Archive for January 29th, 2014

Mayor speaking

President Lutfur Rahman, the Boy from Bow, the community organiser who inspires the streets of Spitalfields, gave his State of the Union address at Canary Wharf earlier this month. It was so good, the whooping crowd immediately reached for their pockets and gave him £56,000.

Who says beggars can’t be choosers!

Here’s what His Martyrship had to say:

Good evening everyone. I am honoured to be here tonight to report back to you on my three years as Mayor of Tower Hamlets.

Before I do, I want to thank everyone who has been part of that journey – my councillors and colleagues; my friends and supporters from across the spectrum in Tower Hamlets; the community groups and faith organisations that are the backbone of our public life; everyone on my team who has worked so hard to deliver the change that the people of Tower Hamlets voted for and that the people of Tower Hamlets deserve.

I do not wish to talk much about what we’ve done; Instead I want to focus on what we’re going to do. But before I do there is one question I’d like to answer that I’ve been asked again and again:

How has this administration has delivered so much when everyone else is cutting services, and where do we find the money when we’ve seen £130m in cuts in just three years?

I’ll tell you:

While others have simply been slashing services, we’ve been transforming the Council from the ground up; challenging old and inefficient ways of doing things; shifting our resources to better serve our residents; working tirelessly to find out what our community truly needs; pushing the Council to respond and effectively wherever those needs are not met; either by improving existing services; or by introducing radical new policies that nobody else in the UK has the courage or the imagination to implement.

But all our achievements take place against a backdrop of massive government cuts; of welfare reforms that are throwing up huge social challenges; of a stagnant economy and a growing gap between rich and poor.

There is also the sad fact that some in the main political parties locally have refused to accept reality; by hook or by crook they seem determined to stop us from delivering; determined to take the path of opposition for its own sake; and determined to use the most divisive and destructive tactics to bring this community to a grinding halt.

But you rejected them in 2010 and they will not succeed in 2014 because they belong to the old world of factional and divisive
politics. They have nothing positive to offer the people of Tower Hamlets.

So this is the challenge:

Delivering lasting change in a time of austerity; protecting some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Britain; yet also unleashing the talent and aspirations of local people so that they can be active participants in the improvement of Tower Hamlets, not just onlookers.

It is a big task; but I have three core principles that have guided me throughout my time in politics:

First and foremost I believe in the talent and the ambition of our community. Our people, especially our young people, are our greatest asset.

Secondly, I believe in the unique spirit of tolerance and togetherness that characterises the East End; where hundreds of years
of immigration and the historic pressures of deprivation have forged a strong local identity.

You just need to look at the list of tonight’s speakers to see how people of every different background can be brought together by shared values and a shared love of the place we call home.

Finally, I believe that our location gives us the leverage to negotiate hard on behalf of local people. Negotiate with the developers who want to build on our land and the multi-national corporations that bring so much wealth into Canary Wharf.

With these three assets, I know that real and lasting change can be delivered; we can harness the talent in our midst; we can embrace all the creativity that diversity brings and we can make sure that big businesses and developers are delivering for the whole community.

Let them make their profit – I have no problem with that – but only if the community profits as well!

In four months you will have a clear choice:

On the one hand there are those that want to take Tower Hamlets back to the 1980s: unequal, unfair and economically stagnant; divided along lines of class and race.

On the other there is an administration with a proven track record of implementing radical policies; of coming up with solutions to emerging
problems like the welfare reforms and of successfully planning and delivering the big projects that will change the face of the borough forever.

But the mayoral model is as much about personal accountability as it is about the big vision. So I want to tell you why I went into politics and why I’ve fought so hard- and yes! I have had to fight hard.

My path in politics has not been a conventional one.

But ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades; I’m glad that I am an unconventional politician; I’m glad I’m not a careerist, an apparatchik or a party man because there are plenty of conventional politicians up for election in Tower Hamlets;

There are plenty of very ordinary candidates with very ordinary ideas; but Tower Hamlets is an extraordinary place. Over the years, the East End has produced some political giants; independent thinkers and social reformers.

These are the unconventional politicians from whom I draw my inspiration and whose example has given me the strength to fight on
for the all the people of this borough.


Quite simply, because Tower Hamlets is my home; this community is my community, it is in my blood; it is in my veins.

I’ve come to know every street and corner, every nook and cranny from Banglatown to Bow to the Island.

And everywhere, white, black or brown, I see the same huge potential and the same crushing need.

My heart bleeds when I see families living five-to-a room; when I see young people led astray by drugs and crime or our elderly people
robbed of their dignity and independence.

In the shadow of the glittering towers and untold billions of Canary Wharf, such suffering is absurd, and I’m sure it doesn’t take much to imagine a Tower Hamlets where a generation of children grow up in housing that is fit for their needs; where they attend the best schools in the world and go on to jobs that allow them to fulfil their potential; where they bring up their families in the safest, cleanest borough; and where they are not just residents, but neighbours; connected to each other by bonds of care and trust that ensure everyone’s needs are met and nobody is left behind.

That is my vision.

It has sustained me through the difficult points in my “unconventional” career because each day I know that we are working hard towards that future for our children and mine.

I have done my best over the last three years as Mayor, and before that for two years as leader, to deliver that vision. While the foundations are laid, the true transformation of Tower Hamlets needs to be driven home.

That’s why I’m running again, because the job is only half done.

I know that all of you here share the vision for a better Tower Hamlets and in a few months’ time, I hope to stand in front of you and say that we have four more years to deliver it.

Until then, lets work hard, and lets show the people of this borough that we’re on their side; and that my team and I have the passion and
dedication to keep putting Tower Hamlets First.


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