Respect back Labour candidate Lutfur Rahman in Tower Hamlets mayoral election

TOWER Hamlets Respect Party last night decided by an overwhelming majority not to stand a candidate in the mayoral election.

Instead the group, which campaigned for a ‘yes’ vote in May’s mayoral referendum, is calling on its supporters to back the Labour candidate Lutfur Rahman as Tower Hamlets’ first executive mayor.

A Respect spokesman said members of the group believe Mr Rahman has been the subject of a ‘witch hunt’ within his own party and was ‘demonised’ in the national press.

The group called the London Labour Group’s attempt to keep Mr Rahman off its mayoral selection shortlist ‘despicable’ and said it welcomed his subsequent landslide win over his rivals John Biggs and Helal Abbas.

It also welcomed Mr Rahman’s wish to build a broad coalition to protect disadvantaged East Enders against potential public sector spending cuts by the Coalition Government.

Repect’s former Bethnal Green and Bow MP George Galloway said: “We are proud of the crucial role Respect played in establishing a directly elected mayor in Tower Hamlets. This is a much more democratic system.

“I also stated that Lutfur Rahman was the kind of mayor we needed at the rally against the English Defence League three months ago.

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“I am very pleased that he has finally been selected as Labour’s mayoral candidate. He will have my support in this election on the basis that he will lead the fight against the cuts from this terrible Condem government.”

Respect said it will be vigorously contesting the forthcoming by-election in Spitalfields and Banglatown if Mr Rahman is elected as mayor of Tower Hamlets.