London SE1 community website

Controversial former Chaucer councillor rejoins Labour

London SE1 website team

Former Lib Dem councillor Dr Abdur-Rahman Olayiwola, who sparked a row earlier this year by accusing his colleagues of racism and "obsession with homosexuality", has rejoined the Labour Party.

Dr Olayiwola, widely known as Dr Ola, represented SE1's Chaucer ward for the Liberal Democrats between 2002 and 2006. He had previously served as a Labour councillor in Liddle ward between 1994 and 1998.

When he was not reselected by his Lib Dem colleagues to contest the 2006 election in Chaucer ward he announced that he was quitting the party and fought the election as an independent.

Dr Ola polled just 289 votes, but his independent candidacy could have helped to turn Chaucer – considered a safe Lib Dem ward – into a knife-edge marginal, with just eight votes separating the third-placed Lib Dem candidate Mackie Sheik and the fourth-placed Labour candidate Musadiq Duwadu.

Now Dr Ola has announced that he has rejoined the Labour Party and reiterated his controversial criticisms of Southwark's Lib Dem-led administration.

He accuses the Lib Dems of "shabby treatment" of the borough's black and minority ethnic groups and an "obsession with homosexuality" which he claims is "disproportionate, unfair and unrepresentative".

Dr Ola claims that during the first years of the Lib Dem administration from 2002 Southwark was run by a "white-dominated regime with no members from black and minority ethnic groups" and a "disproportionate" number of homosexuals.

Speaking in April, Dr Ola said: "I am not against gay people whatsoever and I am not being phoney when I say some of my best friends in politics are gay. Gay people should have equal rights like everybody else.

"What I am against however, is disproportionate levels of gay people, black people or whatever."

Dr Ola, a solicitor and former university lecturer, says he was persuaded to rejoin Labour after receiving letters from Tony Blair and John Prescott.

Dr Ola has circulated copies of the letters, which are clearly circulars sent to all lapsed Labour members. The dates on the letters have been obscured but the notepaper carries Labour's former Millbank Tower address which means that they were sent at least four years ago.

"I would like to thank the people of Chaucer in particular and Southwark in general for voting for me on May 4th. It has been an honour to stand as your independent candidate," says Dr Ola.

He added: "The Labour Party and I will continue to challenge the Lib Dems and Tories in their so-called joint administration over the poor services ... and carry on campaigning on the issues that matter locally to the borough's diverse community."

Speaking to the London SE1 website before May's local elections, Southwark Labour Group leader Cllr Peter John said of Dr Ola: "I don't agree with everything he has to say, but even so I find it fascinating what he has said."

He is unlikely to receive a universal welcome from his new party colleagues. Southwark Labour chief whip Cllr Paul Bates says he is "surprised" and "disappointed" that Dr Ola has been accepted as a party member in the light of his "outrageous comments" about homosexual members of the council.

We approached Southwark Lib Dem Group for a comment but no response was received by the time of publication.

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