Shiraj Haque, a key backer of ex-Mayor Lutfur Rahman’, has abandoned Tower Hamlets First, is calling for an end to confrontational politics and encouraging residents to vote for the Labour candidate John Biggs.
“At the last election, many people who voted usually vote for the Lib Dems, the Conservative party or Labour voted for Lutfur. I would ask people to vote this time for the best option and that is to elect a Labour mayor, ” said Mr. Haque in an interview with Ted Jeory.
“John Biggs is the candidate. He’s a nice guy, I get on well with him. He has a sense of humour, a dry sense of humour and that’s sometimes difficult for people to understand, but he’s a nice man and we can work together, ” continued Mr. Haque.
Formation of Tower Hamlets First ‘total disaster’
In his interview with Ted Jeory Mr. Haque said the formation of Tower Hamlets First had been a “total disaster”.
While some in the borough might be sceptical of the 180 degree turn by Mr. Haque his press statement (below) should be read in full.
That a man of his stature in the community is prepared to stand up and call for an end to the confrontational politics fostered by the ex-Mayor and his heir apparent Rabina Khan should be applauded.
Statement issued by Shiraj Haque
TOWER HAMLETS COMMUNITY LEADERS ENCOURAGE POLITICAL CHANGE IN THE BOROUGH
Senior Tower Hamlets community leaders have come together to declare their support for mainstream political engagement in the borough ahead of the upcoming by-election for Executive Mayor on 11June 2015.
Shiraj Haque, who spearheaded the ‘Yes For Mayor’ campaign and backed the candidacy of former Mayor Lutfur Rahman, heads a coalition of influential locals, who have been the catalyst for change in the borough, to push for a shift of political focus amongst the community based around existing political ideologies and away from the emergence of new and independent parties.
The turmoil Tower Hamlets has undergone in recent months has resulted in the council being controlled by the administration of Central Government appointed Commissioners, which we consider to be completely against the spirit of democratic principles. Democracy seems to have been forgotten when it comes to this great Borough – we worked hard to establish the Executive Mayor system to make politics more transparent and leaders accountable for their actions – the removal of the democratically elected Mayor has brought the borough in disarray and we want to fix this.
We supported Lutfur Rahman in 2010, originally the Labour Party candidate, due to his aspirations and ideology as a local Labour leader. The community backed him through votes and unfortunately he was ousted from the party, yet our support for him did not waiver.
Our message was very clear that we will support a candidate that was democratically selected by the party members and we will remain committed to deliver the Labour values . Lutfur Rahman won by the overwhelming majority as the independent Mayor of Tower Hamlets. Our protest against undemocratic acts of a few individual members of the party was successful. Our core team devised a strategy of engagement in reconciliation and devised a policy which benefits the whole community .
Our decision was that the Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his team will re-join the Labour Party. Sadly that did not materialise.
We found politics of the town hall continued to be hostile, and the behaviour of the mayor’s team gradually became arrogant. In general the political environment of Tower Hamlets was becoming confrontational. We observed that the main opposition parties also did not contribute or offer any way out of that unhealthy and unfriendly political culture. We reluctantly remained silent during the last election. We also observed that Lutfur Rahman set up his own political party in order to consolidate his grief over conterminated political climate which continues to create secretarian politics which many right-minded individuals cannot accept at all.
We believe political aspirations of our community cannot be pursued through secretarian politics, independent mayorial options cannot be a continuous process as it is not going to develop a political culture of diversity and community cohesion.
- Our aspirations can only be achievable or realised through mainstream political association not by isolation.
- Recent general election provided two more Members of Parliament of Bangladeshi origin. That was also achieved through mainstream political association.
- Our support to Lutfur Rahman was protest against injustice, intervention against rights of individuals. Which the constitution of the Labour Party supposed to protect and we are sure all parties involved realise that people did speak loudly and clearly against that.
Current confrontational political crisis created in our borough is undesirable, it’s only served to fuel more hatred between our diverse community.
We appeal to all enlightened members of our community to act and behave responsibly in our forthcoming elections. We must take an active role to advise the community to make the right decisions to restore the credibility of the community for the sake of our future.
- We must come out of confrontational politics
- The time for war is over
- We must engage positively to reconciliation
- All parties involved must show restraint and common sense
- We believe Labour Party also realise that going against wishes of party members was very strong and decisive, and must not undermine their wishes.
- Confrontation never provides peace and harmony between communities. It’s only understanding and respect of each other’s culture and religion can establish a society of tolerance and co-existence.
Now is the time to move forward and learn from the past, build and shape the politics of Tower Hamlets where we can all live together as one community regardless of colour, creed or political association .