Where is justice? 11.11.2010

Labour Briefing’s coverage of Labour Party matters begins with a report on Lutfur Rahman’s first round election as Mayor of Tower Hamlets, after the NEC had removed him as the Labour candidate. The individual imposed by the NEC as Labour’s candidate was as unpopular with the electorate as he had been with Labour Party members, winning around 20% of the vote in the election and selection contests. Cllr Rabina Khan adds a personal view (see below).

Jon Lansman looks at Labour’s Shadow Cabinet.

Nick Davies reports on the Welsh Labour Grassroots’ success in the National Policy Forum elections.

Stephen Beckett reports on Labour Party Conference, and Pat Byrne asks if the Labour Party is changing for the better.

We print Cllr Rabina Khan’s article in full.
Where is justice?

By Cllr Rabina Khan

I am Councillor Rabina Khan and I was elected on 6th May 2010 as a Labour councillor in Shadwell ward, Tower Hamlets. Shadwell was a Respect stronghold in which previous Council Leader Michael Keith failed to keep his seat or win it back. I also campaigned for Jim Fitzpatrick MP in Shadwell ward last May: I targeted key Respect areas to ensure there was a Labour MP in Poplar and Limehouse.

I am a writer and creative consultant. I have worked for the BBC and ITV and delivered commissions for the Arts Council and many other organisations. Since becoming a councillor I have thoroughly enjoyed learning and being part of local government. I work with people from all backgrounds in my ward and I feel privileged to represent their concerns and issues.

Having been brought up to believe in Labour values from childhood, I have always supported the Labour Party. But since 21st September, when the NEC deselected Lutfur Rahman as Labour candidate for Mayor and imposed Helal Abbas instead, I have questioned whether there is true democracy in the Labour Party. If Rahman was selected by so many votes in a process rigorously overseen by regional officers, why was it necessary for him to be deselected?

Abbas, Labour Group leader, and councillor Turner both sat through a Labour Group meeting on 20th September knowing that they had submitted allegations against Rahman. I suspect that certain other councillors knew this also, because there were sarcastic comments made about Rahman and bullying behaviour towards other councillors.

My ward residents and members are appalled by the NEC’s decision and are requesting me to follow this up as they believe that the NEC has overturned their choice, the members’ choice, for unjust reasons. The NEC should be an example of good party comradeship, promoting Labour values for our Labour Group to follow. If such appallingly unjust acts can be made at a high level, it allows the Tower Hamlets Labour Group the scope to behave badly.

The Labour Government under Tony Blair went to war in Iraq using false dossiers that contained no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Tony Blair went to war even though the public were against it and even though brave MPs voted against this decision. On 21st September, two dossiers against Rahman were presented to the NEC and they were accepted without question by nearly all NEC members, taking their lead from Harriet Harman. The NEC was also influenced by Andrew Gilligan. The Party should be influenced by its members, not journalists who have torn the Labour Party to shreds in previous elections.

Many people thought that David Miliband would win the Labour leadership, yet it is his brother Ed who won. Members knew David Miliband’s politics and we knew Ed Miliband’s politics, and we made a free choice. We voted for a different kind of leadership that will listen to people and not be driven by dossiers or journalists.

During the Thatcher years, no matter how much she cut, Labour could not win because it never managed to get its values in order. The Coalition is getting stronger, but Labour will get weaker if it does not start listening to its members.

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