It wasn’t what he said precisely but the tone he used. I suppose it’s easy and better to be magnanimous in victory than to be crowing and churlish but he congratulated Rabina Khan for her campaign (who, by the way, didn’t reciprocate in her speech – she forgot to say well done and instead focused on the ‘me, me’ parts) and he promised to recognise the fact she polled so many votes. She won almost 26,000 votes on the first round, 1,500, or less than 2 per cent, behind John.
John Biggs making his winning speech, a year late, better late than never. Mayor Biggs pic.twitter.com/d72FkzyxNQ
— Tarik (@Tarikahmedkhan) June 12, 2015
He said we shouldn’t forget that “a lot of bad things have happened” but that we should now move on.
He said he would hold office as a Labour mayor but in also praising Peter Golds he hinted at possible cooperation to come.
Peter, in his speech, struck a more wary tone. He said John won by “borrowing” votes from the other parties. As he said this, John raised a somewhat surprised eyebrow, but given the comments on this blog and on Twitter during the past couple of days, as well as the feedback John’s opponents were getting on the doorstep, I think Peter was doing no more than stating the bleeding obvious.
Peter polled 5,940 votes, or 8.7 per cent of the first round total. This was almost the same as Chris Wilford achieved last year in percentage terms (he got 7,173 votes in total) but far below the 20 per cent the Tories achieved only last month in the general election for the borough’s two constituencies.
And in second preference votes, there were a huge number of Tories who put Labour second yesterday.
I know that had John won last year he’d been planning to create an administration reflective of the rainbow nature of his support. It would be very surprising were that not the case this time.
The Government commissioners (who like almost all senior council officers will have been relieved by the result) will surely leave once they see functional politics at play again.
This is why Peter was right in his speech at the ExCeL centre to warn about the consequences for THF of last night’s defeat. Where do their band of jokers go now? Labour and the Tories will need to watch their backs when it comes to future candidate selection for councillors. More about them in a future post.
But more immediately, John now has to create an administration. He has already appointed three deputy mayors in Rachael Saunders, Shiria Khatun and Sirajul Islam, but there will be others wanting some reward. It was noticeable that Abdal Ullah, no longer a councillor, was the man who escorted John into the count last night.
There’s now a cabinet and other appointments to be be made. Some in his Labour group will have to bide their time. Will John take a Sir Robin Wales approach and dish out special responsibility allowances like confetti?
And how will he thank the Tories and in particular Peter Golds? Not so long ago, I suggested he’d make an excellent council Speaker. I think he’d love wearing the civic chains and ensuing order in the council chamber. Offering that role to him for a year would seem a wise choice. After that, I’d put him in charge of transparency and anti-corruption: a mini-Eric Pickles.
And then there’s Rabina. Could John offer her something? Would he? Would she accept? A role to encourage more women into politics? It would certainly create a split in the group of 17 “independents”. Or would she prefer to lead their group as Opposition leader. If the latter, she will need to formally join them and then take on Oli Rahman who has assumed that role.
And there is some talk about Rabina’s team examining a possible election petition against John’s win but how serious that is and on what grounds, I’m not sure.
I took some videos of this morning’s speeches and I will publish them once they’ve finished uploading in two hours’ time…
Lastly, congratulations to Labour’s Sabina Akhtar for winning in Stepney and to Andy Erlam and the other petitioners. Andy polled 1,768 votes yesterday – less than 3% – but his fans are of a far, far higher number than that.
Meanwhile, here are some photos of last night’s fun.