Tower Hamlets First, the party created to support controversial mayor Lutfur Rahman, has decided against fielding candidates in the general election.
Speculation had mounted that the party would strongly contest Rushanara Ali’s former seat in Bethnal Green and Bow as well as put up a candidate against Jim Fitzpatrick in Poplar and Limehouse.
Despite the mayor's woes, a challenge from his lieutenants would have likely stretched both Labour candidates.
But just after nominations closed on Thursday, THF issued a statement announcing its decision not to run. It also made conciliatory noises about the mayor’s former party, Labour, which will inevitably lead to speculation that he wants to re-join the party.
The party said: “Tower Hamlets First will unfortunately not be fielding candidates in the 2015 General Election.
“It is our hope that at this General Election the Tories are held to account for five years of vicious austerity and removed from office. We would always support a Labour government over a Tory government, but there is more to progressive politics than the main parties.
“We hope that a Labour-led government would end the crippling regime of welfare reform, invest in social housing to meet the needs of the future, fund education and youth services, stand up for the rights of minorities, women and immigrants, end austerity and ensure that the rich pay their fair share.
“Tower Hamlets First will continue to stand up for East End people and play its part in holding whoever forms the government in May to account. We do not rule out standing in future national elections and we will continue to argue against austerity, for stronger communities and for a fairer future.”
The decision leaves both Labour candidates firm favourites in the Tower Hamlets seats. Meanwhile, the mayor and THF await the verdict of the High Court on their activities during the mayoral election last year.
The verdict is due imminently but the fact it was not delivered before nominations closed was a likely factor in THF’s decision not to run.