Labour Trounced In Tower Hamlets

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 90 months ago
Labour Trounced In Tower Hamlets

1910_thlogo.gif It wasn't even close: In yesterday's mayoral election in Tower Hamlets, independent candidate (and former Labour member) Lutfur Rahman beat hapless Labour candidate Helal Abbas by a huge margin. On a turnout that barely nudged past 25%, Rahman took 51% of the first-preference votes, with Abbas polling less than half his erstwhile colleague and rival.

Some of Mr.Rahman's more stringent critics have already called his victory a harbinger of Sharia law in the UK, with one Labour councillor describing Tower Hamlets as the country's "first Islamic republic". Yet the result owes less to Islamism than it does to Labour incompetence. Chucking Rahman out of the party, replacing him with the chap who came third in their own candidacy election, then running a shambolic campaign where they failed to properly address why they'd made those decisions, meant that Rahman was able to portray himself as a victim.He also ran a savage smear campaign that accused Mr. Abbas of being a racist and wife-beater, and mobilised a street team of supporters who (as this Londonista witnessed last night) were waiting outside polling stations until late into the evening, urging voters to pick their candidate. It didn't help that certain Labour member sided with Rahman: Ken Livingstone campaigned for him this week, while the blog Trial by Jeory
reports that some Labour councillors seemed to have voted for the eventual winner.The result is a huge blow for Labour in Tower Hamlets, which only wrested control of the Bethnal Green & Bow constituency back from Respect in May. And the vitriol that was reportedly directed towards Labour members and councillors at the vote yesterday suggests the party may have permanently alienated many in the borough. But the blowback will also reach Westminster: to be annihilated in their first electoral test since Ed Miliband became leader does not bode well for the future.

Last Updated 22 October 2010