Many now know the People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets (PATH) to be curious politicians. Labour, SWP-Respect, Respect, Tower Hamlets First, Independents, PATH, Labour rejects and now to the Liberal Democrats. They’ve been through them all.
Earlier today, Cllr Rabina Khan of the PATH group announced the disbandment of PATH in favour of the group joining the Liberal Democrats.
Those now known as former PATH activists were quick to suggest the Liberal Democrats have changed in recent years; that this move is a mainstream vehicle for British Bangladeshis in Tower Hamlets to be heard.
The Liberal Democrats did make changes in recent years – but the changes involved sharing a bed with the Tories. During their coalition government from 2010, the Lib Dems bent over backwards to accommodate Tory policies, going back on promises and being dishonest about tuition fees. A Tory coalition may have been needed as proof for PATH to join the Lib Dems (during this exercise PATH scored with flying colours, due to their relationship with the Tories here in Tower Hamlets).
Many will remember the Liberal Democrats as having a racist history in Tower Hamlets. During the late 80s and early 90s the Lib Dems seemed to have fuelled racist rhetoric, which inevitably supported a far-right ideology and at a time when the BNP was gaining sympathy in Tower Hamlets. The suspected racism within the Lib Dems was more than a few leaflets with racist undertones. There were serious accusations of corruption and allegations of racism from the moment the Lib Dems took office in Tower Hamlets. During their reign, they made national headlines for accusing Bengali families of making themselves intentionally homeless by coming to the UK and blaming ethnic minorities for the housing shortage. It was unhealthy rhetoric and was perhaps used to woo BNP voters.
The Lib Dems, to many, are wolves in sheep skin and have managed to exploit the desires of Bangladeshi-political ambition on this occasion. They have also entertained and welcomed those like Majid Nawaz who seems to despise the Muslim way of life.
The former PATH group, have been presenting themselves as Lib Dem fans, after the local 2018 elections.
One can only assume the names of Paddy Ashdown or Charles Kennedy wouldn’t have meant much this time last year.