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Archive for April 25th, 2015

john biggs

John Biggs outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Thursday

A quick update: (With further updates added this afternoon after the official announcement).

A sub-committee of Labour’s NEC met yesterday to discuss the selection of their candidate for the forthcoming post- and ex-Lutfur mayoral election next month.

A Tower Hamlets selection panel then met in the evening with the authority to select a candidate. This panel comprised representatives of the local party and the regional board.

I understand that John Biggs was the only name out forward for selection and that Cllr Rachael Saunders decided not to accept a very rushed and last minute invitation to attend an interview.

So John is once again Labour’s choice.

This is what he said this afternoon

I am delighted to have been confirmed as Labour’s candidate. Tower Hamlets must now move on from the divisive politics of Lutfur Rahman and his disgraced regime of corruption and mismanagement.

We need leadership that is once again open and accountable and restores the trust of the people we’re here to serve. I want to put the council back on everyone’s side.

Only Labour can beat Lutfur Rahman’s candidate in Tower Hamlets. My focus will be to restore confidence and to serve local families, addressing the big issues and great opportunities we face in our borough – on affordable housing, on education, on safety and most of all helping build a better future for everyone in Tower Hamlets.

Some on the NEC committee believe this is the law of natural justice and that technically the May 2014 does not now exist in law.

There was also some discussion this morning about what went wrong from Labour’s point of view last May. One of the main concerns was that the campaign was something of an ill-discplined shambles and it lacked proper leadership.

When you think about it, given what was at stake last year, that’s a bit surprising. So John will now be surrounded by heavyweight party officials until polling day on June 11.

I think he’s also going to need a decent running mate who’s better able to communicate with and more popular with the Bengali community.

Labour will treat this as a parliamentary by-election so there will be masses of foot soldiers from outside the borough arriving to pound the streets and knock on doors for the next seven weeks. Lucky Tower Hamlets.

It’s inevitable the turnout will be lower than last time because there will be no other elections on that day. When this happened in October 2010, Lutfur walked it. This is a real worry for Labour, even without the worry of facing ‘great man’ (as Richard Mawrey QC mocked him).

I need someone to advise me on this: if Lutfur does go for judicial review, and judging from this tweet from legal expert David Allen Green/Jack of Kent…

…that would seem unwise, would there be an automatic injunction on the election? My understanding is that nothing can interfere with an election once it has been called. So could we have a new mayor elected by the time that JR is complete?Were Lutfur to succeed in the JR, surely he would be reinstated as the mayor elected in May 2014.

I know Tower Hamlets is a parallel universe, but having two mayors is a bit too much like Doctor Who.

Which brings us to the Tory candidate for Mayor. Dr Anwara Ali, a GP in Brick Lane and a former Labour councillor from 2006-10, is putting herself forward for the post. The Tories have yet to decide how to play it. One Labour source has even speculated to me that Peter Golds may be asked to run.

AnwaraAli(1)But Anwara is very keen. This is what she sent me:

As a married, mum of one child, GP cum international business women and ex Council Cabinet member, I believe I am well-placed to be the unity Conservative Mayoral candidate for fragmented Tower Hamlets communities. I have always put my British foot forward – because that is my only foot & first identity – that is who I am.

I believe in families, hard work and a prosperous TH and UK. Religion and ethnicity are personal and I confine them to my home. I have never used them as electrol weapon and will not do so in future. Labour ruled TH for 50+ years and divided whites and blacks into Muslims and non-Muslims.

Lutfur, a creation of Labour and a true disciple of Labour, took it to the extreme. British justice has won the day. Would you disagree if I said that Labour Party still continues to use divisive politics in many parts of the country where there are large ethnic concentrations?

I spoke on this matter at a Conservative conference fringe meeting. The media must also move away from stereotypes – you are the eyes and consciousness of society: you must critique candidates on meritocracy.

You must not look at ethnicity as a unifying essential. It is a Conservative party that delivered UK out of a recession and TH needs an experienced politician but also one with a fresh outlook to deliver unifying non divisive and a healthy local government.

I quite like the tone of that. Former Respect and Tory councillor Ahmed Hussain is also likely to put his name forward.

So who will the discredited Tower Hamlets First ‘party’ stand? They’re already squabbling. Four names have been mentioned to me: Acting Mayor Oli Rahman, former deputy mayor Ohid Ahmed, Cllr Rabina Khan, and G(h)ulam Robbani. All four would keep the auditors happy.

I don’t know what Ukip will do: Nick McQueen ran last time but he’s busy fighting a parliamentary seat in the borough at the moment.

It looks as if it’s going to be very messy and divided for quite some time to come.

Might it not be better for the sensible figures from all parties create a rainbow coalition that tries to lance the boil from Tower Hamlets politics? I suppose that would require Biggs running alone with the blessing of the Tories. Biggs could state that Peter Golds would be his deputy mayor.

He could even offer a cabinet seat to one of Lutfur’s crew.

Ok, ok, I need a lie down.

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