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Ten things about the election

11 May

1. Turnout was abysmal

Perhaps to spare the blushes of the various parties and candidates that fought the election the council has published any turnout figures, although reports on social media from the count said it was just over 28% for the mayoral election. Looking at the number of votes cast in some wards, it will have been lower than that in a number of places. This is shocking and everyone involved in Newham politics needs to take a long look at themselves and ask why the local electorate has become so disengaged.

2. Labour still dominates

The party won 64 council seats and retained the mayoralty. It took 56.2% of the votes for mayor and 61.5% for council. Although this was not the 100% sweep of recent elections, Labour is still by far the biggest force in Newham politics. Across the 26 wards in the council election the party took 100,535 votes.

3. The Greens are number two

For the first time since 2006 an opposition party won seats on the council, as the Greens took both in the newly created Stratford Olympic Park ward. They were the only other party to field a full slate of 66 candidates (the Tories had 65). Although they narrowly missed out on second place in the mayoral election they finished as runners-up on total votes across the council election with 27,268 – 4,000 ahead of Tories.

4. Your surname is worth votes!

In 21 of the 26 wards the candidate with the most votes had a surname closer to the front of the alphabet than their party colleagues. So in Beckton James Asser finished ahead of Rohima Rahman and Tonii Wilson. In Green Street West Lewis Godfrey topped the poll, followed by Mumtaz Khan and Ama Virdee. The candidates that bucked this trend were Rachel Tripp, Neil Wilson, Mariam Dawood, Steve Brayshaw and Imam Haque.

5. Is Manor Park Labour’s safest seat?

Measured by the gap between the lowest ranked elected councillor and the highest ranked loser, Manor Park is the safest ward in Newham. The opposition will have to close a gap of 1,647 votes to take even one of the three seats.

6. Or is it Maryland?

The new Maryland ward saw Labour score its highest individual vote share, with Carolyn Corben getting 33.8%. Her running mate Ken Penton scored 30.3%, more than 20 points clear of the next best candidate. Given the entire ward is covered by low traffic neighbourhoods and the candidates were unashamedly in favour of them on the doorstep, this should be seen as a vindication of the policy. 

7. Plashet is the most marginal ward

On the same basis, the newly created two councillor ward of Plashet is the Borough’s most marginal. Independent Mehmood Mriza finished just 196 votes behind Labour’s Pushpa Makwana. Beckton is also tight, with a margin of 230 and the Greens only have a 267 vote cushion between themselves and Labour taking back a seat in the Olympic Park.

8. The Independents got nowhere 

The group made a huge fuss about leaving ‘right wing’ Labour and standing on a ‘socialist’ platform of free parking permits, more traffic and setting illegal budgets. They won no seats and five of their seven candidates scored fewer than 200 votes.

9. The Christian Peoples Alliance is surely over

This has been true for several election cycles now, but they keep up coming back. This time their 26 candidates averaged just 131 votes and two of them recorded the joint lowest score across the entire borough with 25 votes each in Stratford Olympic Park. Maybe that’s God’s way of telling them to stop.

10. First Past the Post leaves many voters unrepresented

Labour took 61.5% of the votes and 97% of the seats. The Greens got 16% of the vote and 3% of the seats. The Conservatives got 14% of the vote and no seats at all. Is that fair? I don’t think so.

 

UPDATES (13 May)

First of all, a bonus thing about the election: more people voted to abolish the Mayor in last year’s referendum (36,424) than voted for the mayor last Thursday (35,696). I know it changes nothing, that turnout was lower and it’s a binary choice versus a multi-candidate election, but it amuses me.

Secondly, Cllr Nate Higgins has been in touch to point out – quite reasonably – that looking at closeness by number of votes instead of by percentages makes it seems like the smaller wards are closer than they actually are. The Greens are almost 20 points clear of Labour in Stratford Olympic Park; it’s just a low population ward (because of expected growth). 

No surprises

11 May

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To absolutely no-one’s surprise Rokhsana Fiaz was re-elected for a second term as mayor of Newham.

The Labour and Co-op candidate took comfortably more than 50% of the first preference votes. Conservative Attic Rahman finished second, narrowly ahead of the Green Party’s Rob Callender.

Candidate Party Votes Percent
Attic Rahman Conservative Party 7,390 11.64%
Lois Austin Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 2,096 3.30%
Simeon Adewole Ademolake Christian Peoples Alliance 2,405 3.79%
Saleyha Ahsan Liberal Democrat 3,528 5.56%
Robert Alexander Callender The Green Party 7,003 11.03%
Rokhsana Fiaz Labour and Co-operative Party 35,696 56.23%
Mehmood Mirza Independent 5,369 8.46%
  Total 63,487  

Who’s side are you on?

2 May

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Mehmood Mirza is standing as an independent candidate for the Mayor of Newham.

At a Mayoral hustings last week, at which Mr Mirza did not appear in person – preferring instead to be represented by a member of his campaign team – the issue of his property portfolio was raised.

Despite posturing as a left-wing socialist Mehmood Mirza is a significant private landlord. He and his property company, Phoenix M Properties Ltd (No. 10216604), own or control at least 10 homes in Newham. Filings at Companies House show that Mr Mirza is the sole shareholder and director of the company.

The availability of good quality, affordable housing is a huge issue in Newham. According to the Office for National Statistics 35.5% of households in the borough live in the Private Rented Sector. Many of these homes suffer from overcrowding, disrepair and have poor standards of amenity and thermal efficiency at a time when energy costs are heading skywards. Combatting abuses by private landlords and improving standards has been a priority for the council under both the Wales and Fiaz administrations.

Were he to be elected, Mehmood Mirza would have a significant conflict of interest to manage between his role as Mayor in enforcing the Council’s policies on the Private Rented Sector and his role as a rentier property owner whose actions would be regulated by, er, himself.  It is unclear as to how he would resolve these conflicts.

Mirza has said very little about how he would treat the Private Rented Sector if he were elected as Mayor of Newham. His published leaflets are silent on the matter.

By contrast, the Labour manifesto for Newham is quite clear on its approach to the private rented sector, stating that the next Labour Council will:

  • Seek Government approval to extend the private landlord registration scheme for an unprecedented third term of 5 more years.  It will include all Temporary Accommodation.
  • Introduce an enhanced inspection regime for the private rented sector in Newham, zero tolerance of poor landlords and provide the staffing resources needed for rigorous enforcement activity.
  • Set clear property standards so that landlords have to provide high quality housing that has good space standards, is safe and well managed.
  • Place particular emphasis on establishing minimum standards of energy efficiency so that private rented homes meet EPC Band C where practical, cost effective and affordable and also have high standards of security. 
  • Campaign for a future Labour Government to introduce both rent controls and security of tenure, subject to cause, for private rented sector tenants.

So here are ten questions Mr Mirza needs to urgently answer ahead of the polls on Thursday:

  1. How many homes do you and any companies that you have an interest of any sort in, own in Newham?
  2. Do you charge more than the Local Housing Allowance to any of your tenants/occupants and by how many percent have you increased your rents in the last one, two, five and 10 years?
  3. Are (or have) any of the homes that you own/control /have a beneficial interest in ever been in a state of disrepair or had repairs outstanding for more than a short period of time?
  4. 35.5% of homes are in the Private Rented in Newham. How can the residents of these homes expect you to treat them fairly when you are a significant private landlord?
  5. As a significant private landlord, explain how there would be no conflict of interest between your role as a landlord seeking to maximise your profits and your role as Mayor policing the private rented sector in Newham and rooting out wrongdoing?
  6. If you were elected Mayor would you rid yourself of all interests in the property you own or control and, if so, how would you do this? If not, how would you resolve your conflicts as a private landlord with the responsibilities of the Mayorality?
  7. How would you ensure that all the decisions you made on the private rented sector were open and accountable to scrutiny?
  8. What lawful policies would you pursue as Mayor to increase the supply of social rented homes and reduce that of private rented homes?
  9. Do you agree that the Council should crack down on private landlords, campaign for security of tenure for private tenants and for rent controls? Should the Council issue Compulsory Purchase Orders on the homes operated by private Landlords in Newham who misbehave?
  10. How much income do you receive in either salary or dividends from the homes that you own/control/have a beneficial interest in, directly or indirectly, and is this the income that allows you to say that you will only take a Living Wage from the Council?

The people of Newham deserve answers. Will they be voting for someone who is on their side, or the side of landlords?

Greens announce a full slate

5 Apr

For the first time in its history, the Green Party will be fielding a full slate of candidates for the local elections: 66 candidates across all 24 wards in the borough, and a candidate for Mayor of Newham. The party’s aim, it says, is to elect the first opposition councillors in Newham since 2006, in Stratford Olympic Park and Beckton wards, and to beat the Conservatives to become Newham’s second party.

In 2018, the Newham Green Party stood just 11 candidates and in 2014 just two. Standing a full slate in every ward places the party in a strong position to beat the Conservatives across Newham and to firmly define itself as Newham’s second party. No other currently active national party has ever succeeded in fielding a full slate of candidates in Newham, besides Labour and the Conservatives.

Nate Higgins, co-chair of the Newham Green Party, who is standing in Stratford Olympic Park said: “When I set out over a year ago to recruit the widest and most diverse slate of candidates the Newham Green Party has ever fielded, I never even dreamed we would be this successful. In one of the most diverse and young London Boroughs, I am proud we have a slate of candidates who are more like the people we wish to represent than ever before, and who share their experiences. With 66 candidates in this election, we are now in a fantastic position to beat the Conservatives across Newham for the first time ever, and to elect some opposition councillors. I know through my year-round hard work in my home ward of Stratford Olympic Park how excited people are about having the chance to vote Green for the first time, and I know we can win.”

The Greens claim that this slate of candidates represents the party’s most diverse ever, with a wide range of ethnic minority, women, young, working class, and LGBTIQA+ candidates. Almost every ward has at least one woman or non-binary candidate standing.

Danny Keeling, the other co-chair of the Newham Green Party and also a candidate in Stratford Olympic Park said “The Green Party stands ready to give Newham voters the chance to use all of their votes on a Green Party candidate for the first time ever. Greens will not let the people of Newham down like Labour and the Conservatives consistently have.”

The full list of Green candidates:

Beckton

Solveig Bourgeon
Karen Webb Green
Alison McLucas

Boleyn

Peter Bright
Helen Lynch
Roxana Toderascu

Canning Town North

Charlotte Croft
Oscar Lessing
Cassie Leanne Thomas

Canning Town South

Oliver Reynolds
Deb Scott
Benjamin Ian Smith

Custom House

Gareth Bannister
Sean Labode
Rupa Sarkar

East Ham South

Mark Lamptey-Harding
Alex Mchugh
Liam Palmer

East Ham

Tim Boxall
Maddy Catriona
Ed Toso

Forest Gate North

Gary Pendlebury
Mike Spracklin

Forest Gate South

Ben Beeler
Kieren Jones
Emma Sorrell

Green St East

Tassadduq Cheema
Joe Hudson-Small
Rose Waddilove

Green St West

Ron Harris
Adam Mitchell
Joseph Henry Sorrell-Roberts

Little Ilford

Terrence Stamp
Amy Wilson
Waleed Zuoriki

Manor Park

Deyan Atansov
Ros Bedlow
Jenny Duval

Maryland

Chris Brooks
Ainsley Vinall

Plaistow North
Elsa Malki
Francis Moore
Aki Turan

Plaistow South

Nicholas Drew Dowden
Iain Mckeil
Anca Zahan

Plaistow West & Canning Town East

Jacintha Christopher
Christopher Luke Slevin
Peter Whittle

Plashet

Stephen Charles
Joshua Robinson

Royal Albert

Jane Lithgow
Daniel Rodrigues

Royal Victoria

Rob Callender
Gloria Goncalves

Stratford Olympic Park

Nate Higgins
Danny Keeling

Stratford

Pau Ingles
Moira Lascelles
Ed Lynch

Wall End

Melanie Bax
James Peter Buttress
Matthew Talbot Savage

West Ham

Clare Hardy
Lyubo Ivanov
Ben Parker

Mayor of Newham

Rob Callender

How Newham voted (part 2)

26 May

A bit more on how Newham voted in the London mayoral election.

Turnout

Overall turnout was 38.6%, which is more or less par for local elections in the borough. The best turnout was among the 31,377 postal voters; 20,519 sent back their ballot (65.4%).

Highest on-the-day turnout was in Green Street East, with 41.2%. And the lowest was Beckon, where barely more than a quarter of voters (25.7%) took the trouble to cast a ballot.

First preferences

Labour took 50% or more of the vote in 11 out of 20 wards: Boleyn, East Ham Central, East Ham North, Forest Gate South, both Green Street wards, Little Ilford, Manor Park, Plaistow North, Stratford and Wall End. My own ward, Forest Gate North, fractionally missed the cut; Sadiq Khan scored 49.98% of first preferences

The Tories’ best result was in Custom House, where they actually “won” – 38.6% to 36.3%. They got 30% or more in five other wards: Beckton, both Canning Towns, East Ham South and Plaistow South.

The Greens best results were in Forest Gate North and Stratford & New Town wards, where they got 10.5%. They got 8.3% in Royal Docks.

Young YouTuber Niko Omilana came fourth across Newham with 4.2% of the vote. He scored especially well (6% or more) in East Ham North and the two Green Street wards.

The Liberal Democrats will probably be disappointed, coming fifth on first preferences with just 2.5%. They failed to hit 5% anywhere, including among postal voters. And, similar to the Greens, their best results were in Stratford & New Town and Royal Docks, where they got 4.6%. 

Second preferences

One explanation advanced for Sadiq Khan’s relatively poor showing, at least compared to the wider Labour vote, is that he was running against 19 opponents and the supplementary vote system allowed electors the option to register a protest vote or to vote for their genuinely preferred candidate, confident that their second preference would end up keeping the Tories out. And the data does support that, to some extent. 

Khan took 17,329 second preferences (25.4%), comfortably ahead of Sian Berry of the Greens (10,635, 15.6%) and Shaun Bailey (9,470, 13.9%). No-one else got above 8%.

11,972 voters gave no second preference.

Rejected votes

One of the more disappointing outcomes of this election was the high number of rejected votes, the vast majority of which were ‘over votes’ (voting for too many candidates) caused by really bad design of the ballot paper, There’s a great piece on this on the On London website.

Of the 87,189 votes cast in Newham a massive 5,533 were rejected because voters were confused by the ballot paper. 

Green Street East saw 11.5% of votes rejected for over-voting; Wall End and East Ham Central also had 10% or more of their votes discounted for the same reason. This is an absolute scandal.

London Elects – how Newham voted

24 May

The London Elects website has released results from the recent mayoral and London Assembly at ward level, which means we can see how Newham voted.

Mayor of London

Candidate Party Votes Percent
Sadiq KHAN Labour Party 39,732 49.4%
Shaun BAILEY Conservative Party 21,327 26.5%
Sian BERRY Green Party 4,455 5.5%
Niko OMILANA Independent 3,374 4.2%
Luisa PORRITT Liberal Democrats 2,043 2.5%
Brian ROSE London Real Party 1,752 2.2%
Richard HEWISON Rejoin EU 1,099 1.4%
Piers CORBYN Let London Live 1,037 1.3%
Laurence FOX The Reclaim Party 892 1.1%
Count BINFACE Count Binface for Mayor of London 634 0.8%
Farah LONDON Independent 632 0.8%
Vanessa HUDSON Animal Welfare Party 585 0.7%
Mandu REID Women’s Equality Party 485 0.6%
Peter GAMMONS UKIP 473 0.6%
Nims OBUNGE Independent 396 0.5%
Kam BALAYEV Renew 383 0.5%
Steve KELLEHER Social Democratic Party 325 0.4%
David KURTEN Heritage Party 292 0.4%
Max FOSH Independent 231 0.3%
Valerie BROWN The Burning Pink Party 226 0.3%

 

London Assembly – City & East

Candidate Party Votes Percent
Unmesh DESAI Labour Party 51,329 60.1%
Nick Vandyke Conservative Party 17,219 20.2%
Tim Kiely Green Party 8,666 10.1%
Richard Flowers Liberal Democrats 4,810 5.6%
David Bull Reform UK 3,417 4.0%

 

London Assembly – list

Party Votes Percent
Labour Party 47,142 55.8%
Conservatives 16,859 20.0%
Green Party 6,421 7.6%
Liberal Democrats 2,967 3.5%
Rejoin EU 1,927 2.3%
Christian Peoples Alliance 1,480 1.8%
Animal Welfare Party – People, Animals, Environment 1,361 1.6%
Vote Women’s Equality Party on orange 1,180 1.4%
London Real Party 1,018 1.2%
ReformUK – London Deserves Better 826 1.0%
Let London Live 750 0.9%
UKIP 723 0.9%
Communist Party of Britain 405 0.5%
Heritage Party – Free Speech and Liberty 347 0.4%
Trade Union and Socialist Coalition 327 0.4%
Social Democratic Party 293 0.3%
Londependence 274 0.3%
National Liberal Party – Self determination for all! 178 0.2%

 

There are three things that jump out from these results.

Firstly, that Sadiq Khan substantially under-performed compared to his party on both the London-wide list and City & East ballot. Unmesh Desai has the advantage of being local, but that alone doesn’t explain an almost 12,000 vote gap. The answer is the hugely unpopular Silvertown Tunnel. Khan took the decision to go ahead and build it and it has cost him. I know many local Labour activists who sat on their hands rather than knock doors or deliver leaflets for him. Some may not even have voted him (voting for another party is an expulsion-level offence in the party rulebook, so they likely stayed at home or filed a blank ballot).

Second, that the Conservatives over-performed compared to their usual Newham vote share, taking 20% in both Assembly elections and 26% in the mayoral contest. They took 12% against Rokhsana Fiaz in 2018 and around 15% across the two local seats in the 2019 general election. 

Thirdly, the Green Party is clearly the third party in Newham, getting double the votes of the Liberal Democrats.

I’ll post something on voting in each of the 20 local wards later in the week.

Labour holds East Ham Central

13 May

Farah Nazeer election leaflets

Labour easily held its seat in the East Ham Central by-election, with Farah Nazeer returning to the council after an absence of three years. Cllr Nazeer previously represented Little Ilford ward from 2010 to 2018.

The results:

Farah Nazeer – Labour & Co-op – 2,297 (53%)

SK Zakir Hossain – Conservative – 1,288 (30%)

Danny Keeling – Greens – 283 (7%)

Ed Comaromi –  Lib Dems – 239 (6%)

Paul M Jobson – Christian PA – 115 (3%)

Lois Austin – TUSC – 91 (2%)

Turnout: 42.6%

Although Labour’s vote was somewhat down from the 2018 election – despite a higher overall turnout and a wider choice of candidates on the ballot – the party still garnered more than 50% of the vote.

The Conservatives did very well, growing their vote from 509 to 1,288 – a whopping 150% increase. Perhaps the ‘yellow’ referendum campaign helped drive this? Their leaflets, which were distributed across large parts of East Ham, pushed policies on cars and parking charges which were indistinguishable from Shaun Bailey’s. And the local Tory candidate said he would suspend the MiPermit parking scheme. By playing to the grievances of a minority that feels it is not being listened to in the town hall, the ‘yellows’ may have pushed voters towards the party that shared the same outlook.

Neither the Greens nor Lib Dems stood in 2018 and both will probably be quite pleased with their results. The 13% they took between them might well have gone to Labour last time in the absence of any other progressive alternative. Results elsewhere last week will encourage both parties to think they have chances in 2022.

Bringing up the rear, TUSC and the Christians did about as poorly as expected.

East Ham Central is largely unaffected by the boundary changes that will be introduced next year, so Cllr Nazeer will likely be defending the same territory although the name will be a little shorter – just East Ham.

By-election. But not yet.

26 Aug

Julainanne Marriott

Julianne Marriott (left) in her role as education lead

Julianne Marriott has resigned as a councillor for East Ham Central ward. She had announced at a meeting of the Council July that she was standing down as Cabinet member for Education and is now leaving the council altogether.

If a by-election is called to replace her it won’t take place until 6th May 2021, in accordance with the current Coronavirus regulations. So there’s plenty of time for Newham’s political parties to pick their candidates!

Ms Marriott was first elected in 2014 and was re-elected 2018. She will now be devoting herself to a new full-time job. My understanding is that her new role is not politically restricted, so there was no legal requirement for her to resign. She could have sat quietly on the back benches until the next election, collecting the £11,000 a year allowance. That she chose not to is entirely to her credit.

In a farewell note to colleagues she said (emphasis added)

Representing the people of East Ham Central and being part of Newham Council for six years has been an amazing experience and one that I’ve learned so much from. I will forever be a cheerleader for Newham and the role of local government. I can only hope that this Tory Government learns to feel the same way.

The Tories have systematically underfunded and undermined local government over the last 10 years and has now left us with an over £33m bill for supporting our most vulnerable residents through Covid-19. I can only sign off with the exhortation that there is a real enemy out there – and it’s one we need to focus our energy on fighting.

i look forward to seeing you on the doorstep as part of our journey to getting the Labour government Newham’s residents need.

Notice of a casual vacancy has been posted on the council website.

One man, four parties

16 Apr

Albdul Karim Sheikh

Former councillor Abdul Karim Sheikh

Tributes were paid this week to Abdul Karim Sheikh, former councillor and ceremonial mayor of Newham, who has sadly passed away at the age of 82 having contracted Covid-19.

On Twitter Newham Jack (who he?) asked ‘Is he the only person to have stood for election in Newham representing four different political parties?’

While I don’t know the answer to that I can confirm his political career did indeed span standing for four very different parties.

He first stood for the council in Plashet ward in 1986 for the Independent Newham Broad Alliance. He finished in last place with 401 votes.

By 1990 he had joined Labour and was selected to contest Kensington ward, where he romped home with a majority of 1,300. He switched to St Stephens ward in 1994, winning re-election easily. In 1998 he was selected for Upton ward; as no other party put up a candidate the Labour slate was returned unopposed.

2002 saw him stand for the last time on the Labour ticket, this time in Green Street West. He defected to Respect in 2005. 

In an interview with Socialist Worker he explained

The new system of a directly elected mayor, brought in four years ago, has changed the council into a dictatorship. The mayor, Robin Wales, was originally against the mayor plan, but changed his mind after the referendum.

I left the Labour Party and joined Respect last year, partly because I felt councillors were no longer listened to.

The system takes power away from even elected members of the council. That’s why Respect is talking about trying to reverse this system.

Cllr Sheikh was narrowly re-elected in Green Street West for his new party in 2006 alongside Hanif Abdulmuhit, who has since returned to the Labour Party.

He left the council in 2010 after Respect were heavily defeated.

2014 saw him try again in Green Street West. This time for the Conservatives. He was unsuccessful, trailing the winning Labour candidates by more than 1,500 votes. He contested the 2018 election for the Tories again and, completing the circle started 32 years before, he came last.

One man, four parties. Perhaps a unique contribution to local politics.

Election 2019 Results

16 Dec

Stephen Timms, Rokhsana Fiaz and Lyn Brown

No surprises in Newham, as Labour easily held both of the borough’s Parliamentary seats. The party’s share of the vote declined slightly, but neither Stephen Timms nor Lyn Brown will be losing any sleep over that.

East Ham

Stephen Timms (Labour) – 41,703

Scott Pattenden (Conservative) – 8,527

Michael Fox (Liberal Democrat) – 2,158

Alka Sehgal Cuthbert (Brexit Party) – 1,107

Mike Spracklin (Green Party) – 883

Kamran Malik (Communities United Party) – 250

Labour majority of 33,147

 

West Ham

Lyn Brown (Labour) – 42,181

Sara Kumar (Conservative) – 9,793

Eimear O’Casey (Liberal Democrat) – 4,161

Danny Keeling (Green Party) – 1,780

Emma Jane Stockdale (Brexit Party) – 1,679,

Paul Jobson (Christian People’s Alliance) – 463

Humera Kamran (Communities United Party) – 143

Labour majority of 32,388