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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Lutfur Rahman is sacked as Labour candidate

It’s official. The Labour Party has today issued the following statement:

“Having received a number of serious allegations concerning both the eligibility of participating voters and the conduct of  Lutfur Rahman, the National Executive Committee has decided to investigate the allegations made.

“As a result, administrative action has been taken to remove Lutfur Rahman as a candidate pending the investigation. Nominations for Tower Hamlets mayor close this week and in the circumstances the NEC had no option but to impose another candidate.

“The NEC has voted to select Helal Abbas Uddin as Labour’s candidate.”

Breaking news: Lutfur Rahman reported to Electoral Commission and police

A housing estate in Tower Hamlets, east London (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty)
A housing estate in Tower Hamlets, east London (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty)

Peter Golds, leader of the opposition on Tower Hamlets council, has this morning reported Labour’s fundamentalist-linked candidate for mayor, Lutfur Rahman, to the police over his undeclared links with a number of powerful local businessmen. As previously detailed on this blog, it is alleged that Lutfur has received thousands of pounds in undeclared support from these backers – if true, a criminal offence under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act.

More on this when we get it.

Lutfur Rahman: undeclared donations, criminal offences?

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The selection of Lutfur Rahman as Labour candidate for mayor of Tower Hamlets is proving controversial

A complaint has been made to the Labour Party alleging massive irregularities, multiple breaches of party rules and at least one possible criminal offence in the selection of the fundamentalist-linked politician, Lutfur Rahman, as Labour’s candidate for directly-elected mayor of Tower Hamlets.

As we reported earlier this month, Mr Rahman has personally signed up entire families as sham “paper” members of the Labour Party to act as his personal “vote bank.” We found and filmed a number of these members, some of whom told us that they do not even support the party. Some of these members say that Mr Rahman also paid their subscriptions. Further sham addresses have been identified.

It has also emerged that a number – potentially dozens – of those who voted in the selection contest do not in fact live in Tower Hamlets and were thus not eligible to vote. One of Mr Rahman’s key supporters and organisers claims to be living in a single room in a shared house in Tower Hamlets. He is in fact married and lives with his wife in a suburban house in another borough.

A list compiled by other candidates in the contest, from their canvassing and door-knocking during the campaign, gives nearly 200 names of people who are on the Labour Party membership list – but who do not exist, do not live at the address they give, or were away, mostly in Bangladesh, on polling day. Some of the addresses given are commercial premises where nobody lives. Several of the names match people whom we have identified as Mr Rahman’s sham “paper” members. Not all of these people will necessarily have voted, or have voted for Mr Rahman – but since the turnout was 72 per cent, it is likely that many of them will.

The complaint alleges that Mr Rahman’s campaign is in massive breach of Labour’s rules for the selection contest, which set a cap for each candidate on “all cash expenditure, resources and donations in kind” of £1 per Tower Hamlets Labour Party member – or £1,217.

It alleges that Mr Rahman received funding, or support in kind, far greater than £1,217. His election leaflets, unlike those of the other candidates, were full-colour, glossy, professionally-printed – and were sent through the post to members, the complaint says. Mr Rahman also produced a number of other glossy, full-colour leaflets, including one announcing that he had been shortlisted. He had a sophisticated, professionally-designed website. A fleet of cars was operated to take his supporters to the poll, it is alleged.

Mr Rahman was three times kept off the shortlist by the Labour Party amid deep concerns about his links with Islamic fundamentalism, documented repeatedly on this blog, and with wealthy local businessmen. He only got on to the list after taking legal action. He used a solicitor, Makbool Javaid, who has often spoken at rallies of the now-banned pro-terrorist group, al Muhajiroun.

Mr Rahman’s side of the legal action, which cost the parties a total of £42,000, was funded by one of those wealthy businessmen, a Brick Lane restaurateur, Shiraj Haque – though he did get most of his money back from the Labour Party after he won the case. Mr Haque has openly stated that he paid Lutfur’s legal bills to two senior Tower Hamlets Labour Party elected representatives; they have in turn spoken to this blog.

Lutfur’s campaign leaflets and website are identical in design to those produced by the recent campaign to establish the office of directly-elected mayor. Mr Haque admits to me bankrolling the whole directly-elected mayor campaign but claims its leaflets’ similarity to Lutfur’s is purely a coincidence.

A celebration party for Lutfur was held at one of Mr Haque’s restaurants after the victory, at which leading local Islamic fundamentalists congratulated the candidate. Mr Haque organised a larger party for Lutfur at a ballroom on the Commercial Road this week.

Lutfur Rahman is a “regulated donee” under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendum Act and is required by law to report all donations worth over £1,500, in cash or in kind (or multiple donations from a single source totalling more than £1,500) within 30 days of accepting them. All the donations and alleged donations described above are reportable. However, the Electoral Commission has received no reports of donations from Lutfur. Failure to report donations is a criminal offence.

If Lutfur Rahman is elected mayor in October – and the Labour label makes it a likelihood – he will have effectively sole and complete control of Tower Hamlets council’s £1 billion budget.

Mr Rahman failed to respond to repeated text and telephone messages.

Lutfur Rahman: yet more backers he really shouldn't want

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?

Wind farms: the wind of change has started to blow

Wind turbines in the sea (Photo: PA)
Wind turbines in the sea (Photo: PA)

I agree with quite a lot of the green agenda – I’ve never had a car, I don’t do  much leisure flying, I recycle many of my jokes – but I confess I’ve never got the point of wind farms. As I wrote in June, we seem to be subjecting large parts of our countryside to environmental degradation for little, if any, real C02 benefit.

The average wind farm operates to only about a quarter of its capacity- because the wind often doesn’t blow. And even when it does blow, that can be at times – overnight, for instance – when the electricity it generates isn’t needed. (We can’t store electricity in large quantities – the power companies have to generate it at the exact moment when you want to use it.)

Now, as I reported in yesterday’s paper, there’s interesting news from the original Wind farm Central, Denmark. In the country with the world’s highest density of turbines per head, the political wind appears to be changing. The Danish government is phasing out the Gale Force 10 of public subsidy that, there as here, is the real life-force of the wind farm industry. Public opposition to the turbines is growing. As a result of these two things, Denmark’s state electricity company has decided to get out of onshore wind altogether.  We should follow – but of course, dear old Britain is still talking about ever more windmills.

The problem with British greens is not that they’ve misdiagnosed the problem – I’ve very little doubt that climate change is real. Even in the unlikely event that the science is wrong, it’s not a gamble we can afford to take. The problem is the unpopularity and ineffectiveness of many of their most cherished solutions.

Wind isn’t totally useless. But as an inherently intermittent and unpredictable resource, it simply can’t provide energy on anything like the scale we need. There are far better renewables– ground-source heat for instance – so why’s nobody talking about them? Perhaps it’s because you can’t see a ground-source heat pump (it is, as you might expect, buried under the ground.) A wind turbine, by contrast, is a tangible, visible source of political commitment and moral righteousness.

Boris Johnson's political skill

Borish Johnson after casting his vote in the General Election in Islington (Photo: PA)
Borish Johnson after casting his vote in the General Election in Islington (Photo: PA)

The saga of Boris Johnson’s will-he won’t-he announcement about standing as mayor in 2012 – finally resolved with his declaration today – demonstrates, once again, why his opponents should never underestimate his political skill.

His candidacy in 2012 was always a foregone conclusion, and in objective terms its announcement should have been a non-event. But by accident or calculation – and as always with Boris, you never know quite which – he has kept that non-event in the headlines for weeks.

Many of Boris’s enemies still show a fatal inability to take him seriously. They really should wise up, and soon.