HIS FIRST mayoral election victory came in 2010. The second happened in 2014. Now, as he prepares to launch his campaign, Lutfur Rahman is hoping he can make it the third victory in a row in 2022.
A win in May would also be the third victory for Lutfur Rahman in more recent popular votes too.
•Residents first voted to hold direct elections for an Executive Mayor in a referendum in 2010. In 2021, voters confirmed their choice – by a margin of three to one. Rahman supporters and the “Aspire” party had backed direct elections, while Labour called for the vote on the Leader to be restricted to councillors.
•In August 2021, Aspire candidate Kabir Ahmed won a by-election in Weavers ward, receiving nearly half the votes cast (46.47%). Labour, the party defending the seat, slumped to just under a third of the vote (28.64%).
They were not just victories – they were landslides.
The next election for Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets will be held on 5th May. The main battle will be between Lutfur Rahman, standing for the Aspire party, and John Biggs, candidate for the Labour Party. Debate will centre on what the two candidates achieved during their periods in office and what they hope to do for the next four years – and on whether the voters trust them to deliver.
Rahman has already set out, in leaflets delivered door to door, his past record of achievements. “Against a backdrop of austerity, my Administration invested in public services while freezing council tax. We embraced the campaign to re-open Poplar Baths and built more council housing than any other council in the UK. As other councils closed up to ten libraries, we kept all ours open and even opened a new one. We were the last council not to charge for social care for the elderly. Every year we were rated the top council in London for Equality and Diversity. School results soared; Ofsted beamed. We commissioned the Whitechapel Masterplan which will inspire our new town centre, with the magnificent new Town Hall in the former Royal London Hospital, now nearing completion, at its hub,” he said.
Can the voters trust him – a man removed from office in 2015 by an election tribunal which found a dozen breaches of electoral law? That question deserves proper scrutiny. For now, the election tribunal verdict is being contrasted with Rahman’s record in office – not just on his way to it. His record in the Town Hall has been scrutinised in forensic detail by top accountants sent in by the Government and, on a number of occasions, by the Metropolitan Police. Neither found any evidence to warrant charges, and Rahman has not stood trial for anything he did in office, let alone been convicted of any offence.
“I have never ever acted dishonestly, but to those who think I didn’t exercise enough oversight over campaigners in the last election, I apologise. I couldn’t afford to pursue an appeal against the election tribunal, but I note the police subsequently cleared me of wrongdoing, following four investigations costing close to £4m of public money.”
Rahman has explained why he is looking to return to office. “People round here need a council that speaks up for and is in touch with those it governs, that safeguards and expands our public services, that looks after the elderly and has the highest ambitions for our children’s future. That is why I’m putting my name forward to be elected as the People’s Mayor and in the coming weeks I will be outlining Aspire’s plans to ‘Rebuild Tower Hamlets’ and ‘Rebuild Our Future’,” he said.
Lutfur Rahman is on a roll. There are reports that Aspire will be formally launching his campaign within days, giving voters a closer look at their candidate’s policies and the level of his support in the area. In two months’ time we shall know whether Tower Hamlets voters have given him a chance to return to the Town Hall to put those policies into action.
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