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Live from the Count

ELN  is back in the Excel aircraft-hangar. There’s two counts today: the Stepney Green Ward by-election and the Mayor of Tower Hamlets by-election. We’ll update this story with news as it occurs: keep checking back. We are hoping to have the Stepney result by around 1am, with the mayoral result around 4.30am (it’s difficult to estimate as we don’t yet know whether there will be a victory on the first round or whether we have to count all the second preferences. So far, all we can say is that it is looking neck and neck.




04.33  As we write that, the announcement is given. Here is the result.

Elaine Bagshaw, Lib Dem  2152

John Biggs, Labour  27 255  (5,499) 32754 total

Andy Erlam, Red Flag – Anti-Corruption  1768

John Foster – Green Party  2,678

Peter Golds – Conservative  5,940

Vanessa Hudson – Animal Welfare  309

Hafiz Kadir – Independent  316

Rabina Khan – Independent  25 763 (621) 26 384

Nicholas MacQueen – UKIP  1669

Md Motiur Rahman Nanu – Independent  292

1497 rejected

Turnout 37.73%

04.30  We seem to be quite a way from any announcement. Most of the parties have gone – really only Labour remains. Take it that Tory and UKIP second preference votes have swept John Biggs into office. Batten the hatches. And send messages of support to Cllr Rabina Khan, one of the strongest and most popular politicians this borough has ever bred. We have not heard the last of her.  Good night.

03.51 We have had the formal announcement that we have gone to a count of second preferences. There is confirmation that John Biggs and Rabina Khan are the top two candidates. All other candidates are eliminated. Any second preference votes on those ballot papers which are for one of the top two candidates will be awarded to that candidate. The total first preference votes cast have not been released yet. However, on a second preference count John Biggs is bound to pick up far more second preference votes from Tory and UKIP voters: there is little doubt that he has now got two jobs.

03.35  The Returning Officer has stopped huddling with the candidates and agents. It looks like they have resolved whatever outstanding potential spoilt votes there were. Surely there must be an announcement soon?

03.25  We are still waiting for official news. In the meantime, here’s a nice photo of Rushanara Ali chatting with the photographer from the Evening Standard (on the right).

RA and ES web

03.10 The counters are setting up the tables again. They appear to be preparing to do a second count. We have been promised a formal announcement on what is happening very shortly.

03.03 Cllr Rabina Khan has been here for a while. She did not make a grand entrance like John Biggs, but she went quietly round the hall looking at the votes. She has now left the counting hall.

02.58 There is still a big huddle of candidates. Chris Weavers is looking unhappy; Cllr Rachael Saunders is looking ecstatic. No conclusion can be drawn from that. Cllr Saunders has brought someone wearing a giant Labour rosette to have a discussion with the head of comms (hands were shaken) – while she has moved on to have a chat (gales of happy laughter can be heard from yards away) with a local journalist.

02.50 The mayoral candidates and agents have been called to the returning officer. There will be an announcement soon. The thinking in the press tent is that Cllr Rabina Khan may have edged ahead on the first preferences – but that we will go to a count of second preferences, which would explain John Biggs’s confidence. We wait to be told.

02.37 John Biggs has just made a triumphal entrance. His team lined up and he strode past them like the queen inspecting the cavalry. Labour clearly believes they have won.

02.20  On a slightly more surreal note, if there is one – the current situation, according to the comms monitor, is “no signal”. We have also realised that the wheelchair accessible toilet is down these stairs:


02.15  Surely the writing is on the wall? If the “independents” could not hold Stepney Green, how could they win the mayoralty?

01.40  Stepney Green  result
Sabina Akhtar, Labour – 1,643
Safiul Azam, Conservative – 153
Kirsty Chestnutt, Green – 272
Abu Talha Chowdhury, Independent – 1,472
Will Dyer, Lib-Dem – 114
Jessie Macneil-Brown, Something New – 40
Paul Shea, UKIP – 203
35 spoilt papers; turnout 47.37%

01.39  Labour take Stepney Green!

01.17  London Bangla TV is uploading some Count Shorts videos on:
Check them out!

01.03  The total number of votes issued (in the mayoral election) was 69,643, and this was also the number of votes verified.  The electorate for this election was 184,563 – giving the turnout of 37.73%. There is no official response from Labour yet.

01.00  Turnout is 37.73%

00.58  The candidates and agents have been called to the returning officer: he is giving them the turnout figure. We hope this will be made public in a few minutes.

00.32  We’ve been whiling away a bit of time wondering who, if John Biggs won, would be Chief Deputy. Some people think Cllr Rachael Saunders would want the role, whereas others believe John Biggs would prefer to work with Siraj. Some people think the deputies would have to run the Council while John dealt with his responsibilities back at City Hall, while others believe City Hall need not take up too much of his time and he would not want to delegate much in Tower Hamlets. That’s what we’re talking about!

00.30  Things have slowed up a bit. Labour individuals who have stopped to chat to the press pen are optimistic they will be ahead in a close vote. They still believe they have a chance of winning on the first ballot – but they also believe they have the vast majority of second preference votes, so if it comes to a second count they are expecting to be home and dry.

23.40  Things are progressing rapidly. The info screen says that they are still verifying the Stepney Green vote – but it also says that they have verified 64 out of 75 ballot boxes in the mayoral election. A passing comms officer has just confirmed they are actually counting votes now. Unofficially, the talk is that the turnout is on the low side, which should speed things up.

23.39  Some of the tables in the Press Pen have more people sat at them than others. A woman just came over and asked if she could take one of our empty chairs, so of course we said yes.  Then a man came over and just took a chair without asking. We think we’ve seen him before somewhere: someone said they thought he worked for Tower Hamlets Homes. Here’s a picture of him (seated) talking to Mike Brookes off of another local newspaper (on the right).

chair web

23.40  We have a rolling information screen in the media are, keeping us up to date with the progress of the count: that’s a big improvement on the General Election service, so well done Tower Hamlets Comms.