Khales Uddin Ahmed has resigned from the Labour Party to join Rabina Khan’s People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets (PATH party) with the ringing endorsement of Conservative group leader Peter Golds captured on video.
Welcome to Bizarro Land
Even by the standards of Tower Hamlets politics this an utterly bizarre event.
Transcript of video:
“Khales Uddin Ahmed is one of the most principled councillors in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. He was at the battle when the battle really needed to be fought.
I have no idea of the internal workings of the Labour Party but I can say one thing, I think it is extremely disappointing that somebody who has given his all to a political party, has worked hard for them, delivered votes for them has literally been thrown out without a real explanation.
As we know from recent weeks the Labour Party have many questions to answer for dubious people standing as candidates despite a record of making outrageous and often anti semitic remarks.
I think it is terrible that someone with the reputation of Khales has done that [sic]. He has been a distinguished Speaker of the borough, he worked hard for the borough and he fought on behalf of the people of the borough.
I am theoretically a political opponent, I will be supporting all candidates of my party across the borough, but I say one thing Khales I wish you every good luck in the future.”
Posing a question
In a statement to LW Cllr. Golds said “Labour have never explained what Khales did to be kicked out, yet they prevaricate on dealing with too many people involved in acts of virulent anti-Semitism within their party. Khales also did an enormous amount in securing Bangladeshi support for the election petitioners.”
“Obviously I support Anwara Ali and all of my candidates but one can pose a question.”
Asked by LW if this was a purely personal statement Cllr. Golds said “Absolutely personal. [Khales] has made an enormous effort to help clean up the borough, and he has been dumped.”
Cllr. Golds said that his congratulations to Khales Uddin Ahemd were no different to that of [Tory] Sajid Javid standing with [Labour] Chuka Ummanah last week in Parliament Square in the fight against anti Semitism.
Khales Uddin Ahmed’s resignation letter (full text below) is unsparing in its criticism of the Labour Party and Mayor John Biggs as this extract shows:
“It is to my dismay that I never found my Labour Group leader and Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs a vehement advocate for residents on these issues. Perhaps it is not just a mere coincidence that Tower Hamlets Council continues hold a special relationship with Poplar HARCA, selling assets to it and that its CEO happens to be a good friend of John.”
PATH has been vocal in its opposition to recent plans by social landlord Poplar HARCA to redevelop Chrisp Street market.
Full text of Khales Uddin Ahmed’s resignation letter
“Subject: : Resignation from Labour Party
Dear Jennie Formby,
I have been a member of the Labour Party since 2008 and have served as a Labour councillor for Bromley North ward in Tower Hamlets since 2010.
In my time as councillor, I have represented my ward residents against powerful and self-serving developers such as Poplar HARCA. I successfully campaigned against irresponsible development and policies led by them such as the Chrisp Street regeneration scheme that put local businesses at risk as well as a massive increase in parking charges by them which they later dropped. It is to my dismay that I never found my Labour Group leader and Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs a vehement advocate for residents on these issues. Perhaps it is not just a mere coincidence that Tower Hamlets Council continues hold a special relationship with Poplar HARCA, selling assets to it and that its CEO happens to be a good friend of John.
It is this John Biggs, whom I defended against allegations of racism during the infamous electoral fraud case of the now desposed former Mayor Lutfur Rahman which resulted in John becoming the Mayor. I faced humiliation and insult from our local Labour MPs and so-called community leaders and councillors for picking up the baton against a hostile local media but of course these very people were happy to reap the rewards when the historic result was achieved.
Little did I know back then this John Biggs would go on to hold in contempt the residents of the great borough with his own austerity measures.
Under his tenure, adult social care charges have increased. Council tax has increased and the self-employed tax he has introduced has affected those who rely on mini-cabbing and delivery work as their main source of income. The boroughs children have been failed following the damning 2017 Ofsted report into the Councils children’s services which was a outstanding service only three years before. Labour previously campaigned to save nurseries but against the wishes of its local party members they are being privatised. Youth clubs continue to be underfunded and I have no doubt that this has contributed to a rise in drug-related and knife crime in the borough. Tower Hamlets now has the highest rate of child poverty.
Johns austerity measures are dressed up as ‘savings’ and he does not hesitate to blame cuts to public services on the Tory government whilst enjoying appealing to their second preference votes to keep him elected as Mayor. On the one hand he is unable to protect public services yet on the other he is able to offer himself a pay rise and grant £50 million more to build the Council new Civic Centre in Whitechapel.
As a member of the Labour Group of councillors, I put residents first and I have faced severe consequences for doing so. Whilst serving as Speaker of the Council, I was suspended in 2016 for 10 months by manufactured complaints of intimidation which were later unable to be proved and subsequently withdrawn. The Mayor himself sent a message that statements were needed against me to keep me quiet against all the above mentioned issues I was raising with the Group.
My suspension from the Party came into effect just three days before I could take part in my wards mayoral trigger ballot meeting. I do not hesitate to state that I actively campaigned for members to exercise their democratic right to open up the selection process and that I believe my suspension was motivated by Johns urge to prevent me campaigning for a trigger. Whilst continuing to serve as Speaker for the remainder of my term, I faced undue media attention and pressure on my friends and family.
In August 2017, another complaint was lodged against me which has led to me being suspended for a second time in March 2018.. A fabricated illegal phone recording was uploaded on YouTube and sent as a complaint to the Labour Party, by someone who does not exist as a party member nor resides at the address they have used fraudulently.
I understand that the Party is reviewing its process and procedures on disputes. I urge and hope a that this review will consider whether the current process has been manipulated by undue complaints being lodged for political advantage and this, particularly in communities with a high number of BAME communities and against BAME councillors.
In 2016, my local MP Jim Fitzpatrick publicly called members democratically campaigning for an open selection “the worst of Bengali politics”, but faced no investigation, no suspension for for stoking up racial tensions in the community.
I joined the Labour Party because I believed the Party represented the aspirations of the working class and ethnic minority communities to which I belong. I resign from the Party in the hope that the Party will once again represent the disadvantaged and diverse groups it claims to represent.
Khales Uddin Ahmed”
Words fail us. Well, almost.
Khales Uddin Ahmed and the Labour Party have been in conflict for some time so his resignation from Labour comes as no surprise.
It is slightly surprising that Khales has now joined with Rabina Khan and PATH. The best explanation of reasons for this can be found on the increasingly illuminating ‘Thinking the Ray Way’ political blog (which would be even more useful if it was not anonymous).
The biggest surprise of the announcement of Khales final departure from Labour is the public expression of support and good will from Cllr. Peter Golds which seems to have even taken some members of Tower Hamlets Conservative Party unawares.
Although Cllr. Golds has clearly stated that his public support for Khales Uddin Ahmed is a purely personal matter political observers will be scrabbling to establish if there is a deeper political significance to the public manner in which this was done.
Part of Cllr. Golds support for PATH’s newest recruit seems to be related to their shared disgust at the perceived failure by the Labour Party to comprehensively confront allegations of anti-Semitism in its ranks.
The release of the video at the start of the official campaign for local and mayoral elections on 3rd May will be seen by some as having a deeper significance.
By getting Khales to change political paths Rabina Khan has demonstrated her political savvy once again, although she does risk upsetting existing PATH members.
Khales will undoubtedly bring large numbers of previous Labour voters to PATH and consolidate Rabina Khan’s very real chance of becoming the next executive mayor of Tower Hamlets.
The political realities of this extraordinary event will play out during the next few weeks.
In the meantime the entire LW Headline Writing Department are preparing for the future publication of a news story along the lines of “PATH and Tower Hamlets Conservatives announce coalition against Labour”.
Remember folks, you read it here first!
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