Fun with Numbers - Is Lutfur Rahman Innumerate or Just Putting a Favourable Spin on Tower Hamlets' Crime Figures?

Posted on | Sunday, 22 July 2012 | No Comments

On the subject of Crime, the Mayor has informed us, variously:

Mayor"I know that crime and the fear of crime is an issue for our borough even though crime is falling - 2.7% drop in overall crime (744 fewer crimes), including knife crime – down by 10.4% since the previous year (50 fewer incidents)" Tower Hamlets Web site Community safety

"Overall crime is down 30% since 2003"  East End Life, 9 July 2012

"In the last three years overall crime has dropped by more than 23%" Tower Hamlets Web site Crime prevention

(Note: the picture of THEOs comes courtesy of EEL: their agenda seems to be to link them, not the Met with any perceived crime reduction)

Now, the above statements by Lutfur Rahman are all pretty impressive, if taken on face value. I mean to say, 'overall crime down more than 20% over the last 3 years'. That's a huge turnaround. One can't deny it's a staggeringly profound achievement - am I right? Yet some may say this is all propaganda, even intentionally meant to deceive. But what possible grounds would detractors have for challenging these figures? Surely Lutfur Rahman wouldn't lie on a matter as serious as crime statistics in the Borough - would he?

Perhaps we should consider the official Metropolitan Police figures as grounds to challenge the Mayor's version? You decide..

Here is an extract of the official crime statistics for the Borough courtesy of the Metropolitan Police DoI Reporting Service:

Tower Hamlets       Offences
     2005                 22,560
     2006                 29,677
     2007                 29,385
     2008                 26,811
     2009                 25,684
     2010                 26,884
     2011                 28,110

You don't need to graph this data to see that crime in Tower Hamlets has actually been on the increase since 2010.... Hang on, isn't that when Lutfur Rahman took office as Mayor?

Reference: Freedom of Information Request Crime Statistics Tower Hamlets 2005 - 2012

The Tragedy of Assigning Responsibility for Regeneration to Petty Politicians and Institutionalised Planners/Developers

Posted on | Monday, 16 July 2012 | 1 Comment

Or, how an opportunity to infuse social enterprise life-blood into the ailing, lifeless body of Tower Hamlets' Bromley-by-Bow Ward was scuttled by uncreative, unimaginative philistines, responsible for regeneration and planning.

None of us are in denial over the incriminating reality that in England around 1.75 million households are on the social housing waiting lists. As the demand for social housing has increased, so the supply has withered - there has been a drop of 1.7 million in the total number of social homes, from 5.5 million in 1981 to 3.8 million in 2009-10. But we need to realise that lack of work is a major cause and consequence of homelessness, eroding skills and self-esteem and acting as a practical obstacle to finding and keeping a home. It's no secret that job training and education can give unemployed and homeless people the skills and confidence required to get them back on track and help them prepare for, find and keep jobs.

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets contributes significantly to the huge and growing national social housing list, estimated to be 10% of the borough's population. Yet the Council continue to foster the belief that this is a legacy problem best treated by infusions of new building stock. Their solution is to squeeze more and more poor and unemployed people into fewer and smaller homes. Their focus is on the effect of this 'legacy problem' - a social housing bottleneck - rather than its cause. Councillors and MP's alike drag the chains of this misery as if it represented some high moral cause to justify their existence. We repeatedly read of how they 'represent one of the poorest boroughs in the country', yet, as we can see by this one glaring example, they compound the problem, rather than recognise the cause, and set about curing it.

As stated earlier, lack of work is a major cause of Tower Hamlets' growing social housing list. Uncontrolled immigration into the borough is another, but that is less complex and ought to be solved by closer liaison between the Council and Immigration (more on this in a upcoming blog). From the Council's point of view, the long term strategic focus must be on reducing the social housing list not by simply building more units but by reducing the need for social housing through new social enterprise and local employment which will inevitably raise the standard of living. All regeneration and development ought to be aligned with this strategic aim so that employment enablers figure prominently in any development.

Let's relate this strategic no-brainer to the recent disastrous planning approval given for the Hancock Road development in the Ward of Bromley-by-Bow. You can read how this project for 741 residential units, office space, and a huge car dealership was steam-rollered through a poorly advertised 'public' Planning Committee Meeting held in Newham by the London Thames Gateway Development Corporation (LTGDC) on 12 July 2012.

The site is historic - most in East London are. But more than this, the Hancock Road site sits adjacent to the River Lea's network of underdeveloped canals, and at the intersection of two of East London's arterial roads - the A11 and A12. It screams out for redevelopment focusing on tourism, and that means local employment and income. Think Camden Market, the fourth-most popular visitor attraction in London, attracting approximately 100,000 people each weekend. The canal fronted Hancock Road site is far better located than Camden Market. It has the potential to become a vibrate tourist destination with restaurants, bars, shops and market stalls catering for crafts, clothing, bric-a-brac, and fast food. As part of the Olympic legacy development, the canal network will be revamped and this will further add to what may have been termed, the new Bow Bridge Market becoming a major attraction.

This is a wake up call to say that the shocking LTGDC decision was wrong and the site surely ought to have been used primarily for building social enterprise initiatives/models to kindle (re)training and employment, and raise the local standard of living, not to provide more cell like social housing which only further exasperates the problem.

This is not to underestimate the importance of our social housing need, and it should be accommodated on the site as part of a balanced mixed development, but supporting the strategy outlined above.

Alas, it is now too late. Gone is the opportunity for creative regeneration, servicing local needs; our Councillors and LTGDC have seen to that.

Maintaining Pressure on the Met for an Investigation into Alleged Postal Voting Fraud in Tower Hamlets (3)

Posted on | Thursday, 5 July 2012 | No Comments

Following on from my last post on this topic, its worrying to report that the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Hogan-Howe has failed to respond as promised. Coupled with zero progress on the Commissioner front, it was necessary to remind Tower Hamlets Chief Superintendent Dave
Stringer that a response was also due from his office.  Finally, on 27 June, I received a response from a PC in the Borough Commander's office advising me that New Scotland Yard's Specialist Operations Department (SO15) are now investigating the matter. The PC advised me to contact SO15 for further details.

I did as the PC suggested, and as of the date of this post, have still not received a response - not even an acknowledgement to an online enquiry although their site promises (a term the Met are not unfamiliar with it would seem) a response within 24 hours.

Keep in mind that so far I, and I'm sure many others, have made representations to Tower Hamlets Borough Council, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and the Electoral Commission, for an open investigation into this issue.

The latest attempt is my Freedom of Information request to the Metropolitan Police. Let's wait to see whether a 4th post on this serious issue can deliver any news of progress....

Maintaining Pressure on the Met for an Investigation into Alleged Postal Voting Fraud in Tower Hamlets (2)

Posted on | Thursday, 21 June 2012 | No Comments

(1) How disappointing; the WebChat was little short of a farce, with a constant steam of unanswered questions rolling through the Met's HashTag #AskMetBoss 

As for my own questions, they received this (Private) response:

[Private Message to Grenville Mills] Hi, if you give us your contact details we will follow it up after the chat with the Commissioner?  (Reply Privately)

Why a private exchange? What is it with this voting issue that causes so much subterfuge?

To compound matters, we were subjected to the following: (6 times!)

While the Commissioner answers this question please watch this video.

This is not the way forward Commissioner. A WebChat project on this scale cannot possibly succeed and you were poorly advised to launch it. It suffers from the same mentality that would have us believe an MP representing 70,000 constituents, can fairly listen to, and represent their interests. Much better you devolve this project down to your Borough Commanders and if possible Wards. This will achieve a workable ratio of public/police dialogue.

p.s. And please, if we are invited to a WebChat, no force fed videos.

(2) Finally on Thursday 21 June 2012, I was able to deliver my collective emails on alleged Postal Voting Fraud prior to the Spitalfields and Banglatown bi-election personally to the Met's Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer. On Friday I received  a call from his office to say that a formal response will be issued next week. 

Maintaining Pressure on the Met for an Investigation into Alleged Postal Voting Fraud in Tower Hamlets (1)

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Tomorrow, Thursday 21 June, I will be (1) joining the Metropolitan Police Commissioner's afternoon WebChat during which I will raise the issue of alleged Postal Voting fraud prior to the Spitalfields and Banglatown bi-election, and (2) in the evening I will be attending a Community Briefing by Tower Hamlets Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer, during which I will again raise this issue, specifically:

Why Tower Hamlets Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer has not answered THREE emails concerning accusations of electoral fraud prior to the Spitalfields and Banglatown bi-election. For reference, the Electoral Commission stated that it does not have power to investigate alleged electoral fraud and it is the responsibility of the Police. The Police have so far not even provided (separately requested by me) a single point of contact for electoral offences.

In light of the exceptionally high and unprecedented postal vote and rejection rate during the bi-election, there is ample justification for the Metropolitan Police to investigate and they were asked to:

1. Interview each of the 956 constituents who submitted a postal vote to establish whether any were forced to vote under duress (a clear risk in postal voting), and

2. Examine each of the 135 rejected PVS and in the case of fraudulent signatures/submissions, prosecute as appropriate. (These documents will be destroyed after 1 year)

To recap:
40% of votes were Postal (i.e., 956)
Of these the reject rate was 14% Reject (i.e., 135)
The margin of victory was just 43 votes

Anti Social Behaviour and Lutfur Rahman's Cheeky Roadshow

Posted on | Sunday, 17 June 2012 | No Comments

There is an old East-End Music Hall monologue that starts, "Saturday night in Bethnal Green, naptha lamps a-flarin' Along the gutters for nearly a mile, and men and wimmen blarin". Times have changed in a 100 years, but we can still find a modern version of long lost Music Hall entertainment at the Town Hall and every Sunday night courtesy of clown Lutfur Rahman's East End Life (EEL). This little man's army of quisling editorial staff routinely haul the integrity of a free press through the gutters of dictatorial third world censorship and cheap propaganda, and then have the gall to force this rag through every letter box in the Borough. I say 'force' as it somehow appears in letterboxes in secure apartment blocks, but then that's another issue. 

Today's monologue - how much of this rag does today's Joseph Grimaldi write himself? - promotes him, his small posse of followers, and his THEOs. It's the sheer impudence of the man that's turning him from a threat into a Music Hall act. Most in the Borough will remember that the Metropolitan Police, in conjunction with Safer Neighbourhood Teams, recently completed an exhaustive series of Ward by Ward community meetings. They were big, and well resourced by the Met, SNT, and occasionally THEOs. The focus was unreservedly on anti social behaviour (ASB) and it was a Met initiative.

Notwithstanding the sheer effort and co-operation of the above exercise, scantily reported in the EEL incidentally - in fact I only remember the Met's own advertisements, Mr Rahman has ordered the penning of this piece of self publicity in today's EEL:

'Residents had the opportunity to raise their concerns about ASB....when Mayor Lutfur Rahman put on a community road show with his Deputy, and Cllr Gulam Robbani'. Gulam Robbani, remember, is the controversially elected councillor for Spitalfields and Banglatown. 

Music Hall, aka Town Hall - have times changed that much after all? Perhaps the difference is that we once laughed with the clowns, not at them.

Monarchy or Republic? The Proposition is Premature

Posted on | Friday, 1 June 2012 | No Comments

On Tuesday 29 May 2012, I attended a debate at the Bishopsgate Institute entitled, 'Monarchy or Republic?’ The Panel of speakers were:

Supporting Monarchy
Jacques Arnold (former MP and member of Council of the Constitutional Monarchy Assoc)
Peter Conradi (journalist and author)

Supporting a Republic
Graham Smith (Republic’s CEO)
Joan Smith (columnist and author)

Before the debate commenced the audience were asked to vote on the proposition, 'should we end the Monarchy'.  4 voted 'no', 3 'undecided', and the remainder (around 60) voted 'yes'. The effect of this overwhelming support for the Republican argument resulted in raucous shouts of outrage whenever the Monarchists spoke and rounds of applause extolling almost every Republican viewpoint, regardless of the banality of many comments.

However, it soon became apparent to me that the whole argument of Monarchy v Republic is a side issue to whether we want to be administered within a true democratic system or a sham one.  I’ve blogged many times on concerns over our democracy here, here and here.  

I was one of the 3 abstainers by the way, but by the end of the evening, was left deeply concerned that so many in the audience blindly supported pro Republican arguments that were clearly flawed, or at the very least, were open to more critical debate. Here is an extract from the first speaker, Joan Smith which basically summed up the level of debate:

She commenced by proclaiming that she loves voting and elections, emphasising the value of our democratic process.  Her naïve faith in what I consider to be an outdated and dysfunctional process undermined her credibility from the outset.

Next she ploughed into the quagmire of the Sovereign’s wealth, tax concessions and restricted Freedom of Information (FoI) access. Well, excuse me for mentioning this but our Government gives away unmandated sums far larger than the Sovereign's collective wealth to failed banks and in Foreign Aid. I’ve only to mention Dave Hartnett to send shivers down the spine of HMRC when they reflect on their reluctance to claw back tax owed by major corporations. As for FoI (aka transparency), hello Mr Lansley can we have that NHS Risk Report please?

Already disillusioned by the banality of the lead speaker’s arguments, Ms Smith then announced, ‘the Queen was never interviewed for the job!’  Words almost fail me on this revelation by the obviously popular columnist and author, who incidentally complained that the Queen ignored her after the prickly journalist greeted HRH (at the Palace no less) with a simple ‘hello’. One suspects she’s carried the grudge ever since. Does Ms Smith believe for example that Lutfur Rahman, Tower Hamlets ‘elected’ Mayor (elected incidentally by just 13% of the electorate) was interviewed before he took office controlling a £1billion+ annual budget and wielding almost despotic power? Or that any politician for that matter is interviewed other than by their own party electoral committees that are by definition not representative of the total electorate?

The remaining speakers swayed me to believe there is no substantive case for a Republic and I was getting an uncomfortable feeling that an angry petite bourgeoisie jealousy was bubbling to the surface through their flimsy arguments. Did this Republican cause consider that society ought to be respecting them rather than the untouchable Monarch – seen as a barrier to their own oligarchy’s upward mobility? One dreads to consider the prospect of a Joan Smith Lord Protector.

The final pitiful comment by Ms Smith was to decry the national campaign for the country to be bedecked in ‘red, white and blue’ to mark the Jubilee celebrations. But then perhaps that’s in line with a Cromwellian Puritanism that would denounce any form of revelry, or festivity.  Personally I’ll be flying the flag and hanging bunting - out of national pride; the celebrations are an opportunity for the nation to unite – young and old, poor and rich, black and white. One flag, one people. For the time being at least, God Save the Queen.

Who to Trust when it comes to Reporting Anti Social Behaviour in Tower Hamlets?

Posted on | Monday, 28 May 2012 | No Comments

This week's East End Lies (EEL) reports (page 2), 'Anti Social Behaviour falls by a third in a year'. On the face of it, this is excellent news, notwithstanding the fact that credit for this is exclusively given to Lutfur Rahman and Tower Hamlets's THEO's. No mention is made of the Met's Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNT), but we have to remember this is EEL reporting..

It's worth highlighting this EEL report as, coincidently, a recently released statistic under FoI tells us that an associated statistic for Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABC's) shows an overall fall of just 13%. Accepted that an ABC is distinct from Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) incidents, but nevertheless they are very closely linked.

What is also revealed by the FoI file is the worrying trend that ABC's have increased almost 4 fold for individuals under 18 Years of Age. An unpalatable reality for both Lutfur Rahman and his rag. Here's an extract from the FoI:

Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABC's)

1. In the past 24 months, from 14th January 2010 to 13th January
2012, how many Acceptable Behaviour Contracts were signed at the
station or in its operational area? How many refused to sign? (the request was for Bow Police Station, but the Met provided stats for the whole of Tower Hamlets)

2. Of those, how many were issued to people aged under 18 years of

3. What is the male/female ratio?

4. In the case of under-18s, were all parents sent a letter asking
them to attend with their children to discuss signing an ABC?

During the financial year 2010-2011, Tower Hamlets had 55 ABCs signed. Of

these ABCs:
44 of those were signed by MALES
11 of those were signed by FEMALES
6 of them were signed by individuals under 18 Years of Age.
In 100% of those cases where the individual was under 18, parents received
letters asking for them to attend.

During the financial year 2011-2012, Tower Hamlets had 48 ABCs signed. Of
these ABCs:
43 of those were signed by MALES
5 of those were signed by FEMALES
23 of them were signed by individuals under 18 Years of Age
Again, in 100% of those cases where the individual was under 18, parents
received letters asking for them to attend.

As usual, you are left to draw your own conclusions on the veracity of EEL's reporting..

The Shame of Tower Hamlets' East End Life

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And the shame of all those directly associated with this publication. It's a sham and we all know that, but what I find particularly distasteful and loathsome is the editorial staff's bootlicking subservience to this third world political regime, so clearly steeped in cheap propaganda, accusations of corruption and racial disharmony. It's quisling editor applies a third world meaning to the paper's byline, 'News from Tower Hamlets Council'. Let's all understand what the editor means by this, i.e., 'What Tower Hamlets Council Want You to Know'. Familiar propaganda stuff isn't it?!

Real Council News this last week would have been, as every other local 'news'paper reported - 'Councillor Arrested for after Brawl and Death Threats in the Council Chamber'. But, no, not a mention in East End Lies!

And what of the illegally hung portrait of the Führer Mayor in Brick Lane - where the planning Application was never granted and the Banner swiftly removed after unprecedented opposition. Not even a back column mention.

Clearly these newsworthy events were of a type that Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his multicultural quislings consider politically too damaging to the Mayor's image. Honest News from Tower Hamlets Council will have to wait until honest people take the helm - and write the log.

Lutfur Rahman - a step too far

Posted on | Monday, 21 May 2012 | No Comments

Left Futures, describes itself as dedicated to socialism and democracy but endorses derogatory reporting, calling a respected Tower Hamlets' Councillor a 'gay Jew', and comfortably aligning itself with the belief that biased reporting and censoring out criticism of its political drivel is all part of left wing democratic principles. Take a look at this article, published on the 19th May, and lapped up and Tweeted by Tower Hamlets' Mayor Lutfur Rahman, 'Time for Ed to apply the lessons of Bradford to Tower Hamlets'.

It seethes with the dogma of personal abuse and ignorance. And to make matters worse it moderated out critical comment. Here's their response to my comment:

.....Your comment at Left Futures is abusive and will not be published.

This is rich from an article labelling a Councillor as a gay Jew. Like me, you may ask yourself why make issue of sexual orientation and religious belief? would a celibate Christian or a heterosexual Muslim carry the same prejudiced undercurrent?  Against this offensive piece of 'journalism', what did I say that they considered so abusive....just this:

"An inept, bigoted article that has found a follower in a similarly minded (here today, gone tomorrow) politician".

Hardly abusive in my humble view, critical yes, but 'abusive' no, and definitely not by their own low standards. No surprise that Lutfur Rahman's own publication, East End Lies, suffers from a similar aversion to criticism.

It's interesting, and potentially explosive to note that Mayor Rahman applauds through Twitter this article, labelling one of his own Councillors as a gay Jew! And this from a man gripping an anti-racism gun with a feather trigger!

Thank goodness for the open debate of blogs, and the freedom a good spanking allows us through Tweeting the truth.

Believe it or not: Britain Chooses a Dog as Kingdom's Top Talent!

Posted on | Sunday, 13 May 2012 | No Comments

With all the cheap glitzy superficiality of a modern day amusement side show together with its chintzy presenters, the TV extravaganza 'Britain's Got Talent' provided some insight into our (voting) psyche.

At a time when voter turnout at local and national elections remains low, it strikes me as extraordinary that people actually paid, yes paid, to vote for a dog.

Can politicians learn from this? - probably yes. I'm not suggesting they urinate on lamp posts or defecate on pavements, although jumping over peoples backs and licking their benefactors is already par for the course in career terms. No, more than this, they can now be assured that voting in this country in no longer seen by the electorate as a duty born out of national pride - its become a side show capable of selecting the most unsuitable  candidates based purely on novelty value.

Take for instance, Boris Johnson; definitely a novelty, though to be fair there was really no effective alternative, but we nevertheless have a tendency to settle for circus acts. Better a clown than a dourer faced socialist you might say: a dog rather than a spectacular opera duo.

Police arrest 6 as Postal Poll Fraud Investigation gets underway

Posted on | Sunday, 6 May 2012 | No Comments

The Sunday Times today reports, 'Six people have been arrested and appeals have been made for suspects allegedly impersonating voters. Police inquiries are under way in Kirklees in West Yorkshire, Peterborough and London.'

How many of the 6 arrests were made in Tower Hamlets is still unclear, but indications are that the Met has responded decisively in the case of the Spitalfields and Banglatown bi-election.

It remains to be seen whether the arrests will result in a new Tower Hamlets bi-election.......

A Closer Analysis of Postal Voting in Tower Hamlets

Posted on | Wednesday, 2 May 2012 | No Comments

I have previously blogged that 41% of votes cast in the recent Spitalfields and Banglatown bi-election were postal. This staggeringly high figure included all postal votes received, including those subsequently rejected. The reason we need to focus on total postal votes received as a percentage (of all votes cast), rather than the lesser percentage after correcting for rejects, is because the rejected figure is a subjective one. To explain, received postal votes and enclosures are checked and counted numerous times under dual control to verify the number of postal votes received - 956 in this case - were correct.  However, the 'rejected' count on the other hand, is arrived at through a process of subjective judgements, not necessarily conducted under dual control, and that is why the figure of 135 rejects is unreliable. As I'll explain, the already high reject rate of 14% (135/956) could well have been considerably higher if for instance a more stringent, professional judgement had been made on signature irregularities. Alarmed yet? You should be, because this raises serious doubts over the validity of Gullam Robbani's marginal win by only 43 votes.

I'm not unfamiliar with either the business process or technology of voter registration, including voting and signature recognition/verification systems. And that's why I wanted to see first hand, as an observer, how Tower Hamlets were managing the postal vote processing for the forthcoming 3 May elections. My observations also provide an insight into the reliability of the Spitalfields and Banglatown bi-election (reject) figures above.

Over a 2 day period I randomly observed the processing of 20 batches each of 50 Postal Vote Statements (PVS) at Tower Hamlets Town Hall. To explain, a PVS accompanies each ballot paper and is used to verify the authenticity of each postal vote by comparing address, date of birth and signature against details held on the electoral register. Each batch of 50 PVS's is fed into an automated recognition system and irregularities are highlighted on screen to be accepted or rejected by a council official. Approximately 50% of PVS result in some form of mismatch against the electoral register (47% in the sample I observed). Of these mismatches, approximately 10% are subsequently rejected by the council official (7% in the sample I observed). In summary, of the 1,000 PVS I observed, 35 or 3.5% were rejected. Significantly lower than the figures produced for the Spitalfields and Banglatown bi-election. I should add that in my opinion, a higher  percentage of signatures appeared fraudulent. The implication being that the Spitalfields figure of 14% was probably also too low. 

In conclusion, in light of the exceptionally high and unprecedented postal vote and rejection rate during the Spitalfields and Banglatown bi-election, there is ample justification for the Metropolitan Police to:

1. Interview each of the 956 constituents who submitted a postal vote to establish whether any were forced to vote under duress (a clear risk in postal voting). 

2. Examine each of the 135 rejected PVS and in the case of fraudulent signatures/submissions, prosecute as appropriate.

I should add that I have now written to Tower Hamlets' Metropolitan Police Commander twice on this issue but have so far received no response. None of our 2 local parliamentarians have shown the courage to comment on the issue.

Unless robust Police action is taken, and seen to have been taken, the very basis of our democratic electoral system will continue to be undermined.

Appalling Lies from Tower Hamlets Council Over Police Investigation

Posted on | Tuesday, 1 May 2012 | No Comments

As related in yesterday's blog on alleged postal voting fraud, East End Life categorically stated, 'The police have also confirmed that there is no substance to allegations made so far'.

Fast forward to the BBC news here which states, 'Metropolitan Police probes Tower Hamlets fraud claims'.

It goes on to say:

"We are currently investigating this allegation plus a further allegation of offences linked to a recent by-election in Tower Hamlets received on 28 April.

"All allegations of electoral fraud are assessed, and where appropriate, thoroughly investigated by officers from MPS Specialist Operations, in close liaison with local authorities, the CPS and other relevant agencies."

What trust can we have in a Council and 'newspaper' that so blatantly lie to residents and readers?

They are a disgrace!

Since When has East End Life Been the Mouthpiece for the Metropolitan Police?

Posted on | Monday, 30 April 2012 | No Comments

East End Life, Issue 907, 30 April - 6 April 2012

Quote, "...The police have also confirmed that there is no substance to the allegations made so far".

This is under the heading, 'Council responds to postal vote allegations', where they regale in the announcement from the Electoral Commission that the Commission has no investigative powers. The article goes on to regurgitate the spiel about the public confusing fraudulent activity with a 'mobile population'....blah blah blah

They cherry pick from allegations, selecting just two (without identifying or describing them), and summarily dismiss them.

Where is the integrity in a Council that refuses to acknowledge obvious public concern - concern and indignation repeatedly broadcast in the mainstream media? And what type of quisling editorial staff can produce a 'newspaper' that has never - NEVER - criticised or found the Council wanting?

Also of concern is the fact that we haven't heard from our two local parliamentarians on the issue of electoral fraud? What do they have to fear? I'll tell you what they lack - the courage and integrity to acknowledge the stark fact that this is an ethnic/cultural issue. It's a culture of electoral fraud that we will not tolerate in our society.

For public record, I have written to the Metropolitan Police twice on this issue but so far have not received any acknowledgement.

MoD Missiles in Bow

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Amusing story from the BBC…"London 2012: Missiles may be placed at residential flats".  Yet our amusement is tempered by the free publicity it gifts to Bethnal Green and Bow MP, Rushanara Ali to question it.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering placing surface-to-air missiles on the turrets of the old Bryant and May's match factory, now residential flats, during the Olympics. Strange choice one would think, requiring a direct line of fire from a parapet might well have been appropriate to an archer and longbowman a thousand years ago, but surely not for a laser aimed missile travelling at Mach 3+. The Starstreak HVM is anyway intended for slow moving ground targets, so seems singularly inappropriate as a single point of defence against incoming high speed low altitude air born targets. Ah, but wait, this is of course the British MoD – cunning fellows they are – perhaps the HVM is a cover for a Section of longbowmen.

It’s a non issue. And let ‘s be clear about this, if the MoD considers the nation’s security is at risk, they have no obligation to publicise their counter terrorism plans before hand and certainly not through inconsequential parliamentarians.

As for (here today, gone tomorrow) Rushanara Ali well, of course she lunged at the opportunity for air time. This was an easy piece of local PR for a career politician focused on (Asian) International Affairs rather than her own constituency issues. Repeating scripted platitudes on a comic scale was so much easier for her than the serious challenges of tackling electoral fraud, racism, ethnic unrest, housing shortage and allocation abuse, not to forget anti-social behaviour; you name it, she’s dodged it. (Which we hope is not what will happen to incoming targets when fired at with HVM's, or arrows from the water tower).

Grave concerns over the electoral process in Tower Hamlets

Posted on | Tuesday, 24 April 2012 | No Comments

In a letter I received from the Department for Communities and Local Government dated 11 April, a spokesperson stated, ‘Ministers in this department certainly have grave concerns over the upkeep of the electoral roll in Tower Hamlets’. However they then proceeded to wash its hands of any responsibility stating, ‘Ministers hope that recent allegations will be taken seriously and appropriate action is taken by the Council, the Electoral Commission and (if appropriate) the police’.

How then do we deal with the latest scenario affecting the bi-election in the Tower Hamlets Ward of Spitalfields and Banglatown?

The issue on this occasion focuses on the abuse of Postal Voting

On the day following the bi-election (Friday) I requested details of postal returns and was promised these would be emailed to me by the end of the day; unfortunately nothing arrived. It turns out all the departmental staff were told they could leave early (by 3:30pm) as they had worked so late to cover the bi-election the previous day. So be it - it meant I had to wait over the weekend before I could access the data available to the general public.

The Manager at Electoral Services finally returned my numerous telephone calls on Monday afternoon to say the information I requested would be emailed to me by 4pm that day. And here is the information I finally received:

Name of Candidate Number of Votes
BLAKE, Kirsty
Green Party 99

MACMILLAN, Richard Alan
Liberal Democrats 39

Independent 1,030 (Elected)

SMITH, Matthew James
Conservative Party 140

The Labour Party         987

Electorate: 7356  Ballot Papers Issued:  2,312 Turnout:  31.43  %

Number of envelopes returned (956) divided by number of postal votes issued and not cancelled (1418) = 67.42% return

Number of rejected envelopes (135) divided by number of envelopes returned (956) = 14.12% rejected.

Reasons for Rejections

No Signature 0
No Date of Birth 1
No Signature and No DOB 5
Signature No Match 72
DOB No Match 30
Signature and DOB No Match 17
Valid PVS - No BP 7
Ballot Paper - No PVS 3

My understanding of the process is that all votes – polled and posted – are scanned into the council’s files by the end of the polling day, albeit that is involves working into the early hours of the following day. Once scanned and counted the completed polling forms are held in a secure polling box. It’s unclear whether rejected voting papers are also retained.

With regards processing postal votes, they are opened and checked for completeness and accuracy; this includes the Voting Paper and Polling Vote Statement (PVS). Valid postal votes are then added to the polling station votes to be counted. Unfortunately no record is maintained of whether a vote for a particular candidate is received by post or polling station – I believe this is a weakness. For example we have no record of the postal votes received for a particular candidate. Further we have no record of the rejected votes received for a particular candidate.

It’s disappointing that it takes so long to extract basic information from what, let’s face it, was a small bi-election with a small turnout. It’s also disappointing that we cannot scrutinise invalid submissions to establish which candidates they related to, or how many were rejected. This should surely be part of the due diligence embedded in the process.

Of greater concern than the reject rate of postal votes (14% compared to 0.7% for polling station votes) is the stark fact that 41% of votes cast were postal votes. That’s a huge percentage. We have to keep in mind that postal voting is stripped of the key controls administered by polling stations, e.g., there is no control to either prevent duress or enforce secrecy. Refer to Andrew Gilligan’s article; it provides potentially incriminating evidence, and sufficient grounds one would think, for a criminal investigation into the abuse of postal voting. Notwithstanding this, postal voting was essentially intended for those unable to get to the polling station. Are we to believe that 41% of those who voted in Spitalfields and Banglatown were unable to get to any of the three polling stations?!

The Electoral Commission does state that a person on the electoral roll does not need to state a reason for preferring to vote by post, however it goes on to say, voting by post is an easy and convenient way of voting ‘if you are unable to get to the polling station’. In my humble opinion this is a clear abuse of the postal voting facility.

As I mentioned earlier, no record is maintained to show whether a vote for a particular candidate is received by post or polling station. At this stage we don’t know how many of the 1,030 votes cast for Gulam Robbani were postal. This is important in light of the foregoing, i.e., the postal votes should roughly match the proportionality of the overall vote distribution.A significant deviation would be a Red Flag in anyone’s book. Further, we have no record of the rejected votes received for a particular candidate and the same argument applies.

I am assuming a ‘probe’ ordered by the Council's returning officer will scrutinise this data. However, to cover the unlikely possibility it doesn’t, I’m calling for it under a FoI request. I am also requesting appropriate action is taken by the Electoral Commission and (if appropriate) the police.

Scrutinising Mayor Lutfur Rahman's Diary

Posted on | Sunday, 22 April 2012 | No Comments

From time to time - only from time to time - Tower Hamlets' Mayor Lutfur Rahman graciously publishes his weekly engagements in the council's own publication, East End Life - albeit retrospectively.

One's driven to ask (1) why is he only inclined to reveal his engagements occasionally, and (2) why retrospectively?

Mayor Lutfur Rahman is a full time, highly paid employee of the borough. As this is a public appointment we have a right to know how he is managing his time. He is, after all, fully accountable to the electorate.

We need a regular weekly diary of his engagements - in advance. There is no reason why this should not also be available on the council's web site.

I would particularly like to know how he was spending his time during the recent build up to the Spitalfields bi-election; he is definitely not being paid to canvass for prospective councillors.

p.s. While on the subject of his publicity vehicle, East End Life, it's interesting to note that during his busy diarized schedule he has only been able to provide us with a personal column once a fortnight. Perhaps he needs another Adviser to assist in this heavy workload??

Theresa May 's incompetence shines through again

Posted on | Wednesday, 18 April 2012 | 1 Comment

Seamstress Theresa May takes the Abu Qatada saga into the next phase of national humiliation.  How is it possible that this woman still remains in office? She stumbles from one monumental catastrophe to another, almost on a weekly basis.

One would have thought, after so many accusations of mismanaging the Abu Qatada case, and when this man's  'imminent' deportation is attracting front page media attention, she would have gone that extra inch to get her facts right. No such luck; incompetence doesn't recognise even an inch of reason and prudence. This woman cannot change a management style built on... frankly nothing but naivety.

True to form - reflect back to the UKBA debacle - she blames her subordinates. In this mess it's the Home Office who were at fault! What?!

She has to go, and now.

Do we pay Tower Hamlets' Councillors to campaign?

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Why is it necessary to cancel all council meetings for the week of the Spitalfields bi-election?

The Council web doesn't even explain why meetings are, postponed, moved or cancelled.

Wouldn't it be useful to at least advertise the revised dates, and with NOLAN principles in mind, reveal why the whole weeks democratic process has been wiped?

Could it be that our Mayor and councillors are too busy attempting to further their own party political interests by interfering in the electoral process and campaigning for constituent votes? That's not what they are paid for! Leave that to their party lackeys to handle on their time, and with their funds - not public funds.

Get back to work!

Latest Times Comment, 'Downing St scrambles to reject attack by Archbishop'

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Ref: Tory fury as Archbishop slams coalition policies | The Times

The Archbishop of Canterbury is absolutely spot on with his comments: they represent the views of the vast majority of rational unbiased citizens. It just that we don't have the public platform to make our collective concern heard.

His comment that, “At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context.” rings particularly true and is driving many of us to question the democratic process we have constituted that permits so much abuse of power. A striking example of this abuse is shown in the comment made by Roger Gale, " elected members of the House of Commons are not mandated....". But they are Mr Gale. Their mandate is the authorization to act in a particular way on public issues that is given to them as representatives of the electorate. Understand this and then we would see that the current government policies under attack would never have past muster.

Well spoken Dr Williams!

Tower Hamlets' Council Tax used for free private language lessons in Bengali

Posted on | Monday, 16 April 2012 | No Comments

Further to this article by Ted Jeory in the 15 April 2012 edition of the Sunday Express, and an associated Blog here I have written to my three local Councillors for the Bromley-by-Bow Ward of Tower Hamlets Council, i.e., Cllr's Rania Khan, Khales Uddin Ahmed, and Helal Uddin. They were asked to comment on the Sunday Express article and whether they supported the decision to use public funds for this purpose.

Update 18 April 2012: none of the three councillors named above, who together represent a mixed ethnic community of approximately 10,000 constituents, have responded.

Heads Must Roll at Home Office and UK Borders 'Agency'

Posted on | Saturday, 14 April 2012 | No Comments

MPs have called on the Home Office to take direct responsibility for a dysfunctional UK Border 'Agency'

But with no competent, trustworthy Home Secretary at the helm, and an evasive Permanent Secretary, what hope is there?

Until that Robespierre moment, when Home Secretary Theresa May, Minister of Immigration Damian Green, and UKBA Chief Executive Rob Whiteman plus other incompetents are removed from office, our sovereign shores will remain poorly policed.

In the latest report from the Home Affairs Committee, Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
"The reputation of the Home Office, and by extension, the UK Government, is being tarnished by the inability of the UK Border Agency to fulfil its basic functions.
The Foreign National Prisoner issue and the Asylum backlog were scandals which first broke in 2006, 6 years ago. UKBA appears unable to focus on its key task of tracking and removing illegal immigrants, overstayers or bogus students from the country.The so-called 'controlled archive', the dumping ground for cases where the UK Border Agency has lost track of the applicant, will take a further 4 years to clear at the current rate of resolution. This is unacceptable.
Following the Border Controls saga we now have two agencies instead of one. We are hopeful that the UKBA will now concentrate fully on the issues that are causing so much concern to the public and to Parliament."
(Note:  the “Agency” has an archive of 119,000 lost applicants and 17,000 live cases}.
What hope of this happening when we have evidence of Home Secretary Theresa May refusing to provide data to the Committee and now the CEO Rob Whiteman dishonouring his commitment to transparency – Section 79 of the report stating: 
79. When Mr Whiteman first appeared before this Committee on 15 November 2011, he told us that, ‘ I think this Committee has  an important role  in holding me to account and also in my being transparent about the good things and the bad things that happen ... I very much want to work on the basis of trust with this Committee’.It is therefore deeply disappointing that on two occasions since our last report, the Committee has been denied access to information (by Mr Whiteman).
It isn’t sufficient that the Home Affairs Committee, as an overseer and scrutiniser simply ‘requests’ – it must have the authority to ‘instruct’, i.e., demand action that includes removal of incompetent personnel in the national interest.

Home Secretary Theresa May Slithers Free Again from Dismissal and National Disgrace

Posted on | Monday, 9 April 2012 | No Comments

Earlier this year the Home Affairs Committee demonstrated just how powerless it is when it comes to challenging Ministerial incompetence. Theresa May's stumbling, error prone performance and cover ups should have resulted in dismissal or at least an assisted resignation, but the lacklustre cub scout David Cameron could not accept the shame of yet another Minister being ejected from his sham cabinet.  

In November 2011, I covered the 'Inquiry into the Provision of UK Border Controls'. During the course of the Committee hearing, Madam May was 'requested' - note, not 'required' - to submit key documents to the enquiry. One suspects this correspondence would include incriminating evidence implicating her in a monumental botch-up. She forthrightly refused to reveal the evidence, and has since ignored reminders to do so, saying they were available to an 'internal inquiry' only. So much for transparency and accountability in Government at the highest level. It's a disgrace isn't it? 

Here is an extract from the Inquiry's Conclusions and recommendations so you can see for yourself how ineffective we have been in bringing Theresa May to account for her actions. 

'We recommend that the Home Secretary deposit copies of all the documents that have been made available to the three internal investigations in the Library of this House. This will allow this Committee to reach an informed conclusion of our own and would be consistent with the Government’s commitment to transparency and accountability. (Paragraph 27)'

How can we have any trust in Government when those appointed to high office abuse power to protect their own position in this way? And where is the media scrutiny of this abuse? Unless the media and all of us who stand up for a corrupt free administration pursue cases like this with relentless purpose and commitment, we will slide into an abyss of '1984' proportions.

As a postscript, Madam May has yet again stumbled into another controversy concerning, on this occasion, the case of Theresa May Humiliated by Judge; the Upper Immigration Tribunal judge stating that she, 'acted under a misapprehension of the facts'. Nothing new there!

Cash for Access, aka Bribery and Corruption. A moral abyss awaits us all unless we show resolve and prosecute robustly

Posted on | Thursday, 29 March 2012 | No Comments

Cash for Access, aka bribery and corruption, has no place in an open democracy where we expect integrity, candidness and honesty.

The fact that all political parties receive private funding, must surely tell you that they can't act on our behalf with impartiality. Democracy in undermined when payments are made to influence government. And don't be mislead, these dinner dates, including those held by the Foreign Secretary among others, were all for party funders. As we know, it isn't simply a Tory transgression, Labour 's unwholesome links with Union funding is no different. 

This is abuse of office at the highest level, and ought to be challenged as such by the nation. It's unbelievable that our judicial system can send a youth to jail for Tweeting an obscene message, yet turn a blind eye to corruption at the highest level of government. Politicians, (and Civil Servants) are accountable to the nation for their actions and need to be brought to account for breaching a very clear code of conduct.

Notwithstanding this miserable state of affairs, the perpetrators try to cover up their crime. Whatever happened to integrity and adherence to the NOLAN principles of public office?


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The recent news that three men have been found guilty of a gangland shooting that left a 5-year-old child paralysed for life, leaves me wondering what sentence will be handed down to these thugs. In an age where a sentence of 'life' means no such thing, (although since 1983 a judge has been able to impose a Whole Life Tariff for certain categories of murder), is punishment too lenient for the crime? In most cases convicted murders can be freed to roam our street after serving a 'deterrent' sentence. Take for instance, the three murderers of 16 year old Ben Kinsella in 2008. They will be released in another 16 years to roam our streets free men, free of any further liability for taking this innocent young man's life - legally still a child - while Ben's family have to suffer for the rest of their lives; this can't be right (although the absurd sentencing in this case did result in the minimum tariff for murder committed with a knife subsequently being raised from 15 to 25 years). 

There is a misguided belief in some sections of society that lenient sentencing coupled with criminal rehabilitation will solve the problem. It won't. We need to understand that we are an imperfect species, and as a consequence there will always be people who do not fit into an ideal mold of the perfect citizen. In the case of criminals who have taken a life or permanently disabled a victim, and where a whole life custodial tariff is not applied, we need to apply robust custodial sentencing followed by a rest of life service to the family/community. 

If a criminal has either taken the life of another or inflicted a life time injury, as in the case of this 5-year-old child, they must receive a whole life sentence as punishment to match the crime. The sentence in its entirety need not be custodial. If public safety deems that the convict can be released from gaol, they must continue, for the rest of their life, to serve the victim's family and/or community in whatever way is appropriate. This could be a life-time penal tax on their income which would be used as compensation the the family of their victim.

So, in the case of 5-year-old Thusha Kamaleswaran who will never walk again, the three guilty men must repay society and the child for the rest of their lives in a combination of a custodial sentence and community service.

UK Crime & Punishment: A rigorous overhaul of sentencing is required to better serve society

Posted on | Tuesday, 27 March 2012 | No Comments

Today's news that three men have been found guilty of a gangland shooting that left a 5-year-old child paralysed for life, leaves me wondering what sentence will be handed down to these thugs. In an age where a sentence of 'life' means no such thing, (although since 1983 a judge has been able to impose a Whole Life Tariff for certain categories of murder), is punishment too lenient for the crime?  In most cases convicted murders can be freed to roam our street after serving a 'deterrent' sentence. Take for instance, the three murderers of 16 year old Ben Kinsella in 2008. They will be released in another 16 years to roam our streets free men, free of any further liability for taking this innocent young man's life - legally still a child - while Ben's family have to suffer for the rest of their lives; this can't be right (although the absurd sentencing in this case did result in the minimum tariff for murder committed with a knife subsequently being raised from 15 to 25 years). 

There is a misguided belief in some sections of society that lenient sentencing coupled with criminal rehabilitation will solve the problem. It won't. We need to understand that we are an imperfect species, and as a consequence there will always be people who do not fit into an ideal mold of the perfect citizen. In the case of criminals who have taken a life or permanently disabled a victim, and where a whole life custodial tariff is not applied, we need to apply robust custodial sentencing followed by a rest of life service to the family/community.   

If a criminal has either taken the life of another or inflicted a life time injury, as in the case of this 5-year-old child, they must receive a whole life sentence as punishment to match the crime. The sentence in its entirety need not be custodial. If public safety deems that the convict can be released from gaol, they must continue, for the rest of their life, to serve the victim's family and/or community in whatever way is appropriate. This could be a life-time penal tax on their income which would be used as compensation the the family of their victim.

So, in the case of 5-year-old Thusha Kamaleswaran who will never walk again, the three guilty men must repay society and the child for the rest of their lives in a combination of a custodial sentence and community service. 

Reviewing the 2009 Tower Hamlets Petition for a Mayoral Referendum – with a 40% Spoil Rate, was sufficient Due Diligence shown?

Posted on | Sunday, 25 March 2012 | No Comments

Petition organiser, Councillor Abjol Miah handed in the petition to Tower Hamlets Council on 23 October 2009 stating,  “… we have an unaccountable council leader in whom a very large amount of power is vested, including vitally the power to appoint to paid Cabinet posts and the disposal of almost a billion pounds of taxpayers money annually’. It’s ironic that his words almost exactly fit the current elected mayor that his petition established.

The council formally accepted the Petition on 16 November 2009 (Petition date).

In March 2010 a request was made under the Freedom of Information Act, for details relating to the petition. This is the letter:

Dear Tower Hamlets Borough Council,

With reference to the petition submitted to you for an elected Mayor.

Please be kind enough to tell me:

* How many signatures were on the petition
* What checks were made to verify these signatures
* How many names were discounted from the petition as invalid

Please also supply any documents (for example, but not limited to emails, letters, meetings notes, transcripts, minutes) relating to this petition: between officers, councillors or other council officials, and to or from officers, councillors or other council officials and members of the public or representatives of another body or company.

Yours faithfully,

The councils initial response was as follows:

How many signatures were on the petition?

17,189 entries checked:

Valid - 10,233 (59.53%)
Invalid - 6,956 (40.47%)
No Full Name - 2,094 (30.10%)
Not Registered - 3,408 (48.99%)
No Address - 788 (11.33%)
Non LBTH Addresses - 642 (9.23%)
Underage - 14 (0.20%)
No Signature - 10 (0.14%)

What checks were made to verify these signatures?

Four Officers were tasked with checking the signatures on the petition against the register of Electors.

How many names were discounted from the petition as invalid?

With 7,794 signatures required - the number of valid entries exceeded the required figure by 2,439 entries.

At no stage were the Invalid - 6,956 (40.47%) signatures queried. The validity of a petition must surely be questioned if there are an unusually high proportion of spoilt/invalid signatures. I would suggest that 40% is unusually high. Intentionally submitting false signatures, if this were the case, is a method of election fraud.

The request to supply documents relating to this petition: between officers, councillors or other council officials, and to or from officers, councillors or other council officials and members of the public or representatives of another body or company, was refused.

The full file of correspondence can be found here

Canary Wharf switches off escalator due to 'ongoing environmental policy' - What!?

Posted on | Saturday, 24 March 2012 | No Comments

The Customer Notice reads, 'As part of our ongoing environmental policy This escalator has been switched off'. What is this jargon? Perplexed, I turned to Wikipedia for an explanation:

'Environmental policy is any [course of] action deliberately taken [or not taken] to manage human activities with a view to prevent, reduce, or mitigate harmful effects on nature and natural resources, and ensuring that man-made changes to the environment do not have harmful effects on humans' . (McCormick, John (2001). Environmental Policy in the European Union).

Get the picture? No, neither did I. It's 21st century gobbledegook. Gone are the days of clear, simple informative notices. Could it be that the escalator has been turned off to conserve energy? - an admirable reason. Surely not, the sign would have said that..

What is it with Health and Safety Mentality?


Who is driving this Heath and Safety craze? and why are so many institutionalised employees blindly applying 'standards' that are blatantly absurd. Let me give you 3 examples of a world going mad.

1. Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives. A beautiful room isn't it? Notice the grand bookcases that dominate the reading room. But notice that the top 3 shelves are empty. Why, I asked, was this so, with so many books packed away in boxes out of public view? The answer, 'Health and Safety'!

2. Ideal Home Exhibition 2012, the Santiago Town House. If you go the the Earls Court show this year you can't miss it. One of 3 houses at the Exhibition. Whether you look up at it from the ground floor or down onto it from the gallery, what catches your eye is the roof terrace. Keen to take a closer look I joined the queue to browse around. Alas, access to the upper floor had been roped off - a red rope across the stairway. The reason? Health and Safety.

3. Marner Centre, Tower Hamlets. This is a children's early learning and play centre for toddlers aged 2 - 3. Like other facilities in the district it is well equipped and offers a light lunch for the children before the daily sessions end. However, unlike Children's House, another local nursery school/play centre where the children are taught to sit on chairs around lunch tables, Marner insists the children sit on the floor to eat - they're supplied with cushions, but nevertheless they are eating off the floor; not an English custom. When questioned why? Health and Safety.

Words fail me...

Evening Standard reports Tower Hamlets forced to remove names from Electoral Roll including one at address of Mayor Lutfur Rahman

Posted on | Friday, 23 March 2012 | No Comments

In today's Evening Standard (Friday 23 March 2012) a half page spread by Simon Freeman reports the findings of the Electoral Commission into claims of voting fraud in Tower Hamlets.

The review by Adrian Green, Regional Manager of the Electoral Register for London, found the council had a 'very thorough approach to trying to ensure the integrity and completeness and accuracy of the register'. And Aman Dalvi, the borough's Acting CEO and Returning Officer is reported as saying the Commission's report was an endorsement of the borough's practices and would help to reassure residents and help put a stop to the unfounded allegations which could have undermined confidence in the democratic process within the Borough..

This is all rather confusing when we then read that the council were today forced to remove 127 names from the electoral roll following the Commission's review. Like anyone else reading this article, I'm reading it as a statement of fact not rumour. Similarly with the paper's revelation, 'Tower Hamlets had to remove one mystery resident listed at the home address of its mayor, Lutfur Rahman''. It goes on to state that in the council's own follow-up probe, 3 of 5 properties identified by the Evening Standard as being suspect had the number of registered voters cut. As I say, these are no longer accusations by the newspaper, they are being reported as fact and accordingly have serious consequences, particularly for Lutfur Rahman who had on 3 March 2012 declared in both the  'itspolitical' and 'Huffington Post' web sites:-

'I would simply remind politicians who have hopped upon this particular bandwagon, that following complaints of voter fraud in the 2010 General Election, investigating police failed to find a single case in our borough. Council officers vigorously check any suspicious registrations and take people off the electoral register where deemed necessary'. 

So, I'm reading the, 'very thorough approach ...'  has revealed serious failings. A point Aman Dalvi prefers to hide under the guise of process. 

As Cllr Golds has stressed, its time the Police thoroughly investigate how these names were registered, and take decisive action in recommending prosecution where appropriate. 

Power to the People - Community Assembly Democracy.

Posted on | Tuesday, 20 March 2012 | 1 Comment

There is an ugly, seamier side to our political administration. We all know it exists but like zombies are meekly accepting it as part of our culture in a frightening Orwellian sense. What I'm talking about is misuse abuse of power; power wielded by those we have (in most cases) elected into high office. When exposed, it makes depressing reading not least because it drives home how ineffective we are in preventing it from taking place. For example, at the highest level we seem powerless to prevent Government pressing ahead with their NHS bill while they flout public opposition and legal orders to publish the Risk Report, and at a Borough level, we cringe after reading Andrew Gilligan’s constant revelations concerning Tower Hamlets' Mayor, summed up in Lutfur Rahman; all his controversies in one place'’. The reality is, we have little influence over politicians once they are in office. 

There are of course many other cases that illustrate how easy it is for those entrusted with authority and responsibility through our electoral system to slither into the gutter of self glorification and corruption. Our politicians all too often assume an air of unaccountability and permanence once they’ve wormed their way into a 4 year term of office. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the immortal words of William Pitt the Elder, "Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it", and that truism is no less relevant today than it was almost 250 years ago. In describing these individuals, I personally rather warm to the more current expression eloquently delivered by Dame Judy Dench in the James Bond thriller, ‘Quantum of Solace’ when she referred to a particularly unwholesome rogue as a ‘slimy bastard’. But then I do feel strongly about the demise of honesty and integrity in our society. Surely democracy can provide the people of this nation with an alternative to the traditional parliamentary system of adversarial politics that so effortlessly accommodates abuse of power. I put to you; the mother of parliamentary democracy has reached an age when it is no longer fit for purpose. We have to remember, it is based on an unwritten constitution that was suitable for a country of just over 4 million people with all its historic social inequalities of the time, coupled with quill pen and parchment paper communication.  

Society has changed dramatically over 400 years yet we cling to a political system that operates much as it did in the 1600’s. It’s time for us to realise that there is now a workable alternative, albeit draconian from the viewpoint of our traditional parliamentarian process, that has never been applied anywhere in the world. It’s time for the mother of parliamentary democracy to become the mother of community assembly democracy.

What if….

….we were able to replace political parties and career politicians at all levels with best-in-class professionals, hired (and if necessary fired) under professional performance contracts, and selected using best practice techniques, by regional and central assemblies formed from community representation?

In outline, consider a ground-up example of how such a system could work in practice. Take the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and a Ward of say 10,000 registered electors. With 17 Wards across the Borough that computes to 170,000 electors (the actual figure for Tower Hamlets as of 12/2011 was 172,092, so pretty much in line with official statistics). Using the existing electoral register, 30 assembly men/women would be selected from the 10,000, in a similar way to the selection criteria for Jury Service. The 30 would form the Community Assembly for the Ward. As with Jury Service, attendance on the Assembly would be a civic duty.  This would provide a representation radio of approximately 1:333. Current local government representation is 1:3374, and central government representation is a staggering 1:74956. Keep in mind that even at these levels, current elected local and central government representation is focused on party political expedients -strategic issues - above community concerns.

Two members from each Ward would be selected by the Assembly to sit on the Borough Assembly. Assembly service would be for a 6 month term with 5 members rotated each month to ensure dynamic continuity and a rolling ground-up representation process. Using the same approach, London’s (32) Boroughs would provide representatives to a London Assembly, and all UK’s Counties would provide representatives to a central Council of State. At each level, executives would be hired (as referred above) to best represent the interests of their respective Assemblies.

The principle is simple - no political parties, no politicians, no adversarial politics in a parliamentary chamber of government versus opposition; a nation truly administered by the people for the people. But, are we prepared to make the commitment to be directly involved in administering our own society? Are we as individuals - nation builders? or do we still need to be led like lemmings, nurtured on a culture of leadership?

There is an interim measure we can apply to test our resolve. Paradoxically the vehicle for this has been launched by David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Their White Paper, ‘Open Public Services’ advocates decentralising and devolving power to the lowest appropriate level. In practical terms this means the ability to establish local community councils as a statutory body. In Tower Hamlets they could be established within each Ward of the Borough. The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) web site states, ‘NALC offers a bursary scheme for London campaign groups that want to create a new local council in their area. Campaign groups can apply for funds to cover reasonable costs incurred for their meetings’.   

With this ‘leg-up’, a Borough wide campaign can be started to install ground-up representation at local government level. As I say this is only a starting point, and is no quick fix to the abuses of power we have to witness on an almost daily basis. But it will have an impact locally and be the foundation for non elected Assemblies in the future.  

This is the beginning of a national debate on democratic reform. Follow Assembly4Reform on Twitter @a4reform for the latest news and to track developments (Draft site due live July 2012).

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