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Labour HQ seizes local party’s crisis-hit selection process

PUBLISHED: 03:17 13 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:26 05 October 2010

TOP Labour Party officials from London regional headquarters have stepped in to take over the local candidate selection process at crisis-hit Tower Hamlets. Regional party director Ken Clark arrived in the East End for crisis talks with local party officials lasting nearly three hours at their Bethnal Green offices

By Mike Brooke

TOP Labour Party officials from London regional headquarters have stepped in to take over the local candidate selection process at crisis-hit Tower Hamlets.

Regional party director Ken Clark arrived in Bethnal Green in London’s East End for crisis talks with local party officials yesterday (June 12) lasting nearly three hours.

He told them they were no longer in charge of picking their own candidates to stand at next year’s municipal elections—even sitting councillors now have to be reselected including the authority’s controversial leader and his cabinet.

SPECIAL MEASURES

Tower Hamlets Labour party has been under special measures’ since the last council elections three years ago which were rocked by controversy over candidate selections.

This latest move to protect Labour’s party machinery from being hijacked’ follows council leader Lutfur Rahman’s controversial inner cabinet reshuffle last month.

These included defecting Opposition councillors from MP George Galloway’s left-wing Respect Party on the council who were given sensitive cabinet posts over more experienced Labour senior council members.

Cllr Rahman was understood to have been summoned to regional HQ for urgent talks yesterday (Friday) with director Clark about the crisis situation, following the warning shot fired at the constituency party executive the night before.

CONCERN

A regional party spokesman told the East London Advertiser: “Tower Hamlets has been in special measures for some time over membership.

“We’re concerned about people joining for the right reasons and are trying to prevent organisations filtering in who may try taking over the party by signing up and ousting existing members.

“We’re sensitive following events with Militant a few years ago.”

An independent external panel is to vet applications to become candidates and would make the selection—not the constituency executive, Ken Clark told them.

SELECTION

He is now writing to every rank-and-file party member in the East End as well as all sitting authority members who must now be reselected if they want to stand at next year’s Town Hall elections.

The regional spokesman added: “That includes all councillors, even the leader and his cabinet, who now have to reapply.”

The crisis has come to a head at the same time as council leader Rahman’s reported rift with the Town Hall’s beleaguered chief executive Martin Smith, first revealed exclusively on the Advertiser Website on June 4, over the future of his job.


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