Back in the 1980s, Labour knew it had beaten Militant when its sympathisers left the party and stood separately in elections under their own label. They could then be easily and quickly thrown out: the one universally-accepted ground for expulsion from the Labour Party is fighting against a Labour candidate.
The decision by eight of Tower Hamlets’ Labour councillors to appear at a press conference backing the sacked fundamentalist-linked politician, Lutfur Rahman, in his Independent bid to become the borough’s directly elected mayor could be a similar moment. The eight are Oli Rahman, Lutfa Begum, Rania Khan, Alibor Choudhury, Ohid Ahmed, Aminur Khan, Rabina Khan, and Shelina Aktar.
Not all of these people are fundamentalist sympathisers – Oli Rahman, for instance, is not – but a number of them, just like Lutfur, are individuals with close links to the hardline Muslim supremacist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe.
Alibor Choudhury, for instance, is closely connected to the IFE, and a former employee of one of its front organisations. He is also a man with a troubled history. In 2006 he appeared in court on charges of violent disorder. The trial was stayed at the committal stage – on the grounds, he insists, of “abuse of process.”
Labour has been worried about some of these people for a while. Now is their opportunity to act against them. And if they don’t, it could encourage other people to feel safe in joining the Lutfur campaign.