Governance Referendum result and statement

10 May


For the directly elect mayor: 45,960 (56%)

For the committee system: 36,424 (44%)


Newham Voting for Change is disappointed with the outcome of the governance referendum but the fact that 44% voted for the committee system shows that there is significant support for a more cooperative and collaborative politics.

Our campaign focused on democracy and inclusion and we must accept that the people of Newham have spoken. After twenty years of a directly elected mayor, they have opted to stick with that system for at least the next decade.

We would like to thank everyone involved in our campaign for their hard work over the past few months and congratulate those in the pro-mayoral ‘Right to Vote’ campaign for their part in helping residents understand the important issues at stake.

Newham Voting for Change also pays tribute to Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz for keeping her promise to hold a referendum and for ensuring that voters had a real choice on the ballot paper.

Chair of Newham Voting for Change, Josephine Grahl said, “although it is disappointing that we did not win it is encouraging to see local people engaging in the debate about how their council is run. While the directly elected mayor system will continue, we are encouraged by commitments made to wider participation through citizens’ assemblies and the proposed trialling of small-scale community councils where some powers are devolved to local areas. We hope the mayor recognises that Newham voters are enthusiastic about more open and transparent decision-making at all levels within the council.”

3 Responses to “Governance Referendum result and statement”

  1. Kronikal May 10, 2021 at 18:28 #

    Well, that campaign statement is rather restrained, or reticent, on some aspects:

    * It congratulates “… those in the pro-mayoral ‘Right to Vote’ campaign for their part in helping residents understand the important issues at stake.” On its own, that’s an over-magnanimous statement. Much of their rhetoric was misleading to the casual reader.

    * It pays tribute to Rokhsana for keeping a mayoral promise, but surely keeping a high-profile promise made before her election, one that was key to the nature of her campaign against the incumbent, should be a given?
    The overturning of the very system that enabled her predecessor to wield such power so divisively was something many regarded as necessary to symbolically put a line under it. Yet despite describing the current system as “broken” before the election, she has very recently come out and supported (initially covertly, I hear) the campaign to keep it.

    Most of those who voted were voting because of the GLA elections, and many had no prior knowledge of the referendum, so were confronted with something they’d not had time to consider, in which case marking the first box seems the easiest way to deal with it in passing, especially with the impression given by the most cursory of glances at the descriptions of the options.

    If any other party were to some day have the temerity to get elected to the council, they would have effectively zero power there, just like the back-bench members now. Whereas in a Committee system they would have a tiny bit! – which would at least be more democratic.

    • Conor McAuley May 12, 2021 at 15:52 #

      There is an extreme arrogance here.Basically Ktonikal is telling us that the voters didn’t understand what they were doing. I could and do argue equally, that the voters knew exactly they were doing. This was not as it turned out a rogue result as Tower Hamlets seems to have confirmed.

      • Kronikal May 13, 2021 at 19:34 #

        I was only pointing out that *some* voters didn’t know what they were voting for. Some (on both sides) obviously did. So I don’t understand how that qualifies as “extreme arrogance”.

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