HISTORY WAS MADE at the meeting of Tower Hamlets Council last night, 17th January. No one was sure if this was the very first opposition motion which Labour had agreed to debate at a Council meeting – but the debate was soon eclipsed by the sight of the motion being passed.
Labour has an absolute majority on the floor of Council, so it can dictate which motions can be discussed. The party can also determine the outcome of any vote: if Labour supports a motion, it will be passed; if Labour opposes a motion, it will fall.
Cllr Ahmed was hopeful, but by no means confident, when he tabled a motion calling on the Council to declare Tower Hamlets a (Donald) Trump-Free Zone. To his delight – and amazement – Labour allowed the motion to be debated and, in a very rare show of unity against a common enemy, even voted in favour.
Observers wondered if Labour has finally dropped its blanket campaign of derision against the opposition councillors who were previously part of Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s Group on the Council. However, it seemed more likely that, mindful of the elections coming up in May, Labour Councillors were reluctant to oppose a popular move that would not go down well with their electors.
Cllr Ohid Ahmed, who is a member of the Independent Group of councillors, the largest opposition group on the Council, said, “I am glad we have demonstrated a clear leadership on this issue. I hope my campaign has contributed in conveying a clear message to President Trump but the fact remains that Downing Street and the White House both remain adamant that the invitation by our Prime Minister has been accepted and ‘we are still working to finalise a date’. That’s why it was important Tower Hamlets came together and declared ‘Tower Hamlets a Trump-Free Zone’ like Chicago. We ask our Prime Minister to withdraw the invitation urgently.”
Cllr Ahmed had already written to the Prime Minister and the US Ambassador expressing his view – shared by millions of UK Muslims and anti-islamaphobia activists – that US President Donald Trump should not visit the UK.
After this stunning victory at the Council meeting, Cllr Ahmed and the Independent Group vowed to continue their campaign to keep Trump out of the UK.