Humiliation for Labour as Lutfur Rahman sweeps to Tower Hamlets Mayor victory
PUBLISHED: 02:29 22 October 2010 | UPDATED: 02:50 22 October 2010
THE Labour Party suffered a shock defeat tonight as they lost the first ever Tower Hamlets Mayoral election.
Lutfur Rahman - kicked out of the party last month and forced to stand as an independent - won the vote with a total of 23,283 votes.
It meant jubilation for the many supporters of Rahman who had gathered in the cold outside the count at York Hall, Bethnal Green.
But for Labour and their candidate Helal Abbas it was an embarrassing defeat in the normally staunchly left-wing East End, leaving party activists despondent.
Mr Rahman, who was originally selected as Labour’s candidate last month before being deselected by the party’s national executive, won the election with 51.76 per cent of the vote.
He was expelled from Labour after making the decision to run as an independent candidate.
“All I want to do is serve Tower Hamlets, whether black or white and whatever religion they come from,” said the victor.
“Join with me to unite the people of Tower Hamlets.”
Voters stayed away from the ballots though, with a low 25.6 per cent turnout amongst the 182,482 people eligible to vote.
Mr Abbas won 11,254 votes, Conservative Neil King had 5,348 votes, Liberal Democrat John Griffiths polled 2,800 and Green candidate Alan Duffell came away with 2,300 votes.
As tellers counted the 46,719 votes cast, rumours spread around the count floor that Mr Rahman had pipped his former party to the post.
Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, conceded that the independent would win the vote even before the count of first preference votes had begun.
There was also anger from some Labour party activists at London Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone’s decision to campaign on behalf of Mr Rahman.
As the count was taking place, Labour Councillor for Mile End East, Rachael Saunders, tweeted: “A significant number of Labour voters chose not to vote today in Tower Hamlets because of Livingstone intervention. I am furious.”
Mr Rahman will take office at the Town Hall on Monday and will announce his Deputy and Cabinet at a council meeting on Wednesday.