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Seeking to join the ranks of Heroes’

PUBLISHED: 20:27 11 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:26 05 October 2010

Tory Rouse (left, see 'What Tories'); Labour's Francis ('Seeking to join Heroes'); and (inset) that logo (see 'Nice little earner')

Tory Rouse (left, see 'What Tories'); Labour's Francis ('Seeking to join Heroes'); and (inset) that logo (see 'Nice little earner')

A GLANCE at the Letters Page in the East London Advertiser (July 10) shows I seem to have ruffled the feathers of Council Leader Lutfur Rahman’s peacock-in-chief, Marc Francis. Bless him. The stress of his new job must be taking its toll. Either that, or the early praise dished out to him from this and other quarters has gone to his ever-so-modest head—like a character from Heroes,’ he’s apparently been sending emails to practically everyone in Tower Hamlets promising the earth)

Ted Jeory puts East End politicians in the dock

A GLANCE at the Letters Page in the East London Advertiser (July 10) shows I seem to have ruffled the feathers of Council Leader Lutfur Rahman’s peacock-in-chief, Marc Francis. Bless him.

The stress of his new job must be taking its toll. Either that, or the early praise dished out to him from this and other quarters has gone to his ever-so-modest head (like a character from Heroes, he’s apparently been sending emails to practically everyone in Tower Hamlets promising the earth).

Or maybe it’s this, that we’re witnessing a bitter faction fight within the ruling Labour group at the Town Hall and Marc’s worried he’s backed the wrong horse.

You see, Lutfur Rahman, as his enemies gleefully crow, is the first leader to have suffered the indignity of failing to win backbench approval for his first choice of cabinet.

Although he ousted Denise Jones on a vote of 14 to 11, that was almost three months ago.

Since then, Labour has acquired six new councillors. One, Fazlul Haque, who is currently under police investigation over allegations relating to his Weavers by-election victory on May 1 (he denies any wrongdoing), has already declared his hand for Lutfur.

Lib Dem defector Rajib Khan is close to Denise and so, too, are the ex-Respect contingent of Oli Rahman, Lutfa Begum, Shahed Ali and Rania Khan (Cllr Francis is desperately trying to persuade the party’s executive to block the defections).

Since Lutfur has also managed to upset a couple of other characters who voted for him in the leadership election, only to be then dumped from his cabinet (Shiria Khatun and Motin uz Zaman), the prevailing wind, on a simple analysis, is thought to be in the direction of the Denise’ camp.

Of course, it’s not that simple because there are others who also fancy a crack at the top, not least Motin (far too early for him, I reckon) and Lutfur’s official deputy, Siraj Islam, who not only seemed strangely sidelined at a cabinet press briefing last month when Lutfur almost forgot he was there, but who also appears to have been stripped of anything useful to do (he lists his main responsibility as East End Life!).

But whatever the nuances—and there are also other issues, including the rumoured growing influence of the East London Mosque within the party—there’s a real power struggle at the moment.

That’s perhaps why Marc, a politician so much to his core he’s the new Michael Keith’, is now keen to drum up support, even among halfwit colleagues that he, I suspect, despises.

+++

TORIES? WHAT TORIES?

KEEN-EYED residents at recent Town Hall committee meetings will have spotted a gaping hole on the main bench at the front of the chamber... Tories.

They have decided to boycott sitting on all committees in protest at a controversial Labour move to bypass them for one of the most important Opposition positions.

At the start of the municipal year, the ruling group dishes out Opposition scrutiny lead’ roles to an Opposition party. These roles have responsibility on the overview and scrutiny committee for handling the analysis of a particular theme.

In the past, ex-Tory leader Simon Rouse led the way with reports on profligate spending on management consultants and shoddy leaseholder services.

This year, there was one role available. By convention, it really should have gone to the Tories, the second largest council group.

But after special pleading by Marc Francis, Labour gave it to Stephanie Eaton, the leader of the four-strong’ Lib Dems.

The Tories, because they believe the role is one of the most important positions an Opposition party can undertake, took umbrage and declined all other seats on other committees.

T he move is designed as a spoiling’ tactic to hinder council business.

They claim they will still turn up to meetings as observers’ and represent residents in other ways.

But it’s a dangerous game.

Hindering council business hinders residents.

Since the Tories are often the most able on the committees, the loss of strong voting representation is a major loss for ordinary members of the public.

My feeling is it’s a tactic that’s too clever by half.

+++

GALLOWAY IS FREE TO GO WHERE THEY PLEASE

WE ALL know about the ability of MP George moneybags’ Galloway to coin it on media deals.

But the latest Parliamentary Register of Members’ Interests reveal an increased skill in attract freebie trips abroad.

So while last year he earned (on top of his MP’s salary) almost £200,000 from media work, including £100k from Talksport, £30k from the Scottish Daily Record and £10,000 as a presenter on the Iranian government-funded Press TV station, we now also know of seven free globetrotting trips during past 12 months.

Last July: four days in New Zealand as a guest of Voices of Peace’;

August: Global Peace’ flew him to Barbados for a three-day slavery conference.

November: the Arab National Conference paid for two nights in Istanbul for a talk on Palestine;

...and from there, he was whisked off by his friend Fawaz Zureikat to observe’ the Jordanian Parliamentary elections.

Galloway returned to Jordan last month for two nights for a meeting organised by the Union of Professional Associations of Jordan.’

In March, he attended a two-day “fundraising event…under the patronage of the Prime Minister of Bahrain organised by the Bahrain-Palestine Support Society.”

But the highlight of this very busy year was, undoubtedly, a five day trip in January to the paradise Cayman Islands… as a guest of the Cayman Islands Celtic Supporters’ Club.

You couldn’t make it up!

+++

HOUSING LOGO NICE LITTLE EARNER’

LONG-dreaded by many and eagerly anticipated by others, Tower Hamlets Homes, the council’s new arms length’ housing management organisation, was launched on Monday (July 8). Predictably, it was given a nice write-up in the4 Town Hall’s East End Life.

But strangely, they decided not to publish the organisation’s new logo.

Maybe it’s because their colleagues in the Town Hall’s communications department charged a whopping £10,259 to design it.

And while leaseholders and tenants will pick up the tab, the income’ will be used to reduce’ the costs of the spin department’s budget.

The council has so far refused to tell me how the £10k was made up.

Nice work, if you can get it!

+++

ted.jeory@archant.co.uk

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