One man, four parties

16 Apr

Albdul Karim Sheikh

Former councillor Abdul Karim Sheikh

Tributes were paid this week to Abdul Karim Sheikh, former councillor and ceremonial mayor of Newham, who has sadly passed away at the age of 82 having contracted Covid-19.

On Twitter Newham Jack (who he?) asked ‘Is he the only person to have stood for election in Newham representing four different political parties?’

While I don’t know the answer to that I can confirm his political career did indeed span standing for four very different parties.

He first stood for the council in Plashet ward in 1986 for the Independent Newham Broad Alliance. He finished in last place with 401 votes.

By 1990 he had joined Labour and was selected to contest Kensington ward, where he romped home with a majority of 1,300. He switched to St Stephens ward in 1994, winning re-election easily. In 1998 he was selected for Upton ward; as no other party put up a candidate the Labour slate was returned unopposed.

2002 saw him stand for the last time on the Labour ticket, this time in Green Street West. He defected to Respect in 2005. 

In an interview with Socialist Worker he explained

The new system of a directly elected mayor, brought in four years ago, has changed the council into a dictatorship. The mayor, Robin Wales, was originally against the mayor plan, but changed his mind after the referendum.

I left the Labour Party and joined Respect last year, partly because I felt councillors were no longer listened to.

The system takes power away from even elected members of the council. That’s why Respect is talking about trying to reverse this system.

Cllr Sheikh was narrowly re-elected in Green Street West for his new party in 2006 alongside Hanif Abdulmuhit, who has since returned to the Labour Party.

He left the council in 2010 after Respect were heavily defeated.

2014 saw him try again in Green Street West. This time for the Conservatives. He was unsuccessful, trailing the winning Labour candidates by more than 1,500 votes. He contested the 2018 election for the Tories again and, completing the circle started 32 years before, he came last.

One man, four parties. Perhaps a unique contribution to local politics.


4 Responses to “One man, four parties”

  1. Andrew Baikie April 17, 2020 at 13:42 #

    Former Council Leader Fred Jones was a Councillor for (either by election or defection)Labour, Lib Dem( to 1994) Candidate for Newham Independents (later) Alleged supporter of Socialist Labour (1997 -Little Ilford byelection)….where is Alan Griffiths on this blog (!?). He can clarify, deny…..etc

    PS good question, –who is “Newham Jack” ?

  2. Alan Griffiths April 18, 2020 at 07:57 #

    1998 walkover. Conservatives submitted numbers from the draft, not published, Register of Electors for their candidates and found it was too late to correct the mistake.

  3. Andrew Baikie April 18, 2020 at 17:38 #

    Yes Alan — Tories were thin on the ground in the 1998 Municipal elections….it was also thought at the time they had simply given up after GE 1997. Fred Jones was never a Tory Councillor or candidate though.Labour Councillor. Lib Dem Councillor(by defection). Newham Independents (Councillor by defection? Definitely candidate) , Socialist Labour Party…..

  4. deepngreen May 4, 2020 at 08:21 #

    Labour to Respect to Conservative nust be a pretty rare career-path!

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