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Tower Hamlets councillor arrested

Reports from Andrew Gilligan and Ted Jeory over the arrest of Cllr Shelina Aktar of Tower Hamlets Council, a supporter of the extremist directly elected Mayor, Lutfur Rahman. Ken Livingstone campaigned for Rahman even tough Rahman was standing against an official Labour candidate.

Livingstone has been lobbying hard for Rahman to be allowed back into the Labour Party. But this has been rebuffed. More to the point is why Livingstone himself is allowed to remain in the Party given his contempt for the Party's entirely reasonable rule (Chapter 2, Section A. 4 b) that supporting a candidate standing against an official Labour candidate means you are ineligible to remain a member.

A recent Daily Politics interview between Andrew Neil and Ken Livingstone included the following exchange:

Neil: You were attacking Phil Woolas, though, for smears and so on. But here are you, backing a man who distributed 90,000 copies of a Bangladeshi freesheet which carried smears [on] the Labour candidate, the man you’re supposed to be supporting, calling him “the wife-beating candidate” and a racist!

Ken (smiling): It’s very dirty politics down in Tower Hamlets. No-one denies that.

Neil: Much worse than anything Phil Woolas said. And you’re backing this guy!

The first Council meeting saw a vote to limit Rahman's salary to £65,000. He was most indignant as he had proposed £74,995. It also limited his power of patronage - in terms of appointments to paid positions he is limited to Cabinet Members. Thus far he hasn't found enough councillors to fill those posts.

The London Labour Party has to decide whether they want to back their comrades in Tower Hamlets or whether they wish to retain Livingstone as a Party member, let alone candidate for Mayor of London.

I really don't see how they can credibly do both.


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