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Five Labour councillors expelled from party triggering accusations of racism

PUBLISHED: 17:33 04 July 2012

Five members of Tower Hamlets council have been expelled from the Labour Party following claims they campaigned against the Party in April's Spitalfields by-election.

Councillors Kabir Ahmed, Rofique Ahmed, Shahed Ali, Abdul Asad and Shafiqul Haque were contacted by Labour to inform them that their membership of the Party has been terminated. Labour Party rules prohibit members from campaigning for other parties or candidates in any elections.

Four of the councillors were also reprimanded for their membership of Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s independent cabinet, of which Kabir Ahmed is not a member.

Speaking to The Advertiser, Tower Hamlets’ Labour group leader Joshua Peck welcomed the Party’s decision.

He said: “I am very pleased the party has now expelled the councillors, who have clearly broken the rules in campaigning for other candidates. This should be seen as a real signal that we are serious about applying the rules.

“The five expelled councillors have consistently voted and campaigned against the Labour Party. Whilst it is sad that it has had to come to this, these five councillors made their choice and now have to deal with the consequences”, councillor Peck added.

Labour claim the councillors breached the rules in the build-up to April’s Spitalfields by-election, in which independent candidate Gulam Robbani defeated Labour’s Ala Uddin by just 43 votes.

One of the expelled councillors, Shahed Ali, accused the Party of racism, and claimed he was in Bangladesh between March 22 and April 29, so could not have campaigned in the by-election.

He cited the lack of action taken following Lord Sugar’s tweet urging his followers not to support Ken Livingstone in the run-up to London’s Mayoral election as evidence of differing standards set by Labour according to the race of its members.

Councillor Ali said: “Obviously I am very disappointed with the decision, but what concerns me even more is the racism and discrimination taking place here.

“The only reason the rules apply differently to me is because of my skin colour, and for a Party which speaks so mech of equality to then act like that is really bad. I am sure that’s not the picture Ed Miliband wants to see in his Party.”

Labour dispute the allegations, and claim that Mr Ali breached the rules by appearing on the campaign leaflet of independent councillor Gulam Robbani. MP for Poplar and Limehouse, Jim Fitzpatrick, said: “The rules are the rules, and colleagues know that if they break those rules, there’s a possibility of sanctions, so the expulsion is fair and reasonable.”

Mr Fitzpatrick also went on to reject the allegations of racism, describing them as “stupid nonsense.”

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