Beckton result

12 Sep

Wilson and Wales

Trebles all round as Tonii Wilson’s win maintains Sir Robin’s iron grip on Newham

The results of yesterday’s by-election in Beckton, which was held to fill the vacancy left by the death of Alec Kellaway in June, have been announced:

Syed Hussain AHMED Conservative 584 29.6%
Mark DUNNE TUSC 21 1%
Jane Alison LITHGOW Green Party 70 3.5%
David MEARS UKIP 215 10.9%
Kayode SHEDOWO Christian People’s Alliance 33 1.7%
David THORPE Liberal Democrat 43 2.2%
Tonii WILSON Labour 1,006 51%
Total Number of votes: 1,983    
Electorate total: 10,510    
Turn out: 18.86%    
Number of valid votes: 1,972    
Number of Rejected Votes: 11    

There’s so much to be disappointed about here that it’s hard to know where to start.

Obviously this result means Newham continues to be a one party state and, with that party ruthlessly controlled by the Mayor, it is essentially a one person state. Tonii Wilson was hand-picked by Sir Robin and imposed on the local party through a dubious ‘urgent’ selection procedure. She may have been the best candidate Labour could have chosen and, had Beckton members been given a proper say, she might have been selected any way, but we’ll never know. Right now, it just looks like she’ll be an empty suit waiting to unquestioningly do the boss’s bidding. Trebles all round at Building 1000!

The poor showings by the two alternative left parties is a shame. TUSC came dead last, polling even fewer votes than the CPA, but they put up a paper candidate and made no real effort. At least the Greens ran an active campaign. But 70 votes is a feeble return. If the party aspires to re-establish itself in Newham after a decade-long hiatus it needs to be doing better than this. In May the Greens were runners-up to Labour in Forest Gate North. Perhaps this part of the borough is more fertile territory.

By contrast UKIP is doing well in the south. They polled strongly in both Canning Town wards and in Custom House in May; they finished third here with almost 11% of the vote. Electorally, this will probably be of more concern to the Tories than Labour, but any rise in support for the far right in Newham has to worry us all.

The most disappointing thing though is the pathetically low turnout – 18.86%. Fewer than 1 in 5 voters even bothered registering a preference. It’s a spectacular failure by all concerned. But it’s not just a Newham issue, or a even a Labour issue: it’s a national problem that all parties must address. 

For the next three and a half years Tonii Wilson will sit in council with the active backing of less than 1 in 10 Beckton voters. Unless we do something to address the democratic deficit there is a going to be real crisis of legitimacy in local government.

9 Responses to “Beckton result”

  1. d September 12, 2014 at 20:22 #

    You have to wonder what ‘tonii’ has done for wales and why wales looks rough…

    • Phil Bradbury September 26, 2014 at 10:48 #


      Your gift for rhetorical flourish is a wonder to behold. The paragraph beginning “Obviously …” for example is wholly content-free, an elaborate set of wayward opinions giving the impression of an insider’s detailed knowledge. Forensic scrutiny reveals not a single fact.

      The truth is:
      1. All eligible members of the local Labour Party were invited to stand for the candidacy, according to a published timetable, and with clear selection criteria.
      2. At least twenty applied, and most, if not all, were interviewed by a panel of three senior local activists with wide experience of the Party (not including Robin Wales) according to an equal opps schedule.
      3. They drew up a short-list of candidates that was interviewed by a properly-convened meeting of the ward branch, which selected Tonii Wilson.

      In the light of this, how can you possibly reasonably paint it as “ruthless control”, “one-person state”, “hand-picked”, “dubious”, etc?

      Posting your fanciful intrigue is comic entertainment, if a little exasperating for some of us. The trouble is that it prompts unpleasant and mysogynistic posts from trolls like ‘d’. What on earth is that comment still doing on your board, a fortnight after it first appeared? Please, Martin, grasp the nettle and take it down ….. .


      • Martin Warne September 26, 2014 at 12:53 #


        I’m delighted you read my blog.

        My description of the selection process is based on conversations I’ve had with several Newham party members – including sitting councillors – who were appalled by the blatant rule-bending by Sir Robin and his cronies. Lies were told to local party members and to the London Labour party about the prospective date of the by-election in order to justify not abiding by the proper timetable.

        As I said, Tonii Wilson may have been the best candidate and possibly would have been chosen anyway had party members had the choice. But the fact is that a special selection pane , made up of councillors close to the mayor picked her – not local Beckton members.

        If you haven’t already done so, I suggest searching back and reading an earlier post on the ‘8 stages of loss’ (through which one-party state councils inevitably collapse). Keep it in mind over the coming months.

    • Anita October 5, 2014 at 15:59 #

      I am shocked by this uncalled-for misogynist remark. Surely it should be deleted?

      • Martin Warne October 5, 2014 at 20:59 #

        Please see my previous exchange with Phil. I am surprised by the effort being put into deleting a single comment from my blog.

  2. timrollpickering September 16, 2014 at 15:02 #

    Having done some back of fag packet calculations the difference between hitting 20% turnout or not is the inclusion on the register of voters at the University of East London. UEL was, and still just is, on vacation so these will all or nearly all be students who were living in halls last academic year but few if any will still be around – indeed the relevant ballot box had by far the lowest turnout. If UEL is deducted completely then turnout would have been 20.5%. Even if you apply the ward average postal vote registration to UEL on an equal basis (I don’t have that stat to hand right now) then turnout would still be around 20.3%. And that’s before trying to make allowance for any students who rented privately in the rest of the ward but have now moved/graduated/gone home or away for the vacation. It gets more complicated once you try to factor in likely termtime turnouts amongst a section of the electorate where turnout is notoriously low anyway.

    But even if the register could update itself quicker so that such a large drop-off would have been caught, 20% is still a major problem.

  3. Phil Bradbury September 28, 2014 at 15:13 #

    Thanks Martin,

    The three points I raised are authentic and verifiable. You must surely agree that your account is based entirely on hearsay, unattributable ‘sources’ and rumour-mongering. If we could dig down far enough, we would find that claims about “rule-bending”, “lies”, “not abiding by the proper timetable” would evaporate, leaving us grasping at thin air ….. .

    I looked at your post on the Electoral Reform Society ‘stages of loss’. The most striking thing was that just three weeks after the doom-laden post, Labour swept the board again in Newham, this time with substantial majorities all round. Then four months later, the most marginal ward had a by-election, and returned the Labour candidate with more than 50% of the vote. I admire the ERS, but think their prognostications here have no rational or empirical basis.

    I do like to read your blog from time to time, but this time was prompted by a call from someone who wanted to find out who ran it. She was upset by what she called ‘hateful’ comments on it. This surprised me, but sure enough, the first response to the Beckton result post is an unmistakable, unpleasant and misogynist suggestion that sexual favours had been traded for political advancement. It was posted anonymously. I thought you may want to get it removed. Or am I mistaken; do you think it is OK?


    • Martin Warne September 29, 2014 at 08:34 #


      You seem to be devoting a lot of time and effort at getting me to remove an ambiguous comment from my blog. I’m not sure what your agenda is, but I don’t appreciate it. I don’t tell you what’s okay to have on your website; I’d be grateful if you’d extend me the same courtesy.

      And you’ve put me in an impossible position. Because you have now explicitly characterised the comment as ‘sexual favours being traded for political advancement’ I can’t remove it without people thinking it said something it didn’t.

      If you want to tackle misogyny in Newham politics you’re wasting your time chasing after one line comments on an obscure and little-read blog. You need to set your sights higher. A lot higher.

      with best regards,


      • Phil Bradbury October 3, 2014 at 12:04 #


        I don’t see your site as obscure and little-read. It is good to see vigorous political debate at a local level. But you say you will “delete anything that’s (…) sexist or misogynist”. Here we have a startling example and it seems right to draw it to your attention. Surmising that successful women councillors must have “done” things is demeaning and damaging. What ‘d’ suggests insults and discourages. Hiding behind the veil of anonymity simply confirms the intention. Who does this person think he is (and it surely is a ‘he’)?


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