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!

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