Four more Labour councillors join Rahman’s administration

Independent mayor Lutfur Rahman is one step closer to appointing a full cabinet as he announced today that four Labour councillors would be joining his administration.

Holding out an olive branch to the party – the largest group in Tower Hamlets - the directly elected mayor urged other Labour councillors to put aside “petty politics” and work with him.

Mr Rahman stood as Labour’s candidate for the mayorship last year but had to re-stand as an Independent after allegations of vote rigging.

But Labour’s National Executive Committee said after investigating the claims that Mr Rahman would have won the election regardless of the disputed votes.

This latest show of support means Mr Rahman is a step closer to gaining a majority in the chamber which would allow him to drive through future policies with ease.

Mr Rahman said today: “I have consistently appealed to members of the Labour party to work with me. These Labour councillors have had the courage, conviction and progressive ideals to back my budget.”

He added that he “strongly believes” other councillors will join his administration in due course.

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Some of the councillors may soon be given cabinet posts to add to the five-member team he appointed earlier this year.

It is not yet clear whether the four councillors - Shahed Ali, Abdul Asad, Rofique Uddin Ahmed and Shafiqul Haque – will be allowed to remain in the Labour party.

Speaking of his decision to join the Independent mayor, Mr Asad, who is Tower Hamlets’ longest serving Bangladeshi councillor, said: “There’s not much difference between the Labour manifesto and the mayor’s. 98 per cent of the budget the Labour group agreed with.

“Lutfur Rahman is a professional and he has close links with the community of Tower Hamlets.”

The four councillors, along with other members of the Labour party, voted for the mayor’s budget earlier this year.

The London Labour Party said it has written to the four councillors to ask them to clarify whether they intend to advise the cabinet or become members - roles which could put their Labour affiliation at risk.

A spokesman said: “Following the mayoral elections in Tower Hamlets last year, the Labour group of councillors on Tower Hamlets agreed that where possible, Labour councillors should work with the directly elected Mayor in the interests of the people of Tower Hamlets, but not to be members of, or advisers to, his cabinet.”