We live in a time and place where democratic processes allow us to vote for individuals and have the privilege to exercise the right of expression. This is why Lutfur Rahman supported Rabina Khan during the 2015 mayoral contest but will not be doing so for the elections in May 2018.
The reasons are logical, factual but also require a breakdown of the political dynamics, welfare of our residents and community interests as a whole. It seems that Lutfur is confident that the facts will echo the thoughts of many residents in Tower Hamlets.
There is a clichéd view that a vote or support for Rabina Khan during the 2018 mayoral contest will result in a victory for John Biggs; but also a win for Biggs means a victory for the Tory Party in Tower Hamlets. This is a view that many hold including Lutfur and his allies.
What comes as a surprise and a shock to many is Cllr Rabina Khan’s calculated support-receiving friendship, with those who played vital roles in using the back door to bring down the Lutfur Rahman administration during the administration’s second term. Namely Helal Abbas, Khales Uddin Ahmed and Azmal Hussain (one of the four who brought forward the electoral petition). The Khan’s have also formed a friendship with the Tories here in Tower Hamlets and beyond.
Facts and arguments to be analysed:
As an observer of Tower Hamlets politics, it is obvious to see that no one has benefited more from Lutfur Rahman’s achievements and proven track record of delivery for residents than Cllr Rabina Khan and her spouse Cllr Aminur Khan. Both of whom were cabinet members under the former administration. Through this, Cllrs Aminur and Rabina Khan seem to have created effective and convenient political relationships in Tower Hamlets.
It was until 2010 that Cllr Rabina Khan was unknown in the political arena – a newly elected back bench councillor with no previous experience of frontline public service or decision making. The trust Lutfur had for Cllr Rabina Khan was visible. Lutfur as Mayor made her cabinet member, provided support, opportunities to learn, understand the community and grow her public service role. Of course there was a lot to take in for Rabina in order to see through her cabinet post i.e. the Whitechapel Vision and other housing projects – which were in fact carried out by former cabinet member Alibor Choudhury and the then-Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s office.
Cllr Shiria Khan, one of three Labour Deputy Mayors to John Biggs until recently, once referred to Rabina Khan as a ‘bride’ who came to Tower Hamlets from Kent through her marriage to Cllr Aminur Khan. It was also mentioned that Rabina Khan is a trained theatre artist who had never attended college or university. Rhetoric like this coming from Cllr Shiria Khatun is unfair, as Rabina has done remarkably well, performs well and also speaks well – possibly thanks to her Kent School upbringing.
The civil tribunal petition during early 2015 came as a big-ticket opportunity for the Khans – a lottery – which Cllr Rabina Khan made the most out of, as she was always very ambitious with her future plans in politics and public life. Then-Mayor Lutfur Rahman was well into his second mayoral term in 2014/2015, delivering on his manifesto pledges when an acting deputy-judge stopped him from public office for five years. This is due to be lifted by April 2020, if not earlier, depending on his judicial review challenging the controversial ruling.
It was during these moments Rabina Khan was chosen and imposed by Lutfur Rahman to carry on his legacy in 2015 as an independent mayoral candidate. Clearly a friendship between one of Lutfur’s closest associates at that time, Cllr Aminur Khan – was at play.
After the judgement, at a rally for Democracy in Tower Hamlets, Lutfur publicly announced that Cllr Rabina Khan to be the group’s next mayoral candidate. Standing next to Lutfur Rahman on the podium, Cllr Rabina Khan had this to say in her public acceptance speech when she was imposed by Lutfur Rahman:
ON MAWREY JUDGEMENT:
- “Verdict or no verdict, this is the man who was elected in 2014 – Mayor Lutfur Rahman – Don’t ever forget that”
- Cllr Rabina Khan made these comment as she pointed to former Mayor Lutfur Rahman who was removed by, what a significant majority in Tower Hamlets and beyond still feel was an establishment stitch-up – a witch-hunt; which was supported by powerful right-wingers, unsympathetic/biased elements in the media, anti-Corbyn sentiments within the Tower Hamlets Labour Party – working in cohort with Tower Hamlets Tory Leader, Cllr Peter Golds. This list continues with other kippers/political plotters who wish to fulfil their political agenda by taking political revenge through the back door as they failed when up against Lutfur Rahman twice when at the ballot box. The plot resulted with the biggest beneficiary – Cllr Rabina Khan as the new mayoral candidate.
ON LUTFUR RAHMAN, CLLR RABINA KHAN STATED:
- “37,000 votes were given to this man (pointing to Lutfur Rahman) in May 2014.”
Lutfur Rahman achieved 37, 395 votes, a 52.3% of the votes compared to John Biggs who received 34,143 – a 47.75 of the vote share in 2014 election.
- “I wish I was not here, I wish I was not here. I wish I was not here on the back of this man’s achievements”
Referring to whilst pointing at former Mayor Lutfur Rahman, standing next to him at the podium.
2015 – MAYORAL ELECTION
The choices available to Lutfur Rahman, with a short time available for the 2015 mayoral election, were between a few of his cabinet members. There was his former statutory Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member, Cllr Ohid Ahmed. Ohid had been a councillor since 2002; having served in a number of cabinet positions as Portfolio Holder responsible for regeneration, education, resources, community safety and under a number of administrations. Lutfur also had another prolific young man, Cllr Oliur Rahman. Finally there was the newbie, Cllr Rabina Khan, who Lutfur appointed to his cabinet in 2010 as a newly elected councillor. It was said that due to the unfortunate hysterical bias in mainstream press, plotting by Tories/local Labour, along with his own struggles to challenge the controversial ruling in the civil petition tribunal, he had to choose one of them – Lutfur went with Cllr Rabina Khan and appointed her as the mayoral candidate for the 2015 snap election.
Cllr Ohid Ahmed and other hopefuls for the mayoral candidacy were naturally disappointed with the decision but neither stood as individual independent candidates, nor did they form another group or party to promote themselves and challenge their colleagues. It was clear that Cllrs Ohid Ahmed and Oliur Rahman did not wish to divide their group, in order to beat Labour’s John Biggs. Critically, this was out of respect, camaraderie, the strong track record of delivery and struggles of Lutfur Rahman – not kicking a person when they were down momentarily, but carrying on serving the people who elected you.
Between the intensely biased media narrative and the controversial Mawrey judgment, where an acting deputy judge failed to clearly identify whether any votes were cast inappropriately during the 2014 and 2015 elections; Tories and others voted for Blairite candidate Biggs in a hastily announced mayoral election re-run, where Cllr Rabina Khan lost the election to John Biggs.
Never the less, Rabina managed to receive a significant number of votes from the Tower Hamlets voters due to a clear track record of delivery and achievements of ‘that man’ – Lutfur Rahman and most importantly a united independent opposition team. However, Cllr Rabina Khan lost more than 11,000 votes in 2015. Merely a year ago in 2014 – Lutfur received 37,395 votes compared to Cllr Rabina Khan’s 25, 763 first preference votes, topped up by 621 second preference votes. Notwithstanding the partisan coverage by right-wing elements and political opponents, residents and Cllr Rabina Khan must wonder why, despite the best endeavours, she lost the support of more than 11,000 voters within a year? Readers can make their own judgment.
Democratically elected councillors in Tower Hamlets Council who supported Lutfur Rahman, were now working under the banner of the ‘Independent Group’ to represent their residents as the largest opposition group to Labour’s administration. John Biggs was continuing to work hand in glove with Tower Hamlets Conservative leader, Cllr Peter Golds, who was branded an unofficial political adviser to Biggs by Cllr Oliur Rahman due to political collusion. Biggs promoted Tories in the council by personally allocating them front benches despite objection by the responsible council officer. This was in favour of the Tories to raise their declining profile under Peter Golds’ leadership, despite the fact there were only five Tories in Tower Hamlets council. John Biggs went on to reward the Tory leader a whopping 40% (extra £2,291) increase in his pay packet. It’s believed that this was a gesture to say thank you for the Tory leader’s support during the 2015 election campaign against Biggs’s opponents. It has also been stated Tories voted for Biggs in 2015 under Peter Golds’ leadership as reported in the media.
THE INDEPENDENT GROUP’S INTERNAL MAYORAL SELECTION PROCESS:
The Independent Group had a tough road ahead and had to elect their new internal leader as well as their mayoral candidate for 2018. First came the group leadership election, Cllr Ohid Ahmed and Cllr Oliur Rahman both stood for this position. Cllr Rabina Khan and her husband Cllr Aminur Khan tactically pledged support to Cllr Oliur Rahman in return for his probable support for her mayoral candidacy in 2018.
However, it has been said that Cllr Aminur Khan made it known within the community and to some councillors that his wife, Rabina Khan, will stand down as a councillor in 2018, had no intentions of becoming group leader and nor will she contest the Independent Group’s mayoral nomination. Thereafter, Cllr Rabina Khan met with Cllr Oliur Rahman to state that she will support him to become the Independent Group’s mayoral candidate, if he was to stand. Naturally, Cllr Oliur was delighted with this kind gesture.
It was shortly after that Cllr Oliur Rahman narrowly won the democratic group leadership election. This was overseen and agreed to by respected independent community members, who were acting as observers to establish accountability and transparency. The results of the process were accepted by all involved, Including councillors Rabina Khan, Aminur Khan and Ohid Ahmed.
It was during the end of July 2016 that Cllr Rabina Khan and her husband changed their minds about the nomination, where she wanted to become the mayoral candidate for the Independent Group. It was when the Independent Group’s mayoral selection process begun during the latter part of 2016, Cllr Rabina Khan found herself doing a blatant U-turn and retracting her pledge to support Cllr Oliur Rahman. What she really wanted was Lutfur Rahman to impose and endorse her again as the group’s mayoral candidate. Unfortunately for Rabina, Lutfur refused. Lutfur knew that unlike the 2015 snap mayoral rerun, there was time to select a candidate through a proper transparent process.
The Independent Group were now left with councillors Ohid Ahmed and Rabina Khan contesting the internal selection for the group’s mayoral candidate. Cllr Oliur Rahman was not participating in the contest. He was now busy with leading the group in the Town Hall and the agreed support he’d receive from Cllr Rabina Khan had come to a hard stop. Cllr Rabina Khan broke the promise made to Oliur by standing for the group’s mayoral candidate herself. This was the beginning of the end of another politically convenient relationship by Cllr Rabina Khan.
With Cllr Rabina Khan and husband Cllr Aminur Khan panicking to assemble internal support in its majority (where they still almost had enough numbers to win the selection process); they were becoming dangerously close to men seen as political thugs, known as the ‘gang of three’ within the Tower Hamlets Labour Party. They include Cllr Khales Uddin Ahmed, former Cllr Helal Abbas and Azmal Hussain (one of the four petitioners) – the common interest that all three had was that they despised Lutufur Rahman and wanted to either play king makers or destroyers.
At this point it became evident within the community that Cllr Ohid Ahmed and Rabina Khan were facing a power struggle. The gang of three had taken this as music to their ears and saw this as an opportunity to divide a united Independent Group and to keep John Biggs in power. Even as a temporary measure. The gang of three took the opportunity in befriending the Khans. The Khan’s driven by ambition fell into this trap. The gang of three lured them with the promise that a section of the Labour Party will support her in an independent mayoral candidacy against their own Labour mayor John Biggs; if she failed to secure nomination within the Independent Group.
Whilst these games were being played, a partnership had formed between the Khans and the ‘gang of three’. This was a tactical ploy which carried out the bidding for Biggs. Now that Rabina Khan was willing to stand against any Independent Group mayoral candidate, it did nothing but favour John Biggs.
The ‘gang of three’ know well that they had a far better chance of removing Biggs through an internal trigger ballot instead of an open and democratic mayoral election; where all residents choose their mayor. Khales, Helal and Azmal messed up the Labour trigger ballot due to their incompetence, inability to lead, lack of credibility and exaggeration of their support base within the Labour Party. Interestingly, the ‘gang of three’ used similar tactics with Cllr Oliur Rahman in a parliamentary election, with a promise of support but did not deliver for him when the time came.
Cllr Rabina Khan and her husband Cllr Aminur Khan made efforts to win a clear majority of councillors within the Independent Group’s selection process but failed to do so for a variety of reasons. This included a reoccurring complaint of Cllr Rabina Khan’s leadership since the 2015 mayoral election and the sheer arrogance on her part that there was no one better than her within the Independent Group.
It was at this point when Cllr Rabina Khan realised that she lacked the ability to rally-up majority of the Independent Group’s support in a mayoral nomination which favoured her. Things took a turn for the worst and under the influence of the ‘gang of three’, Rabina chose to stand as an independent mayoral candidate to rival the Independent Group’s mayoral candidate. This announcement by Cllr Rabina Khan was welcomed by the Labour Party and the Tories who saw this betrayal of the Independent Group as an opportunity to keep Biggs in power. Those helping the gang of three, known to many as colonial architects and for the destruction of Tower Hamlets politics.
It was during a final attempt that many Independent Group councillors went to the home of Cllr Rabina Khan to persuade her to take part of a transparent-independently scrutinised democratic process and stand in the internal election to become the Independent Group’s mayoral candidate. In fact, the deadlines for the process had been extended twice to include Cllr Rabina Khan. However, there was no progress in these conversations and the Khans remained defiant. It was moments after that Cllrs Aminur Khan and Rabina Khan got their stand-in agent, Cllr Shah Alam, to participate in the selection process and sabotage democracy. However, Cllr Shah Alam being Cllr Shah Alam, submitted his nomination as potential mayoral candidate for the Independent Group but failed to turn up to the internal election or bother to pass on his apologies. His stance suggests that this was done under direct instruction of the Khans. The Independent Group’s internal mayoral selection went ahead and was overseen by a community activist/leader, a local journalist and a non-Bangladeshi respected female activist/resident (yes Caucasian, for those of you who’d like to think otherwise). It was Cllr Ohid Ahmed who was elected as a definitive winner during this democratic and transparent process in the presence of the Independent Group’s councillors and election observers.By now, the smoke screen pledges received from the ‘gang of Three’ (Khales, Abbas and Azmal) had taken its toll on Cllr Rabina Khan, her husband Cllr Aminur Khan and the rest of those who had put faith in an illusion as such. Cllr Rabina Khan went on to announce her own mayoral candidacy and formed another group in the council with four other councillors; becoming the leader of the group and claiming a special allowance.
The united opposition to John Biggs and the Tories was now in tatters as a result of one person’s own ambitions. Despite what was seen as sheer betrayal, the Independent Group maintained an amicable and respectful relationship with the Khans; the courteous behaviour went as far as not standing a prospective councillor candidate for the Whitechapel by-election, despite intense pressure to stand someone. It was to ensure that there was only one strong opposition to beat John Biggs’ candidate in the Whitechapel ward and for the local community to be able to elect someone who can serve them well.
It is important to mention that during late 2016 and early 2017; respected community leaders tried to bring the Khans to reconcile the situation by making personal efforts to have a united candidate against Biggs. On two separate occasions, Cllr Rabina Khan refused to make an appearance, at last minute on the day. She accused community leaders and elders of being sectarian and biased. The accusations left elders and community leaders feeling hurt. They were left feeling insulted at Cllr Khan’s last minute refusal and excuses to not participate in the mediation.
2017 was the year many so-called financial backers made U-turns in their promise of funding the Khan campaign. It just so happens that so many of those who believed her one-sided version of events are now finding reasons to withdraw their support when receiving facts regarding the political realities of Tower Hamlets.
Deals Falling Apart (Labour’s gang of three, Tories, Liberal Democrats – what next?)
Cllr Rabina Khan tried to bid for funding for a project, fronted by an organisation, from the Conservative Government under the PREVENT programme and apparently the process had failed. Cllr Rabina Khan has also developed a politically cosy relationship with the local Tory leader, Cllr Peter Golds. It is evident in her interaction in public council meetings, sitting next to each other and her open support for a Tory councillor for a position as Resources Scrutiny Lead within the council.
During the last eighteen months, Cllr Rabina Khan and her husband, Cllr Aminur Khan, have tried their upmost best to collude with the Tower Hamlets Liberal democrats, which has also not gone to plan. An apparent reason for this was due to the refusal of the Liberal Democrats in automatically appointing Cllr Rabina Khan as their mayoral candidate for 2018. Rumour also has it that Cllr Rabina Khan tried to persuade some of her supporters to join the Liberal Democrats, but most, if not all, have declined.
Many wards and areas in Tower Hamlets were originally charmed and impressed by her. Those same people are now in the notion that the borough needs more than that. The borough needs someone with a vision, an ability to deliver, to be able to bring people together, to win support and to put residents first. People feel that the borough doesn’t require a person who can’t see the bigger picture; a person who acts as a diversion to hand power to John Biggs, serves the self-interest of the Tories, pours fuel into advocates of the right and fills the gap for those disgruntled career politicians/so-called activists.
This must be very demoralising for the Khans, whilst knowing this about themselves. If anything, it’s more embarrassing for voters like me who had voted for Cllr Rabina Khan as a mayoral candidate during the 2015 snap-election.
Yes, Cllr Rabina Khan did receive 25,763 first preference votes and 621 second preference votes in 2015 when she lost to Biggs. If she thinks these votes were cast because of her ability to speak good sounding English, as a result of her procuring a few media appearances; due to the networking contacts she was able to make as Lutfur Rahman’s mayoral candidate and former cabinet member; the unfortunate truth is that Mrs Khan is living on cloud nine.
In fact, Cllr Rabina Khan has the most to lose if she stands and receives fewer votes than 2015, which is a strong probability. Troublemakers and the ‘gang of three’ who are advising her to stand could not care less if she loses or wins. To them, her act will serve two purposes which they crave.
- To divide the united opposition to Biggs
- Harm the community-interest, who have been brutally hit by Biggs’ own austerity politics, laced with his right-wing connections and Blairite credentials.
Cllr Rabina Khan unlike others around her, who are advising her is an intelligent politician. She mustn’t become a tool in the hands of those people who are fuelled by personal interests and revenge. They are merely there to misguide her so far away from the facts, that she is unable to make a comeback with dignity.
If this misleading plot against the community is executed by Cllr Rabina Khan and husband Cllr Aminur Khan, not only will they be solely held responsible for the disunity. The catastrophic political consequences that will only benefit Biggs will also be something that should be on their conscious. No matter the spin, whether it was Judas or Mir Jafar – history and community never forget those who divide the community or carry out secret deals with the dark side.
We live in hope.