Whisper it quietly but there may finally be a centre-left political party in Tower Hamlets that not only has principles but sticks to them.
Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats announced this evening that their candidate in the Shadwell by-election, Abjol Miah, has had his party membership revoked pending an investigation as a result of the recent news that he had shared content on social media in 2014 that contained anti-semitic sentiment.
A statement on the Tower Hamlets Lib Dem Facebook page explains that as a result of Abjol Miah’s suspension all campaigning activity in Shadwell, both on the ground and online, will cease for the remainder of the campaign period.
As the by-election is being held tomorrow Thursday 7th February Abjol Miah will still appear on the ballot paper as the Liberal Democrat candidate as there is not enough time for the ballots to be reprinted.
Tower Hamlets Lib Dems have been approached for comment and we will update this story when it is received.
Will sit as independent if elected
The Lib Dem statement goes on to say that if Abjol Miah is elected he will sit as an independent councillor unless his membership is reinstated.
Mr Miah has issued an unreserved apology for his historical tweet and is cooperating fully with the party’s disciplinary process.
Statement by Head of Electoral Services Tower Hamlets council
“Candidates are established through a formal nomination process and once the deadline has passed the ballot papers and poll continue unaffected by changes to political affiliation, be that on a voluntary basis or through a party removing the candidate from their membership. Consequently, the law is very clear in that the Returning Officer has no alternative other than to continue the poll unchanged.”
Litany of dubious Labour behaviour
In recent months there have been numerous issues with the behaviour of Tower Hamlets Labour Party candidates and elected councillors.
- In October 2018 Labour councillor Pappu got caught out sharing anti-Semitic posts on Facebook was suspended but has now been reinstated.
- Labour councillor Muhammad Harun resigned over property fraud allegations in December 2018.
- On New Years Eve 2018 we wrote about Labour Councillor Rahul Amin who had suddenly realised how much work a local councillor has to do and decided to pack it in.
- Asik Rahman, Labour’s candidate in Shadwell (and opponent of Abjol Miah) was found to have ‘liked’ hate preachers on Facebook in January this year.
- And in the last week, LW revealed that Asik Rahman seemed to have a problem with his possible future colleague Cllr. Ehtasham Haque as he reminded LW of Daily Mail article concerning allegations that Cllr. Haque had made dubious comments of a, you guessed it, anti-Semitic nature on social media last year.
- In the course of our investigations, LW revealed that although Cllr. Haque is the subject of an Individual Voluntary Agreement he is sitting Vice-Chair of the council’s Grants Scrutiny Sub-Committee and Vice-Chair of the Pensions Committee.
All this from a Labour administration that talks about unravelling past bad behaviour, corruption and wrong-doing and making the council more open and transparent.
Tower Hamlets Labour has yet to prove that it can talk the talk, but not that it can walk the walk.
If any more of Labour’s candidates or sitting councillors should be exposed for wrong-doing Mayor Biggs might have to consider his position.
(Dubious behaviour is not restricted to local Labour politicians. Guido Fawkes has a long list of news stories relating to Labour and anti-Semitism.)
Just when it seemed Tower Hamlets was diving headfirst back into the cesspit that passes for local politics in our borough a political party demonstrates its principles.
The Liberal Democrats should be congratulated for making a hard choice – which is also the right choice.
The decision to do so on the eve of the by-election must have been very difficult to make, but make it they did.
Abjol Miah has apologised for the social media comment from 2014 and his conduct will be investigated by the Liberal Democrat Regional Party. If he wins Shadwell he will sit as an independent until the result of that investigation.
In recent months when covering the stories of the numerous Labour councillor’s activities that we have so far published LW has been sickened by the inability of Tower Hamlets Labour party to admit that they may have made mistakes in the way they choose local election candidates.
On several occasions, LW was passed from one Labour person to another Labour person and then to another Labour person, both at a local and regional level.
Oddly enough the Labour people who are usually the first to trumpet their own good news were bashful of getting anywhere near bad news.
One seemed to be of the view that because nobody outside the Labour Party had made a complaint about the anti-Semitic comments posted by <insert Labour/candidate name here> on social media then there was no real problem.
Our frustration with these evasive people reached a pitch when we asked a Labour spin doctor for details of the Labour vetting process for prospective councillor candidates.
The spin doctor in question did not know what the vetting process is. Honest. Did not have a clue.
He said he would find out and get back to us. He never did. Maybe there isn’t one?
We recount this saga to contrast it with the actions of the Liberal Democrats with regard to Abjol Miah.
The Lib Dems badly need a by-election win in either Shadwell or Lansbury tomorrow. Really badly. And Shadwell seemed to be their best bet.
Yet the decision was made that it would be better to stick to party principles and lose than ignore the issue in the hope of winning at any cost.
Which is a pretty cool thing to do.