Mr Clark has a long association with Tower Hamlets, having first been assigned to work in Tower Hamlets shortly after Labour’s landslide Council victory in 1994. Although he remained only a few months, Tower Hamlets was included in his portfolio when he returned to the London Labour Party nearly ten years later.
Mr Clark’s key duties in the Borough included breaking the news to the local Labour Party, in August 2005, that they would not be allowed to select their own candidates for the 2006 Council elections and that the entire selection process would be taken over by the London Labour Party.
The London Labour Party’s reasoning for taking over the selection process was that it believed there may be some membership infiltration in the Borough’s Labour Party. The London Party took this very seriously, and since 2003 they had been vetting every single application to join the Labour Party from applicants resident in Tower Hamlets. The London Labour Party was so determined to stamp out any infiltration, that although by 2005 every member of Tower Hamlets Labour Party had either been a member for two years or had been vetted by the London office, the regional party thought it better that they select candidates themselves rather than risk the members being involved and possibly selecting the wrong candidates.
Mr Clark’s experience in taking over selections led to him being chosen, in 2009, to break the news to the local Labour Party that they would not be allowed to select their own candidates for the 2010 Council elections and that the entire selection process would be taken over by the London Labour Party. Although by then all Labour Party members had been members of the Labour Party for over six years or had had their applications vetted by the London Labour Party, again the Region thought it better that they select candidates themselves rather than risk the members being involved and possibly selecting the wrong candidates.
During Mr Clark’s time at the London office, there were only three brief interludes when the regional party could confirm that the Tower Hamlets Labour Party membership was in order. Two of these were when local party members were invited to select their own General Election candidates.
Such was Mr Clark’s success in Tower Hamlets, that he was chosen to break the news to Labour Party members in Walthamstow that they could not select their Labour Party candidates either.
After the May 2010 elections, the London Party’s attentions turned to the campaign for the London Mayoral elections in May 2012. There were press reports of rumours that staff at London Labour Party headquarters were not fully behind the London Party’s choice of candidates.
Despite the need to devote resources to the London mayoral campaign, the national Labour Party had to deprive London of Mr Clark’s services as they needed an experienced hand to work in Scotland, where Labour had been losing ground to the Scottish National Party. Mr Clark was chosen to go to Scotland to do this important work. His London experience came in useful: one of his first tasks was to break the news to the Glasgow Labour Party that they would not be allowed to select their own candidates for the May 2012 elections.
However, Mr Clark will probably be best remembered in Tower Hamlets for his role in supervising the selection of the Labour candidate for the Borough’s mayoral election. Indeed, he has played a unique role in that he has supported the successful selection of two Labour candidates for the same election. Mr Clark was photographed outside the Labour Party offices in Cambridge Heath Road after the ballot of party members on Saturday, 4th September 2010. He was video’d by local and ethnic TV crews announcing that the selection of Lutfur Rahman was valid and that, by the power delegated to him by Labour’s National Executive Committee, he declared Lutfur Rahman the official Labour Party candidate, selected by local Labour Party members in a selection process he could confirm had been fair (just as the General Election candidates had been). By then, all Tower Hamlets Labour Party members had been in the Party for at least seven years or had had their applications to join vetted by the London Labour Party, so as the Director of the London Labour Party, Mr Clark was in a position to know how thoroughly the regional party had scrutinised that selection process. It then fell to the national Labour Party to state that they had reservations about the safety of the local membership and overturn the local members’ selection in favour of imposing a candidate of their own choosing, and Mr Clark had to support a second candidate for the Borough’s mayoral election.
It is understood that Mr Clark will be spending more time with his family. Given his track record, there is of course always the fear that as he puts his feet up on his first day at home, there will be a knock at the door. Maybe he’ll open it to find a bloke in a suit telling him that unfortunately, no matter how sincere his intentions, he’s chosen the wrong family and a different one is being sent to live with him instead. But Mr Clark probably wants to get away from how he did things in the Labour Party.