Defeated Tower Hamlets Labour boss Helal Abbas vows to fight on

DEFEATED Labour chief Helal Abbas has vowed to lead a “strong and united” party against new Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman.

Mr Abbas told the Advertiser he has no plans to quit his role as head of the party or cllr of Spitalfields and Banglatown ward, despite a humiliating defeat during Thursday’s mayoral election.

He said: “I will continue to represent my ward.

“I think we have a genuine group of Labour members. It’s a solid base. We’ll work together to build a stronger party.

“Our job now is to ensure that services are provided for local people. We’ll continue to do that.”

Mr Abbas polled less than half that of his rival, with 11,254 votes to Mr Rahman’s 23,283 – despite predictions that the race would be tight.

Independent Mr Rahman was deselected from the Labour party last month after allegations over the eligibility of voters and his conduct in the selection vote.

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Mr Abbas, who became the leader of the council for the second time after May’s local elections, was chosen to replace him by Labour’s National Executive, despite being the third choice of the local Labour party, behind London Assembly member John Biggs.

Eight Labour councillors defected to Mr Rahman’s campaign after the drama.

But Mr Abbas insists that the party is united.

He added: “I doubt that any more members will defect but that’s a decision for them. I’m not aware of any decisions that have been made since the election.”

And on whether he will stand for the Labour leadership at the next mayoral election, Mr Abbas said: “That’s not a matter I’m concentrating on at present. I’ve got a great deal of challenges and am occupied with other things.”