A good article by Andy Newman at Socialist Unity:
We need to be absolutely clear what happened in Tower Hamlets last week: a longstanding Labour councillor, Lutfur Rahman, won the mayoral election on a Labour manifesto. Sadly, Lutfur was standing as an independent as the party’s NEC has unjustly suspended him as the official candidate, despite the accusations made against him being unsubstantiated, and that he had been overwhelmingly chosen by the membership of the local party.
Recklessly, the faction of the local Tower Hamlets Labour party responsible for this debacle, seems intent in widening the damage still further, not seeking to heal it. Cllr Rachel Saunders writing on Labour List believes that Labour has nothing to learn from the humiliating defeat, and casts her blame liberally at Ken Livingstone and George Galloway, and by so categoricaly distancing herself from Lutfur Rahman’s supporters, Rachel obviously has no respect for the majority of members of the party who voted to select him as candidate. Defiantly Rachel states against all the evidence “We’re stronger than before“, despite a local party at war with itself, and having suffered a crushing electoral defeat.
Sadly, the priority of the local Labour MPs and many Labour councillors seems to be to continue the factionalism. Quite inappropriatly, the two local MPs continue to embroil themselves in Town Hall politics, and the next meeting of the Tower Hamlets Labour group is at the Palace of Westminster, so that Jim Fitzpatrick MP and Rushanara Ali MP can attend.
See Peter Kenyon
Labour lost the Tower Hamlet’s elected Mayoral election on Thursday. So what’s the machine’s next move? Organise to undermine the democratically-elected mayor’s efforts to form an administration.
According to respected local resident and journalist Ted Jeory’s blog:
Labour’s London boss Ken Clark is understood to have decreed to his councillors that they can not remain in the party and serve with Lutfur. So anyone wanting to take Lutfur’s shilling will have to defect.
Note the possessive adjective ‘his’ councillors. What is going on? The London Labour Party’s regional director is not in charge of a Politburo. He acts under authority from the National Executive Committee. We can be certain that there has been NO meeting of the NEC since the TH mayoral election.
What we do know is that some questionable allegations were made at an NEC meeting on 21 September against the winner of an all member ballot for the Labour Party nomination to stand for the post of elected mayor of TH. Questionable allegations? Well, yes. The accused was not given any chance to respond, so the allegations remain open to question.
My former Hackney Labour Party colleague, Luke Akehurst, a well known member of Labour First – the party within the Labour Party that continues to operate with impunity possibly contrary to Rule, opines that there are parallels to be drawn with Hackney in the mid-1990s. As the chief whip of Hackney Labour Group appointed in 1995 by the then London Obergruppenführer Terry Ashton, on the authority of Tom Sawyer, general secretary at the time, I am no stranger to the dark arts of Labour Party politics. Likening Tower Hamlets Labour Parties today to Hackney Labour Parties then is, Luke, both ill-informed and ill-advised.
There is a simple and straightforward opportunity for the Labour Party to make amends for years of unwarranted and gross interference in the rights of members in that borough. It commits to co-operating with the newly elected Mayor whilst maintaining its Manifesto commitments to the electorate in the May council elections.
Instead we have the unedifying prospect of an abuse of parliamentary facilities by the two Labour MPs hosting a Labour Group meeting in the Palace of Westminster allegedly to subvert the democratic will of the local electorate. Abuse? To book a room in Houses of Parliament requires the sponsorship of an MP. What’s wrong with the usual facilities in TH?
I only hope the wires are buzzing tonight to stop the folly and enable an urgently needed rapproachment to take place between the victor and the Labour Party. I have never met Lutfur Rahman. But I know him as the only Labour Council leader who, when in office, secured support from his Council for a full set of recommendations concerning the implementation of a London Living Wage. As for all the allegations about Islamisation, I see that balanced and objective commentator Melanie Phillips has picked up the baton (again). Enough said.
An urgent review of the allegations leading to Lutfur Rahman’s administrative suspension by Labour’s NEC is needed as I have already suggested in unsolicited advice to Luke Akehurst on his blog. On the basis of what I know now, compared to a month ago – I would be inclined to say, ”Case dismissed”. Lutfur Rahman should probably have been the official Labour Party candidate in the first place. At least that’s what TH Labour Party members decided in a ballot administered by current Obergruppenführer Ken Clark. That’s good enough for me. It’s their right to decide under Labour Party Rules.
As for the local MPs, they are making a very good case for the urgent reintroduction of compulsory reselection of Labour sitting MPs as prospective parliamentary candidates.