The camera never lies, does it?
President Lutfur Rahman held a very Presidential fundraising rally on Tuesday night. I wasn’t invited, alas, but I suspect it was cheaper than the £100-a-head affair hosted in honour of John Biggs last November at the same venue, the East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf.
Apparently, it was a good and impressive do. I’m not sure who paid for it, but in a press release issued today, Lutfur’s new party, Tower Hamlets First, said they’d raised £56,000 AFTER the event. Wow! There’s no such thing as a free dinner, is there? Except in Tower Hamlets, where there are plenty of free lunch clubs…
Well, since Lutfur has always been a transparent sort of guy, we can all look forward to the break down of that £56k when he declares it in the most minute detail to the Electoral Commission.
Now, one of the accusations frequently levelled at President Rahman is he’s almost exclusively interested in the Bengali vote. But that’s not true. Because his press release included a main photo to prove his broad appeal.
Helpfully, though, he also sent us a wider shot.
Which appears to match the description given by someone who attended: very Bengali and very male.
Here’s the text of his press release (I’m just pasting these without correcting mistakes):
For immediate release – 16 January 2014
Mayor reports back to the community on three years in office
‘Transforming Tower Hamlets’ event sets vision for the future
Mayor Lutfur Rahman was joined on Tuesday night (14 January) by over 500 representatives of local organisations, community activists and supporters at the East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf to mark his administration’s delivery after three years in office.
The event was chaired by broadcaster Rizwan Hussain and Nana Asante, the Mayor of Harrow. Guests were treated to two films detailing Lutfur Rahman’s political journey and the administration’s string of nationally recognised achievements in housing, education and investments in fighting crime, as well as speakers including:
Ohid Ahmed, Deputy Mayor of Tower Hamlets; Simon Woolley, Founder and Director of Operation Black Vote;
Lillian Collins, Chair of the Poplar Baths Steering Group and former Chair of Poplar and Canning Town Labour Party;
Shiraj Haque, Chair of the 2010 Yes for Mayor Campaign;
Father Michael Dunne; Head of the Catholic Deanery, Tower Hamlets;
Captain Nick Coke of the Salvation Army and TELCO/CITIZENS UK;
Muquim Ahmed, Chair of the British Bangladeshi Chamber of Commerce;
Mawlana Shamsul Haque, Chair of Council of Mosques, Tower Hamlets and
Nazia Ahad, teacher and local resident.
In his speech, Mayor Rahman thanked the residents of the borough, community activists, supporters and the business community and embraced his unusual political journey saying:
“There are plenty of conventional politicians up for election in Tower Hamlets; plenty of very ordinary candidates with very ordinary ideas… I’m glad that I am an unconventional politician; I’m glad I’m not a careerist or a party man, because Tower Hamlets is an extraordinary place.”
Mayor Rahman also set out his vision for the future of the borough; centred on the £100m Whitechapel Vision redevelopment project which will bring 5,000 new jobs, 3,500 new homes, space for retail businesses and a publicly-owned town hall in the historic former Royal London Hospital building, saving residents millions each year in rent and service charges on the current town hall.
After a successful event, local business people and supporters pledged a total of £56,500 towards Tower Hamlets First and the re-election of Mayor Rahman.
Mayor Rahman said: “Our administration as a proven track record of implementing progressive policies to deal with emerging issues such as the government’s cuts to welfare, but we’ve also shown we can successfully plan and deliver the big projects that will change the face of Tower Hamlets forever.”
Operation Black Vote Chief Simon Wolley told the gathering: “Lutfur has made history as Europe’s first directly elected black mayor. He’s a role model to black communities across Britain
Speaking after the event, Deputy Mayor Ohid Ahmed said: “Lutfur Rahman stands head and shoulders above the other candidates. He has the vision and determination to transform this borough and I’m proud to fight alongside him for the ordinary people of Tower Hamlets.”
Lillian Collins, Chair of the Poplar Baths Steering Group said: “Lutfur is committed to ordinary working people in Tower Hamlets; he delivers on his promises and cares as much about our heritage as our future. Four years ago, the reopening of Poplar Baths was a mere dream. Now it is fast becoming a reality.”