Editorial comment: Scrap East End’s tainted mayoral ballot

THE race to become tower hamlets first directly elected mayor has been thrown into renewed controversy by Labour’s axing of its front-runner candidate.

Lutfur Rahman was dramatically dropped by the party following a series of claims and accusations over his election expenses and alleged party membership irregularities.

Cllr Rahman won the Labour nomination only two weeks ago after fighting an expensive legal battle when he was originally omitted from the party’s candidate list.

But this week’s move, coming only days before the list of candidates finally closes, is the latest in a series of events that have tarnished the election long before the first vote is cast.

Last year a petition, championed by the Respect party and calling for a referendum on an elected mayor, was criticised when doubts were cast over the authenticity of some of the signatures.

But in May the decision to go ahead with the mayor election following an massive popular vote.

Since then the movers and shakers have been jockeying for position. Last month Labour announced that London political stalwart John Biggs was its preferred candidate.

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Cllr Rahman then took his fight to become mayor to the High Court and claimed he had been unlawfully shouldered out of contention.

The judges agreed and he was allowed back in the race.

Two weeks ago Cllr Rahman won the fight to be nominated Labour front runner beating John Biggs into second place. Now he has been dropped once again and not even replaced by the runner up. And this week George Galloway announced he might consider running as mayor for Respect if Rahman fails to stand. This entire affair leaves Tower Hamlets looking ridiculous and creates an impression of tarnished politics.

It will not matter who wins on October 21: the ordinary taxpayers of Tower Hamlets will suffer.

At a time when the council has to find ways of making �8m of cuts, we need a strong local government that we can believe and trust in.

So it is for that reason the Advertiser believes the mayoral election should be postponed indefinitely. Currently we are facing a ballot for a shambles.

It had been hoped that having a mayor could be a light at the end of the tunnel for Tower Hamlets.

Unfortunately, everyone seems to be more interested in building a longer tunnel.