This statement has been agreed by Left Unity’s executive committee.

rabina_khanLeft Unity supports Rabina Khan in the 11 June re-run of the Tower Hamlets mayoral election.

She is standing to defend democracy in Tower Hamlets at a time when the council is being taken over by Tory government agencies, whipping up Islamophobic scare stories to justify sending in Eric Pickles and his unelected commissioners. The continuing case against Lutfur Rahman, who has vowed to clear his name, is being used as an excuse to dismantle the whole democratically elected council.

Rabina has a strong left-wing record. As cabinet member for housing in Tower Hamlets she has overseen the building of thousands of new social and affordable homes, and the investment of millions of pounds in refurbishing council housing. If successful she would become the first elected female Muslim mayor in Britain. (1)

We call on the left to unite in support of the campaign to defend democracy in Tower Hamlets and in support of Rabina Khan’s candidacy.

There is more about the campaign at Rabina Khan’s website.

Note:

  • No indication of how Khan was selected (an interesting form of ‘democracy’ for a start).
  • No indication of what the substantial Tower Hamlets First’s programme is, how it operates, and why it is so preferable to the Labour Party. Or why it is ‘left’ let alone in line with Left Unity’s ideas. Labour in Ipswich Borough Council have not just refurbished but  built Council houses – so on this basis (the only one offered) they are more to the left than Tower Hamlets First.
  • Blanket acceptance of Lutfur Rahman’s claim that he is innocent of fraud and corruption, despite the lengthy legal judgement.
  • No answer to accusations of Big Boss’ culture, of ‘communalism’ and links with the Islamist far-right against Tower Hamlets First, and other forms of clientalism. Not to mention intimidation.
  • Why is Khan’s religious identity so important to mention in a declaration that is concerned with reasons to back her?

Most significantly: Left Unity takes no critical stand towards the whole system of directly elected Mayors that many people charge with responsibility for the whole mess Tower Hamlets has found itself in.

We confidently predict that this hasty decision will herald serious signs of a break-up in Left Unity. The sordid manipulative, and communalist, past of several leading figures, mired in Galloway’s manoeuvres, has come back to haunt the ‘new’ organisation. 

Yes: Step Forward Kate Hudson.

You have to ask: is this not Respect Redux?

Further:

Shiraz Socialist posts this incisive letter.

I agree with Jim Denham’s critique (M Star April 29) of the editorial (M Star April 27) defending directly elected former Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfar Rahman.

However, as both fail to point out, the Communist Party manifesto calls for “abolition of  … directly elected mayors.”

As I wrote in The State and Local Government, such mayors should be abolished. These offices lead to cronyism, patronage and corruption. They are the optimal internal management arrangement for privatised local services.

Moreover, they remove the working class from this layer of local democracy, favouring full-time career politicians.

This undemocratic system has not increased voter turnout or support, only being recallable if there is proof of law-breaking.

The support for Rahman by Unite, George Galloway, Ken Livingstone and Labour’s Christine Shawcroft does not invalidate Mr Denham’s detailed arguments exposing double standards on the left, which has in the past also praised the archaic electoral court, which should be replaced with a simpler mechanism.

Power in Tower Hamlets, even before the commissioners, was too concentrated. Cabinets and directly elected mayors should be replaced with a committee system, giving all councillors the right to make policy again.

PETER LATHAM
London SE19