London Assembly Member John Biggs on moving Tower Hamlets forward


- Credit: Archant

There are many reasons why people switch off when the word politics is mentioned. The public perception of politicians is for some lower than it has ever been, seeing them as self-serving and appearing to do little, never responsible when things go wrong and keen to take credit for the works of others. Most politicians do not fit this description and I include those from all political parties. I frequently disagree with my rivals - that is the nature of politics - but overall I believe politicians can and do make a difference and contribute to the wider objectives of the nation and communities. The motives for going into politics vary, but most make sacrifices, both personal and financial, serving their communities.

But when I look at Tower Hamlets I think there is an exception. There are many reasons. For example, despite being an Olympic Borough, and unlike the other four, unemployment rose in Tower Hamlets during the Games. It has developed a reputation for divisive, inward looking, politics based on a ‘cult’ personality of its elected mayor whose picture appears everywhere, and who seems more anxious about the publicity around him than about the people he was elected to serve.The council is unable to keep its senior staff, undermining the management of a £1billion organisation, because officers’ advice is only welcome when it pleases the leadership.This list goes on. Good work has been done, but the elected Mayor has great power, and could have done so much better.

It teaches us that we should respect our politicians but beware their vanity - hubris, some people call it. It is this that, in some cases, stops them from doing the job they were elected to do and undermines politics and democracy. Tower Hamlets is sadly such a case. A single-minded borough, working together, looking outwards, respecting the work of the many people, businesses, organisations, faiths and values but recognising that together we can get so much more done, for all of our people, is the way forward. And that is why I am standing for Mayor.