The former Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman is thought to be behind a bid to launch a new political party which has now been rejected by the electoral commission.
The proposed party name, ‘Tower Hamlets Together’, is the same name as a local health and social care organisation, leading the electoral commission to reject the application as it could mislead voters.
An electoral spokesperson said: “It was our opinion that if the party name appeared on a ballot paper, an elector is likely to think they are voting for, or a party connected to or endorsed by, Tower Hamlets Together, which is the name of a partnership of local health and social care organisations in Tower Hamlets.”
The spokesperson added: “It is open for the party to submit a new application to be registered,” meaning Rahman could still register a new party under a different name.
Rahman was barred from office for five years in 2015 after a civil election court found him guilty of corrupt and illegal practices during the 2014 mayoral race.
It is thought that Rahman was planning to establish the new party with his former deputy and ally Ohid Ahmed, who plans to run for mayor in the 2018 elections.
Ahmed and 12 other members of the Independent Group were elected in 2014 as members of Rahman’s party ‘Tower Hamlets First’. Many have called for the councillors who were elected alongside Rahman to step down.
In a statement John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said, “This was clearly nothing but a cynical attempt to re-register the disgraced, discredited and disqualified Tower Hamlets First.”
“A court ruled these councillors were corruptly elected and disbanded their party. Instead of standing down and admitting their wrongdoing, Lutfur Rahman’s former colleagues seem set on doing it all over again.”
Ahmed denies Rahman was behind the registration of ‘Tower Hamlets Together’, he told East London Lines:”Despite deliberately biased narrative framing and transmission exercise the fact is that Lutfur Rahman has nothing to do with the application of Tower Hamlets Together to register as a political party as he is not the applicant.”
Ahmed said he was determined to run in the mayoral election in 2018, saying: “I was democratically elected by our Independent Group to be its mayoral candidate for 2018 and to challenge John Biggs. Anyone has the democratic right to register and support a political party.”
“John Biggs’ attack on our democratic rights is nothing but a smokescreen to hide his betrayal, incompetence and broken promises. I don’t support injustice; this is my politics.”
It was councillor Peter Golds, of the ward Island Gardens, who drew the electoral commissions’ attention to the fact that Rahman was using the same name as the health organisation. Golds told EastLondonLines: “The cynical attempt to register a political party in the name of a local Health provider has been rejected. However, if Rahman attempts to re-register then the Electoral Commission must undertake a proper investigation to prove that they are a fit and proper organisation, which they were not previously when registered.”