Mayor says ‘McCarthyist’ critics fuel the EDL

Mayor Lutfur Rahman has been accused of hitting a “new low” after saying the local Labour Party started a witch-hunt against him.

Labour also rejected his claim their criticisms of him have been “picked up and amplified by the English Defence League” and “other parts of the local and national media”.

The article by the mayor, in an online newspaper last Wednesday, discussed anti-Muslim bigotry in some of the press.

Mr Rahman wrote that his problems with sections of the media started when his “local opponents on the right wing of the Labour Party” disagreed with him being selected as Labour’s mayoral candidate in 2008.

He said: “Their lurid claims that I was ‘extremist linked’ were taken to the Labour Party National Executive Committee and my candidature was blocked, re-instated and blocked again.

“I have no doubt that this latter day McCarthyism gave the green light to sections of the media to do its worst.”

Cllr Sirajul Islam, leader of the Labour group, said: “We know that the mayor is afraid of any public scrutiny, but this is a new low to avoid what are genuine concerns about the approach of his administration.

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“The mayor knows full well that Labour have campaigned consistently against the EDL.

“To suggest otherwise is nothing but a cynical and sad attempt to use the EDL’s deeply divisive agenda to further his own personal political aims.”

Labour added that Mr Rahman was expelled for standing as an independent candidate in breach of party rules.

The word “McCarthyism” refers to Joseph McCarthy, an American senator in the 1950s who led a ‘witch-hunt’ against supposed communists that cost many people their jobs for their political beliefs.

In the piece, Mr Rahman called on Labour leader Ed Miliband to “get a grip” on the local Labour party and “stop the borough being exploited by sections of the media”.