Council leader exposes ‘200 bogus Labour members’ in Tower Hamlets battle for mayor
LABOUR faces a rebellion of eight councillors at Tower Hamlets as its imposed candidate for the East End’s first direct election for mayor launches his campaign.
Council leader Helal Abbas, who launched his campaign at local Labour Party headquarters last night, is trying to distance himself from the ‘rebels’ facing possible expulsion from the party for openly supporting the ousted Lutfur Rahman now competing as a rival candidate.
“It is not for me to take action against those eight councillors,” Cllr Abbas declared. “They are supporting an independent candidate and that’s been passed on to the regional Labour party.
“The rules are clear—anyone standing against the official party candidate, or publicly supporting rivals, automatically expels themselves from Labour.”
He has been criticised for being imposed as candidate for the October 21 election after the party’s national executive dropped their earlier candidate Rahman following complaints of ‘bogus members’ taking part in the internal selection vote on September 4.
Rahman has since quit Labour and is running as an independent with backing from businesses around Brick Lane. But Abbas was scathing about Rahman’s tactics.
“You don’t leave an organisation just because they don’t give you the job you want,” he said.
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“Those who leave when they lose are only using the party for their own ends. I have lost more elections that I have won—but never quit.”
The September 4 selection was fraught with allegations that outsiders had registered at East End addresses to get membership and take part in the vote.
“There were 200 on the membership list who don’t live in Tower Hamlets,” Cllr Abbas revealed.
“There was a deliberate attempt to defraud the Labour Party with 200 bogus voters. The corruption is deep.
“We have affidavits from people at the addresses that were being used who didn’t know those claiming to live there.
“We come across illegal activity on such a scale of abuse and corruption that we had to report it to Labour head office.
“But that wasn’t enough to suspend the (former) candidate. There were complaints from so many people.”
Lutfur Rahman, the controversial figure he ousted as council leader in May, challenged the party’s national executive in the High Court last week over being dropped as candidate.
But his move was rejected by a judge and he quit the party. Now he is running against Labour as an independent on October 21.