Socialist Unity reports:
Tower Hamlets Respect Party last night decided by an overwhelming majority not to stand a candidate in the forthcoming mayoral election. Instead Tower Hamlets Respect calls on on all its members, supporters and voters to vote for Lutfur Rahman to be Tower Hamlets’ first executive mayor. Respect remains a major player in Tower Hamlets, getting 17000 votes over the two parliamentary constituencies in May earlier this year.
The reasons for this decision are two-fold, according to a Resect spokesperson. …
The reasons reported by Socialist Unity are irrelevant. There is a very simple explanation for the decision to back Lutfur Rahman. It is this.
RESPECT was, at its inception, little more than a coalition between the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party and activists and supporters of the Islamic Forum Europe. The Islamic Forum Europe is a body with links to the clerical fascist South Asian party, Jamaat-e-Islami. Readers will remember that the domination of RESPECT by IFE supporters, ultimately to the exclusion of the SWP, was the reason for the withdrawal of SWP support from that coalition.
Labour supporters in Tower Hamlets fought hard to purge the IFE entryists from their party. However, as we know, they failed.
Now is the time for the national Party to step in. Gilligan has published transcripts which suggest that Rahman and his supporters have been engaged in ‘vote banking‘. But, more importantly, Jamaat-e-Islami is a rival to Labour, not a constituent part of it.
Ted Jeory has had the following conversation with a London Labour Party official:
Just spoke to a spokesman for the London Labour party who has rejected speculation that the National Executive Committee has to rubber stamp Lutfur’s selection. He said: “I’ve double-checked it and as far as we are concerned it’s all done and dusted. Lutfur is our candidate.”
If that is the final position, it will be an absolute disaster for Labour. There is wide awareness of the fact that Lutfur Ali is the IFE’s candidate, and that the current statement constitutes a stitch up with the IFE-front, RESPECT. This is what Ted Jeory thinks is on the cards:
If Lutfur wins in October there will be a by-election in Spitalfields in which Respect will field a candidate, most likely their former town hall leader, Abjol Miah. I would not be surprised if he won, with not a little help from Lutfur’s backers.
Would that mean a cabinet seat for Abjol? Conspiracy? Perhaps, but let’s see. Funny how some of the other theories labelled conspiracy months ago are now in fact fact today.
The other parties in Tower Hamlets are making hay with Labour’s embarrassment. Here are the Lib Dems on the subject:
“There has clearly been a stitch up between Respect and Lutfur Rahman’s Labour Party. This pre-election deal shows complete disrespect for the people of Tower Hamlets.”
“Voters in the borough, including many members of the Labour Party, were already nervous at the prospect of Lutfur Rahman taking the Mayoralty and command of the Council’s £1.3bn a year budget. They will be terrified at the prospect now, given the deal that has clearly been done.”
“It was Respect which organized the petition for the mayoral referendum and campaigned for the yes vote on 6th May. …”
It would be lovely to be able to say that this is nonsense – but unfortunately it isn’t.
If Lutfur Rahman retains the nomination, Labour really ought to hope to lose the election. Five years under an IFE/RESPECT/Labour administration – and all the scandal and mismanagement that that will entail – will result in article after article in the national press, highlighting Labour’s shame, and its failure to maintain order within the Party. Gilligan already has the bit in his teeth. Other journalists are bound to follow.
There is less than a week for Labour to put this right. It must act now.