Is Labour handing Tower Hamlets back to the Islamists?
26 May 2010
Labour’s candidate for the directly-elected mayoralty of Tower
Hamlets will be selected by the entire local membership, it has been
announced. What’s wrong with that? In somewhere normal, nothing. But in
Tower Hamlets, it risks ripping up the whole of the last two years’
successful work by Labour to hold back the infiltration of their party
by Islamic fundamentalists.
As I’ve described in the Telegraph and on Channel 4’s Dispatches,
there have been some exceptionally suspicious changes in Labour Party
membership in Tower Hamlets. Over a period of a few months, Bethnal
Green and Bow constituency saw its membership more than double – from
550 to more than 1100. Ninety per cent of the new members were Asian,
and dozens joined on the same day.
One of the local Labour MPs, Jim Fitzpatrick, says the fundamentalist
Islamic Forum of Europe – which wants to create an Islamic state – has
been infiltrating and "corrupting” Labour like Militant did in the
Aware of this, Labour placed the local party under "special
measures.” Members’ power to select councillor candidates was removed.
Candidates were selected by a special panel, limiting the numbers of
Islamists in the Labour group. Now, however, these measures are to be
removed. Labour is throwing open the selection for the far more powerful
post of mayor – who will be in almost total control of the council.
This is a recipe for disaster.
Labour sources assure me that they are well aware of the issue. I’m
told that some of the suspicious new members (whose numbers peaked in
2008) have failed to renew. It’s also true that an early "freeze date,” 6
May, has been applied. Nobody who joined Labour after this point will
be eligible to vote in the mayoral selection, meaning that the IFE
cannot sign up huge numbers of new members in the coming weeks. It’s
also possible that the time-honoured tactic will be adopted of keeping
some of the more problematic candidates off the shortlist.
But the fact is that this does create a huge window for the IFE, and
one of its recent allies, Lutfur Rahman. Mr Rahman, who was until
recently the council leader, was elected to that post with the help of a
senior IFE official, something he has refused to deny; under his
leadership, a number of IFE-friendly policies were pursued, an IFE
sympathiser was hired as assistant chief executive and increased sums of
council money were paid to organisations closely connected to the IFE