MP gives London Assembly's John Biggs backing to oust Lutfur Rahman
PUBLISHED: 00:01 19 February 2013 | UPDATED: 13:56 19 February 2013
The London Assembly's budget chairman has won backing this week from an MP in the race to be Labour's candidate to try and oust Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman at the polls next year.
John Biggs has received formal endorsement from Poplar & Limehouse MP Jim Fitzpatrick as Tower Hamlets Labour Party draws up its shortlist.
“Biggs has what it takes to unseat Mayor Rahman and get Tower Hamlets out of the mess it’s in,” said the MP.
“Not a week goes by without calamity, scandal and incompetence. The people deserve better—that’s why I’m backing John Biggs.”
But Biggs, the ex-council leader hoping to return to East End politics after 12 years at City Hall, is up against another former authority leader, Helal Abbas, and several front-running councillors.
He snatched back control of Tower Hamlets from Lib Dems in 1994 and now wants to influence a new generation of Labour party members to unseat Mayor Rahman.
He claimed: “The Mayor is too focussed on narrow interests and eye-catching self-promotion with his posters everywhere you go.
“But there are big problems under the surface over social care, housing and rents.”
Biggs admitted: “Labour’s candidate selection last time was a ‘train wreck’.
Labour pinned its hopes in 2010 on Helal Abbas who was council leader at the time.
The party had previously chosen Lutfur Rahman—then deselected him amid allegations of election register irregularities. Rahman took legal action, was reselected, then dropped again.
He finally quit the party and ran as an independent—and gave Labour a humiliating bloody nose at the polls.
Cllr Abbas said this week: “I hope we learn from the mistakes of 2010. Mayor Rahman lacks transparency running Tower Hamlets’ £1.2 bullion budget and is divisive in the community.”
Other party activists vying for selection include Tower Hamlets councillors Rachael Saunders, David Edgar and deputy group leader Motin Uz Zaman.
Labour draws its shortlist on March 2, then starts a tough selection to find a candidate by April 6 to run for Mayor in May next year.