Lutfur’s remarkable comeback
By Rashed Belal :
Lutfur Rahman has been elected mayor of Tower Hamlets in London, Rahman, of Aspire, won 40,804 votes, with Biggs on 33,487.
In a shock local elections upset on Friday, Mr Rahman defeated Labour incumbent John Biggs with a combined 40,804 votes on his Aspire party platform.
As the result was announced late on Friday afternoon, loud cheers erupted from Mr Rahman’s supporters.
Standing for the first time in the race since his five-year election ban elapsed in a closely-watched contest which saw police officers stationed outside the borough’s polling booths, Mr Rahman said he would be a mayor for the whole community.
Speaking to reporters after the count, Mr Rahman said: “The people of the borough gave a verdict today. I was in the court of the people. And they said, in a loud voice, they wanted Lutfur Rahman and his team to serve them for the next four years and that’s what I want to do.”
Asked about his previous ban from standing, he said: “I’m not going to make a comment about that. Today is not about that. Today is about the people of the borough. They came out in large numbers yesterday and they expressed the democratic will in a loud voice and they wanted change. And that change is me and Aspire.”
Asked if this was a free and fair election, he said “I have no doubt. I have full faith in the council officers, I have full faith in the police officers in the borough. And they have overseen a democratic process yesterday”.
The victory had been gloomily predicted by Labour figures hours into the count. Rabina Khan, once of Mr Rahman’s Tower Hamlets First party before defecting to the Lib Dems, was eliminated in the first round, with 6,430 first preference votes.
Ms Khan had previously placed second in the previous two mayoral elections in Tower Hamlets.