Rebel Bow councillor accuses Labour of 'bullying' after budget meeting
PUBLISHED: 12:07 06 March 2014 | UPDATED: 12:07 06 March 2014
A rebel Labour councillor has accused his party of "bullying and intimidation" in a council budget meeting at which he says his microphone was unplugged in order to silence him.
Cllr Anwar Khan of Bow West ward, an outspoken critic of Labour since his deselection as a candidate for the May elections, also slammed his party’s budget proposals as “laughable”.
He said: “I tried to speak on behalf of my constituents and I was forcefully silenced. If the former leader of the Labour group thinks he can behave like that in the council chamber, imagine what goes on behind closed doors.”
Since his deselection in December, Cllr Khan has accused Labour’s mayoral candidate John Biggs of racism against “outspoken Bengalis”.
He continued: “There’s a diseased culture in Tower Hamlets Labour party. Bullying and intimidation are rife and any Bangladeshi who doesn’t know their place is reminded quickly and ruthlessly.”
Cllr Khan also said Labour were playing politics with their proposal for free primary school meals, which he and Mayor Lutfur Rahman have said is only costed for two school terms.
He said: “The proposals were laughable. I represent some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the UK during a time of recession and cuts - I couldn’t vote for such terrible policies.”
The accusations were rejected by the Labour party, which has said it’s free meals policy is fully costed.
Cllr Sirajul Islam, leader of the Labour group, said: “Anwar Khan’s repeated outbursts at last week’s meeting, including shouting a tirade of abuse at fellow councillors, was totally unacceptable.
“While I understand that Anwar will be disappointed that Labour have raised the bar in order to put the best possible team of candidates before the people of Tower Hamlets in May’s borough council elections, that is no excuse for his actions.”
He added: “Anwar’s actions at the meeting made it plain to see why he was not selected to stand as a Labour candidate.”
The free school meals proposal will be decided on at a re-run of last week’s budget meeting tonight at the Town Hall, with the mayor announcing an alternate plan written by council officers.