While I was on holiday, the Labour Party drew up the shortlist for the vital candidacy for Tower Hamlets’ directly-elected mayor. Many in the borough were deeply worried that this powerful new post could revive the political career of Lutfur Rahman, the former Labour council leader deposed after I exposed his links with an Islamist fundamentalist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe, in the Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches in March. The IFE wants to create a sharia state in Europe and has hosted many extremist speakers.
On my programme, Cllr Rahman refused to deny that the IFE had helped him win the council leadership. He led an administration in which there were clear signs of Islamic fundamentalist influence. Large sums of council money were channelled to various community organisations closely connected to the IFE.
Cllr Rahman’s name was kept off Labour’s mayoral shortlist, along with that of his anti-IFE successor and rival, the current council leader, Helal Abbas. The sighs of relief were premature, however. Tonight, Labour announced that the shortlisting process is to be re-run following a complaint, believed to be from Cllr Rahman. The choice of a candidate, due to have taken place by membership ballot from Saturday, has been postponed.
A spokesman said: “The complaint has been looked at carefully. While the Labour Party does not accept that it has any substance, to ensure transparency and fairness to all potential candidates, all long-listed candidates will be re-interviewed by a different panel to be appointed by the NEC.”
Lutfur lives again? That’ll make for interesting news coverage of the mayoral election! Watch this space…