Community news and investigative journalism for Wapping E1W and Tower Hamlets London

Cllr. Rabina Khan – next directly elected mayor of Tower Hamlets?

By on April 12, 2018 in Comment, Mayoral election 2018

The entire Love Wapping Editorial Team squealed with delight on reading a new piece of political analysis from Ted Jeory last night. They assume this was filed in between his numerous exotic holidays.

Cllr. Rabina Khan, People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets (PATH) mayoral candidate

In an almost certainly doomed attempt to coax Ted out of his self-imposed retirement here is LW’s take on Ted’s view of the mayoral race. Our opinion is quite different from He Who Is Normally On Holiday (but that doesn’t mean we are right).

The emphasis of Trial by Jeory was on Rabina Khan’s campaign, the efficiency of which will decide who will run Tower Hamlets for the next four years. Unless whoever the next mayor is gets arrested in which case it might be a four month (or even four week) term.

We were not surprised to read that the ‘senior Labour member’ Ted talked to believes that John Biggs has the mayoralty in the bag.

We also consider that this senior Labour member is wrong and guilty of exhibiting the complacency that is common among Tower Hamlets Labour. And the consequence of complacency is defeat.

One example of this complacency is that Tower Hamlets Labour has not once made any attempt to remind people of the gross misconduct of the previous Tower Hamlets First administration. If ever there was an easy way to become mayor it is to legitimately claim that the previous mayor screwed the entire electorate over (apart from his mates) and got found out big time.

Maybe John Biggs has so many votes in the bag that he need not revisit this issue? Possibly.

Labour’s embarrassed ostrich strategy

That Biggs’ election strategists -assuming he has some – have not thought that clearly explaining why so many Youth Service centres had to be closed (hint: corruption) and easily gain votes in addition to shutting down the opposition’s constant whining about this issue is baffling.

Or is it that the silence regarding the sinister manipulation of Youth Services under Rahman is more of Labour’s ostrich policy – burying its head in the sand and pretending it never happened.

The ostrich approach may in turn may be down to simple embarrassment. The Labour Party (both national and local) begat Lutfur Rahman. And Labour councillors sat and twiddled their thumbs while Tower Hamlets First subverted the borough and never said – or did – a thing about it.

Harsh? Don’t think so.

Rabina Khan for Mayor?

Our take is that the front runners are John Biggs and Rabina Khan. The Aspire candidate Ohid Ahmed, or Lutfur Rahman as he is more accurately known, is trailing in third place with no realistic chance of winning. Even if Aspire changes it’s name again.

And if we had to bet on Biggs or Khan? Rabina Khan would get our money.

To be clear, LW thinks that on current form Rabina Khan of the People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets (PATH) will be the next directly-elected mayor of the borough.

Memories are short. The last mayoral election in June 2015 saw John Biggs get 27,255 votes against 25,763 votes for Rabina Khan (40.00% against 37.81%) with the winner being decided on second preference votes 32,754 (89.85%) Biggs, 26,384 (10.15% ) Khan.

This was no landslide victory.

The 2015 election was ordered to be run by Justice Mawrey after the electoral petition judgement that Lutfur Rahman only won the 2014 contest through various corrupt practices.

Headless chicken

Tower Hamlets First (now known as the Aspire Party) had been decapitated and consequently Rabina Khan benefited from having no other competitor for the Bangladeshi vote. And without the Bangladeshi vote politicians in Tower Hamlets do not get elected.

The reason why the Bangladeshi vote is so powerful is because (a) the 32% Bangladeshi population (PDF) is a significant minority of the borough population and (b) Bangladeshi members of the electorate are very enthusiastic voters.

Better Bangla buck

Put simply Bangla means much better bang for the electoral buck. (Yeah, yeah, insert cheap dodgy voting jokes here but fact is the Bangladeshi electorate punches above its weight so get over it. Or get your arse off the sofa and vote on 3rd May.)

Ah! But if Rabina Khan could benefit from the support of those who would have voted for Lutfur Rahman and still did not win in 2015 she has no chance in 2018 when there is the alternative of Ohid Ahmed / Lutfur Rahman, right?

Wrong.

First off despite having a shiny new name nobody is fooled that the Aspire Party is anything but the political property of Lutfur Rahman.

Political support for Lutfur has been steadily ebbing away since 2015. The most accurate measure of this is by looking at the size of the venues that Aspire have used for their events. The days of needing the biggest borough venues for the adulation of Lutfur’s are over.

No need for extra chairs

At the recent candidate launch event Aspire claimed a thousand people were in attendance. Neat trick as the Regents Lake can only seat 400 at a maximum and that’s for both floors. Aspire only used the ground floor. And the seating arrangement for the evening only accommodates 150 tops.

Those who voted for Lutfur in 2014 are not going to vote for Biggs in 2015 and many are not going to vote for Lutfur either.

And let’s look at the circumstances of the 2015 election again. With the huge advantage of the backlash against the corrupt electoral practise of Rahman John Biggs should have walked it.

The backlash against anyone associated with Lutfur Rahman (like ex-cabinet member Rabina Khan for example) was at its strongest.

Instead Biggs had to rely on second preference votes for victory. In 2018 that anti-corruption sentiment will be absent.

That Lutfur bloke is still mayor isn’t he?

Mayoral elections are as much about personalities as policies and this is where Khan beats Biggs hands down. John Biggs is a very decent, honourable and hard working man. A plodder. LW has been surprised by the number of voters who still think Lutfur Rahman is the mayor or have no idea who the Labour mayoral candidate is, or who do know and simply do not find Biggs that likeable and are ambivalent about voting for him.

Compare and contrast with Khan who is the ultimate street politician. The fact that she has emerged as a political leader from within a male-dominated culture is nothing short of remarkable and testament to her personality.

One weakness that Khan has is that, as we have previously noted, she has yet to publicly condemn the corruption of the Rahman administration. Tricky of course because Rabina Khan was a member of Rahman’s cabinet 2010 – 2014.

But then the 2018 Conservative mayoral candidate Dr. Anwara Ali was cabinet member in charge of adult services in Lutfur Rahman’s 2008 cabinet when a Labour councillor so…)

Ship jumping season is upon us

The biggest election news of this week has been Cllr. Khales Uddin Ahmed jumping ship from Labour to PATH. Hopefully this will mean that Khales will be able to serve borough residents without being hampered by internal Labour politics. And Khan will benefit by having a heavyweight politician in her team – oh and the large number of Labour votes Khales brings with him will be handy too.

“OK – I’ve jumped. So where’s the other ship?”

Ted also references Rabina Khan’s manifesto commitment to ask residents if they wish to abolish the position of directly-elected executive mayor, a vote winner if ever there was one.

Hang on a moment! Why would a candidate to be the next directly-elected executive mayor want to try and ensure she is the last directly-elected executive mayor?

Simples. The manifesto commitment is a blocking manoeuvre to reduce the possibility of either Ohid Ahmed or Lutfur Rahman (or both) being ‘imposed’ on PATH and providing them with a neat way to once more regain power. In 2020 Lutfur is eligible to stand for elected office once again as his five year ban ends.

Sorry for wasting your time

Ted Jeory has a far wider and more detailed knowledge of the different personalities and factions that dominate Tower Hamlets politics so it may well be that he is right and you have just wasted five minutes of your life reading our early morning rambles. Sorry about that.

Joke is that Tower Hamlets being Tower Hamlets, where anything can happen and usually does, there is the possibility that John Biggs will win the mayoralty but lose power.

LW was told long ago by different independent sources that there were between four and six Labour councillors who would change sides before or after the election. Standard Tower Hamlets politics. Maybe Khales was one of those? Probably.

We do not know the identity of the other four (or five) and we are not even going to try and guess who.

Bottom line is that in this part of east London allegiance to traditional political parties is fleeting at best.

Vote X get Y. Or Z. Or ABC.

Councillor Maium Miah (Tower Hamlets First)

Councillor Maium Miah (Conservative, Labour, Tower Hamlets First, Tower Hamlets ‘Independent’ Group , Aspire.)

In the rest of the UK if you vote for Candidate Smith who stands as a member of political party X you can be reasonably sure that Cllr. Smith will still be a member of the X party in four years time.

Not round here you can’t.

Vote for Candidate Smith and you might find Cllr. Smith still adheres to the policies of the X party down the line. Or you might find that Cllr. Smith has become a Y party member after a couple of months. Or a member of the Z party after a year. Or even the ABC party the year after that. You never know.

One Tower Hamlets councillor is the master of party hopping. To our knowledge he was elected as a Conservative, then switched to Labour, then to Tower Hamlets First, then became a member of the Tower Hamlets ‘Independent’ group and is now a member of Aspire.

Yes Cllr. Md. Maium Miah (Canary Wharf) – we are looking at you!

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