The community turned out to defend Lutfur Rahman and democracy at a packed multilingual meeting in the borough of Tower Hamlets on Wednesday night
“Lutfur Rahman is not under attack for what he has done wrong, but for what he has done right.”
These words from John Rees were met with resounding cheers at a packed multilingual meeting in the borough of Tower Hamlets on Wednesday night. Speaker after speaker highlighted the different achievements of Rahman’s administration from social housing to free home care for the elderly.
Prominent members of the Tower Hamlets community, trade unionists and local activists rallied support for Rahman. They outlined his commitments to the anti-war, anti-austerity and anti-fascist campaigns and his support for LGBT and young people in East London.
The policies of Rahman’s council were shown to have made a great impact in the community by raising living standards and ‘prioritising opportunities for young people,’ as Aaron Keilly highlighted.
Improving local schools, providing free school meals, bringing back EMA and funding university grants are proof of his investment in young people of Tower Hamlets.
Indeed, Jamie Oliver originally tried to film his healthy school meals programme in Tower Hamlets, but had to look elsewhere as the school meals programme was too good.
Members of the audience were not only in agreement about improvements Rahman has made in Tower Hamlets, but of the sinister nature of the attacks by the government on this council.
Speakers emphasized that the criticisms of Lutfur Rahman are motivated by the need to protect the establishment, and are driven by the racism and islamophobia that it fosters.
Its reputation as an anti-fascist borough that ‘broke the EDL when they were refused entry at the gates of Tower Hamlet three times’ was reflected in the calling out the racism that ignores the democratic mandate of a Bengali Muslim Mayor.
The disgust of these motives was reinforced by the hypocrisy of Eric Pickles and other MPs to investigate the council over value for money, in light of Mr Pickles’ expensive biscuit and limousine habits.
The attack on democracy by the government was highlighted by the banner displaying the majority vote which recently won Rahman a second term as Mayor. Eric Pickles was invited to run for election as Mayor of Tower Hamlets if he wished to take over the council by John McLoughlin.
George Galloway assured the audience that the only people entitled to remove Rahman were the people of Tower Hamlets, and it was evident on Wednesday night that the people had no reason to do so.
After Galloway suggested that Labour should be asking for Rahman to ‘sprinkle some of his stardust on them’, Rahman finished the evening of speeches.
His assurance that ‘it is only the people that matter to me’ and ‘I am only accountable to the people of this borough’ captured the support of the room. He drew attention to the mix of black and white, faith and non-faith, young and old attendees as a reflection of the diverse and united community of Tower Hamlets.
The collective power of the community was highlighted as the strength of the campaign going forward, and demonstrated the wealth of support for Lutfur Rahman against a failing government.
John Rees speech
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