Like him or loathe him Ken Livingstone is an exceptionally capable politician and has been a close confidante of Lutfur Rahman for many years.
It was therefore no surprise that Ken should be on hand to support Lutfur’s formal campaign launch to be the next Directly Elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets on Monday 14th March.
(Younger political geeks might want to find out a little more about Ken Livingstone on Wikipedia or buy one of his rather good books.)
Lutfur’s speech was pretty good by Tower Hamlets standards.
Which is not great, let’s face it. And political speeches around here rarely have a close relationship with the truth.
Weak spots (and we ain’t talking acne)
Unfortunately for Mayor Biggs it looks like Lutfur has identified his weak spots. Well, the weakest of his many weak spots: council tax, education, housing, the Youth Service, care of the elderly, everything really.
Lutfur seemed in good form and went on the attack, criticising Biggs for his changeable attitude to the whole Directly Elected Mayor thing saying that last November a “conspiracy” started to remove the [Directly Elected] Mayoral system… which was fought off by a combination of “me, Aspire and the community’.
Which might be news to the community.
He went on to say that during the last seven years “the people of this borough have been inflicted [sic] a lot of pain. We are in agony. We have been punished by the current Mayor because of his failings in his administration’s failings.”
Let’s face it, nobody outside Tower Hamlets Labour Party could disagree with that one.
Unfortunately hyperbole kicked in and some of Lutfur’s claims seemed a touch exaggerated, such as his claim that “the current Mayor has increased council tax to some 29%” and that the Tower Hamlets education service was not only “the envy of this country but of the world”. (To be precise the tenth best education system in the world.)
Well, that is what his friend Allison told him and who is to argue with Allison whoever she is?
Next up was Mayor Biggs’ record on housing which is pretty much an open goal for any critic. While the Enquirer cannot verify Lutfur’s claim that his administration built over 8,500 homes for rent we can verify that the Mayor has only managed to build around 300 homes. In seven years. Or is it none at all? Who knows.
Actually… call us being picky but Lutfur rightly identified that the 300 homes that have been delivered during the Biggs administration were in fact those planned and delivered at the end of Rahman’s regime.
See our stories here and here on that one. [LINK]
Youth Service cuts
Up next was the Youth Service! Yay! The Wapping Mole’s most favourite subject ever!
Our possible future Mayor (again) stated quite correctly that Youth Service funding had been cut from £10m a year to £2m year!
Disaster! Children wandering the streets getting involved in drugs etc. The full end of the world scenario.
Lutfur rightfully claimed that under his administration Tower Hamlets Council ensured that that it’s Youth Service was the best funded in London.
Therefore it was a disaster that £8m had been cut from the budget and the Youth Service reduced to a shell of its previous self.
Actually not. The reverse is true.
What most people don’t realise is that the Youth Service leaked money through a hole the size of the gash in the side of the Titanic.
Not only did the Youth Service leak the public money it had been allocated it also leaked money from fictious grant applications to Tower Hamlets Council written by Youth Service officers in Council properties that they rented on the cheap (now there’s a story!) while they were being paid. By Tower Hamlets Council.
Read about 9B Burslem Street to find out more on this.
All this criminal activity being signed off by the senior Youth Service officer in charge.
Handy, huh? Remember this the next time you are down to your last tenner.
And no of course nobody has ever been charged with any of these crimes. In fact quite a few of them still work for Tower Hamlets.
Which is nice.
So while it might look bad that the Youth Service has had its budget cut it is in fact a very good thing.
Unless you are OK with criminals siphoning off Council cash?
How high is your horse?
And before you get on your high horse about how naughty Lutfur Rahman was to allow this to happen and how could he ever be trusted again, you might want to consider that while the Youth Service corruption was created by Lutfur Rahman’s crew it is Mayor Biggs administration that has somehow never managed to bring a single person to book for these crimes and has indeed taken active efforts to ensure that they were never touched.
Part of the reason for this is that our current Mayor proclaimed that his much vaunted ‘Clean Up’ project had done its job. Whereas in fact it had not. It was a cover up, pure and simple. Awkward then when someone else comes along and points this out as how is it possible to clean house when the house has been cleaned?
Sounds nuts? Probably, but it’s all true. So excuse Moley when he gets a bit irritated with politicians feeding you nonsense.
Here comes the smear bit
The one area where Lutfur’s recall of events was slightly at odds with that of everyone else was his recall of events before and during the 2014 election. Here is what he says:
“Just before the 2014 election there was a programme against me on BBC, Panorama, that I had given so much money to the Bangladeshi community of Tower Hamlets in grants. The intention was to remove me in power in 2014, Panorama did not succeed, my vote increased.”Lutfur Rahman
Well of course his vote increased – the whole election was rigged in his favour! I mean, what is the point of going to all that effort of fixing an election and your vote doesn’t increase?
Also his claim that council grants were not allocated on the basis of political patronage was proved wrong by the government’s auditors PwC who took control of the council in November 2014.
Some geezer running a site called Love Wapping also proved the same thing as PwC.
Below is a simple chart showing the difference between the wards. Spitalfields and Banglatown and Whitechapel, Lutfur’s heartlands, got loads of money. Millwall got so little money in grants from Rahman, despite it having the highest number of residents, that it does not even show on the chart.
From memory the ratio of grants amounts awarded was 100:1, in some cases in those wards not in favour with Rahman got £1 when a ward in favour would get £100. Which is just not right.
Seems Lutfur’s idea of a smear campaign is one that disagrees with what he says.
“I would trust Lutfur with my life.”
Lutfur then went on to criticise the lack of support for the elderly, highlighting that because of Biggs cuts families were having to pay between £300 and £500 a month for private care.
Ken Livingstone was fulsome in his praise for Lutfur saying that “I would trust Lutfur with my life.”
Can’t beat that for an endorsement, can ya?
Ken then followed this up by saying that in his view “He is going to make life better in this borough and also set an example that other boroughs can be inspired to follow” (17m 58s)
Baroness Uddin then gave her reasons for supporting Lutfur.
“The reason I am supporting him is that he represents the aspirations of the younger generation of people. We have been constrained because we have not been able to rise above the discriminatory practices of this current administration.”
Who you may ask is Baroness Uddin when she is at home (either of them)?
Baroness Uddin’s one claim to fame relates to the Parliamentary expenses scandal back in 2009 when there seemed to be a bit of an issue with her having claimed £30k a year for a flat in Maidstone that she stated was her main residence although there did not seem to be much evidence that she or her husband and four children lived there.
She also had a council property in Wapping but stated that as her main home had been outside London since 2001 (the Maidstone property) she was right to claim an extra £83,000.
In December 2011 the House Committee in the Lords recommended that Uddin should not be allowed back to the Lords until the outstanding expenses had been repaid. The money was repaid in 2012 with the help of £124,000 of loans from friends, and she returned to the Lords.
The total amount of £125,349 that Uddin was required to repay was the largest amount of the expenses scandal.
So now you know who she is.
Asked about being a Labour (Tony Blair) appointee to the Lords Baroness Uddin said “I am a member of the House of Lords and it is very important that I take my responsibility very seriously.”
All in all an impressive speech from Lutfur Rahman, although it would have been better if he could have come up with two more, er, contemporary politicians to support him.
Oh and Lutfur completely forgot to mention the whole reason why he has been out of politics since 2015. You know, the whole being kicked out office after being found guilty in the election court of corruption thing.
Or was that all just another one of those smears?
For those who would prefer to forget this episode in the political history of Tower Hamlets here are some facts, awkward as they may be to some.
Lutfur Rahman Electoral Petition judgement
The below is taken from the judgement of Justice Mawrey at the end of the Electoral Petition, the transcript of which you can find here back in 2015.
672 The court is satisfied and certifies that in the election for the Mayor of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets held on 22 May 2014:
a) the First Respondent Mr Rahman was guilty by his agents of corrupt practices contrary t
i) s 0 of the 1983 Act;
ii) s 62A of the 1983 Act;
b) the First Respondent Mr Rahman was guilty by his agents of illegal practices contrary to:
i) s 13D(1) of the 1983 Act;
ii) s 61(1)(a) of the 1983 Act;
c) the First Respondent Mr Rahman was personally guilty and guilty by his agents of an illegal practice contrary to s 106 of the 1983 Act;
d) the First Respondent Mr Rahman was guilty by his agents of an illegal practice contrary to s 111 of the 1983 Act;
e) the First Respondent Mr Rahman was personally guilty and guilty by his agents of a corrupt practice contrary to s 113 of the 1983 Act;
f) the First Respondent Mr Rahman was personally guilty and guilty by his agents of a corrupt practice contrary to s 115 of the 1983 Act.
Notice the nine occurrences of the word guilty in the judgement, several corrupts and an illegal or two?