Lutfur Rahman: Galloway jets in

George Galloway (Photo: PA)
George Galloway (Photo: PA)

Funniest news of the week so far is the solemn communique on the (surely satirical) Socialist Unity website that, now Lutfur Rahman has been sacked from the Labour candidacy for Tower Hamlets mayor, George Galloway “dramatically returned to London last night” for a “lengthy meeting with his closest advisers” about being the Respect candidate.

There are two excellent reasons why it is rather unlikely that the Gorgeous One will stand. First, he would probably lose quite badly – having come third, with 17 per cent of the vote, in Poplar and Limehouse at the last election – and I’m not sure his ego could take the humiliation. Second, even worse as far as George is concerned, is the (admittedly very remote) possibility that he might win.

A Mayor of Tower Hamlets has to live more or less full-time in the borough. He has to spend long days thinking about things like drains, and housing, and similar subjects of interest to us little people. He has to give up his lucrative radio show and can no longer lead glamorous Viva Palestina convoys to the Gaza Strip. Does any of that sound like George to you?

Respect’s statement is most interesting for the fact that it appears to rule out Lutfur standing for them. The only alternative candidate to Galloway it mentions is Abjol Miah. Abjol, as this blog has explained in loving detail, is a leading activist in the fundamentalist Islamic Forum of Europe, which wants a sharia state in Europe – the same crew backing Lutfur. Sadly, Abjol too was humiliated at the last election – after taking a starring, secretly-filmed role in our Channel 4 Dispatches documentary about the IFE. He’s not going to win anything.

For the IFE and the business interests looking to take control of the borough, Lutfur is still the focus. As I said to everyone who rang up to tell me about the sacking yesterday: it’s great news, but it’s not over till nominations close on Friday. Recognising this, Labour has already whipped its new candidate’s nomination papers down to the Town Hall and had them validated.

Lutfur’s sponsors appear today to have wheeled out that solicitor of theirs – yes, the one who spoke at all those al-Muhajiroun rallies! – for another canter round the legal course. If that fails, they could still stand their boy as an independent. That, of course, would end Lutfur’s career in the Labour Party – and it almost certainly wouldn’t be enough to win him the mayoralty either. Watch this space…

PS I’m hugely enjoying the contortions of the white left as they try to somehow spin the replacement of a Bengali candidate, Lutfur Rahman, with another Bengali candidate, Helal Abbas, as a sickening manifestation of ruling-class racism. Sadly they seem to have shot themselves in the foot with their furious denunications of Abbas. Surely it’s more racist to call him an “uncle Tom” (as I’ve seen on one lefty blog) than it is to question the credentials of Lutfur Rahman, a man who is now the subject of a police report?

PPS According to Ted Jeory’s blog, a left-wing Labour National Executive Committee member, Christine Shawcroft, has posted what purports to be a full account of yesterday’s crucial NEC meeting on her website. I received the same account anonymously by email myself last night – but disregarded it as clearly selective and an attempt by the left to write instant history to set up a betrayal thesis. It’s flattering to see how often I’m mentioned – not least in the unintended compliment of La Shawcroft describing my Dispatches as “rubbish.” Why not complain to Ofcom, Christine? The inimitable Keith Vaz, who played a part in getting Lutfur’s original block overturned, had a go at me too, with a claim I can only say is completely untrue – he might be hearing from m’learned friends about that one.

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