Labour loses in Tower Hamlets

2:49 am - October 22nd 2010

by Sunny Hundal    

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The results of the Mayoral election in the important borough of Tower Hamlets is out:

The Independent candidate Lutfur Rahman won with 51.76% (23,283 votes).

Labour’s Helal Abbas: 25.01% (11,254 votes)
Conservative: 11.89% (5,348 votes)
Libdem: 6.22% (2,800 votes)
Green candidate: 5.11% (2,300 votes)

via @DarrenJohnsonAM and @SamTarry

Sam Tarry adds:

Baying mob of 300 outside the count – that’s nots democratic politics. Never seen anything like it. Doesn’t bode well for Tower Hamlets…

Update 1: Journalist & blogger Ted Jeory says turnout was around 25%. He suspects some Labour councillors in the area will now defect to Rahman’s camp in order to support his administration.

To get a flavour, I repeatedly asked two Labour councillors tonight – Rofique Ahmed and Abdul Asad – if they had placed Abbas first on their ballot papers today. Both refused to say, which is very curious for supposedly proud Labour men.

Update 2: Dave Hill files his report:

Labour’s defeat will be followed by a grim inquest into their handling of the entire affair. There seems no doubt that Rahman drew strength from being seen as a victim of the Labour establishment and some relentlessly negative media coverage which his opponents in the party both feared and fuelled. It soon became clear that the majority of the borough’s politically-enthusiastic Bangladeshi electors were behind him – as many as two-thirds in the view of some in the Labour campaign – leaving Labour needing to mobilise its non-Bangladeshi vote. The low turnout suggests it was from successful enough.

He also thinks there is a chance Lutfur Rahman might be brought back into the Labour fold.

This is still a developing story. We’ll update the post as we get more.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments

“baying mob” – not exactly the most neutral of descriptions. doesn’t bode well for the chances that future non-Labour candidates won’t be smeared as extremists.

Couldn’t they all have lost? And retired? And moved to beautiful flats in Notting Hill?

I’m surprised Oona King didn’t give it ago.

It was conducted under AV, right? That makes it all the more impressive that Rahman got more than 50% on the first round, so they didn’t need to count second preferences.

Will Ken be in trouble now, or has he cleverly ensured that Tower Hamlets turns out to vote for him in 2012? To be fair, they probably were going to anyway.

wellsaid Biance,If labour councillor s do defect that’ll be ashame,they could stay on and still work with him

Baying mob?

Surely “vibrant”?

@3; It was conducted under AV, right?

Almost. it used SV, a cut-down version of AV that only allows two preferences.

Remember that Labour’s candidate Abbas came 3rd in the local selection for the candidacy.

After Rahman was expelled for voter fraud and links to the Bangladeshi Jamaat-e-Islami extremist group, Abbas got the ‘brown card’ to jump over the 2nd place white candidate.

Equality in action comrades!

LD joint last with the greens is interesting. A portent of things to come perhaps?

I think it may be time for me to move from Tower Hamlets to a less extremist borough with a Mayor that supports the entire community.

Well, it’ll be interesting to see how the borough develops with him as a mayor – and what he gets up to.

If half of the Telegraph’s story is vaguely accurate, he’s entirely unfit for office. But I don’t know him, or the borough in question.

Still, it’d be nice if these elections had a quorate of 50%. It’s obvious he doesn’t have much of a mandate on those turnout figures.

I think that Sunny has put his finger on the most significant ramification of this result, illustrated by his choice of picture for the thread.


“If half of the Telegraph’s story is vaguely accurate…”

……it’d be a first surely? 😉

@ Tim J

“I think that Sunny has put his finger on the most significant ramification of this result, illustrated by his choice of picture for the thread.”

Agreed. Ken has tied his fortunes to those of Rahman inextricably now, cementing the hard-left+Islamist bond.

So he’ll probably lose London 🙂

I would normally vote Labour for London Mayor. With Livingstone’s support for Rahman, I am less likely to do so in 2012.

15. margin4error

Those of us active in London, and especially east london – learned long ago not to get involved in trying to understand or seriously influence Tower Hamlets.

The various factions there hate eachother for personal reasons – there is a constant atmosphere of corruption – racial politics is stronger there than just about anywhere else.

It is a pit for left-wing politics and best left alone most of the time. Obviously it is worth campaigning at elections. Beyond that stick to sane parts of London.

Labour has scored another own-goal!

The US styled directly-elected Mayors has been an ill-conceived policy and has unsettled municipalism in a big way. Mavericks have been returned on low turn-outs in places like Hartlepool, Doncaster, Watford , Middlesborough etc.

Labour needs to revise its policy on local governance away from this shambles and restore power to the party’s grass-roots. Not just platitudes about community organisers but substantial policies on representation, economy and employment.

@15 M4E

What a sad state of affairs. I actively involve myself in the issues of where I live in an attempt to at least understand the problems and the potential solutions. Reinforces my views on immigration which were once quite liberal.

@ 16 namak

Why is Dorothy Thornhill a maverick? She seems reasonably well liked in Watford, where I live, and runs on a standard Lib Dem ticket.

12 – well, the points of interest were “in the pocket of muslim extremists” and “involved in electoral fraud”. Either of those, if true, are enough to make him entirely unsuitable for office; and either of them, if false, are groups for a libel action.

Also, the Doncaster mayor is an English Democrat? Whoever they are. Low turnout is evil, and we should work to avoid it.

This sounds like the kind of thing Andrea Merkel got slammed for the other day when she said that multi-culturalism had failed miserably in Germany.

Or maybe it’s just democracy in action. The white working class (I’m guessing) hardly bothered to vote or didn’t even know much about the election, while the Bangladeshi community who make up a third of the borough, were energised and strongly enthusiastic about the election, and ”their man” won by getting over half the votes standing as an independent (on a low turn out).

Tower Hamlets sounds like one of the most interesting electorates in the country, and when I move back to London, I’m strongly thinking of living there.

Who knows if half of what Andrew Gilligan says is true?
The Labour party must have thought enough of it was to deselect Lutfur Rahman. Between Gilligan, Dave Hill and Ted Jeory’s blog, it all makes for a very interesting situation.

I think Liberal Conspiracy should now consider why RETAINING Ken Livingstone is electoral suicide for Labour in London.

Any chance Livingstone might have had in 2012 has now evaporated. Replacing him is now a matter of urgency.

Private Eye has been covering this story for some time and the whole damn thing looks more corrupt than a narco-dollars backed regime in Latin America. Does Lib Con have any Tower Hamlets moles who can report on the mysterious goings-on? Seems there is so much slurs and smears from all sides one can barely see the wood for trees.

24. margin4error


A very sad state of affairs.


Firstly – nothing wrong with a maverick – can be invigorating for an area and for politics.

Secondly – Hartlepool re-elected their maverick who ended up working pretty well with their local council.

Thirdly – I note your list of problem Mayors is long and not well drawn up. There are of course very popular elected mayors who are considered to have done a good job. (Robin Wales in Newham, across the border in a more sensible part of London than Tower Hamlets is a good example.)

Just because you’re not a muslim doesn’t mean you won’t be allowed to live normally and practise your religion in Tower Hamlets.

You just need to be aware of the culture and, if you’re a woman, behave properly.

25 liberanos

“You just need to be aware of the culture and, if you’re a woman, behave properly.”

Errrrmmmm…. behave properly…?! By doing (or not doing) what exactly?

Presumably it involves not dressing “immodestly” if that Gilligan column is in danger of being accurate.


Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha I assume you’re being sarcastic. Or ironic. Otherwise fuck right off. “Behave properly”?? Jesus (and Mo) wept.

So Ken was right?

Why do Labour keep fucking up their own party.

Can anyone hazard a guess how many non-Bangladeshi origin Londoners voted for the winner?
As a percentage of the 23,283 votes he got.

I only ask this, as if the percentage of his voters who were not of Bangladeshi origin was negligible, then surely this must be an example of a failure of multiculturalism.


forgive me if I can’t detect any nuanced irony here, but if the comment by the above named is genuine, then I request that it be removed for offensiveness. Which, of course, I am sure would be the case if such views were stated in a racist context.

@ 31


Why are you offended by #30? are you one of those that pulls the race card as soon as some one mentions ethnic origins?

You remember Rod Liddle’s Millwall fan website that got highlighted on Liberal Conspiracy a few months ago, and where the campaign against Liddle was reckoned to have lost him the job as the editor of the Independent?

I was just reading it again tonight ahead of their home game on Saturday against Derby County. There is realy some terrible stuff written on the site – and half the time you don’t know if people are being serious or not.

But this one thread did catch my eye, and I thought about the Tower Hamlets election across the river as I read it.

One of the posters is called ‘Mama Lion’, who from what I can tell, is an older Millwall supporting woman, who is widely respected as a mother figure … and she announces that she will be outside the ground before the match tomorow selling poppies.
And the rest you can see for yourself here.

My point is this …. can these 12,000 Millwall fans who will be at The Den tomorow, ever have anything in common with the people who campaigned so enthusiasticly in Tower Hamlets to get their man elected?

I’m all for women behaving properly.

Of course I fear what I consider propoer behaviour might conflict quite severely with the views of some of the victors in Tower Hamlets.

Still, so long as they don’t close the Ten Bells or the Archer, I’m sure we’ll all, male and female, keep behaving as properly as we like.

Irony indeed.

My party, having indulged and ignored the grotesquely-unsocialist misogyny, homophobia and anti-semitism of the inner city ghettos, in order to attract and keep muslim votes, have now been unceremoniously booted out by those very same voters.

You gotta larf.

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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Labour loses in Tower Hamlets

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