If I lived in Tower Hamlets, naturally enough, I would have voted for Christopher Wilford, the Conservative candidate to be the borough’s directly elected Mayor. Mr Wilford came third with 7,173 votes – more than the votes for the UKIP and Lib Dem candidates combined. So congratulations to him on fighting a strong campaign in difficult territory.
I would have also exercised my second preference. I would have used this to vote for John Biggs, the Labour candidate. After second preferences were counted Mr Biggs was defeated by Lutfur Rahman, the incumbent independent mayor who now styles himself the “Tower Hamlets First” candidate. Mr Biggs was defeated by 34,143 to Mr Rahman’s 37,395.
The whole process was a farce. The venue – the Troxy – an art deco concert venue in Limehouse – was too small and had no proper security. Crowds of Mr Rahman’s supporters would sweep in and gather around those attempting to count the votes. An unusually large number of spoilt ballot papers have been identified – over 2,000. Mr Rahman’s supporters would make constant challenges – pointing to ballot papers with pens amidst the shouting and shoving. If there hadn’t been marks invalidating them before hand there were would be afterwards…
The process was long delayed (as I write they are still cranking up for a recount in Bromley South Ward.)
On Thursday there were plenty of police at polling stations – yet they were passive. It was a bit like the police in London in August 2011 during the earlier stages of the riots – standing and observing while the rioting and looting took place. Instead of just one teller there would be a dozen or more supporters of Mr Rahman at the entrance and inside a Polling Station.
Any Bengali voter who turned up would be surrounded in a intimidating manner and spoken to – with some pretty robust advice about the consequences of voting for the Infidel Biggs. Why did the police not intervene to enforce electoral law?
I wrote on Friday about how I regarded Labour’s victory in my own borough of Hammersmith and Fulham as tainted – given that it was dependent on the lie that Charing Cross Hospital was closing. Yet at least my borough is a functioning democracy. Voters can decide what to believe. Tower Hamlets is on a different scale. The elections there are travesty. The conduct of elections needs to be taken out of the hands of Tower Hamlets Council – who have shown themselves unwilling or unable to meet the challenge.