Earlier today, echoing the purging of the Militant Tendency/Revolutionary Socialist League party from Labour in the 1980s, a number of Lutfur Rahman supporters – many with a Islamic Forum Europe or RESPECT background – were booted out of the Labour Party:

Eight Labour councillors, two officers of the local party and one ordinary member have tonight been expelled from the Labour Party for their backing of the fundamentalist sympathiser, Lutfur Rahman, in opposition to the party’s official candidate for Tower Hamlets mayor, Helal Abbas.

“I can confirm that eleven members of the Tower Hamlets Labour Party, including eight sitting councillors, have tonight been confirmed by the Party to have automatically excluded themselves from the Party by virtue of their support for an opposition candidate,” said a Labour Party spokesman.

The news was delivered to members by Labour’s London regional director, Ken Clark, at a meeting in Tower Hamlets tonight. Legal advice was taken from the national party’s legal and compliance unit to ensure that the grounds were solid and the process watertight. The eight councillors are understood to be those who appeared in support of Lutfur at his press conference last week – Oli Rahman, Lutfa Begum, Rania Khan, Alibor Choudhury, Ohid Ahmed, Aminur Khan, Rabina Khan, and Shelina Aktar. Their attendance was reported on this blog and YouTube footage of them at the event has been placed online.

Earlier today, apparently in anticipation of these expulsions, an article by Ken Livingstone appeared on Socialist Unity, a blog run by Andy Newman, a prominent RESPECT activist who has recently been allowed to join the Labour Party. Here is a snippet:

As with my election as an independent in 2000, there must be no wave of expulsions of those who have campaigned for Lutfur Rahman’s candidacy. I want to see the door left open for those councillors who have resigned the party whip to return so that whoever is elected can be sure that there is a strong Labour group that will work with the Mayor to ensure the needs of Tower Hamlets comes first and we reunite the local party once the dust has settled.

This is pure self interest, dressed up as a call for party unity. In fact, it runs against the interests of a Labour Party, which has clearly decided that the supporters of the Jamaat-e-Islami aligned Islamic Federation Europe and their hangers on are not wanted as members.

Ken Livingstone may regard these people as sources for easy personal votes, or even his ideological kindred – as he once ran with the Workers Revolutionary Party clique -but they are not. Labour loses votes by association with these fools.

One thing is now clear. There will be no return to the dismal 1980s in the Labour Party.


Ted Jeory adds:

Separately, a Labour source said there was deep unease over the position of Ken Livingstone who told me at the party conference in Manchester last week that the treatment of Lutfur Rahman had been “disgraceful” and urged voters to place him second on the ballot paper.

The source said that was the wrong attitude and added: “People have to realise that you’re either with us or against us in this. I’m not happy about what Ken said.”