Ted Jeory reports:
MP GEORGE Galloway’s Respect project suffered another bitter blow tonight (Wednesday) after it emerged four of his former Tower Hamlets councillors in East London were on the brink of defecting to Labour.
Shahed Ali, the deputy leader of the Town Hall’s Respect group, signed his Labour application form today, along with the three remaining Respect Independent rebels Oli Rahman, Lutfa Begum and her daughter Rania Khan.
The East London Advertiser, which predicted the move last month, has been told that Labour’s London regional bosses have given their blessing and a formal announcement is expected tomorrow.
It will swell Labour’s numbers on the 51-seat local authority to 33 councillors.
Galloway’s party would be reduced to just six members, half the dozen ‘Bengal Tigers’ elected two years ago, while the Tories would remain the official opposition on eight and the Lib Dems on four.
The decision has been an agonising one for Cllr Rahman in particular. He was Respect’s first ever councillor in 2004 and his politics are deeply rooted on the Left Wing and in the Trade Union movement.
He wrote to SWP boss John Rees today to resign as chair of the Left List party.
He told Rees: “You have been a good friend to me,” adding, “I am proud to be a Muslim, socialist, Trade Unionist and will remain one for as long as I live—I will continue to fight for all the things I believe in.”
But the defection has not been without opposition within Tower Hamlets Labour party.
Many are unhappy accepting people who have been so vocal in their opposition over the past four years.
Well, it has been fun.
There is certainly a lot of shouting going on at Socialist “Unity”