Extremist elected new Mayor of Tower Hamlets
A decisive victory for Lutfur Rahman in the election for Mayor of Tower Hamets. He secured 51.76% on first preferences - so was declared elected without the second preferences being counted. Rahman was an independent candidate with the support of Respect, Ken Livingstone and Islamic fundamentalists including the Islamic Forum of Europe group.
The full results:
Lutfur Rahman (Independent) 23,283
Helal Abbas (Labour) 11,254
Neil King (Conservative) 5,348
John Griffiths (Lib Dem) 2,800
Alan Duffell (Green Party) 2,300
The turnout was 25.6%.
So a decisive defeat for the Labour Party in the borough of George Lansbury. But not a result that should give Conservatives any pleasure.
For a full analysis you really need to read the excellent account on Andrew Gilligan's blog.
OUTSIDE the Wellington Way polling station in Tower Hamlets yesterday, as at many other polling stations in the borough, people had to run a gauntlet of Lutfur Rahman supporters to reach the ballot box. As one Bengali woman voter went past them, we heard one of the Rahman army scolding her for her “immodest dress.”
He quotes a senior Labour Party figure saying that Rahman's personal control of the billion pound budget makes Tower Hamlets an "Islamic republic." Gilligan takes some comfort in the low turnout. White voters are a majority in the borough - but they didn't seem motivated to go and vote. He believes that Labour allowing the local party to be infiltrated and then resporting to centralisation to deal with the problem put them in a weak position. They were feeble about coming out with clear, on the record, statements about why Rahman had been ditched as their candidate.
Being in opposition should give them a chance to recover, Gilligan argues:
The one gain for the party is that it can dissociate itself from, and campaign against, the slow-motion car-crash which Lutfur’s mayoralty is likely to become. Lutfur may well be the Derek Hatton of the 2010s, but unlike Hatton he is no longer Labour’s responsibility. Any thought of making up with Lutfur needs to be resisted – there’s only pain, not gain, there.
Finally, something else which Tower Hamlets is not. Some of my commenters are fond of saying that the borough is an example of “Third World” politics in the UK. There are indeed similarities – but actually the claim is an insult to the Third World. Bangladesh has got to grips with Islamism; the IFE’s Bangladeshi parent, Jamaat-e-Islami, gets about two per cent of the vote in elections there. No Islamist sympathiser in Bangladesh has unfettered control over a £1 billion budget. Bangladesh, in short, has less of a problem with Islamic radicals than Tower Hamlets.