London borough elects Britain’s first Muslim mayor

22 Oct 2010

Lutfur Rahman – who won just over 50 per cent of the vote – ran as an independent after he was deselected as Labour’s candidate. He was backed by George Galloway’s Respect organisation. Mr Rahman, who served as Labour leader of the council until he was removed six months ago, said all he wanted to do was serve the people of Tower Hamlets – whatever their colour, religion or creed.
His election bid was supported by several Labour councillors, and London’s former mayor Ken Livingstone, who risked internal party discipline to back him against the official Labour man, Helal Abbas. Mr Abbas, who’s been leader of the council five times, launched a bitter attack on his rival last night accusing him of being “in the gutter”. He called it a sad night for anyone who wanted to build a better future, and a united Tower Hamlets.
The two men have been embroiled in bitter infighting throughout the campaign. Last month Mr Abbas produced a dossier accusing Mr Rahman of being influenced by a group called the Islamic Forum of Europe – which he described as a “fundamentalist organisation which is gradually infiltrating the Labour party.” It was this document which influenced the party’s National Executive Committee to remove Lutfur Rahman as the official candidate, and replace him with Mr Abbas.