Ken Livingstone likens government’s Tower Hamlets takeover to ‘East German communists’
PUBLISHED: 12:40 07 November 2014 | UPDATED: 13:44 07 November 2014
© Rehan Jamil
Former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has attacked as “outrageous” the government’s intervention in Tower Hamlets politics, likening it to “East Germany under the communists”.
Mr Livingstone, who campaigned for Lutfur Rahman in 2010, said he’d like to take local government secretary Eric Pickles to court over his plans to send three commissioners to seize council powers after a damning audit report on council finances.
The findings of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ six-month audit on grant allocations and the sale of public buildings have led to calls from Labour for the Mayor’s resignation – calls he has dismissed in a BBC interview.
Mr Livingstone blasted an “obscene underhand alliance” between the local Labour group and the Conservatives, accusing them of spreading “smears and innuendo” about the Mayor.
He also signed a letter to the Guardian newspaper yesterday calling the government’s move a “flagrant violation of the democratic will of the population”.
Speaking to ITV News today, Mr Livingstone said: “It’s absolutely outrageous.
“You’ve got a completely obscene underhand alliance between the Labour and Tory councillors to block everything that’s going on.
“Council meetings are chaotic. There’s nothing Lutfur can do about that.
“The local Labour party members should be ashamed of what their councillors get up to – smears and innuendo, none of it ever stands up.”
He added: “I’d take Eric Pickles to court. This is like something out of East Germany under the communists.”
Mr Livingstone also repeated his prediction that the Mayor will be re-admitted to the Labour party “once he’s eventually cleared of all these smears”.
A spokesman for the Labour group said: “Labour’s current team, from Hillary Benn MP as our shadow secretary of state who spoke in parliament this week, to local MPs Jim Fitzpatrick and Rushanara Ali, and Tower Hamlets Labour councillors, are determined to fight for fairness and transparency in Tower Hamlets Town Hall.
“Local people are being cheated by Lutfur Rahman, who brings shame to our great borough.
“We will not be distracted by commentators from outside.”
In April this year, Mr Livingstone publicly defended the Mayor over a critical Panorama documentary about Mr Rahman’s administration, which aired three days before the audit was launched.
His intervention was seized on by supporters of the Mayor, who handed out leaflets during May’s mayoral elections claiming Mr Livingstone was “backing” the incumbent’s re-election.
The former London Mayor, who had recently become an adviser on the council’s £900million revamp of Whitechapel, was forced to make a public statement clarifying his position and endorsing Rahman’s Labour rival John Biggs.
Read the PricewaterhouseCoopers report here
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