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Tower Hamlets council leader steps down to run for Mayor

PUBLISHED: 08:00 12 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:00 05 October 2010

Lutfur... throwing in the towel

Lutfur... throwing in the towel

THE controversial leader of Tower Hamlets council, Lutfur Rahman, has thrown in the towel and is stepping down, to run for Mayor instead. He hopes to be adopted as Labour’s candidate for the East End’s first-ever directly elected mayor

By Mike Brooke

THE controversial leader of Tower Hamlets council in East London, Lutfur Rahman, has thrown in the towel and is stepping down, to run for Mayor instead.

He hopes to be adopted as Labour’s candidate for the East End’s first-ever directly elected mayor in the autumn.

The 43-year-old lawyer didn’t challenge for leadership at the ruling Labour group’s annual meeting on Monday night after they got back into office in Thursday’s local council elections.

He faces a tough fight within Labour ranks to be adopted as candidate for Mayor.

Former council leader Helal Abbas, who takes over from Rahman on May 27, does not want to be a caretaker’ council leader treading water until the new mayor takes over in October, say some insiders. He is being tipped as a front-runner for candidate.

Others, however, fear the London Labour Party, which took over the candidate selections for the May 6 elections, might impose former council leader Michael Keith as candidate. Keith has lost three elections in a row for a seat on the council. His unpopularity could leave the back door open for Respect, sources believe.

Helal Abbas, meanwhile, now has a clean slate to pick his cabinet, which he announces on Thursday.

But even the moderate’ Abbas is not without his controversial past, having been criticised for not backing Labour MP Oona King in the 2005 General Election which led to George Galloway snatching Bethnal Green & Bow for Respect.

The Labour group meets again on Thursday when Abbas announces his new cabinet.

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