Apathy “won the day” in Tower Hamlets mayoral election

MAYORAL RIVALS were all united in their sense of disappointment that few people bothered to turn out in Tower Hamlets first mayoral election which cost the tax payer �180,000.

Conservative candidate Neil King, an Oxford-educated barrister, who was in third place with 5,348 votes congratulated Lutfur Rahman on his victory, though he made a pointed remark about the ‘stunning’ turnout of 25 per and he said his party would continue to act in opposition to the new mayor and the Labour group on the council.

He said: “This process has cost the hard-pressed taxpayers of Tower Hamlets �4.11 a vote of which 1,700 of them are spoiled.

“I hope the People’s Mayor bears in mind that in this borough of [George] Lansbury, [Keir] Hardie and [Clement] Attlee the Conservative party have made them themselves the largest opposition party now.

“I hope he respects the over 5000 people who trooped out from their estates, both new and shiny and old and dilapidated, to put faith in a party that will continue to deliver the opposition on the council.”

He stormed from the stage following his brief speech after the mayoral election result in the early hours of this morning and left York Hall quickly accompanied by a group of Tory supporters.

Green candidate train crew manager Alan Duffell told the Advertiser he had been encouraged by the result for his party which would think about fielding candidates in any forthcoming by-election.

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“I’m really pleased with the share that we have got.” He took fifth place with 2,300 votes.

But he added: “The turnout in this election was appallingly low.

“What was demoralising was that we were going to homes and having to spend more time explaining what the process was.”

Liberal Democrat candidate and former Tower Hamlets councillor John Griffiths who polled 2,800 said: “This is one of the most important elections in Tower Hamlet’s history. I voted for the mayoral system to break the mould.

But with this low turnout I think apathy has won the day.”

Labour’s Helal Abbas who polled less than half the votes that his former colleague Lutfur Rahman won said he was disappointed with the result.

He had looked worried as he studied the votes as they were counted, eventually polling 11,254 to Lutfur Rahman’s 23,283 votes.

Councillor Abbas who finished his term as council leader yesterday commented: “This is a sad night for those of us who want to build a better future and a united Tower Hamlets.”

He added: “And as the party with the largest number of councillors at Tower Hamlets Town Hall, Labour accepts our responsibility to work hard to hold the new Mayor to account and to stand up for ALL the communities of Tower Hamlets, not just one.

”We will not let the people of Tower Hamlets down.”