years, two as Leader.

And yet the Labour Party establishment conspired to depose him as Leader. They then sought at every stage of the Mayoral selection process to exclude him on the basis of innuendo and unsubstantiated allegations, never investigated, and  to which Lutfur was unable to respond. As a result of legal action, Lutfur was finally included on the third shortlist. He was then selected by local labour party members with 433 votes, a clear majority over the two remaining candidates with 251 and 157 respectively.

Lutfur then made every effort to unite the party for the campaign ahead, reaching out to the unsuccessful candidates as he launched his campaign to be a Labour Mayor. But then, without notice to Lutfur or even its own members, without presenting any written evidence, without any investigation, with total disregard for the principles of natural justice, and just three days before the close of nominations, the Labour national executive removed Lutfur as a candidate and replaced him with Helal Abbas who had come third in the selection.

Labour Party  emails appealed daily to party members for assistance in the campaign. The response was very poor from party members within Tower Hamlets though there was a stream of outsiders who knew little of the background to what has happened. Party loyalists can be relied upon to support the party unless they know the truth of what has been done in their name.

During the campaign, Lutfur was treated as if the investigated allegations were true, and as if he was a candidate for Respect which he had campaigned against in successive elections. As the “Labour” leaflet illustrated demonstrates, he was subjected to yet more innuendos like implied “criminal offences” and police probes. The party’s appeals for support argued that they sought to unite the community: the reality was quite different. The actions of  those who sought to stop Lutfur divided the party, divided the community and damaged the reputation of the party that had seen off Respect only five months earlier.

The following is one of Lutfur’s campaign videos:


  1. Muna Rai says:

    Thank Allah, I m so happy, Allah bless Lutfur Rahman and George Gallway too, Mubarak Mr Lutfur.

    Muna Rai
    Respect member

    Best wishes

  2. Peter Kenyon says:

    Dear Jon

    I was one of the handful of NEC members who opposed the removal of Lutfur Rahman as Labour’s democratically selected candidate.

    The outcome is humiliating for the Labour Party, and not just its general secretary, Ray Collins, but deputy Leader, Harriet Harman QC who spent her political capital on a flagrant breach of natural justice. Nor should the role of her husband Jack Dromey MP be forgotten either. As outgoing Party Treasurer and a former Deputy General Secretary of Unite the Union, he helped deliver the TU bloc vote on the NEC to oust Rahman as the official Labour candidate.

    I hope the there will be an urgent effort to address the allegations, institute procedures to ensure natural justice for all Labour Party members in the event of disputes, and restore members’ rights to select their candidates for public office. Ken Livingstone’s presence on the NEC might help in that regard.

  3. Mick Williams says:

    Although we in Stoke are ‘out in the sticks’ we have had the same sort of attacks on loyal party members as have been suffered in Tower Hamlets.
    Coincidentally, a group of ex-Labour Party members (who resigned due to similar shenanigans over Parliamentary and Council selections in Stoke) are due to meet tonight and when we discuss this victory for Lutfur will no doubt feel that their stand has been vindicated.
    Peter Kenyon’s wish that the Party can re-unite will only come true when the corrupt apparatchiki (and I will name names and provide evidence) who presently run the Party are ousted and true democracy is restored.

    Mick Williams,
    Convenor, D4S.

  4. Tony Clarke says:

    Congratulations Lutfar, Hamdallah. When will the Labour Party learn that local people know more about who they want to represent them than the Party staff will ever know. Exactly the same happened in Northampton 3 years ago and I am only sorry that lessons are still not being learnt. I am sure you will be an outstanding Independent Mayor, and well done to all including Ken for having the balls to back the right candidate.

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