Local democracy under attack in Tower Hamlets

We deplore the proposal of the secretary of state Eric Pickles to “take over” the democratically elected council in Tower Hamlets (Report, 5 November). The inspection he ordered found no evidence of fraud or corruption, contrary to the Tory allegations made against the local administration. A takeover would be a flagrant violation of the democratic will of the population who re-elected a popular and well-regarded local mayor just a few months ago. A key reason Lutfur Rahman was endorsed again by local voters in east London is because he opposes the government’s efforts to force austerity policies on the council. He also shows how an administration can be managed with meagre resources so that key services are protected.

The administration in Tower Hamlets is vilified because it stands up against the government’s failing policies. It is a concerted effort to smear the local politician who has demonstrated that this stance is popular at the ballot box. That is why a string of wild and unfounded allegations has been made against the mayor and a series of investigations, including by the police, called for by the Tories. Scotland Yard has already this year cleared the council of any wrongdoing. The latest allegations from the Tories are simply more of the same. The imposition of unelected officials to overrule an elected mayor should send a chill down the spine of every democrat. It is not necessary to agree with every strand of policy adopted by Lutfur Rahman to see that this a blatant attack on local democracy. The mayor of Tower Hamlets, who has committed no legal or criminal offence, should be accountable to local voters, not to the will of a Tory secretary of state. We call on all those who support local democracy to oppose this manoeuvre.

Ken Livingstone Former mayor of London, Christine Shawcroft Labour party National Executive Committee, Kate Hudson National secretary, Left Unity, Billy Hayes General secretary, CWU, George Galloway MP, Malia Bouattia NUS Black Students’ officer, Steve Turner Assistant general secretary, Unite

Letter in the Guardian, 6 November 2014