Lib Dem Elaine Bagshaw comments on removal of Tower Hamlets mayor Rahman

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets has been found guilty of corrupt electoral practices and removed from office. There is a 200 page judgement which outlines in detail the allegations against him which range from personation to the old offence of “undue spiritual influence.” There is a section on that latter offence which goes through the history of it being used in Ireland against the undue spiritual influence of the Catholic church in the 19th century. The judgement also goes through the history of toxic Labour factionalism in the borough which is an eye-opening read to say the least. The judgement also relies on the judgement in a case which may well be familiar to readers – that of Phil Woolas, when the Oldham East election result was overturned back in 2010.

It is pretty shocking to have the result of an election turned aside because of compelling evidence of various types of fraud.

There will now be a by-election in which Rahman will not be allowed to stand. He will also have to pay £250,000 in costs.

Local Liberal Democrat candidate for Poplar and Limehouse Elaine Bagshaw commented:

Community politics and cohesion is central to a liberal society, so as Liberal Democrats we will be working in the by-election that will now happen to unite our community so that we can move forward and build a stronger economy and a fairer society in Tower Hamlets.

The local Liberal Democrats supported the action against Rahman, citing his behaviour as “a disgrace” and “completely unacceptable”.  They believe that the judgment will give confidence to Tower Hamlets residents that corruption and fraud will be challenged.



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  • paul barker 23rd Apr '15 - 3:57pm

    Rahmans supporters are also disqualified so their will be a bunch of local byelections as well as the Mayoral one. Rahman & his followers will undoubtedly set uo some new front organisation, along with their “Far- Left” allies. Respect might well volounteer themselves for this role.

  • “Community politics and cohesion is central to a liberal society”

    Community politics and cohesion are very separate concepts. Community politics celebrates diversity of outcome, and is rooted in 1960s/1970s liberal-left anarcho-syndicalist political traditions, balancing global federalism with local activism.

    Community cohesion is a 2000s conservative concept, celebrating conformity, dreamed up as a socially acceptable form of words for people who don’t like immigrants, but don’t want to be accused of being a racist. The language of cohesion has no place in a party which exists to promote a society “in which no-one is enslaved by poverty, ignorance *or conformity*”.

    I would suggest that Elaine Bagshaw hasn’t the first idea of what she’s talking about.

  • Dr Michael Taylor 23rd Apr '15 - 5:30pm

    The destruction of the local liberals led by Paddy Ashdown who chose to believe others and not his own political colleagues.

  • windjammer

    “*or conformity*”

    The bit often forgotten, good to keep pointing it out.

  • David Evans 23rd Apr '15 - 6:17pm

    I would suggest that Windjammer knows a lot about where things have come from, but little about where they are now and even less about where they are going. In contrast Elaine Bagshaw seems to be right on the money.

  • Windjammer,

    I think that Elaine Bagshaw probably has a fairly good idea of what she is talking about, as a resident of Tower Hamlets and as one of our PPCs there.

    As for the idea that community cohesion is an inherently illiberal and even racist idea, I think it is you who is being short-sighted here. Many careful liberal thinkers have understood the necessity of individuals sharing something in common with each other in order to live full and enriching lives. In this particular case, Rahman exploited racial and religious divisions for his own ends, something which I think we can all agree is absolutely opposed to what we stand for as liberals. In that context, calls for a politics of mutual understanding and common purpose seem fully in the spirit of community politics.

  • It should be noted that the definition of ‘cohesion’ is “the action or fact of forming a united whole”.

    That does not mean everyone has to ‘conform’ or ‘be the same’, in a social context, it is the act of working together and creating social bounds and ties, regardless of any differences between us.

    Many Liberals understand the need to challenge conformity, but they also understand that it can be just as dangerous to break the social bounds that enable unity to thrive in communities. Why do you think the Tories attack unity and seek to divide society – and are we more liberal thanks to the rampant individualism of Thatcher?

  • Paul Reynolds 24th Apr '15 - 12:21am

    There are many cases, as Elaine intimated, in ‘one party state’ Labour areas where there are crony contracts, intimidation, jobs for party insiders, and dodgy electoral practices. I wonder if the legal process would have gone as far as this if the mayor of Tower Hamlets had been elected under a Labour banner ? We shall never know. Time for a LibDem Mayor !!! [I am a Tower Hamlets resident and a candidate in West Ham constituency…which is one half of Newham Borough, a one party state type Labour Borough.]

  • SIMON BANKS 24th Apr '15 - 9:36am

    Windjammer obviously likes delivering scathing comments. Oversimplification comes with the style. His (does that icon indicate gender?) characterisation of community politics is correct, though a little conservative, not sufficiently stressing its aim of taking power for local communities and challenging injustice and inequalities of power and resources. As for community cohesion, it was indeed preached by relatively conservative sources such as New Labour. But the concept is neither pro nor anti diversity. People could seek to achieve it by creating uniformity – or by creating a positive attitude to diversity and an ability to co-operate across ethnic, religious and age lines to take local power and liberate individuals. What enthusiasts for community politics should recognise is that if there is no cohesion in communities, community politics can’t get started. People must be able to work together across lines. Or else community politics becomes community sectarian politics, Northern Ireland or Gujarat style.

    After being serious, I can’t resist a comment on “undue spiritual influence”. I was not aware of that one. Could it be used against God? Or Richard Dawkins if he urges all atheists to vote the same way?

  • Tony Greaves 24th Apr '15 - 3:14pm

    All that Rahman has done is to carry out the politics he learned in the local Labour Party which in TH is one of the more vicious examples of that often nasty form of political organisation. He is well shut of but he will just be replaced by the local Labour machine. One lesson of this case is that if you want to rig elections, make sure you are in the Labour Party when there will be no-one to challenge you seriously and you will get support from many parts of the local “system”. If you are challenging Labour, expect them to come and get you in a big way. After all they know how it’s done.

    The only people who seem to be succeeding at least for the moment (in some areas) by adopting traditional local Labour techniques are the SNP!


  • @Tony Greaves “The only people who seem to be succeeding at least for the moment (in some areas) by adopting traditional local Labour techniques are the SNP!”

    That’s interesting Tony. What sort of things do they get up to?

  • Funny, the last Lib Dem councillor on Tower Hamlets, Stephanie Eaton, was all in favour of Lutfur Rahman, often giving him the crucial single vote that enabled his budgets to carry through the council chamber.

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