White voters’ apathy led to Rahman’s win

PUBLISHED: 10:10 26 October 2010 | UPDATED: 10:10 26 October 2010

THE election for Mayor of Tower Hamlets last Thursday has been talked about more in the Bengali community than any elections in the past, as I can remember.

Lutfur Rahman’s supporters portrayed him as a victim of injustice by the Labour Party and more importantly by Cllr Helal Abbas.

I would have liked to see the Conservative Neil King win—but the majority white voters are not politically active, unlike the Bengalis. Most Tower Hamlets councillors are Bengalis, even though they make up less than half the population.

I am disappointed with the white voters, who think politics is ‘boring.’ What they don’t realize is that Bengalis love to be in politics, which gives them benefits and, of course, power.

Take away the generous allowances and power, which is sometimes abused to grant planning permission or jump the housing queue or give jobs to mates, and hardly any Bengalis would become councillors.

The Labour Party did not press ahead with the charges against Rahman, so it was perceived by the Bengali community as a fabrication. ‘Red Ken’ (Livingstone) didn’t help either.

Labour has been in a mess, allowing people from Respect to join. Then there are lots of ‘ghost’ members who vote for their candidates.

The statement by Cllr Abbas (Labour’s official candidate) against Rahman had been circulated to many Bengalis in the community, which made him even less popular and turned him into the ‘villain’.

I even got text messages to vote for Rahman, such was the feeling in the community about his perceived injustice and victimization and determination to see justice done, telling friends and relatives to go out and vote for him. Rahman’s team was active, while Labour party activists were hardly seen in the community.

Those Labour councillors who openly supported Rahman would now form a team under his management.

It was a calculated move by those rebel councillors going public supporting him, knowing they would be suspended.

But the greater prize would be in Rahman’s £1 billion budget team. What an opportunity!

Azad Miah

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