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

PUBLISHED: 13:02 11 March 2014 | UPDATED: 13:19 11 March 2014

Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman

Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman

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.

Defections from Labour

Stephen Beckett: ex-Labour councillor, standing in Lansbury ward

He says Labour is “unaccountable and divisive”.

Labour says he was excluded from the party in October 2010.

Stuart Madewell: ex-Labour Shadwell secretary, standing in St Katherine’s and Wapping ward

He says Labour is “an embarrassment to progressive politics”.

Labour says he was excluded in February 2014.

Kathy McTasney: Labour member and Isle of Dogs resident

She says “Lutfur Rahman is the people’s choice for mayor”.

Labour says she resigned in January 2011.

John Cray: ex-Labour Millwall ward chair, Isle of Dogs resident, member for 25 years

He says “East Enders have been let down by Labour’s arrogance and divisiveness”.

Labour says his membership lapsed in January 2012, was a member for 11 years, not 25.

Mohammed Shahid Ali: ex-Labour councillor and whip, standing in Mile End

He says the Labour group “has been in ‘special measures’ for over a decade”.

Labour says he resigned on January 23, 2014.

Bellal Ahmed: ex-Labour Island Gardens chair, member for 18 years

He says Labour “can’t provide real leadership and policies that help vulnerable residents”.

Labour says he resigned on January 5, 2014, was a member for 8 years, not 18.

Abdus Salam: Labour member for 15 years, anti-racist campaigner

He says “the local Labour party has lost its way”.

Labour says he was excluded in November 2010.

Moniruzzaman Syed: sat on Labour’s ethnic minority committee, standing in Bromley North

He says “I saw very little progress of members from ethnic minority communities within the party”

Labour says he resigned in 2014 after a year’s membership, was previously a Lib Dem, “concerns raised about whether he lives where he claims to”.

Muhammed Ismaili: campaigner for Labour’s Somali First group

He says “I’ve had enough of Labour’s tokenism and quotas for minorities”

Labour says he was never a member, and Labour has no Somali First group.

Michael Ambrose: ex-Charlton and Chelsea footballer, standing in Bow East

He says “I don’t want see the community I love and grew up in going to the ground”

Labour says he was never a member.

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.

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.

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