ELECTION RESULT: Labour’s John Biggs voted Tower Hamlets Mayor
PUBLISHED: 09:16 12 June 2015 | UPDATED: 02:33 14 June 2015
John Biggs has stormed home for Labour to be the new mayor of Tower Hamlets, beating rival Rabina Khan by a resounding margin of 7,370 votes.
The new mayor of this troubled corner of East London polled 27,255 first preference votes against Khan’s 25,763.
The poll went into a second round about 3am with Biggs’ small lead around 1,500, not enough to secure outright victory.
But he pulled ahead on the second round with an additional 5,499 ‘second preference’ votes over Khan’s additional 621.
The day was won by 4.30am with a clear, decisive majority. Now it was time the new mayor had to heal the scars in the community after the Rahman years.
“It’s important we recognise the events of the past which have caused enormous tension and friction in our great borough,” the new mayor proclaimed in his spech to the crowded hall at the Excel centre.
“We should remind ourselves why we are in this position. There was bad behaviour—we need to get out of the headlines for the wrong reasons and get into headlines for good reasons.
“The message I get from people is that they want to get away from the small politics and back to the big politics.
“Tower Hamlets is quite a magical place. Historically it’s a place people come to from across the world. Most people in this country have an ancestor who came through East London.
“It’s a magical place where people traditionally come with very little and build their dreams. I think that is still the case.”
But it is the housing shortage and rocketting land prices that will be key issues in Biggs’ three-year tenure.
“There is a real threat with the rise in land prices with communities being squeezed out,” he warned.
“That’s something that’s come through to me from all parts of the community in the East End.”
His victory spells the end of the Rahman years with Rabina Khan’s drubbing at the polls, after her mentor was disqualified from office by a High Court judge in April for fraud and malpractice.
Rahman’s influence over the Tower Hamlets’ political arena slipped into the East End’s history.
It was largely due to negative tactical voting, according to Tory candidate Peter Golds’ election agent and local party chairman Neil King.
He said: “It seems clear that area by area voters have gone for Labour tactically—the number of voters in good areas for us only a month ago at the General Election who voted Conservative seem to have lent John Biggs their vote to keep Khan out.”
The barrister from Wapping added: “Labour need to know it was a tactical vote that got them in and not an endorsement of their policy.”
Campaigning was brisk in the last two weeks through the streets of the East End with 10 candidates in the ring.
But in the final count, it was between the two giants, the London Assembly’s budget chairman Biggs and Rahman’s front-bench former cabinet member Khan.
Only three of the 10 candidates kept their deposits, Biggs, Khan and Tory Peter Golds who trailed behind with just under 6,000 votes.
The turn-out was 37 per cent, with 69,643 votes cast—but 1,497 rejected in a tough scrutiny operation against suspect and spoilt ballot papers.
HOW THE EAST END DECIDED:
John Biggs (Labour)—elected with 33,754 accumulative votes
Rabina Khan (ind)—failed on 26,384
Peter Golds (Con)—5,940
John Foster (Green)—2,678
Elaine Bagshaw (Lib Dem)—2,152
Andy Erlam (Anti-Corruption)—1,768
Nicholas McQueen (Ukip)—1,669
Hafiz Kadir (ind)—316
Vanessa Hudson (Animal Welfare)—305
Motiur Rahman Nanu (ind)—292.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East London Advertiser. Click the link in the orange box above for details.