Respect Backs Lutfur Rahman for Tower Hamlets Mayoral Election

Tower Hamlets Respect Party last night decided by an overwhelming majority not to stand a candidate in the forthcoming mayoral election. Instead Tower Hamlets Respect calls on on all its members, supporters and voters to vote for Lutfur Rahman to be Tower Hamlets’ first executive mayor. Respect remains a major player in Tower Hamlets, getting 17000 votes over the two parliamentary constituencies in May earlier this year.

The reasons for this decision are two-fold, according to a Respect spokesperson.

Firstly, Lutfur has been the subject of a vicious witch-hunt orchestrated from within the Labour party and fuelled from without by the extreme right wing press. This has demonised both Lutfur and significant sections of the Muslim community with a thinly veiled anti-Muslim racism. Respect welcomes the fact that Lutfur saw off the despicable attempt inside the Labour Party to keep him off Labour’s selection shortlist and then to win with a large majority over his rivals.

Secondly, Lutfur has declared since his selection that he wishes to build a broad coalition against the terrible cuts that the Condem government wishes to impose on the less well-off, the disadvantaged and the ordinary working people in this borough. The Respect Party welcomes this very much and wants to be part of that coalition to help ensure that those words are turned into action when Lutfur is elected on October 21st.

The programme of government Respect wants to see from Mayor Lutfur Rahman includes

- Defence of public services and jobs

- Action to end the housing crisis by breaking with Labour’s previous failed policies

- Fighting all racism and discrimination

- Better schools and community facilities and safer neighbourhoods

- Making the Olympics deliver for the people of East London

George Galloway commented: “We are proud of the crucial role Respect played in establishing a directly elected mayor in Tower Hamlets. This is a much more democratic system. I also stated that Lutfur Rahman was the kind of mayor we needed at the rally against the English Defence League three months ago. I am very pleased that he has finally been selected as Labour’s mayoral candidate. He will have my support in this election on the basis that he will lead the fight against the cuts from this terrible Condem government.”

Respect will be vigorously contesting the forthcoming by-election in Spitalfields and Banglatown that will occur as a result of Lutfur’s election, which they predict Respect will win, and the GLA elections in 2012.

Carole Swords, the chair of Tower Hamlets Respect, this morning spoke about the difficult decision Respect had had to make over the mayoral election. “We campaigned very hard for the referendum that Labour wanted to deny the people of Tower Hamlets and we were delighted when the people voted by a large majority for a directly elected mayor. This was never about setting something up that Respect could exploit, contrary to the smears put about by some in the Labour Party and others. It was about establishing a democratic and accountable system of governance in Tower Hamlets, unlike what has gone on here for so many years.

“As an electoral party, the members always want to contest elections wherever and whenever it is good for the people to do so. In this case, however, the overwhelming majority of Tower Hamlets Respect concluded we are dealing with unusual conditions. Lutfur Rahman has been subject to a terrible witch-hunt and yet he has shown his mettle by coming through it and convincingly winning selection. More than that, he has spoken of his determination to fight the cuts on the basis of the broadest possible coalition.

“It’s for these two reasons we are going to support him. I would emphasise we are not supporting the Labour Party which has done so much damage in Tower Hamlets, we are supporting this particular candidate, just as we supported Ken Livingstone in the London mayoral election. But we give notice that we will be voting for Lutfur on the basis he leads the fight against the Condem cuts. If he fails in that duty to the people of Tower Hamlets, we will be his fiercest critics.”

67 comments on “Respect Backs Lutfur Rahman for Tower Hamlets Mayoral Election

  1. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    This is a bad mistake. Respect could have stood and campaigned on a clear anti-cuts platform and for its second votes to go to Labour. This is Respect’s highest profile area and one where they topped the poll in the 2004 European elections, so it was winnable.

    Respect will now be linked to the outcome of the Labour mayoralty and the personal willingness of Rahman to fight a vicious onslaught by the Tories/LibDems.

    A (very likely) failure by Labour to fight the cuts will result in a Labour administration implementing a Tory/LibDem cuts budget against the people of Tower Hamlets. Respect needs to have its independent profile against Labour on the cuts.

    Rahman is not going to lead Tower Hamlets in the direction forged by Clay Cross in the 1970s, and Liverpool and Lambeth councillors in the 1980s, standing up to the Tories(or even in the 1950s by John Lawrence’s leadership of St Pancras Council). It’s not remotely on the agenda.

    There is a Green candidate and maybe another socialist candidate will emerge (nominations close in 9 days). Socialists will have to decide who to support for their first vote, though a second vote for Labour is very correct.

  2. It’s no mistake Prinkipo, it’s exactly what most of us living in Tower Hamlets expected to happen. I don’t know anybody who believed Abjol would run against Lutfur.

    With any luck, it will be the end of the ridiculous notion that Respect in Tower Hamlets is of the left. It’s not.

  3. sad sectarian DO on said:

    Surely it is irrelevant to Islamic Forum Europe whether their guy wins as a Respect, Labour or even Tory candidate?

  4. Anonymous on said:

    Potentially very dangerous for Respect – it basically only exists in East London and Birmingham as a real organisation. If it doesn’t even bother to stand candidates in its strongholds, what’s the point?

    It’s already jettisoned, in the break with the SWP, any hope of being a campaigning, movement-orientated body. The whole appeal of Respect Renewal was based on potential electoral success. It was only a few months ago that Respect were crowing about winning potentially three MPs and holding the balance in parliament. Now they’re just demobilising against a Labour party that will inevitably carry through whatever cuts Westminster instructs them to?

    When the people of Tower Hamlets require an organisation to fight for them and maintain an independent line against the establishment, Respect, if it continues along this line, will not be able to be that organisation.

    Very sad news.

  5. Anonymous on said:

    The main reason Respect arn’t fighting this election is because they cant afford to, the cupboard is bare.

  6. At the NEXT election, the elections after this ‘particular’ one, who will consider Respect an alternative?

    Respect either wants to displace Labour, to take up the mantle of the social democracy which it has abandoned, or should call it a day. When will Galloway and Yaqoob be joining the Labour Party?

  7. FairDinkum on said:

    Tariq @ 7: “When will Galloway and Yaqoob be joining the Labour Party?”
    That depends on who wins the election for leadership of the Labour Pary.
    If Diane Abbott win there would be no reason not to join, if Ed Miliband wins then perhaps when his intentions become clear there may be good reasons to join. However, if David Miliband wins I don’t think joining will be an option.

  8. Anonymous on said:

    Well Abbott won’t win, so let’s just disregard that.

    How will Miliband’s ‘intentions’ have any bearing on whether left-wingers should join Labour? The party organisation is not one man. And Labour has never moved to the left without mass activism from its members and activists, and a rising tide of militancy and radicalism amongst organised labour.

    How the trade union movement and the anti-cuts movement develop over the next period, and how they relate to Labour councils and local Labour parties, will be significantly more important than what Ed Miliband ‘intends’.

  9. #9
    Not sure I buy that. Ed is still a product of the conservatism of New Labour. Blair and Brown stymied leftward moves and actively briefed against the left wing of the LP when they needed to. Throughout New Labour’s reign it was clear that the unions wanted a more progressive direction and were rebuffed 90% of the time. E Milliband will most likely err on the side of caution which would nullify much of the momentum the fightback may generate.

  10. TH resident on said:

    “Rahman is not going to lead Tower Hamlets in the direction forged by Clay Cross in the 1970s,”

    Who is to say!
    Who knows what direction that Rahman is heading but being a resident in Tower Hamlets and a Respect supporter I found the decision ‘not to stand’ well thought out.

    I am certain it was a difficult choice as Carol states and I doubt the cost of standing a candidate would have stopped them if they felt they would win.

    I was impressed they did not stand and split the left vote then make way for a Tory as Mayor
    And a Tory would most definitely NOT consider any coalition whatsoever
    We know this because even the Lib Dem’s who were the top dogs in TH only a few years ago and are in a very week coalition in the government could not convince the Tory’s of making a pact to share a platform for the mayors job

    The green candidate is most definitely not on the left of the party and to back them in any way would be ridiculous they have no credibility in TH whatsoever they would just about poll 200 votes

    Since the Mayoral vote is on first and second choice this would certainly affect the final decision.
    If it was a clear one only vote for Respect they would have given a very good fight with the candidate they had who Already had the financial backing that they needed

    And looking at the electoral commission Respect finances look very healthy not like many of the other Left parties out there.

    We have also the by election that will follow which will no doubt put a Respect candidate on the top table in the town hall with the Mayor.

    I will be looking forward to this election and also in the Right wing trash media for sly nasty digs

    Hopefully the Left show more decorum with there comments because we are all suppose to want the best for the working classes

  11. titch mitch on said:

    well done Respect-a serious political decision at a serious time
    stand up to islamophobia and a horrid campaign by gilligan and zionists allied with the worst part of the labour party
    let us get a labour mayor for tower hamlets who fights on the platform above
    then lets mobilise to get another Respect councillor and make it two progressive steps against the condems, cuts, zionists and islamophobes
    as for the idiotic contributors above-we know they have nothing in common with the many poor people in east london who will suffer terribly from these con dems and who took the right decision at the general election to keep condems out of east london
    and should help ensure rahman is elected
    serious progressives will welcome the mature approach of Respect

  12. It is obvious that most of the contributers above are trapped in their ultra-left models of how the left should operate. They are probably supporters of TUSC and opponents of Respect as a matter of principle. They are probably among those who said Respect would get zero votes at the general elcection whereas they got 30,000 votes in three seats, each getting more than every Green candidate, excepting Caroline Lucas.
    However, this is what you’d expct from those who start from the concerns of the ultra-left (anti-Labour whoever it is) rather than the concerns of the masses.
    Respect, in contrast has acted in the interests of the working class by supporting an anti-war, pro-Palestine anti-Imperialist, anti-corruption candidate for mayor. This means that the anti-racist, anti-imperialist vote is not split. This means just a little bit in Tower Hamlets. This is far from being the end of Respect. My understanding is that Respect members will be campaigning for Lutfur and influencing the Labour campaign.
    Saying that the decision is based on lack of money, for example is daft. It was a well considered political decision, in line with the previous conference decision relating to the General Election when Respect made clear that standing was based on possibly winning, not on letting the Tories in, which in Tower amlets now would be real given the Coalition’s level of support.
    Building the ‘alternative’ is less important than defend working class interests. Always.

  13. Neil Williams on said:

    What a disaster after campaigning for the elected mayor (which I was and many others in Respect were against anyway)and now to suggest Respect backs the Labour Party but will stand in the bi-election if Lutfur Rahman wins (would there be any point if the Labour Mayor then controlled the council and would be accountable to the Labour Party HQ?)

    This really is a low point!!

  14. Anonymous on said:

    ‘Building the ‘alternative’ is less important than defend working class interests. Always.’

    It speaks measures about your outlook that you counterpose the two.

    Respect will grow as a left party that stands apart from and opposed to the mainstream parties, including the social democracy which thus far has shown little backbone when it comes to confronting this government.

    Respect’s strategy towards Labour has always been realistic of the left’s weakness, but occasionally it has veered off towards Communist Party-style, uncritical acceptance of Labour’s monopoly over the working class e.g. when they jettisoned the second-preference strategies of the Greens, the SWP etc. are came out for Ken Livingstone without even standing their own candidate as a better choice.

    We have to accept reality. But we should be accepting it only in so far as we can better critique it and organise to change it, not submit to our own isolation as a fait accompli.

  15. Darkness at Noon on said:

    @howardt:

    “Respect, in contrast has acted in the interests of the working class by supporting an anti-war, pro-Palestine anti-Imperialist, anti-corruption candidate for mayor.”

    This is what the working class wants is it?

    This may be in your particular venal interests but the working class isn’t interested in bullshit rhetoric. They want jobs, regeneration and security.

    Respect are a sectarian fringe group playing race politics.

  16. Here comes the economism!
    The Bangladeshi working class support for Palestine, against the war is rhetoric.
    Those with no tactical notion, who think that a party is based on whether it stands a candidate or not blog here till their hearts content. But they clearly can remain isolated.
    Far from being finished, Respect will continue.
    Respect isn’t the usual British ultra-left sect that some of you cannot get beyond. Because it has serious – even significant support in some areas, it will be under attack from the labour bureaucracy and the right wing media who don’t waste time on tiny outfits. Tactics are vital and it would have been a serious political error in the Tower hamlets community to stand a candidate against Lutfur for no purpose, other than narrow party interests. But that is why many of you here will only be part of a small sect, if that.

  17. “the working class… They”

    Interesting word choice, DaN. You aren’t one of US? And yes, workers are generally against the wars. Maybe that wasn’t the case when they started, but it is now.

  18. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    #11 You are wrong that a Respect candidate would “split the left vote”. As I pointed out on another thread, the election is held under the Supplementary Vote (SV)system where electors have a two votes with the second vote being used at an equal weight to the first vote. Therefore Respect could have stood on its policies and at the same time called for a strong second vote for Labour to prevent the Tories winning.

    A Respect campaign could have been based around a critique of the Labour record in charge of Tower Hamlets council and put forward effective policies to oppose the Con/LibDem cuts, including industrial action and mass action.

    Lutfur Rahman was a rotten leader of a council with a rotton record. While he is under attack by right wing islamophobic elements and should be defended against that, there is no evidence his record as Mayor will be any better than his record as Council Leader. Since the Regional Labour Party office will control both the campaign and election materials, there is no chance of a Labour campaign being based around an effective fightback against the Coalition cuts.

    The effect of not standing is that nationally Respect will now be seen as an adjunct of the islamic group that Rahman represents, and this will be identified as purely a part of the wheeling and dealing within the muslim community.

    An independent campaign coupled with a class based argument for a Labour vote against the Tories, rather than what will inevitably be seen as a ‘muslim based’ one, was what was needed. This is neither an ‘ultra left’ position, nor what TUSC would have argued by the way – most of TUSC oppose a Labour vote under any circumstances.

    While Respect may do well in the likely consequential Spitalfields & Banglatown by-election, it is not a foregone conclusion that they can win – Respect candidates were a long way behind Labour in this ward in May, and two of its three candidates were beaten by both Tories and LibDems as well as Labour. Respect’s performance at Council wide level in the past was actually better than its performance solely in this ward.

    This is a real missed opportunity, based around a thoroughly mistaken political strategy and brings into question the whole basis of the Respect project nationally.

  19. Dem O'Cracy on said:

    A very muddled posting indeed.

    Time for folk to join the campaigns against the cuts, and indeed the Labour Party – which was founded at factory gates, not around the egos of anyone in particular.

  20. As a minimum, Respect should have asked Rahman to give clear commitment to refuse to vote for or implement cuts in council services, before agreeing to back him.

  21. Respect is not dead. If you cannpot understand the objective situation that is clearly the case that with Labour in opposition, building to the left is a squeeze, then you haven’t grasped the politics of now.
    None of the opponents of the decision consider anything important except the cuts. What you are patently unaware of is that, for example, when the EDL were threatening to march through Tower Hamlets, it was Respect that responded alongside UAF. Hardly a dead party!
    But then Palestine, War n Afghanistan and racism don’t mater as long as we have the left of the left all lined up with the right line to fight the cuts – which is important, but how narrow some people can be.

  22. 23 – no councillor will stay in office if they refuse to make cuts. The key thing is whether they can maximise the fight against it. Having a candidate who can be pressurised to resist cuts by supporting him is tactically more important than a separate propaganda campaign against him. It is just a tactical decision, but Respect members thought long and hard and considered all options before the decision was made.
    Has to be repeated: it is a tactical decision on standing candidates, not some principle from the textbooks carved in stone.

  23. #20

    “You are wrong that a Respect candidate would “split the left vote”. As I pointed out on another thread, the election is held under the Supplementary Vote (SV)system where electors have a two votes with the second vote being used at an equal weight to the first vote. Therefore Respect could have stood on its policies and at the same time called for a strong second vote for Labour to prevent the Tories winning. ”

    This is superficially presuasive, and when you originally proposed it, I was swayed by the argument. However, you have to factor in whether such an argument could be communicated to the voters, which was a point I put to you at the time.

    the judgement of TH Respect is clearly that their best option is to back Lutfur, based upon a realistic assessment of the situation on the ground.

  24. It does seem an extraordinary situation.
    Firstly that Respect campaigned for a directly elected mayor, there were many who counselled them against it, given the instances where directly elected mayors had resulted in unaccountable reactionaries running municipal politics.
    Now, having triumphed in introducing an elected mayor, they step back in favour of a Labour candidate.
    For those who remain committed to Respect as a left alternative to Labour an explanatory narrative would be helpful, in particular from the FI / Socialist Resistance comrades who appear to remain uncritical of whatever tactical turn comes next.

  25. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    “an explanatory narrative would be helpful, in particular from the FI / Socialist Resistance comrades who appear to remain uncritical of whatever tactical turn comes next.”

    I don’t think so.

  26. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    #26 “you have to factor in whether such an argument could be communicated to the voters, which was a point I put to you at the time.”

    No, the point you made was how I communicated that a Green vote was a wasted vote because of the possibility of a Respect/Labour run off. With no Respect candidate that cannot arise, so a Green first vote and a Labour second vote is not a problem and will lead to exactly the same final outcome as a single vote for Labour, but would put pressure on Labour. The Green candidate may not be individually left wing, but it is likely that the Green party manifesto will be to the left of Labour’s.

    In terms of a Respect candidate and campaign, it’s very simple –

    “Vote First Vote: Respect, Second Vote: Labour.”

    “Place no reliance on Labour, build the fightback against the Tories, but make sure the Tories are kept out and put pressure on the Labour movement to fight the cuts.”

    I think commentators fail to appreciate that by not standing a candidate, parties lose voter identification and that it is far more difficult to be taken seriously when they next stand as they are seen as “here today, gone tomorrow”.

    It is completely illegal by the way for Respect to issue a leaflet arguing for a Labour vote in this election, without the agreement of the content by the Labour candidate’s agent and its inclusion in the electoral expenses of the Labour Party. With the London Labour Party controlling the election agent and campaign (the Tower Hamlets labour party is still suspended itself symptomatic of the problem with the Labour Party). There is no chance whatsoever of such a situation happening.

    Respect will therefore be completely neutered in the campaign, unable to issue propaganda about the election itself. The most it can hope for is for its statements to be carried in the Press alongside the statement by the other parties that Respect is irrelevant and a spent force.

  27. I was just looking at some of the May council election results and By far the Respect party no Way looks as though it is finished!
    in fact they will be a stronger force at the next election
    very cleaver of them not to go to poles to be defeated and make sure the Tories get into the Matures office they are working to gain momentum and by watching and sitting aside for the election that they were instrumental in organizing shows there strength to move ahead in the next few years well done to them for putting the Residents before there ego’s
    Liberal Democrat
    1,061
    Respect
    1,087
    Liberal Democrat
    1,048
    The Conservative Party
    520
    Green Party
    436
    Green Party
    376
    The Labour Party
    1,952
    Green Party
    282
    The Labour Party
    1,848
    Respect
    1,091
    The Conservative Party
    497
    The Labour Party
    1,519
    The Conservative Party
    361
    Liberal Democrat
    779
    Respect
    1,166
    The Conservative Party
    748
    lib
    1,551
    Independent
    156
    Green Party
    595
    The Labour Party
    1,586
    Green Party
    371
    Liberal Democrat
    1,300
    Green Party
    454
    Liberal Democrat
    1,181
    The Conservative Party
    445
    Respect
    795
    Respect
    594
    The Labour Party
    1,634
    The Labour Party
    1,476
    Respect
    314
    The Conservative Party
    439
    The Labour Party
    2,483
    Liberal Democrat
    1,055
    Liberal Democrat
    653
    Green Party
    401
    Green Party
    304
    The Conservative Party
    673
    Liberal Democrat
    831
    The Conservative Party
    1,105
    Respect
    1,100
    The Labour Party
    2,426
    Respect
    765
    The Conservative Party
    599
    The Labour Party
    2,314
    Respect
    798
    The Conservative Party
    1,044
    Liberal Democrat
    1,119
    Liberal Democrat
    1,069
    The Labour Party
    2,158
    Respect
    1,004
    Respect
    890
    The Labour Party
    2,003
    The Conservative Party
    832
    The Labour Party
    2,091
    Green Party
    599
    The Conservative Party
    915
    Respect
    1,114
    Liberal Democrat
    906
    Green Party
    335
    Green Party
    383
    The Conservative Party
    667
    The Conservative Party
    640
    The Labour Party
    2,082
    Liberal Democrat
    1,383
    Green Party
    628
    Green Party
    496
    Respect
    892
    The Conservative Party
    477
    Respect
    728
    Green Party
    516
    Res
    1,009
    The Labour Party
    1,895
    Liberal Democrat
    1,179
    The Labour Party
    1,532
    Respect
    807
    Liberal Democrat
    700
    The Conservative Party
    1,134
    The Labour Party
    1,915
    Liberal Democrat
    603
    The Labour Party
    1,532
    Liberal Democrat
    595
    The Conservative Party
    1,251
    The Labour Party
    1,539
    Respect
    1,628
    Respect
    1,250
    The Conservative Party
    876
    Respect
    1,458
    Liberal Democrat
    923
    Green Party
    595
    Liberal Democrat
    1,038
    Green Party Lead Candidate
    504
    The Labour Party
    2,078
    Respect
    1,261
    Respect
    1,350
    Liberal Democrat
    1,106
    The Conservative Party
    1,136
    The Labour Party
    2,319
    The Conservative Party
    995
    Green Party
    410
    Independent
    297
    The Labour Party
    2,321
    The Conservative Party
    849
    Green Party
    477
    respect
    1,225
    The Conservative Party
    1,602
    The Labour Party
    2,193
    Liberal Democrat
    722
    The Conservative Party
    1,525
    Green Party
    473
    Green Party
    267
    The Labour Party
    1,880
    The Conservative Party
    1,281
    The Labour Party
    1,488
    Liberal Democrat
    782
    Liberal Democrat
    445
    Respect
    1,357
    Respect
    1,500
    Respect
    759
    The Conservative Party
    732
    Liberal Democrat
    944
    Respect
    907
    The Conservative Party
    1,051
    Liberal Democrat
    787
    The Conservative Party
    885
    Respect
    967
    The Labour Party
    1,506
    Liberal Democrat
    658
    The Labour Party
    1,056
    The Labour Party
    2,067
    Liberal Democrat
    1,179
    The Labour Party
    2,214
    Green Party Lead Candidate
    519
    Green Party
    400
    Respect
    916
    Respect
    439
    The Conservative Party
    679
    Liberal Democrat
    1,212
    Liberal Democrat
    927
    The Conservative Party
    680
    Green Party
    121
    British National Party
    123
    Respect
    558
    The Conservative Party
    881
    The Labour Party
    2,005
    The Labour Party
    1,824
    The Labour Party
    1,500
    The Conservative Party
    492
    The Labour Party
    1,545
    Respect
    441
    Green Party
    403
    Liberal Democrat
    539
    Green Party
    265
    The Conservative Party
    561
    Respect
    1,068
    Respect
    737
    The Labour Party
    1,660
    Liberal Democrat
    673
    Liberal Democrat
    532
    The Conservative Party
    571

    Turnout: 60.29%

  28. Respect have made the terrible mistake awaiting socialists who reluctantly engage with the electoral process; to withdraw in favour of a competitor opposed to your campaign.
    Respect really are totally useless.

  29. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    Sorry Andy I could have made my position clearer:

    It is NOT DIFFICULT for Respect to explain that there are two votes and why the second vote should be cast for Labour. (The law is ambiguous about promoting second votes, and probably worth risking testing in court.)

    It is IMPOSSIBLE for Respect to argue for its position effectively if it does NOT have a candidate, as the Labour Party apparatus will not allow any Respect propaganda/leaflets.

    Can I suggest that the long list of unformatted votes with no ward names in the previous post should be tidied up – they add nothing to the discussion?

  30. Len Johnson on said:

    As a Labour Party member in Tower Hamlets, I think this is a welcome development. In truth, Respect has no real future, even in Tower Hamlets, as an electoral force. It does have real importance in terms of its campaigning potential. In the event of an Ed Miliband victory, and a subsequent shift leftwards in policy and the restoration of internal democracy (which won’t happen because of his victory but because of a new coalition of the union leadership and the constituency Left in the context of national opposition to the cuts), I hope members of Respect will join or rejoin the Labour Party. That is, I think, where George Galloway and Salma Yacoob belong.

  31. Can’t see Labour allowing Galloway back in – there’s too much bad blood. Salma might be a possibility. I think Respect is doomed the way the ILP was doomed and unlike the trolls and New Labourites on here I’m not happy about it.

  32. “However, you have to factor in whether such an argument could be communicated to the voters, which was a point I put to you at the time.”

    If you don’t think you could explain to voters how they have two votes, how do you possibly think that you could explain to them why they should be in favour of socialism!?

  33. Anonymous on said:

    So… are Respect members in Tower Hamlets supposed to spend their free time leafletting for the Labour party?

    Will Respect be using its own resources to campaign for another party’s candidate, or will it focus on trying to influence Rahman during the election?

    If so, shouldn’t they have approached him with left-wing demands before agreeing to step aside in his favour?

  34. David Ellis on said:

    Is it too late to reverse this decision? Obviously I don’t know the realities on the ground and the decision might have been made because of the extreme sense of hostility TH Labour Party officials greatly aided by the New Labour center have managed to create towards Respect in the borough since the General Election in the name of `unity’. If that is the case it should be openly stated and the decision should not be spun to make Respect look like Rahman’s lap dog. Rather Respect should say that it does not wish to add to the atmosphere of political sectarianism created by Labour but will on this occasion stand aside for what appears to be one of the better Labour candidates, give Labour TH a chance to show what they will do with this `unity’ built on sand, intimidation and horse trading, promise to mobilise opposition to every Rahman initiative, policy or cut that attacks the interests of the borough’s workers, youth, poor and aged. Anything less would be to give the party of war a blank cheque for cuts.

    As Carole Swords says: `But we give notice that we will be voting for Lutfur on the basis he leads the fight against the Condem cuts. If he fails in that duty to the people of Tower Hamlets, we will be his fiercest critics.”

    Let us hope he does lead the fight against the cuts but the real trick would be not to create the illusions that might allow him to get away with it when he doesn’t. I think the decision not to stand is wrong and the rationale for it also but I can see why it might have been made and now that it has been made and if it really cannot be reversed then we should get behind TH Respect and try and make the tactic work for it and for the people of TH facing unprecedented attacks on their economic and social interests.

    At least there seems to have been a serious debate involving all in the local Respect as to what line to take.

  35. It is completely illegal by the way for Respect to issue a leaflet arguing for a Labour vote in this election, without the agreement of the content by the Labour candidate’s agent and its inclusion in the electoral expenses of the Labour Party.

    My understanding is that if you register as a third party, you can call for a vote for a candidate without the candidate’s permission.

  36. #39

    My understanding is that for a mayoral election, if you are intending to spend less than £10000, then you don’t even need to register as a third party.

    Prinkipo is just wrong here.

  37. stuart graham on said:

    I think it was right for Respect not to stand in these circumstances. It isn’t George Galloway v Oona BombBaghdad. The issues include serious local ones re: corruption where Lutfhur and Respect are on the same side. It is about standing up to Islamaphobic media of the Gilligan variety where Lutfur has been under attack.
    Have Respect better policies than Labour? Undoubtedly. Can Respect influence the campaign. Clearly it can or there wouldn’t be all this discussion above as to how it can do just that.
    What I find peculiar is how many who are anti-Respect are incensed that Respect are not standing!
    The most important matter is challenging the ConDems with Lutfur. Propaganda wise, Respect can do it much better, but the most important consideration is the mass of workers and other social forces in Tower Hamlets being united with this in mind behind Lutfur.
    I for one will have no difficulty as Respect member going to Tower Hamlets to support Lutfur – not because I believe Labour has the solutions, it doesn’t. But in this mayoral election the lines will be clearly drawn and ‘building the alternative’ is not the main concern here.
    It is nonsense to say a party is finished if it doesn’t stand a candidate in every circumstance. Only some of the left don’t understand that. Fortunately, large sections of the working class and sections of the local community organisation do understand this.

  38. Anonymous on said:

    Just for the record
    Respect will Not be canvassing for L R
    But we will request our supporters to cast there vote for him
    There will also be a leaflet produced by Respect outlining why we took this decision to the voters in Tower hamlets and it is entirely up to them how they vote,

  39. #35
    George galloway has got more chance of being allowed to join the harlem globe trotters then being allowed to rejoin the Labour party after his expolsion, but, if he helps bring down the number 10 director of communications Andy Coulson, with his high court action over the phone tapping scandal, thus weaking Daid Cameron severly, then there could be a very good chance of him being welcomed back with open arms.

    Salma must be pretty high up on the Labour poach list.

  40. #41 Stuart Graham “What I find peculiar is how many who are anti-Respect are incensed that Respect are not standing!”

    Yeah I’d thought that that was odd too. It’s almost like reactionaries with a vested interest in Tower Hamlets are disappointed – perhaps a good sign that Respect have done the right thing? I note the Lib Dem mayoral candidate was also apoplectic at the move.

    Speaking of, can we all welcome at #44 Tower Hamlets Labour Party to Socialist Unity! Not the first time of course, and I’m sure not the last.

  41. 46.

    Over decads in a whole series of localities, Labour strongholds, black and ethnic minority communities have attempted to organise themselves in an effort to address issues regarding racism and discrimination (schools, jobs, housing and so on). At every turn they have been met by hostility from the Labour leadership, with bans, demotions, gerrymandering, expulsions and witch-hunts. (Often they were ideologically abetteed by self-styled Marxists, who proclaimed that organising agaisnt racism ‘split the unity of the working class’- special metion here to Militant/SP).Respect raised that to a new level by arising out out the anti-imperialist movement. Some of its leaders, Galloway included, were expelled from the Labour Party, in traditional fashion.

    This has never stopped the desire of those communities to organise themselves to fight on those issues, and they continued to do so inside the Labour Party. This is what happened to their leader in this case, Lutfur Rahman. His fight was against the colonial governors who operate as if the Labour Party is their, white, protectorate.

    In that situation, the correct approach of Respect is to welcome his victory against discrimination as a success, and to ensure his vitory over the Tories, who will, no doubt, be aided by the Labour right, the Islamophobic media, and supporters of zionism.

    It is also correct to stand separately for council seats and to organise for the forthcoming GLA elections in a wider alliance if possible of all those mass forces who are actually outside Labour (and mass, by definition, precludes TUSC, which seems to have more far left affiliiates than voters- did you not bother to participiate in the bourgeois sham known as elections?)

    Standing in sectarian opposition to those who have achieved a victory over racism inside the Labour Party, or making ‘demands’ on Lutfur Rahman are precisely the tactics that have led most of the left up this cul-de-sac.

    It is a strategic inability to distinguish your enemies from your friends.

  42. Andy Newman, do you agree with Frank, above? That it’s the correct approach to support Lutfur since he was the ‘victim of discrimination’ (actually I note that Carole Swords didn’t say it was an ‘Islamophobic witch-hunt’, just a witch hunt. He must not have suffered as much as poor Lutfur Ali).

    Will this really sock it to the zionists?

    Anyone who wants to know more about what kind fightback we can expect from Lutfur Rahman was could check out the interesting blog here http://towerhamletswatch.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/galloway-respect-lutfur-rahman-the-mayoral-seat/

    This blog also points out that it was clear months ago that Respect would back Lutfur.

    Some Respect supporters seem surprised by the links between Respect and Lutfur.
    This reminds me of what George Galloway used to say to those people who said they didn’t realise that the WMD in Iraq was a lie or that going to war in Iraq would be disastrous – you’re either wicked or you’re stupid – because plenty of us knew years ago and told you so.

  43. Pauline Ross on said:

    Oh dear. Rumour is that Lutfur has been dropped as a candidate and suspended from the party following the complaints to the electoral commission and the police.

    What now for respect?

  44. anonymous on said:

    *sigh* there are no “links”, Rachel, except in your conspiracy-ridden mind. What a shame that people like you are so dishonest, and attempt to poison everyone else with your dishonesty.

  45. Why dishonest?

    Most of what I know about what’s going on I hear from local Bengalis. Which isn’t to say there aren’t many different views – just that to dislike and distrust Lutfur Rahman doesn’t make one a liar or an Islamophobe or a zionist.

    I don’t even particularly think it’s a conspiracy either – just corruption and opportunism. The only thing that makes it interesting (and especially depressing to me) is the involvement in this sorry affair of people who believe themselves to be leftists.

  46. Well I am pleased to say I told you so.

    I said many weeks ago on this blog that there was no chance of Respect standing against Luftur Rahman.

    In an election where only one position is on offer, Respect will not stand against an Islamic Forum of Europe candidate.

  47. tower hamster on said:

    #53

    Firstly, you seem to be a few days behind events.

    Secondly, please provide evidence of Lutfur Rahman being “an Islamic Forum of Europe candidate”. Note: linking to vague insinuations by Andrew Gilligan do not count.

    I am genuinely interested as to what evidence there is linking Lutfur Rahman to the IFE.

  48. Every dog in the street knows Luftur is an IFE man.

    I am genuinely interested as to what evidence there is dis-associating Luftur Rahman from the IFE?

  49. tower hamster on said:

    Fuck me, it’s like holding a conversation with a three year old.

    Is the assumption that everybody is associated with the IFE unless they can somehow prove otherwise? Or just people you don’t like?

    Is there any evidence dis-associating David Cameron or Harriet Harman from the IFE?

    Jesus wept.

  50. Fuck me it is like holding a conversation with a three year old.

    Very credible evidence has been put forward from Andrew Gilligan on Luftur Rahman’s relationship with the IFE. It is still to be properly refuted.

    We already know from George Galloways own acceptance speech when he won the Bethnal Green seat, that the IFE’s support was crucial to his election. Is it really that unlikely the IFE’s influence can extend from parliamentary elections to Mayoral one’s? Concern on the political role the IFE have played in Tower Hamlets in recent years has been articulated from across the political spectrum – from journalists such as Andrew Gilligan and Ted Jeory, to the Tower Hamlets Labour party, from Anarchists such as the Whitechapel Anarchist Group and my own blog, through to articles in Private Eye, the East London Advertiser and from academics such as Delwar Hussain.

    Simply playing the race card and crying ‘Islamophobia’ like a child who has lost its teddy may cut it with the last century left Hamster, it sadly won’t cut it with the wider general public.

  51. tower hamster on said:

    So, ‘evidence’ (vague insinuations) from the Tory Gilligan is all you have, seized upon by some irrelevant anarchist types and credulous journos.

    BTW where did I mention “Islamophobia”? I’ll save you the effort of searching – I didn’t.

    So if anyone who DOES actually have any of LR’s links to IFE, please feel free to share them now, as Paul Stott seems to be struggling a bit to go beyond vagaries.

  52. “So, ‘evidence’ (vague insinuations) from the Tory Gilligan is all you have, seized upon by some irrelevant anarchist types and credulous journos.”

    if its so vague, and so untrue, why does Luftur not come out and say he is nothing to do with the IFE?

    As for your suggestion that others are merely repeating what Gilligan says, has it never occurred to you that if actors as diverse as Tower Hamlets Labour party, Whitechapel Anarchists and an academic like Hussain have concerns, they may actually be genuine concerns?

  53. Andy Newman on said:

    Paul

    You have been asked a direct question.

    Put up or shut up.

    What is your evidence of a connection between Lutfur and the IFE?

  54. tower hamster on said:

    #61

    I don’t know, why don’t you put that question to him? I’d be interested to hear what he says.

    They might be genuine concerns, they might not, but rumours/insinuations can give rise to concerns and so far I haven’t seen anything but rumours and insinuations.

    As for Tower Hamlets Labour Party, they just overwhelmingly selected Rahman as their candidate for mayor. I have no interest in what the anarchists think but if you have a link to this Hussain chap’s writings then I’ll happily have a look through them and see if there’s anything new in there.

  55. Hussain’s best article on the dangers of ‘riding the Islamist tiger’ in Tower Hamlets is probably this one from the Open Democracy site:

    http://www.opendemocracy.net/faith-protest/bangladeshi_3715.jsp

    it should be compulsory reading for all Respect supporters.

    My source that Luftur Rahman is connected to the IFE is the address to that effect made in the council chamber by Helal Abbas, and the failure of Luftur Rahman, both in office and out, to put any clear water between himself and the IFE. Plus of course some of the appointments made in Tower Hamlets in that period. See for example:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/labour/7333537/Radicals-with-hands-on-the-levers-of-power-the-takeover-of-Tower-Hamlets.html

  56. #65

    So you don’t have any evidence at all, apart from your own inference, an article from the Daily Telegraph.

    Why should Lutfur be obliged to “put clear water between himself and the IFE”?

    I have defedned the Pope’s visit to the UK, does that make me a cardinal?

  57. You seem to have trouble understanding the link I posted. Helal Abbas stated in the council chamber the nature of the relationship between the IFE and Luftur Rahman. The Telegraph merely reported his words.

    Secondly Rahman is surely obliged to put clear water between himself and the IFE if he expects any Socialist to vote for him. Are you aware of the politics of the IFE?