Labour’s Harriet Harman tells supporters Tower Hamlets mayoral result is crucial

LABOUR’S deputy leader Harriet Harman has warned activists that the fight to win the Tower Hamlets mayoral election was too important to lose.

Speaking at a rally for 100 party members and supporter in Bethnal Green this afternoon she told activists it was a fight between the Labour candidate Helal Abbas and Independent Lutfur Rahman.

She urged members “don’t be distracted by sectarianism.”

On the narrow pavement outside the rally in St Margaret’s Hall, in Old Ford Road another 100 supporters of Lutfur Rahman stood with placards protesting Labour’s decision to drop him as their candidate after its National Executive Committee received a dossier of concerns about his selection. Police stood by to keep an eye on events and prevent people going into the road.

Ms Harman said: “There are always degrees of controversy about the selection process.”

She added that once an investigation is launched the evidence is heard by the NEC.

In her speech designed to rally activists Ms Harman told them that with forthcoming cuts: ”I do not see how an independent mayor can possibly deliver all that has to be delivered.”

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She added: “If you are a member of the party and believe in the principles and values of the party you have solidarity with the party. Nobody has the right to be a candidate.

“We put the local community first, not ourselves first.”

Bethnal Green and Bow’s MP Rushanara Ali who reclaimed the seat from Respect at the General Election. told the gathering: “What we do not want is division creeping back in. I will not sit back and tolerate it. I will speak out against it.”

She added: “We are facing difficult times as a borough. The Coalition government is introducing significant cuts.”

She said she believed Tower Hamlets needed a mayor from a mainstream party to fight for public funding and jobs.

Labour’s candidate council leader Helal Abbas said: “It’s about all of us working together, it’s about older people, vulnerable people and our children.”

He added: “I give my commitment that I will always fight for the people of Tower Hamlets so we can build a stronger community for all of us.”

Outside the hall councillor Lutfa Begum said she felt an injustice had been done by de-selecting cllr Rahman as Labour’s candidate.

Long time Labour supporter Farida Parvin said this time she would be supporting Mr Rahman as she felt he would speak up for people.

Voters go to the polls next Thursday (October 21).

The candidates are Conservative Neil King; Green Alan Duffell; Independent Lutfur Rahman; Labour Helal Abbas and Liberal Democrat John Griffiths.