Ted Jeory, who knows the East London scene like nobody else, has an article in the Sunday Express which focuses on developments in Tower Hamlets Labour Party:
The growing influence of the East London Mosque, whose education wing was built with Saudi money, on the Labour party is causing concern in Downing Street.
Gordon Brown, Justice Secretary Jack Straw and new Communities Secretary John Denham have been briefed on Islamic groups based there.
Party officials have held crisis talks about one group in particular, the Islamic Forum of Europe.
Senior party members fear it has infiltrated Labour and exerts too much power over MPs and councillors in areas with large Muslim populations.
Politicians fear that IFE can persuade imams to direct bloc votes at elections.
Labour insiders are particularly concerned about events in Tower Hamlets in east London, a £1billion authority that is home to parts of the City, Canary Wharf and the Olympics.
Ten days ago, Labour council leader Lutfur Rahman sparked outrage after asking the authority’s highly respected chief executive, Martin Smith, to go on leave because he had lost confidence in him.
His move came just days after he, three other councillors and an IFE official returned from a privately funded delegation to Saudi Arabia.
It is understood that they went to be blessed by Sheikh Adil al-Kalbani, a controversial and high-ranking imam in Mecca who said recently that Jews and Christians should only be allowed to live in the Arabian Peninsular “if their presence is essential”.
Cllr Rahman also held talks with Sheikh al-Kalbani in Tower Hamlets last October.
The East London Mosque is currently on an international fundraising drive to finance a large extension that would house new teaching facilities.
Mr Smith is understood to have had concerns about a request by the mosque to buy the council’s share in its freehold.
A spokesman for the IFE denied deliberate “infiltration” of political parties saying its supporters were free to follow any party they liked.
“We support the work of anyone who progresses the work of Islam,” he added.
A spokesman for the London Labour party conceded there were concerns about latest developments.
He said: “We’re keeping a close eye on things. The local party is in special measures because of concerns with membership. It means the regional director of the party will be managing the selection process for candidates for next year’s elections. We want to ensure candidates have the best intentions for the party.”
Referring to the councillors’ trip to Saudi Arabia, the Labour spokesman added: “Labour rules are very clear. Any hospitality such as gifts, accommodation or travel worth more than £25 that is received by virtue of being a councillor must be declared in the council register within 28 days.
“If a complaint is made after that period then the party would look into it.”
Kalbani spoke at the Global Peace and Unity Event. Here he is meeting Luftur Rahman last year.
This is what Kalbani believes:
The Prophet’s guidance, by which we act, dictates: “Drive the Jews and the Christians out of the Arabian Peninsula.” Driving them out is undoubtedly the prerogative of the ruler, but they should be allowed to live here only if their presence is essential.
He also incites hatred against Shiites.
One question which is worth asking is:
What precisely is it that Martin Smith has done or failed to do, that has incurred IFE displeasure.
Another question worth asking is: what were the private Kalbani-IFE talks all about?
Answers on a postcard.
Meanwhile, the Spittoon reports that IFE-controlled rump of RESPECT has been preparing itself for the succession to George Galloway, at a Women Only meeting.
Dark days ahead.