In his first public speech since his removal, former Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman said that more than 37,000 voters gave him votes because of his successful contribution in community development. People have voted him because of his record-breaking achievement in Housing, education, regeneration and creating jobs.
He also said that “I am, as you know, no longer Mayor,” Rahman said. “I may be fallen but I’m not broken.”
He also said that Tower Hamlets is my home. I am not going anywhere from here, neither anyone can stop me.
He said he was “exploring the possibility” of challenging the judgment, and announced Rabina Khan as the next Tower Hamlets independent mayoral candidate. Rabina Khan will stand for mayor in the election in June 11
Khan’s campaign was officially announced at the meeting in Water Lily which was the first public appearance of Lutfur Rahman.
She appeared visibly emotional with tears in her eyes as she stood on stage and delivered her first speech as an official candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets.
She expressed her deep displeasure at Rahman’s exit, and said: “I am here today…because Lutfur Rahman believed I would be a good counsellor.”
Rabina Khan is currently a Cabinet member for housing in Tower Hamlets.
Hundreds of people turned out to support Rahman, apparently unaware he would introduce Khan as his successor, as he declared his election campaign last year had been fair.
Speakers who attended the meeting mentioned that Lutfur Rahman granted more funding to community organisations, which has been seen as enticement, however, no one can say that Lutfur Rahman has benefitted himself or his family personally.
The speakers also said that the community has always had their support for Lutfur Rahman and will always be, in a meeting attended by the thousands of his supporters where the former Mayor was met with deafeningly loud cheers.
Several MPs and mainstream Union leaders offered their support, including George Galloway and Ken Livingstone, who both sent videos to be shown at the event.
Galloway described Rahman’s dismissal as an “anti-democratic coup” while Livingstone admonished judge Richard Mawrey, stating he had “clearly allowed his political beliefs to override any serious assessment”.
Many of the guest speakers, who ranged from MPs, campaigners, students to local residents, expressed their anger towards the legal proceedings.
Unite Against Fascism leader Sabi Delu and sports personality Surot Miah conducted the meeting where special guests included Labour Party NEC member Christine Shawcroft, Lindsey German of Stop the War Coalition, Chairperson of Greater Sylhet Council Nurul Islam Mahbub, former Mayor of Harrow Council Nana Asanty, Chief of Staff of United Union Andrew Murry, Convenor of People’s Assembly John Ryes, social justice activist Salma Yakub, Human Rights Activists Peter Herbert, Secretary of Tower Hamlets Unison John McLoughlin.
Other speakers in the meeting included Executive Member of NUT Alex Kenny, former Labour Party Borough Chair Lil Collins, Chair of United East End Dr Glyn Robbins, K M Abu Taher Chowdhry of Voice for Justice, former Chair of GSC Barrister Ataur Rahman, Comedian and Writer Ava Bidal, community leader Abdi Rashid, Mahmudur Rahman, Sohul Ahmed, John Allison, Sen Rilo Rizka, Arone Kelly and many others.
In her emotional speech, Rabina Khan said that she never thought she would be the mayoral candidate bypassing Lutfur Rahman. No one can accept the removal of the former Mayor. She wanted everyone’s co-operation to take forward former Mayor’s agendas.
Labour Party’s Christine Shawcroft, a constituency representative on the National Executive Committee, also announced that should they wish, residents could donate money to help with Rahman’s appeal. She also expressed her dissatisfaction on the court ruling.
Broadcaster and writer John Ryes said that this case was politically motivated. He also said that this judge’s ruling was proven a mistake in appeal in a case in Birmingham. This judge now took decision against the wish of 37,000 voters of Tower Hamlets.
NUT Executive Member Alex Kenny said that they have to stand by the former Mayor to protect the democracy. Lutfur has taken extra-ordinary measures to secure and improve the education sector in the borough and he will always support him.
K M Abu Taher Chowdhury said that Lutfur Rahman is the symbol of our unity. He was people’s Mayor. We will do our best to elect his representative and prove that the ruling was wrong.
Andrew Murry of Unite Union said that he was not here just to show his support, he has brought the support of his leader Len Klasky.
Social Justice Activist Salma Yakub said that people need to elect Lutfur Rahman’s candidate so that establishment get the message. She also said that they will always be by Lufur Rahman so that he never falls in trouble.
Lil Collins said that she has witnessed the contribution made by Lutfur Rahman and as a result she knows that no one can stop him.
Solicitor Sahul Hossain said that Lutfur Rahman is our organisation’s honorary patron. He expressed his hope that they could reinstate the lost status by legal challenges.
Barrister Ataur Rahman said that not only Tower Hamlets, the whole UK has been surprised by the court verdict. They all will be standing by former Mayor’s side and they could not accept the insult of Lutfur Rahman.
Weyman Bennett, of Unite Against Fascism, described it as an “insult” and John McLoughlin, of Tower Hamlets Unison, said he couldn’t understand how the judge could “set aside the voices and votes of 37,000 voters in Tower Hamlets”.
Pasha Khondokar, President of BCA said in comment to media that, he reserves his full respect to the court ruling, however, Lutfur Rahman was the only elected Mayor of BME community. Removal of the former Mayor without any criminal offence won’t bring any good result for the democracy. He also said that Lurfur Rahman was always in favour of justice and today everyone should stand by him to provide the support that he will need.