ELECTION: Labour’s John Biggs wins Tower Hamlets’ mayor poll — double his rival’s votes
PUBLISHED: 16:10 04 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:19 04 May 2018
John Biggs has romped home in a landslide victory to be returned as mayor of Tower Hamlets for his second term with almost 73 per cent of the vote.
But the count had to go to an extra round to add second-preference votes to his total as he didn’t manage an outright win at the start.
He fell short of the 50-plus per cent votes by just two per cent. The second-preference voters gave him another 25pc.
His victory puts the final nail in the coffin of the dark Lutfur Rahman era of malpractice and corruption that he inherited after the tainted 2014 election was overturned in the High Court which left the rump of his administration still serving on the council.
Rahman—banned from office till 2020—galvanised the new Aspire party who put up his former deputy mayor Ohid Ahmed to run in his place against Labour. He even appeared on Ahmed’s election leaflet.
But the voters gave Aspire just 14 per cent of the vote and put Ahmed in third place, knocking him out of the race at the first stage.
He was even outpaced by another former Rahman cabinet member, Rabina Khan and her rival People’s Alliance party, who came second with 17pc preference votes—still well short of catching Biggs.
Even the two former allies’ combined 30pc preference votes could not have caught up with Biggs’ 48pc.
Second-preference votes on ballot papers of the five knocked out candidates were then added to the remaining two—giving Biggs 72pc and Khan 37pc.
The count staged at the ExCel centre away from the borough—for security reasons—didn’t get started until 6am this-morning after a lengthy seven-hour verification process scrutinising every ballot paper to make sure numbers in the ballot boxes tallied with the votes cast against the electoral register.
This followed the 2014 scandal of false names on the register, hooky addresses, ‘doctored’ ballot papers and intimidation at the polls by Rahman supporters—all exposed in a six-week court trial the following year that banned Lutfur Rahman from office.
But even in the run-up to yesterday’s polls, police were looking into complaints of doorstep activity connected to postal votes.
Also knocked out at the first round were Conservatives, Lib Dems, Greens and Trade Unionists who could muster only 21pc between them out of the 80,000 votes cast, in a 42pc turn out at the polls.