Dead Men Left

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

"Tower Hamlets Labour councillors are set to defect to Respect"

News just in from the Tower Hamlets Recorder:

SEVEN Tower Hamlets Labour councillors are set to defect to Respect, it was claimed this week.

The revelation follows the ousting of Cllr Helal Uddin Abbas as Britain's first Bangladeshi council leader in the wake of Respect founder George Galloway's General Election victory in Bethnal Green and Bow.

A source told the Recorder that the ruling Labour Group were braced to lose the seven, probably by the end of the month, writes NICK JURY.

Supporters of Cllr Abbas claimed he was removed because there were fears he would be manipulated by Respect.

The anti-war party aim to capture control of the Town Hall in next year's local elections.

updated: Guy's sent me the rest of the story now. Thanks.

Cllr Abbas was removed after 4 years and replaced by Cllr Michael Keith for his third stint as council leader.

An Abbas supporter claimed "Instead of unifying the Labour Group this is politically divisive. And Jim Fitzpatrick's position as Labout MP for Canning Town and Poplar could be weakened as a result."

The source added that support for Fitzpatrick and former BG&B MP Oona King had been eroded in the run up to the General Election. Both voted for the Iraq war.

But a senior Labour source insisted that Cllr Keith attempted to bring unity be making overtures to councillors in Cllr Abbas's camp to accept cabinet positions. But they refused, said the source.

"They were advised to refuse positions, s draw your own conclusions on that", said the source. Cllr Keith told the Recorder the council would stand on their record for education, social services and regeneration. He admitted "We face a massive challenge over the next 12 months but will stand on our record of achievement and will stand for all the community."

The councillor added that the issue in tower Hamlets was local not international politics.

Mr Galloway has said the borough could be twinned with Jenin in Palestine if respect take control of the Town Hall, next year.

If that happened, the Palestinian flag would flutter over Mulberry Place, he said.

It emerged over the weekend that the Scottish MP had been invited to undertake a lucrative lecture tour of the US after his dramatic showdown with a Senate committee in Washington last week.