Community news and investigative journalism for Wapping E1W and Tower Hamlets London

Exclusive: Lutfur Rahman making political comeback with new party

Disgraced ex-Mayor Lutfur Rahman is to unveil a new political party, ‘Tower Hamlets Together’, when he launches his political comeback this weekend.

In addition to fundraising from businesses and individuals Rahman has also ensured the continued support of Islamic Forum Europe (IFE) in a meeting with Jailu Rahman Head of IFE Bangla Section, facilitated by local councillor and IFE member Mahbub Alam (St. Dunstan’s Independent Group).

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Best of friends -Mahbub and Lutfur at the 2014 Troxy count.

At the launch event at the Blue Moon in Mile End Road on Sunday 29th January Lutfur Rahman is set to announce his chosen candidates to contest the 2018 local and Mayoral elections and outline his comeback plan to the community.

The Blue Moon is a noticeable come down for Rahman in that he is making his return to politics at a venue which only has a capacity for around 100 people. When in power Rahman regularly attracted audiences of between 700 and 1,000 at the Water Lilly function rooms.

Lutfur Rahman’s return to the political stage will be launched less than two years after being dismissed from office for corrupt practice on 23 April 2015 for five years and a full 16 months before the 2018 elections to decide the next directly-elected Mayor and local councillors.

Rahman has already formally endorsed Cllr. Ohid Ahmed (Lansbury Independent Group) as his candidate for contest to be the next Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets.

“I will do everything I can to help him win back the Mayoralty”

Quoted in the Bangla Mirror Rahman said “As one of my key former Cabinet colleagues and Deputy Mayor of Tower Hamlets I know Cllr. Ohid Ahmed has the experience and passion to make a genuine difference to improving the lives of everyone in Tower Hamlets. I will do everything I can to help him win back the mayoralty.”

Unlike previous elections in 2018 Lutfur Rahman will not have total control of the entire electoral process and will not be able to use the Council administration or its Youth Services wing as a publicly funded extension of his political machine, aided and abetted by Islamic Forum Europe who are in turn the public front of Jamaat-e-Islami.

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Best of friends – Jailu and Mahbub

A caption of the Facebook photograph showing Cllr. Alam meeting with Jailu Rahman Head of IFE Bangla Section in a local Costa Coffee reads “Great time over tea with a great person. Received many words of spiritual wisdom.”

The Facebook post has since been removed. Why? Something secret going on?

Here is Atikur Rahman Jillu speaking at a Dua for the Aswami League at the Water Lily in January 2013.

 

“Tower Hamlets First is being reborn”

Islamic Forum Europe (IFE), acknowledged to have a formidably efficient street canvassing team that encompasses the entire borough, has already been busy well in advance of the next local elections.

Active on the streets of Poplar before Christmas 2016 the IFE machine has more recently been active in the Bethnal Green and Hackney areas.

One local resident, who did not wish to be named, told LW that “Tower Hamlets First is being reborn” in their neighbourhood as they recognised the same people from previous election working the doorsteps in the same way.

“Clearing up the cost and mess”

john-biggs-demo-630x300Unsurprisingly our current democratically-elected Mayor is not that impressed by the latest move of his disgraced predecessor.

“We live in a democracy and any group are free to form a party. However, both he, and the newly formed ‘People’s Alliance’ will have difficulty escaping from their corrupt, divisive and discredited roots, and the fact that their misbehaviour has cost local people millions of pounds in misappropriated funds,”  Mayor John Biggs in a statement to Love Wapping.

“My first 18 months as Mayor has included real progress, but an awful lot of it has been spent clearing up the chaos and mess that they left behind. This is continuing, and highlights each day to me how utterly awful their leadership was behind the slogans.”

Rabina Khan’s road from THING to PATH

Rabina Khan, Cabinet Member for Housing in the Rahman administration, ran against Labour’s John Biggs in the court ordered rerun of the rigged 2014 Mayoral election and did very well indeed with over 26,000 votes against the nearly 33,000 for Biggs after the second preference and final count.

Khan is regarded as one of the most able street politicians in the Borough although not so competent in the Council chamber and has yet to show clear water between herself and the corruption of Lutfur Rahman.

She was one of the Tower Hamlets First councillors deemed elected ‘with the benefit of corrupt and illegal practices’  by Justice Mawrey but have remained in their positions ever since.

Since 2014 Rahman’s Tower Hamlets First party has morphed into the loose alliance known as the Tower Hamlets Independent Group (aka THING) and another group led by Cllr Rabina Khan (Shadwell People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets).

In November 2016 Rabina and her husband, Islamic Forum Europe stalwart Aminur Khan, quit THING and formed the People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets (PATH) . Current members of PATH are:

  • Rabina Khan (Shadwell People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets)
  • Shafi Ahmed (Whitechapel People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets)
  • Shah Alam (Mile End People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets)
  • Abdul Asad (Shadwell People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets)
  • Aminur Khan (Shadwell People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets)

Who are ‘Tower Hamlets Together’?

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The only documentation on the Electoral Commission site relating to the Tower Hamlets Together application.

The Wapping Mole discovered the existence of the application by ‘Tower Hamlets First’ ‘ Tower Hamlets Together’ (above) submitted on 23rd December 2016 to become a registered political party by pure chance despite the incredibly bad functionality of the Electoral Commission site.

(The Electoral Commission site is not fit for purpose as it makes it more difficult to undertake basic research into UK political parties, not easier. As such it is a fundamental obstacle for anyone wishing to find out about political developments in Tower Hamlets or any other part of the country.

But then as the events of the last few years in Tower Hamlets have demonstrated the Electoral Commission itself is not fit for purpose, so at least it’s website is consistent with its real world activities.)

Some clues as to the heritage of THT can be gleaned from the proposed logo of THT and the logo of Tower Hamlets First.

THT-and-THF-logos

Compare and contrast. Tower Hamlets Together logo and the Tower Hamlets First logo.

Can you spot the difference? Answers on a postcard please (or a tweet).

A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission was unable to provide LW with any details of the people or organisations who have submitted the ‘Tower Hamlets Together’ application but said: “If the application contains all of the correct information, we aim to let the applicant know the result of their application within 30 working days of receipt of a completed application. The guidance also states that we don’t make the details of party officers public until the party has been registered. At that point the names of the officers and the address of their party headquarters is made available on our website.”

The Electoral Commission application also details proposed descriptions for Tower Hamlets First as:

  1. Tower Hamlets Together
  2. Bringing Tower Hamlets Together
  3. Stronger Together
  4. Better Together
  5. We can together

The alternative descriptions may well be the subject of a future LW alternative logo competition for Tower Hamlets Together.

Tower Hamlets residents need not be rocket scientists or brain surgeons to work out that ‘Tower Hamlets Together’ is almost certainly going to consist of the current Tower Hamlets Independent Group of councillors as listed below:

  • Cllr. Ohid Ahmed (Lansbury Independent Group)
  • Cllr. Sulu Ahmed (Spitalfields & Banglatown Independent Group)
  • Cllr. Mahbub Alam (St. Dunstan’s Independent Group)
  • Cllr. Gullam Kabria Choudhury (Poplar Independent Group)
  • Cllr. Harun Miah (Shadwell Independent Group)
  • Cllr. Md. Maium Miah (Canary Wharf Independent Group)
  • Cllr. Muhammad Ansar Mustaquim (St Peter’s Independent Group)
  • Cllr. Oliur Rahman (Stepney Green Independent Group)
  • Cllr. Gulam Robbani (Spitalfields & Banglatown Independent Group)

You can view all the different political parties in Tower Hamlets on the Council website although this is subject to change, sometimes on a minute by minute basis.

Solicitors Tribunal proceedings

LW has also been trying to ascertain the status of disciplinary proceedings against Lutfur Rahman from the Solicitors Tribunal but at the time of publication we could only see that there is a substantive hearing scheduled from Tuesday 7 to Friday 10 March 2017 but that’s it for the moment.

Another challenge to the electoral petition?

We have also heard rumours that Lutfur is challenging the decision of the electoral petition once again – but this may just be a rumour. All we know is that we didn’t start it. Honest.

LW Comment

It is widely known in political circles that Lutfur Rahman and his team used Islamic Forum Europe to rig the 2010 Tower Hamlets referendum on the issue of the need for a directly elected Mayor (answer – yes) and the subsequent 2010 Mayoral election (winner – Lutfur Rahman) in addition to the 2014 Mayoral election (winner – Lutfur Rahman) and that few if any of the ward elections for councillors have been left untainted by his supporters.

Only in the last year have details emerged of the different ways that Lutfur Rahman corrupted the Borough and many details still remain unknown.

The hard reality is that Rahman still has supporters in the current administration who are only too willing to frustrate what Mayor Biggs is trying to do.

Although the new corporate directors are adamant not to let Rahman style corruption re-enter the administration (if it ever left of course) it is not at all clear that they know how to rid the council of the people who facilitate the corruption.

Mayor Biggs is to be congratulated for the advances he has already made in getting the Borough working again, but he has had neither the time or resources to fully tackle corruption. Let’s hope the Clean Up team get some results.

As Love Wapping knows from its own investigations there are still officers in the Council who are actively covering up details of corruption and will do whatever they can to block current and future investigations as they have previous investigations.

This is why no-one has ever been arrested for criminal wrongdoing, let alone be convicted and jailed.

Those of cynical nature may consider that as PATH gives each councillor the title <Ward Name> People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets and THF THT the Independent Group gives each of their team the remarkably similar title <Ward Name> Independent Group that they might be mistaken for being one party with two different factions.

LW will not be drawing any comparisons with the differences between Monty Python’s Judean People’s Front and People’s Front of Judea. And let’s not mention Judean Popular People’s Front.

Joking aside it seems that the future of Tower Hamlets politics will be the same as its past, all strategy influenced by the actions of one man instead of the 260,000 residents.

If the Mayoral candidate of Tower Hamlets Together wins the 2018 Mayoral election it is quite likely, almost a certainty, that the day Lutfur Rahman’s ban from public office ends the elected Mayor will stand aside and let Lutfur Rahman take his place.

And it will all start again.

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There Are 3 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Lesley says:

    One of the issues highlighted during The Enquiry was that the old party had no finance checks and balances and in fact not even a bank account how can we make sure that doesn’t happen again?

    • Mark Baynes says:

      Good point Lesley – although thinking about it was it not the case that Justice Mawrey said that Tower Hamlets First were not technically a political party?

  2. Gloria Thienel says:

    Appalling, disgraceful, should be in jail for what he did to Tower Hamlets

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