Lutfur Rahman, Labour’s fundamentalist-backed candidate for mayor of Tower Hamlets, laid on a beanfeast to celebrate his selection the other day. Or rather, the powerful local businessmen who are his other, equally controversial backers did.
As text messages from Shiraj Haque, the local millionaire Mr Big sponsoring the Lutfur effort, put it: “You are cordially invited to attend the grand community endorsement & ’Lutfur for Mayor’ campaign launch and dinner on Tuesday 14th September at the Troxy on Commercial Road at 6pm. Special guest speakers, fabulous dinner followed by live entertainment – an event not to be missed! Be part of something amazing, be part of history in the making! Please register online to attend at www.lutfurrahman.com, thank you, shiraj haque.”
People who attended tell me that the “fabulous dinner” (free) was supplied by one of Mr Haque’s restaurants – which may, as the BBC found, be a mixed blessing. The “community endorsement” was only slightly less mono-racial than the 100 per cent Bangladeshi cabinet Lutfur proposed when he was council leader. Representatives of Tower Hamlets’ other communities were conspicuous by their almost complete absence. And in a possible sign that the message about Lutfur is sinking in, virtually none of the promised “guest speakers” turned up. Even Ken Livingstone, never one to let a sectional interest go unstroked, merely sent a video address.
The only key endorser actually physically present at the event was Baroness Uddin – yes, the woman accused of blatantly fiddling tens of thousands of pounds in her House of Lords expenses! That’ll get the swing voters flocking to the polls all right. (Though, given Lutfur’s documented practice of signing up entire families of fake “paper” voters to his cause, we can perhaps see why he isn’t too worried about the swing electorate.)
Yet for all the wariness – in some cases, outright hostility – of the Labour Party towards their new candidate (remember, they tried to block him from standing three times), some telling non-Labour support is swinging his way. George Galloway’s Respect party announced today that it would not be fielding a mayoral candidate of its own, and would throw its weight behind Candidate Rahman. As none other than Mr Galloway himself has put it: “Lutfur is the kind of mayor we need.”
Mr Galloway is, of course, the man who said, in a secret recording obtained by the Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches, that his 2005 parliamentary victory in Tower Hamlets owed “more than I can say, more than it would be wise for me to say, to the Islamic Forum of Europe.” Respect’s leader in Tower Hamlets, Abjol Miah, is a leading activist in the IFE. And it’s the IFE, the fundamentalist and Islamic supremacist group which wants to create a sharia state in Europe, that helped Lutfur Rahman take the council leadership back in 2008.
Are you noticing a convergence of interest here? And don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?