Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, has condemned the newspapers that provide their readers with a completely distorted view of the East London borough. The Evening Standard and Telegraph in particular have set out to “inculcate an idea that somehow this part of London is run by a bunch of incompetent, corrupt Muslims who plan to introduce Sharia Law”.
Unfortunately, sections of the local Labour Party have assisted the Tory press in pursuing this Islamophobic agenda. Lutfur writes:
My own problems with sections of the media began when some of my local opponents on the Right wing of the Labour Party did not like the fact that I had won the party’s nomination to be the first candidate for Executive Mayor. Their lurid claims that I was “extremist linked” were taken to the Labour Party National Executive Committee, and my candidature was blocked, re-instated and blocked again. The promised NEC investigation into my so called “extremist links” never took place. At least the aggrieved parties in Falkirk had the semblance of a Labour Party investigation. But I have no doubt that this latter day McCarthyism gave the green light to sections of the media to do its worst.
Labour attacks on Lutfur and his administration continue to this day:
What is particularly disturbing is the way in which claims from the local Labour Party that for instance the Mayor “targets Decent Homes Funding to his supporters”, or from local GLA Assembly member, John Biggs that “the primary purpose of his policy making has been the concerns of the Bangladeshi community”, have been picked up and amplified by the English Defence League, and of course other parts of the local and national media.
Of course there are many in the Labour Party nationally and in the trade unions, who can see what is going on and have spoken out. But it is also up to the Labour Party nationally, in the shape of Ed Miliband, to get a grip of the situation locally and to stop our borough being used as a punch-bowl and exploited by sections of the media.