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Unite the community in Tower Hamlets

People have asked me for my view about the Mayoral election in Tower Hamlets.

The reality is that the Labour vote is going to be divided between the candidate imposed by the NEC Helal Abbas and Lutfur Rahman, the candidate chosen by Tower Hamlets party members, who is now standing as an independent.

I do not want to see the Tories able to exploit this situation. That is the last thing we need. As the London Labour party’s email to members this week points out, the Conservatives have already won seats on the council.

We need to ensure that once this election is over the local community in Tower Hamlets can unite around whoever is Mayor in order to get the best for the borough.

Given the electoral system in this contest the position is clear: all those voting for Helal Abbas or Lutfur Rahman must use their second preference votes for the other to ensure there is no Tory or LibDem win in Tower Hamlets.

I hope both Helal Abbas and Lutfur Rahman will ask their supporters to use their second preferences for each other to demonstrate that it is possible for politics in this borough to move forward following the election.

It is the same approach that my Labour Mayoral campaign and the Green party approached the 2008 Mayoral election.

A united Tower Hamlets ought to be the objective of everyone – we should not allow how Labour’s NEC has handled this to divert us from this objective.

Labour’s NEC behaved in a way that breached all rules of fairness and justice. It also means that the candidate who came second in Labour’s selection, John Biggs with his reputation for competence and honesty, has been treated badly. I will be arguing on the NEC that the party must now work hard to ensure that the crisis is not deepened.

As with my election as an independent in 2000, there must be no wave of expulsions of those who have campaigned for Lutfur Rahman’s candidacy. I want to see the door left open for those councillors who have resigned the party whip to return so that whoever is elected can be sure that there is a strong Labour group that will work with the Mayor to ensure the needs of Tower Hamlets comes first and we reunite the local party once the dust has settled.”

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