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

Lifting the lid on Tower Hamlets politics Part 1 – Helal Abbas for Mayor?

By on September 7, 2017 in Elections 2018, Lutfur Rahman

Cllr. Khales Uddin Ahmed (Labour, Bromley North)

This is the first of two posts that may shed some light on Tower Hamlets politics. Or might just confuse us all even more than we are already. You can read the second post here. 

Attempting to discover what really goes on in Tower Hamlets politics is extremely problematic. One reason is that the vagaries of the political antics of the Bangladeshi community plays an understandably pivotal role.

Not being fluent in Bangladeshi is a significant drawback for those outsiders who wish to find out what is really going on. Very frustrating. 

Then some nice person sends you a couple of videos and all is revealed! How handy.

LW has recently been made aware of two videos which have been in circulation on social media for some time.

Oliur RAHMAN, Independent, Poplar & Limehouse

Cllr. Oliur RAHMAN, Independent, Poplar & Limehouse

We have reason to believe that the first video was created by someone close to Cllr. Oliur Rahman who may be a bit miffed with him. Oops.

Lutfur playing games? Naughty Lutfur!

And we have been told that the second video has been published on the express orders of Lutfur Rahman to damage the reputation of Labour Cllr. Khales Uddin Ahmed.

Neither video shows either Cllr. Oliur (as he is usually known) or Cllr. Khales (as he is usually known) in a good light.

Of course this may be just what Lutfur intended.

The first video below was sent to us anonymously and is claimed to be the audio of a very interesting phone call between Cllr. Oliur Rahman (Independent Group) and Cllr. Khales Uddin Ahmed (Labour).

Thankfully the video includes a transcript and you will also find the full verbatim text below. To make this intelligible to the widest audience possible we have also included a ‘Cast of Characters’ below.

LW also asked two Bengali speaking friends to check the English language transcript against the Bengali audio. They both confirmed that in their opinion it is accurate. (Any LW readers with views on this please get in touch.)

We never said this stuff was simple! Have a look for yourselves.

 

Video transcript of phone conversation between Cllr. Khales and Cllr. Oliur

It is believed the phone call took place in the run-up to the 2016 local by-election in Whitechapel that was caused by the previous incumbent being nicked and doing time. 

Cllr Khales Uddin Ahmed: Shafi wins he will go in your group, Rabina will go in your group. The elders will sit down and sort you guys out. There is a lot of tension around us. Let it all calm down we will sort everything, remain calm.

Cllr Oliur Rahman: What opportunity do you want from us?

KUA: Give us the opportunity, Shiraj Bhai (Shiraj Hoque) said we need to make Abbas Mayor then allow us to make Ohid quiet.

KUA: Make Ohid calm, let Rabina jump around uselessly then she will go quiet and we will all sit and decide what to do.

OR: Ohid is calm, he isn’t jumping like Rabina

KUA: Don’t worry we will sort it.

KUA: Let me see if we can do this trigger (John Biggs trigger ballot)

OR: How will you trigger (remover John Biggs) when you have a women’s forum meeting, your so-called niece is encouraging women in Stepney to come and vote.

KUA: from Stepney

OR: I have been in Stepney all day and I know what’s going on

KUA: How many women from Stepney is she taking?

OR: Loads I can give you addresses

KUA: Text me their addresses I will stop them

OR: and you tell Rabina…

Interesting, no? But is it true, is it mischief making or is it something else? Below is the response by Cllr. Khales.

Statement by Cllr. Khales

“I am writing as response to the YouTube videos being distributed purporting to be genuine conversation between me and Cllr. Oliur Rahman of the Independent Group of Councillors. First the conversation is heavily edited, second the transcript is misleading. Therefore the making, production and distribution of the video is defamatory, the sole purpose being to cause distress and anxiety to me and my family. One of the videos claims that I made sexist and racist comments but any fluent speaker of the Sylheti dialect will attest that I never made such statements.

The highly edited audio recordings do not reflect the fact that when Cllr Olliur rang me, he was highly distressed and was shouting at me, I used the conversation in order to calm him down and isolate what the substantive issue was as to why he was so aggressive towards me. Nor does the highly edited audio recording show the leading nature of the questions and conversation on the side of Cllr Olliur.

From my recollection the conversation took place early November 2016, before the first Tower Hamlets Labour Party Trigger Ballot (Reselection of sitting Labour candidate for the position of Executive Mayor). Afterwards, in the meantime I have been administratively suspended from the Labour Party, investigated and cleared of all charges, therefore it is no surprise that these malicious highly edited audio recordings should appear 9 months after the event, after a failed attempt to discredit and expel me from the Labour Party.

Technical analysis of one of the video shows that one of the video, with certainty was put up by the Independent Group of Councillors formerly, Lutfur Rahman’s “Tower Hamlets First”. It is no surprise that they are tirelessly working against me, as I took pride in tirelessly working against them and succeeding in bringing their corrupt regime down through the electoral court judgment.

What is surprising is the involvement of Labour Party members in this, through the very own admission of Cllr Olliur Rahman, who confessed to me after I confronted him with regards to the recordings. I have put in a complaint to the Labour Party about the activities of these members, who are not only bringing the party into disrepute but are working hand in hand with individuals that are in opposition to the Labour Party and it’s values.

The recordings were made, edited and distributed without my consent, and are malicious in nature. After seeking advice, I have reported the above to the Police as a potential breach of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 (MCA).

As the matter is now being investigated by the Police as well as the Labour Party, I will refrain from any further comments on the issue. But I will finish by saying, that I am proud of the stance I took against the then Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his cronies within Tower Hamlets. The fact that he is still agitated by me and with attempts to discredit my name shows that I must be doing something right. Malicious attempts such as these are part and parcel of the slings and arrows one faces in the pursuit justice, therefore the mental wounds that I receive from such gutter politics, I wear with pride, as a price worth paying to clean up the politics of Tower Hamlets.

With Regards,

Cllr Khales Uddin Ahmed”

That’s a fairly categorical denial.

In a phone conversation Cllr. Khales again denied that he was involved in any attempt to get Helal Abbas elected Mayor and also said that he “is the victim’ of the video which has been circulated by Lutfur Rahman to cause trouble. He also reiterated that the transcript is inaccurate.

LW has contacted Cllr. Oliur and Helal Abbas for their comment but had not received a reply at time of publication.

Shiraj Hoque the Kingmaker

Shiraj Hoque

Shiraj Hoque

Taking the transcript at face value it seems that Cllr. Khales of the Labour Party and Cllr. Oliur of the Independent Group are discussing how the 2016 Whitechapel by-election will pan out.

Cllr. Khales says that if Shafi Ahmed wins he will be ‘go in your group’. Shafi Ahmed stood as an ‘Independent’ candidate and is now the People’s Alliance for Tower Hamlets (PATH) councillor for Whitechapel and Cllr. Oliur is Leader of the Independent Group which has Lutfur Rahman at its core.

So what does ‘go in your group’ mean? Which group? PATH? Independent Group? And what does ‘Rabina will go in your group’ mean?

Helal Abbas

And why are a Labour councillor and an Independent councillor having this conversation at all? Aren’t they, well, members of different political parties?

The real gold comes when Cllr. Oliur asks “What opportunity do you want from us?” and in response Cllr. Khales says “Give us the opportunity, Shiraj Bhai (Shiraj Hoque) said we need to make Abbas Mayor then allow us to make Ohid quiet.”

Shiraj Hoque aka “The Curry King” is one of the main power brokers in the Bangaldeshi political community and has supported both Lutfur Rahman (when Shiraj thought Rahman would become Mayor) and John Biggs (when he thought Biggs would become Mayor).

‘Abbas’ is a reference to Helal Abbas who has in the past played a critical role in LBTH Labour politics but is not currently an elected representative.

‘Ohid’ is a reference to Cllr. Ohid Ahmed (Independent Group, Lansbury) and Independent Group Mayoral candidate in 2018. Although many think he will just be the front man for Lutfur Rahman who will be the real power behind the Mayoral throne as Lutfur Rahman is of course banned from running for elected office until 2020. No-one said anything about him not becoming a ‘Mayoral Adviser’ though did they?

So our interpretation is that Shiraj Hoque and Cllr. Khales are working to get Helal Abbas elected as Mayor of Tower Hamlets. Which is news to, well, everyone!

Once Helal becomes Mayor Helal (and Rabina Khan is jumping around uselessly) Cllr. Khales, Cllr. Ohid, Shiraj Hoque and Lutfur Rahman will ‘all sit and decide what to do’. Which means what? Decide who is the ‘real’ Mayor of the borough? Or how the newly won power will be divvied up between Bangladeshi politicians of all parties?

Again, this is completely denied by Cllr. Khales.

Never ask an expert

We asked two of our political experts, both with many years experience, what they thought.  One considers the ‘Helal Option’ to be quite believable. The other considers it to be complete and utter nonsense.

We think there is some truth in there somewhere, hence our decision to publish.

Next up (maybe tomorrow) another video! Unless of course we find some nice squirrels to photograph.

Cast of Characters

Other Terms

‘Trigger ballot’ refers to the series of ballots that took place in 2016 within Tower Hamlets Labour Party to decide its leader. The process was such that the incumbent, John Biggs, was selected as a trigger ballot and the open election process was avoided, thereby eliminating any threat to Biggs leadership.

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  1. Francesca says:

    It’s all very complicated in true Bangladeshi-style but the end result is the same. Loony Lutfur still trying be Mayor again – over my dead body!

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