Archive for September 24th, 2010

As I’ve said before, I’m inviting all candidates for Tower Hamlets mayor to write in their own words why they want the job. For those who think this is mere regurgitation of press releases, we journalists can’t win: when we cut quotes to fit space or because they’re just dull, we’re accused of quoting out of context. This is not a newspaper, but a blog, and as such there’s more scope.

The scrutiny will also continue, of course.

Neil King is the Tory candidate. Though he’s a regular at Tory events and an occasional at council meetings, I don’t know too much about him. He’s a criminal barrister and, as you’d expect, pretty formidable in a debate. However, against the other main candidates he does lack the experience of office, but maybe that’s a good thing in Tower Hamlets.

His personal and professional profile is here:

Neil King
Call: 2003

Academic Background:
Charterhouse School,
Godalming. Oriel College,
Oxford, BA (Hons) History.
Oxford Brookes University:
Dip. Law (Merit) Inns of
Court School of Law: BVC
(Very Competent)

Quizzes, Cinema and Fulham FC

Criminal Defence and Prosecution
Cash Detention and Forfeiture
Road Traffic

Neil attended schools near his home in Surrey, before going to read History at Oriel College Oxford, eventually specialising in the late eighteenth century. At Oxford, Neil attained a scholarship and represented his college on University Challenge, where his team reached the final, losing to Durham!

Neil had been a member of the University Crime Forum, and this in part, led him to consider a career at the bar.

After completing a law conversion course and the BVC at ICSL, Neil began pupillage at what was then Francis Taylor Building in 2003. He was taken on by Valios and Boardman Chambers as a tenant in 2005.

Neil undertakes a wide variety of criminal work, both defence and prosecution and has prosecuted and defended in drugs importations, burglaries, harassment and cases involving violence among others. He also brings an eye for detail and knowledge of procedure to road traffic cases and to POCA hearings.

He also tells me:

I’m 31, I live in Wapping, I like quizzes, cinema, reading, my favourite author is Graham Greene, the last two CDs I bought were Britten’s War Requiem and Lady Gaga’s The Fame. I’m a Fulham FC fan, I can cook a little and eat a lot! I now mainly prosecute and have dealt with serious assaults, sexual offences, drugs rings and frauds. I am an approved prosecutor for the Attorney General’s panel and practice mainly in London and the South East.”

And here’s his case for the voters, in his own words:

Why I am Running for Mayor.

I have lived in Wapping all of my working life. I call Tower Hamlets home and I love the sense of community that exists in all our neighbourhoods, from the Isle of Dogs to Spitalfields.

But I believe we can do so much better. Since I was selected as the Conservative candidate in July, I have been struck by how desperate residents are for change. They want a mayor who will make decisions on behalf of all the community, not play groups off against each other. They want a mayor who will be a clean break from the past, bringing an end to cronyism. They don’t want gesture politics, but real substance and change. What is certainly clear is that Labour’s selection farce leaves local people in real doubt as to whether they can be trusted with this important job.

The Conservatives are the official opposition on the council, and we are the only party who can end Labour’s grip on the borough. I believe my priorities are the right ones and that I can bring ideas in each area that will transform Tower Hamlets.

I will prioritise employment, making sure that the exceptionally young population of this borough has the opportunities they need. I will introduce a joined up strategy for our markets, a Brick Lane Business Improvement District and job clubs.

I will focus on education, helping schools that wish to become academies and reversing Labour’s damaging cuts to English classes.

I will also emphasise crime reduction, so that we feel safe on our streets and in our homes by making greater use of the council’s powers to tackle anti social behaviour and meeting regularly with the Borough Commander and the Safer Neighbourhood teams throughout the borough.

We all know that as a result of the financial mess the new government are having to clean up that there are going to be financial challenges facing whoever is elected mayor. I will remove inefficiency and waste and preserve frontline services. Never again will £17,000 of our money be spent on putting photos on lampposts, nor will I spend £100,000 on bus stop advertising. I will also bring to an end the £2million a year East End Life; if I am doing my job properly, I won’t need this council propaganda sheet to tell everyone how well I’m doing.

On one final note, when it comes to negotiating with central government to ensure the East End gets a fair crack of the whip, surely electing a Conservative mayor gives us the best chance of being heard in the corridors of power.

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Nominations for Tower Hamlets mayor have closed.

There are five candidates:

Helal Abbas  – Labour

Neil King – Conservatives

John Griffiths – Lib Dems

Lutfur Rahman – Independent

Alan Duffell – Greens

Respect are not fielding anyone and will be backing Lutfur.

A statement given to the East London Advertiser by Respect reads:

“Having chosen to deselect Cllr Rahman, even more bizarrely, the NEC then chose not to offer the candidacy to the second place candidate, London Assembly member John Biggs, but rather to Cllr Helal Abbas Uddin who received less than one third of the popular vote received by Cllr Rahman and less than one sixth of the total votes cast by Tower Hamlets Labour Party members. Cllr Abbas has no credibility therefore to be Labour’s candidate either with the Tower Hamlets Labour Party membership or with the wider electorate.

“Cllr Rahman on the other hand has a fine track record as leader of the council and has declared that he wishes to lead the fight against the appalling Con-Dem cuts on the basis of a broad coalition involving the trade unions and community groups across the borough. We strongly believe he can win the mayoralty on this basis and we will do all we can to help bring about his victory.”

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