There was a lot at stake at this year’s mayoral elections in Tower Hamlets.
The incumbent Lutfur Rahman, representing Tower Hamlets First, faced serious charges of fraud (BBC report) and is currently under investigation by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles’s office for favouring the Bangladeshi community with grants and housing, as well as using public money to promote himself.
In spite of the reassurance of a police presence, last Thursday when I went to vote there were at least a half dozen Rahman supporters quietly milling around outside my local polling station sporting his red rosette.
One thrust a flyer into my hand. One Labour and one Lib Dem supporter were also there.
It was as if the men were there to check out voters walking in. It certainly felt very intimidating. Once inside, I witnessed two Bangladeshi women conferring over a ballot paper.
One was pointing quite clearly at Rahman’s nomination. A worried electoral officer admonished them but they did not speak English so it fell on deaf ears.
No action was taken and the lady who was apparently unsure where Rahman was on the paper scuttled back behind the booth to vote for him.
Labour were anticipating higher turnout than the last election’s pitiful 27 per cent and so expecting a win.
But, after recounts, Rahman was returned. Quite why Labour thought they ever stood a chance is beyond me.
After all they have spent decades encouraging people to vote for handouts and promoting multiculturalism.
Now the two policies are very effectively combining to keep them out of power. We shall no doubt see more independent runners in various Labour strongholds around the country in the future.
Meanwhile the London-based media, in thrall to their buddies in the big three parties, continue to obsess over Ukip, a racist party they claim and one that is is encouraging people to vote along purely cultural lines.
Labour’s only crumb of solace from this year’s results is to gloat that London is out of Ukip’s reach. They seem to be largely ignoring why Tower Hamlets, the largest of the London boroughs, is now effectively out of Labour’s.
A despairing Conservative Councillor has though now complained about the chaotic voting procedures there and the failure of the police to ensure that voting could take place without interference.