This is a guest post by Bhownaggree
A Tower Hamlets insider has reliably informed me that the RESPECT campaign to get an elected mayor in Tower Hamlets is little more than George Galloway backup plan II.
George is concerned that the Muslim activists who backed him in 2005 have drifted away as the local Labour party under Councillor Lutfur Rahman has got its act together.
Though RESPECT Councillor Miah is the frontman for the campaign for a directly elected mayor, George Galloway was overheard discussing his chances of securing this prize with fellow Left travellers recently.
The worry for progressives is that, in George’s own words,
“the Council is a great platform. Spending nearly a £1 billion a year”
Labour, it seems, locally quite like the idea of an elected mayor, but Ken Clark the London Labour Party Regional Director is far less keen and turned up to the meeting of the Labour Group (caucus) to whip the Councillors to vote against making a directly elected mayor the official position of the Labour Group.
In the likely event that Galloway fails to unseat sitting MP Jim Fitzpatrick, expect George to run as Mayor of Tower Hamlets.
On top of an expected salary of £75,000, a driver, a press team and a policy team, as mayor he would directly appoint a political adviser earning up to £35,000 p.a., would likely appoint a Head of Leader’s Office (£45,000) and could over time bring in a few more cronies.
It would give George the platform he so craves after what seems to be an increasingly lonely existence in Westminster… and be a disaster for Council tax payers.