Booking a holiday a week before election day was a bit silly. So what did I miss while I was away?
1. Death of Hifzur Rahman, Tower Hamlets First candidate in Blackwall and Cubitt Town
Mr Rahman’s death was announced this morning and it must be awful for his family. My condolences.
Under electoral law, this means the election for the three council candidates there has been countermanded, ie anulled. A separate by-election will be held there within 35 days. Lutfur’s aides claim some residents in the ward have been told the entire election there is off. That’s not the case: residents in that ward on the Isle of Dogs will still be able to vote in the mayoral and European Parliament polls tomorrow.
2. Labour’s Cllr Shiria Khatun cleared of electoral fraud
As I blogged here 10 days ago, she had been accused by an elderly couple in Rifle Street (in the Lansbury ward) of an offence under electoral law. The couple claimed Shiria’s husband (whose name is Lutfur Rahman) had pretended to be the mayor and taken away their blank postal vote. This account was relayed with great fanfare on Lutfur-supportinmg Bengali TV stations.
The police told me last week they’d be interviewing Shiria. It was also my understanding they’d also be examining the CCTV footage of the block where the couple live to see if Shiria or her husband had been there. I was also told the couple had been warned that any false statement could lead to their own prosecution for perverting the course of justice.
Having been in the air while today’s events unfolded, I haven’t yet got the full picture. However, Tower Hamlets Labour have issued this statement:
Police say no case to answer in allegations against Labour Councillor
– Labour call for investigation false allegations
Police in Tower Hamlets have today dismissed all allegations against Labour councillor Shiria Khatun after concluding there was no case to answer.
Labour have called upon the police to investigate public comments made by Tower Hamlets First candidates and campaigners amid concerns they had publicly made false statements about Cllr Khatun to damage her electoral chances.
Last week Cllr Khatun was falsely accused of interfering with a postal vote ballot by a supporter of Mayor Lutfur Rahman in what has been labelled by Labour as a ‘disgraceful dirty tricks’ campaign from Tower Hamlets First.
Speaking after the news came through, Cllr Shiria Khatun said: “The last week has been a living nightmare for me and my family. I cannot believe that someone would be willing to lie like this just to try and smear me ahead of the elections. Despite all this I am totally focused on fighting for every vote in tomorrow’s election so we can consign this kind of dirty politics to the past.”
A Labour Party Spokesperson, said: “We’ve got used to these kind of disgraceful dirty tricks from Lutfur Rahman’s team but this is a new low. With momentum building behind John Biggs and Labour’s campaign Rahman’s candidates are getting increasingly desperate. This kind of behaviour from Rahman’s camp gives yet another reason for people to come out and vote for Labour’s John Biggs tomorrow.”
I’ll try and find out whether there is a further police investigation into any possible false statement. I suspect there’ll be more to come on this.
3. One of Lutfur’s favourite journalists, Dave Hill of the Guardian, today wrote he would vote for John Biggs if he lived in Tower Hamlets. Dave gives his reasons here.
4. After spending some time talking to people on the doorstep on the Isle of Dogs a couple of weeks ago, it was clear very few people understood the second preference voting system used for the mayoral election. I contacted the East London Advertiser to see if they’d be explaining it and offered to write a guest column. They asked me to write it as a letter for publication instead. So this in the current issue of the ELA (how I miss my former paper!)
5. John Biggs yesterday issued a campaign video It’s not the most exciting and I don’t think it’ll ever set the world on fire. But it’s solid and honest. It fits in well with the theme of his campaign, that it’s time Tower Hamlets stopped making the wrong kind of headlines. It’s here:
It compares to Lutfur’s latest campaign video here (much slicker, less personal, and no words from the man himself, which is a theme of his campaign). Watch it here:
6. John Biggs has issued an eve of poll rallying call by email to the Labour database.
One day to go until Tower Hamlets votes for a better future
This has been an incredible campaign thus far with tens of thousands of people telling us they are ready for a change to how our borough is run.
For too long Tower Hamlets has drifted, missing golden opportunities and leaving the borough in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
As we build up to polling day tomorrow (Thursday 22nd) I want to thank you for all your support and to make one last ask. Any time you can give, however small, to help on polling day would make all the difference. Please let us know by replying to this email.
You will know as well as I do how important this election is. It’s going to be close but together we can do this.
– John Biggs, Labour’s Candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets
Our manifesto: Building a better future
I am really proud of our plan for the borough. Clean streets, cleaner politics, cutting crime, tackling the housing crisis and help with the cost of living.
Here are some of our key pledges:
* Greater transparency and accountability – We will restore trust in Tower Hamlets by being accountable to residents in public meetings, answerable in the Council Chamber and showing respect for scrutiny.
* Free school meals for every child – Labour has drawn up a fully funded and sustainable plan to fund free school meals for all primary school pupils in the borough, to help hard pressed families and allow well-nourished kids to focus on learning.
* A 24hr noise and ASB hotline to help tackle rising crime – Nuisance noise doesn’t sleep, that’s why Labour will introduce a 24h hotline to report noise and anti-social behaviour at weekends to ensure people’s complaints are addressed.
* A council-run lettings agency – Labour will establish a council-run lettings agency to help people in private rented homes to get the best deals, cut their costs and clamp down on rogue landlords.
* Clamp down on missed bin collections and scrap bulk waste charges – Over 25,000 bins have gone uncollected under the current mayor. We pledge to get a grip on missed bin collections as well as scrapping the current bulk waste charges which have led to more mattresses and junk being dumped on our streets.
I hope you will agree these are the kind of ideas which will help get Tower Hamlets back on track, improving the things that matter most to local people.
Only one vote to beat Lutfur Rahman
For four years now the current mayor Lutfur Rahman has left the borough in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Whether scandals, investigations or sleaze its bringing our community down and we believe Tower Hamlets deserves better.
The election for Mayor will be a two horse race:
LUTFUR RAHMAN or JOHN BIGGS
You may not normally be a Labour voter but the only person who can beat Lutfur Rahman is Labour’s John Biggs.
Make sure your vote counts, vote Labour’s John Biggs on 22nd May. #BackingBiggs
“You may not normally be a Labour voter but the only person who can beat Lutfur Rahman is Labour’s John Biggs.”
That’s the paragraph that stands out. The message is clear and simple. Labour should have used it publicly earlier. Whether it’s too late or not, we’ll find out on Friday night.