Tower Hamlets mayor candidate Rabina Khan launches her People’s Alliance manifesto challenging Labour
- Credit: Mike Brooke
A former leading member of ex-mayor Lutfur Rahman’s cabinet has promised a referendum to decide if Tower Hamlets should have an executive mayor after all if she gets elected to the office.
That was the pledge last night when councillor Rabina Khan launched her People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets party election manifesto for the May 3 polls.
She would also open her cabinet to other political parties including Labour which she is trying oust from control at the town hall.
Rabina is running for mayor as well as re-election as ward member for Shadwell where she has her power base.
Cllr Khan took on Labour’s John Biggs in the re-run 2015 election representing the rump of the group once dominated by her ex-boss Lutfur who was banned from office in the High Court for the corrupt election the year before.
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But she was narrowly defeated and went into opposition on the council as an independent.
Her re-branded Alliance party is severing any connection with the Rahman years —when she was cabinet member for housing—in its face-on challenge to Labour.
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Hundreds packed last night’s public launch at the Atrium venue in Bethnal Green with her rousing speech running for mayor.
She was supported by 30 prospective ward councillors hoping for a majority of the 42 seats on the council up for grabs on May 3 to form a People’s Alliance administration.
But the party’s appeal may seem narrow based with all but two of its candidates drawn from the Asian community and half the speeches at the launch in Bengali, with the largely ethnic audience separated into men and women sections.
Rabina responded after the rally when asked by the East London Advertiser if her party was targeting the Asian-Muslim vote, saying: “Not at all—we’ve opened up for all people. But we have to make sure we work harder to attract more (non-Asian candidates).”
She was Lutfur Rahman’s nominated candidate in 2015 re-run election after he was barred from office, but was now anxious to distance her People’s Alliance from his now-banned Tower Hamlets First party.
“We have been campaigning in different issues for the past two-and-a-half years,” Rabina insists. “Our approach is to be unified and open.
“I may not have won the election in 2015, but did learn something—that we have to listen to what people want and address things from the past before we move forward, to make sure we are far more open.”
The People’s Alliance party manifesto promises free homecare for the elderly and disabled, an employment and enterprise board to create 2,000 new jobs and training places, investment in nurseries and youth centres, ‘zero’ tolerance on hate crime, enforcement to protect private renters, more cash to pay for police officers to tackle rising crime and freezing council tax.