Video: Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s re-election speech after chaotic count
PUBLISHED: 14:15 24 May 2014
Lutfur Rahman thanked residents of Tower Hamlets for his re-election as Mayor after a nail-biting finish to a brutal campaign.
Votes were counted for over six hours in a long and tense wait at the Troxy theatre in Limehouse on Friday that saw police try to deal with chaotic scenes outside the building.
In a close result, Mayor Rahman received 52 per cent of the vote with 37,395 votes on a day of fatigue and confusion among all local parties.
In his acceptance speech, delivered on stage in the early hours of Saturday morning, Mayor Rahman said: “The people of this borough have spoken again.
“All I ever wanted was to work on an equal playing field. I never asked for a favour from anyone but to see such obstacles in my way I found difficult.”
He also thanked his supporters waiting outside to hear the result of the election, and asked that people who did not vote for him give him a chance.
Crowds of supporters of Mayor Rahman had been waiting on the street from early in the day, when the results were originally expected. But as the wait dragged on, they became restless and grew in numbers, until the entrance to the theatre was blocked.
A team of 22 police officers struggled to keep the crowds from storming the count, and for a few hours stopped anyone entering or leaving the building, calling the situation “too dangerous”.
At one point Labour’s shadow London minister Sadiq Khan MP was told he could not exit the theatre for his own safety.
Earlier in the day, Mayor Rahman had stepped outside to greet the crowds and been met with cheers of “Inshallah”, meaning “as god wills it” in Arabic.
He received the same response when he appeared on the balcony of the theatre inside from supporters and Bangladeshi journalists.
The long delayed count of first preference votes for the mayoral election started at 6.30pm.
When neither candidate received 50 per cent of the votes cast, the count for the second preference votes began shortly before midnight.
The final result was announced a little after 1.30am, with the Mayor’s Labour rival John Biggs receiving 34,143 votes, of which 6,500 from postal voters.
Mr Biggs received loud booing when he gave his own speech, and asked for respect, before congratulating the Mayor and calling for unity in the borough.
All parties agreed to say on through Saturday morning as votes were counted for the local council elections.
The results of the elections for Members of the European Parliament are expected on Sunday night.
Lutfur Rahman was first elected in 2010 with 51 per cent of the vote, (23,283 votes) as an independent after Labour dropped him as a candidate in a turnout of 25 per cent.