Election court petitioner Andy Erlam
John Biggs is to be congratulated for winning the re-run Tower Hamlets mayoral election. The result was a clear rejection of Rahmanism and of Rahman’s proxy candidate, Rabina Khan.
We now expect John Biggs to ruthlessly root out the rest of the corruption at the town hall within the three years left in his mandate. If he starts to do this, he can be sure of my and many others’ co-operation. But he and the Labour Party must also now reflect on the fact that it was Labour that created the crisis in the first place.
That is why Labour was so hostile towards the Election Petition initially and made various attempts to sink it. Biggs himself was a very reluctant witness who had to be coaxed for months to provide an adequate statement for the court. Almost all other local Labour “leaders” looked the other way. One allegedly actively dissuaded people from giving evidence. What is the point of leaders who lead from the back?
There remains a question hanging in the air. Everyone knew that election corruption was rife in Tower Hamlets. It’s been going on for years, so why didn’t anyone, apart from Ted Jeory, Andrew Gilligan and Mark Baynes, do anything about it? Remember, Rahman was, and in many ways still is, a Labour man. So the choice in the election was really between Labour and Labour. Return of the One Party State of Tower Hamlets.
Rahman claimed in the election court that senior Labour officials such as Keith Vaz, Ken Livingstone and Len McCluskey had met him and his deputy Alibor Chaodhury and that they had agreed a “pathway” with the party leadership for Rahman to get back into the Labour fold. The Labour leadership has never denied this dirty deal behind the backs of both the Labour Party membership and the electorate. In my view, the only thing that stopped it being implemented was a spanner in the works in the form of the Election Petition. My reading of Biggs’ victory speech last Thursday was a hint at some form of reconciliation with Tower Hamlets First group councillors. Too eager, too much, too early.
Mayor John Biggs with Labour supporters
Last year Labour decided not to take an Election Petition itself against Rahman, even though it suspected that he had, once again, committed industrial-scale fraud in the mayoral and local elections. Maybe it was because historically Labour has also been involved in similar tactics? Rahman learnt his skills from Labour.
It’s all very well to talk about “drawing a line”, as Biggs does, but the body will only stand a chance of recovery if all the cancer is cut from the ailing body and we now know that election corruption was and is only the tip of the iceberg as regards corruption within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The cancer of corruption is still there.
Intimidation and violence in local elections has not stopped in Tower Hamlets either. A few days before this election a Labour councillor was badly manhandled and bruised outside a mosque because he refused to support Khan. In typical style, he appears not to be pressing charges “on advice from the elders”. So supporters of Khan can get away with a potential crime? And you want these people back in the Labour Party?
It’s my belief that numerous fraudulent and invalid votes were also cast again in Tower Hamlets and the police are investigating. If Khan is seriously considering her own Election Petition, who will it be directed at? My advice to her is: save other people’s money. It will fail at the first hurdle and “be laughed out of court”.
The police have acceded to my request to extend their enquiries to include the local councillor elections and the courts have agreed that ballot papers must be preserved a further six months. Complaints can be made direct to the Met at: SETelections@met.police.uk as soon as possible and before November at the very latest. I hear that local Labour leaders are already advising disappointed 2014 Labour candidates to leave matters – i.e. not co-operate with the police. And we wonder why so many local police enquiries run into the sand?
If people are now being discouraged from making formal complaints to the police about last year’s local councillor election fraud, they will live with the terrible consequences for years to come. Incidentally, it has never been clear why Chris Weavers, Labour’s then election agent and local Party chair, failed to challenge any of the poll counts on May 22 2014 at the time. Looking back, was his inaction wise?
It will also be especially interesting to see whether Biggs will root out corruption connected with local land deals. Scotland Yard is actively examining allegations of very serious fraud and misfeasance in public office on this aspect. It will be interesting to see if the new mayor opens up all the books to a serious and robust police investigation or concentrates on “reputational” issues like a public affairs consultant for FIFA. There is also the small matter of the fraud issues coming out of the PriceWaterhouse Coopers’ investigation. Why is Scotland Yard turning a blind eye? There must be a reason.
The only aggravation I had on the streets was from a few self-styled Biggs aides who criticised me for ‘splitting the Labour vote’. No vote belongs to Labour. Like respect, every vote has to be earned. Such arrogance has destroyed the ethical power of the Labour Party. It is anti-democratic and indeed illegal to seek to pressurise voters and candidates. Don’t they know? I take it as a badge of honour. Remember Labour created Rahman.
Furthermore, the spectre in the election campaign of both Peter Golds openly boasting in public meetings that he would “lend” second preference votes to Labour, and of Biggs “lending” Labour’s second preferences to the Tories beggars belief. Have these people learnt nothing?
The voters have decided and that decision must be respected. I would like to thank the 1,768 people who voted for me, the many others who (I am told) wanted to but didn’t and the many more who put me down as their second preference. Many wish to keep in touch and can do so at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We will now see if Labour will clear up, or cover-up, the mess of its own making.