Overcome with emotion at winning a second term, in the early hours of last Saturday, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets broke down. Choking back the tears, Britain’s first directly elected mayor of Asian heritage said: “People say I’m a racist, I’m sectarian … it saddens me … I’m sorry I’m emotional … I’m emotional because what I seek from you is fairness.”
Lutfur Rahman sees himself as the victim both of a relentlessly hostile media and his former party, Labour, which dumped him as its mayoral candidate in 2010.
He says he was never given the chance to disprove the allegations that he rigged his selection and that he became the willing servant of an Islamist entryist organisation based at the East London Mosque which, like the Militant Tendency of the 1980s, sought to infiltrate the party.
One thing is clear, though: the Mayor is not a racist. “I grew up with black kids and white kids,” he sobbed. “I grew up with Jewish kids, Christian kids, people of no faith.”