Newly elected Tower Hamlets Mayor, Lutfur Rahman led his Aspire Party to win an overall majority in Tower Hamlets. Photo courtesy of Aspire
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Election summary: Aspire Party win majority in Tower Hamlets

Blow to Labour as former mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman leads a resounding victory under the banner of his party Aspire.

The Aspire Party has secured an overall majority in Tower Hamlets Council, following Thursday’s local elections. 

Of the 45 council seats across 20 wards, Aspire secured councillors in 24 seats and gained full control of seven of the 20 wards.

The Labour Party, which previously held 42 seats, secured 19 seats. The Green Party won one seat in Bow West, and the Conservatives retained its one seat in Island Gardens.

In our local wards, Labour’s Amina Ali, Rachel Blake and Marc Francis retained their seats in Bow East. Over in Bow West, Labour’s Asma Begum was re-elected and the borough’s first Green Party councillor, Nathalie Bienfait, was also elected to the council, taking the seat of Val Whitehead.

Two Labour candidates, Sirajul Islam and Rebeka Sultana were elected as ward councillors in Bethnal Green East, alongside Aspire’s Ahmodul Kabir. In Bromley North, two Aspire candidates were voted in, having taken that ward from Labour’s Dan Tomlinson and Zenith Rahman.

To the west of Bromley North, Labour retained its control in the Mile End Ward, with voters electing Leelu Ahmed, Mohammad Saifur Rahman Chowdury, and Sabina Khan. 

Almost 42% of the borough’s 205,000 electorate voted in this year’s elections, higher than the England average for voter turnout of 35%. 

Aspire’s founder, Lutfur Rahman, was also victorious in Thursday’s mayoral elections; he was elected as Mayor of Tower Hamlets winning 47% of the votes, defeating Labour incumbent John Biggs who won 33% of the votes.  Rahman will be the borough’s mayor for the next four years.

A previous Labour mayoral and council candidate, Rahman set up Aspire in 2018. He was Tower Hamlets first elected mayor in 2010 as an independent and was re-elected as Mayor in 2014 under Tower Hamlets First, but was subsequently found guilty of electoral misconduct in a civil case against him held in an election court in the High Court of London. He was removed from office, ordered to pay £250,000 towards the bill of court hearing, and was banned from standing for office for five years. However, the Crown Prosecution Service could not find enough evidence for a criminal prosecution.

A video on Rahman’s Twitter page of him speaking to reporters on Friday said that he was ‘very happy and grateful to the people of the borough for giving me, my team and themselves another chance to rebuild Tower Hamlets’.

In addition, Rahman wrote an article in left-wing American paper, Jacobin, in which he states that Tower Hamlets has always been a place where radical change has taken place due to its history of having been shaped by working class and immigrant communities. He added that the borough has been driven by ‘grassroots activism at every stage of its rich and complex history’ and said he now wants to use his and his party’s recent victory ‘to demonstrate the power of people-led local government in the twenty-first century.’

Will Tuckley, returning officer for Tower Hamlets and the council’s chief executive, said: ‘I would like to congratulate all of our forty-five councillors on their election victories and thank all of our candidates who stood in these elections for playing their part in the democratic process.

He also added that he would like to ‘thank all of our residents who voted and took part in the local democratic process to choose our local leaders here in Tower Hamlets’.

Tower Hamlets Council’s first local elections were in 1964. Labour held an overall majority for 22 years, until 1986 when the Liberal/Social Democratic Party alliance won a majority in 1986. The Lib Dems won control of the council in 1990 which they held for one term. Labour has won every other council election in Tower Hamlets since, other than in 2014 when Lutfur Rahman’s Tower Hamlets First party won 18 seats meaning no party had overall control.

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