The disgraced former Labour Party politician and ex-Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman is set to re-launch his political career this weekend with a new political party.
Other accusations included spending public funds on “vanity” offices, diverting millions in grants to charities run by Bangladeshis and Somalis in return for political support, and paying local Bangladeshi TV channels and newspapers for positive coverage.
According to the local ‘Love Wapping’ website, the new ‘Tower Hamlets Together’ political party will be announced this weekend, as Mr. Rahman continues to command significant support and influence within East London’s local government.
Sources told the local publication that the new party is something like a “rebirth” of Mr. Rahman’s defunct old party, Tower Hamlets First (THF), which was accused of intimidation, fraud, and bribery and was banned by an Election Court at the same time as the Mayor. The logos of the two parties are also similar.
— Love Wapping (@LoveWapping) January 25, 2017
Since 2014, THF morphed into a loose alliance known as the Tower Hamlets Independent Group and the Shadwell People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets. Numerous members of these groups, some still loyal to Mr. Rahman, remain active on the council.
Like THF, the new party is likely to command the support of the powerful Islamic Forum Europe (IFE), which is affiliated to the Muslim Council of Britain and hard-line Islamist groups such as Jamaat-e-Islami.
The borough’s current Labour mayor John Biggs said in a statement to Love Wapping: “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”.
Local elections are set to take place in London in 2018, and Mr. Rahman’s new party could contest seats although he would not be able ot stand himself. The former Mayor has already formally endorsed one councillor Ohid Ahmed as his favoured candidate to be the next Mayor of Tower Hamlets, telling the Bangla Mirror:
“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.”
After Mr. Rahman’s ban from political office runs out in 2020, Love Wapping claims one of his supporters could step aside and hand him back power.