Labour activists quit to join mayor’s Tower Hamlets First party

Mayor Lutfur Rahman

Mayor Lutfur Rahman - Credit: Archant

EXCLUSIVE: The mayor of Tower Hamlets hailed a major coup this week as ten Labour party activists defected to join his party ahead of the May elections.

The defections were announced in a statement from Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s party, Tower Hamlets First (THF), on March 9 that said the “mass exodus” showed the Labour group is “disintegrating”.

All ten activists - who include former councillors and an ex-Charlton and Chelsea footballer - will run as THF candidates on May 22.

They accuse the Labour group of betraying its values and say they quit to support the mayor and his party.

However, Labour said none of the defectors were current party members, with some having left years ago, and that most had not been “genuine” activists for a number of years.

The defections come after a Labour councillor quit at last week’s council budget meeting over what he called the party’s “culture of bullying”.

Bow West councillor Anwar Khan accused the party of being racist against Bangladeshis after being deselected as a candidate in December, saying he would run as an independent in May.

Most Read

One defector, former Labour councillor Stephen Beckett, who is standing in Lansbury ward, said: “The Tower Hamlets Labour party has become unaccountable and divisive. There are no policies, only spite, claims of racism and dirty politics.”

He added: “Lutfur Rahman and Tower Hamlets First have delivered for ordinary people and we’re going to keep doing more in the years to come.”

Labour said that of the ten, three were excluded for breaching party rules, one resigned in 2011, one failed to renew their membership in 2012, and two were never members.

Chris Weavers, chair of Tower Hamlets Labour party, said: “The Labour party in Tower Hamlets is growing rapidly with new members joining on a daily basis, inspired by our vision of a better future for Tower Hamlets.

“This contrasts with an opposition obsessed with making spurious and factually incorrect allegations on a daily basis.”

The mayor was unavailable for comment at time of press.