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Counting cock-up

11 Oct

Newham council has been forced to correct the results from the May elections in three wards after mistakes were made in tabulating the counted votes.

The error was spotted by a Green Party election agent, who filed a complaint. The subsequent investigation involved the Electoral Commission.

Hundreds of votes were incorrectly attributed to the wrong candidates, but the mistake did not affect the overall outcome of the elections – the right people were declared the winners.

The issue arose where candidates who had used a ‘commonly used’ surname on the ballot paper. By law, the ballot paper must put candidates in alphabetical order of commonly used surnames. Then once the votes were counted, they are transferred onto the declaration of results. However, the declaration of results (and supporting declaration sheet) must place the candidates in order by legal surname. This can change the order of the candidates between the ballot paper and declaration where the surnames are different. In Stratford and NewTown, the Green candidate appeared on the ballot paper as Rachel Collinson and on the declaration sheet as Rachel Nunson. As a result her name was lower on the declaration sheet than the ballot paper.

When officials transferred the number of ‘split votes’ (where voters hadn’t cast all of their votes for the same party) on to the declaration sheet they failed to account for the changed positions and attributed votes to the wrong candidates.

As a result the Green candidates in two wards had their results significantly under-reported. In Stratford and New Town, Labour’s Josh Garfield was deprived of over 800 votes. Conservative, Christian and Liberal Democrat candidates were each reported as receiving hundreds more votes than were actually cast for them. 

Nate Higgins, who was a Green Party candidate in Forest Gate North, said 

“The truth is that though the council’s incompetence, there is now doubt in the entire foundation our democracy is based on. This only came out through the hard work of a local Green activist. Greens are holding the Labour one party state in Newham to account even before we’ve been elected to the council. It’s time for Greens to do it from within the council chamber. If they’ve bungled something as important and serious as our elections, what else have they screwed up?”

The correct results, and the variance from the originally published totals, are shown below:

Stratford and New Town

Candidate Party Original Revised Change
Gareth Benjamin Evans Liberal Democrat 1478 1195 -283
John Falana Christian Peoples Alliance 734 172 -562
Joshua Isaac Daniel Garfield Labour 2481 3288 807
Andrius Kavaliauskas Conservative 1341 642 -699
Sheree Venessa Miller Liberal Democrat 741 848 107
Rachel Anne Collinson Green 387 1017 630
Nareser Osei Labour 2970 2970 0
John Milton Oxley Conservative 639 635 -4
Terence Matthew Paul Labour 2821 2825 4
James Alan Rumsby Liberal Democrat 790 790 0
Shardi Claire Shameli Conservative 529 529 0
Esther Smith Christian Peoples Alliance 136 136 0

Beckton

Candidate Party Original Revised Change
Syed Hussain Ahmed Independent 598 598 0
James Edward Asser Labour 1722 1722 0
Ayesha Chowdhury Labour 1717 1717 0
Chike Dunkwu Christian Peoples Alliance 142 142 0
Emmanuel Finndoro-Obasi Conservative 454 296 -158
Joshua Darren Lindl Conservative 635 454 -181
Jane Alison Lithgow Green 152 428 276
Constance Nasmyth Conservative 296 359 63
Alice Olaiya Christian Peoples Alliance 144 144 0
June Taylor Christian Peoples Alliance 193 193 0
Tonii Wilson Labour 1445 1445 0

Green Street West

Candidate Party Original Revised Change
Hanif Abdulmuhit Labour 2991 2991 0
Muhammad N. Chishti Conservative 696 696 0
Mushtaq Hussain Labour 2715 2715 0
Mumtaz Khan Labour 2591 2591 0
Abdul Karim Sheikh Conservative 611 709 98
Kamran Yousaf [Qureshi] Conservative 709 611 -98
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New parliamentary constituencies – again

10 Sep

Stop me if you’ve heard this before…

As part of the government’s drive to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and make parliamentary constituencies more equally sized, the Boundary Commission has now published it’s final recommendations.

At the moment there are two seats in Newham – East Ham and West Ham. Each contains 10 of the 20 wards in the borough. But both seats are very large – in fact West Ham is the largest in London, with more than 80,000 voters. By contrast, the Kensington seat has only 55,000.

The Boundary Commission’s recommendation divides Newham between four seats, ripping apart West Ham and dividing it the bulk of it between three new constituencies. East Ham loses a couple of wards to a new seat, but gains Green Street West.

The exact make-up of the new constituencies, with wards, boroughs and current voters:

Poplar and Canning Town

Canning Town North Newham 8,333
Canning Town South Newham 8,543
Custom House Newham  6,971
Plaistow North Newham 8,215
Plaistow South Newham 8,290
Blackwall & Cubitt Town  Tower Hamlets 7,284  
Canary Wharf Tower Hamlets 6,517
Island Gardens Tower Hamlets 7,220
Lansbury Tower Hamlets 9,623
Limehouse Tower Hamlets 3,659
Poplar Tower Hamlets 3,418
  Total 78,073

East Ham

Boleyn Newham 8,696
East Ham Central Newham 8,867
East Ham North Newham 8,682
East Ham South Newham 8,347
Green Street East Newham 8,875
Green Street West Newham  8,752
Little Ilford Newham 8,873 
Manor Park Newham 8,636
Wall End Newham 8,418
  Total 78,146

Leyton and Stratford

Forest Gate North Newham 8,392
Forest Gate South Newham 8,862
Stratford & New Town Newham 12,471
West Ham Newham 8,073
Cann Hall Waltham Forest 6,921
Cathall  Waltham Forest 6,515 
Grove Green Waltham Forest 7,387
Leyton Waltham Forest 8,067 
Leytonstone Waltham Forest 7,691 
  Total 74,379

Barking and Beckton

Abbey  Barking & Dagenham 7,039 
Becontree Barking & Dagenham 7,631 
Eastbury  Barking & Dagenham 6,652 
Gascoigne  Barking & Dagenham 5,598 
Goresbrook  Barking & Dagenham 6,637 
Longbridge Barking & Dagenham 7,599 
Mayesbrook  Barking & Dagenham 6,013 
Parsloes  Barking & Dagenham 5,836 
Thames  Barking & Dagenham 6,625 
Beckton  Newham 7,335 
Royal Docks  Newham 6,081 
  Total 73,046

These recommendations now go to parliament. If they’re approved, the next general election will be fought on these boundaries.

Newham and the IHRA

4 Sep

No-one can accuse Newham council of not being ahead of the curve. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance ‘working definition of antisemitism’ was debated in September of last year. And, as with the national Labour Party now, there was disagreement about the 11 illustrative examples. A motion to adopt the definition in full, with all examples, was proposed by Cllr Clive Furness and seconded by Terry Paul.

Concerns about free speech and the ability to criticise Israel were raised in Labour Group and I am told there was a “left faction” led by Cllr Anam Islam who claimed many Muslim voters were ‘troubled’. There was another group, led by Rokshana Fiaz, then a backbench councillor, who championed the removal of the examples in order to maintain group cohesion. That argument won the day.

An amendment was put at council – and accepted by the proposers – that removed all 11 examples and made some other minor adjustments to the text. 

The amended motion was unanimously agreed by Council (reproduced below exactly as it appears in the minutes):

This council notes: 

This Council expresses alarm at the rise in antisemitism in recent years across the UK. This includes incidents when criticism of Israel has been expressed using anti-Semitic tropes. Criticism of Israel can be legitimate, but not if it employs the tropes and imagery of antisemitism.

This Council therefore welcomes the UK Government’s announcement on December 11th 2016 that it will adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, making Britain one of the first countries in the world to adopt it. This definition has also been adopted by the Labour Party and featured in the Labour Party’s Race and Faith Manifesto (page 12) published during the 2017 General Election. The IHRA definition defines antisemitism as thus:

This Council notes that:

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries). Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.

Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.

This Council welcomes support within the Council for combating antisemitism in all its manifestations.

This Council hereby resolves to adopt the above definition of antisemitism as set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and pledges to combat this pernicious form of racism through awareness raising and education; and through engagement with the range of Jewish opinion on how best to address antisemitism in addition with all communities that live in Newham.

This Council also condemns all forms of racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia and sexism and on-line abuse and we commit to fighting against them.

Gaining Momentum

22 Aug

Newham Momentum members with Chris Williamson MP

Newham Momentum members with Chris Williamson MP in Ilford

Chris Williamson MP will be in Forest Gate next month to address the Newham branch of Momentum, as part of his Democracy Roadshow. Although ostensibly a call for mandatory re-selection of all Labour MPs, these ‘road show’ events are mostly being held in constituencies held by MPs on the centre left of the party, leading them to be dubbed by some as the ‘Deselection Roadshow.’ 

Earlier this month Williamson spoke in Ilford, whose two MPs – Mike Gapes and Wes Streeting – are noted Corbyn-sceptics. A number of Newham Momentum members attended, including the chair of the council’s Labour Group, Cllr Suga Thekkeppurayil and former councillor Obaid Khan. This resulted in the invitation to for Williamson to come to Newham. I wonder what Lyn Brown and Stephen Timms make of that?

The Derby MP previously courted controversy by suggesting that Labour MPs who agreed with Theresa May that Russia was behind the Salisbury poisonings were as much “political enemies” as the Tories. He suggested they should face de-selection (are you sensing a pattern here?). He has also shared a platform with Marc Wadsworth, who was expelled from the Labour party for haranguing Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth at the launch of the party’s anti-Semitism review in 2016.

Yesterday the Huffington Post reported:

A Labour MP has said it was a “privilege” to meet and listen to a talk by a controversial pro-Assad blogger, who has previously described murdered MP Jo Cox as a “warmongering Al Qaeda advocate”.

Vanessa Beeley made the comment in a tweet almost a year after Cox’s death, and has also written that “Zionists rule France”.

… She has written that the White Helmets, the volunteer group that rescues people from the rubble of Syria’s civil war, is a terrorist-linked organisation that fakes its activities to elicit sympathy in the West for a regime change plot against Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad.

Who you appear on a platform with and how their views then attach to you is a hot topic right now. Might councillors who are now so publicly embracing Chris Williamson come to regret it? It’s not just MPs who can find themselves in a re-selection battle.

Your 2018 candidates

11 Apr

Mayor of Newham

  • Rahima Khan, Conservative
  • Rokhsana Fiaz, Labour & Co-operative
  • Gareth Evans, Liberal Democrat
  • Chishala Kumalinga, Christian Peoples Alliance
  • Daniel Oxley, Democrats and Veterans Party

Council

Beckton

  • James Asser, Labour
  • Ayesha Chowdhury, Labour
  • Tonii Wilson, Labour
  • Joshua Lindl, Conservative
  • Conny Naysmith, Conservative
  • Emmanuel Obasi, Conservative
  • Jane Lithgow, Green Party
  • Syed Ahmed, Independent
  • Chike Dunkwu, Christian Peoples Alliance
  • Alice Olaiya, Christian Peoples Alliance
  • June Taylor, Christian Peoples Alliance

Boleyn

  • Genevieve Kitchen, Labour
  • Veronica Oakeshott, Labour
  • Harvinder Singh Virdee, Labour
  • Fazlul Karim, Conservative
  • Khatija Meaby,Conservative
  • Sayadur Rahman, Conservative
  • Helen Lynch, Green Party

East Ham South

  • Susan Masters, Labour
  • Quintin Peppiatt, Labour
  • Lakmini Shah, Labour
  • Syed Kabir, Conservative 
  • Aidan Langley, Conservative 
  • Mostafizur Rahman, Conservative 
  • Mary Finch, Trade Union & Socialist Coalition 

East Ham Central

  • Julianne Marriott, Labour & Co-operative
  • Aisha Siddiquah, Labour & Co-operative
  • Sugathan Thekkeppurayil, Labour & Co-operative
  • Rafeh Ahmed, Conservative 
  • Bishwajit Bal, Conservative 
  • Sabir Banglawala, Conservative 
  • Dominic Anthony, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Roja Chika, Christian Peoples Alliance 

East Ham North

  • Daniel Blaney, Labour
  • Zuber Gulamussen, Labour
  • Firoza Ahmed Nekiwala, Labour
  • Mohammed Azharuddin, Conservative
  • Durai Kannan, Conservative
  • Ilyas Sharif, Conservative
  • Naveed Akbar, Liberal Democrat

Green Street East

  • Muhammad Ali, Labour
  • Nilufa Jahan, Labour
  • Muzibur Rahman, Labour
  • Matthew Kinghorn, Conservative 
  • Kirankumar Patel, Conservative 
  • Mohammed Anisur Rahman, Conservative 

Little Ilford

  • Nazir Ahmed, Labour
  • Pushpa Makwana, Labour
  • Riaz Mirza, Labour
  • Ravindrareddy Nandivelugu, Conservative 
  • Zillor Rahman Mannan, Conservative 
  • Uddin Kashem, Conservative 

Manor Park

  • Ken Clark, Labour
  • Mariam Dawood, Labour
  • Salim Patel, Labour
  • Ibrahim Amanji, Conservative
  • Afzal Hossain, Conservative 
  • Nasima Khatun, Conservative 
  • Derek Jackson, Green Party
  • Michael German, Liberal Democrat

Royal Docks

  • Steve Brayshaw, Labour
  • Anthony McAlmont, Labour
  • Patrick Murphy, Labour
  • Mary Antwi, Conservative 
  • Charles Meaby, Conservative 
  • Attic Rahman, Conservative 
  • Tahir Saiyed, Liberal Democrat
  • Keith Murray, Independent
  • Ethel Odiete, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • James Ivens, Trade Union & Socialist Coalition

Wall End

  • Jennifer Bailey, Labour
  • Omana Gangadharan, Labour
  • Lester Hudson, Labour
  • Mohammed Ali, Conservative 
  • Mufti Islam, Conservative 
  • Masbah Khan, Conservative 
  • Amalraj Kakumanu, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Shashir Kakumanu, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Hannah Sell,  Trade Union & Socialist Coalition

Canning Town North

  • Ann Easter, Labour
  • Shaban Mohammed, Labour
  • Delphine Tohoure, Labour
  • Ahmed Faqai, Conservative 
  • Maxwell Marah, Conservative 
  • Rachel Nabudde, Conservative 
  • Alan Craig, UKIP
  • Stuart Goodwin, UKIP
  • Chishala Kumalinga, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Bapu Rani, Christian Peoples Alliance 

Canning Town South

  • Rohit Dasgupta, Labour & Co-operative
  • Alan Griffiths, Labour & Co-operative
  • Belgica Guana, Labour & Co-operative
  • Marc Pooler, Conservative 
  • Mark Seymour, Conservative 
  • Mahyar Tousi, Conservative 
  • Danny Keeling, Green Party
  • Caroline Carey, Liberal Democrats
  • Myrtle Laing, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Prossy Namwanje, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Sharmila Swarna, Christian Peoples Alliance 

Custom House

  • James Beckles, Labour
  • Patricia Holland, Labour
  • Sarah Ruiz, Labour
  • Nicole Garrett, Conservative 
  • Akram Mwanga, Conservative 
  • Tim Roll-Pickering, Conservative 
  • Paul Banjoko, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Cynthia Owusu-Addai, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Kay McKenzie, Democrats and Veterans Party
  • Daniel Oxley, Democrats and Veterans Party

Forest Gate North

  • Sasha Das Gupta, Labour & Co-operative
  • Anam Islam, Labour & Co-operative
  • Rachel Tripp, Labour & Co-operative
  • Abdul Chowdhury, Conservative 
  • Ariful Islam, Conservative 
  • Brian Maze, Conservative 
  • Nate Higgins, Green Party
  • Michael Spracklin, Green Party
  • Frankie-Rose Taylor, Green Party
  • Christian Moon, Liberal Democrats

Forest Gate South

  • Mas Patel, Labour
  • Tahmina Rahman, Labour
  • Winston Vaughan, Labour
  • Matthew Edwards, Conservative 
  • Olenka Gradosielska, Conservative 
  • Shaeb Khan, Conservative 
  • Hugh Barnard, Green Party
  • Michael Fox, Liberal Democrats
  • Madeleine Haysey, Liberal Democrats
  • James Jones, Liberal Democrats 
  • Lois Austin, Trade Union & Socialist Coalition

Green Street West

  • Hanif Abdulmuhit, Labour
  • Mushtaq Hussain, Labour
  • Mumtaz Khan, Labour
  • Muhammad Chishti, Conservative 
  • Kamran Qureshi, Conservative 
  • Abdul Sheikh, Conservative 

Plaistow North

  • Zulfiqa Ali, Labour
  • Joy Laguda, Labour
  • Daniel Lee-Phakoe, Labour
  • Fokoruddin Ahmed, Conservative
  • Aimee Alado, Conservative 
  • Walye Jahedi, Conservative 
  • Alexander Fisher, Liberal Democrats
  • Paul Jobson, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Winky Newman, Christian Peoples Alliance 

Plaistow South

  • Carleene Lee-Phakoe, Labour 
  • Jane Lofthouse, Labour 
  • Neil Wilson, Labour
  • Farhana Firdous, Conservative 
  • Nazrul Islam, Conservative 
  • Rois Miah, Conservative 
  • Edward Lynch, Green Party
  • James Raymond, Liberal Democrat
  • Flora Amar, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Earna Gibson, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Hugh Robertson, Communist League

Stratford and New Town

  • Joshua Garfield, Labour
  • Nareser Natalie Osei, Labour
  • Terry Paul, Labour
  • Andrius Kavalaiauskas, Conservative 
  • John Oxley, Conservative 
  • Shardi Shameli, Conservative 
  • Rachel Collinson, Green Party
  • Gareth Evans, Liberal Democrats
  • Sheree Miller, Liberal Democrats
  • James Rumsby, Liberal Democrats
  • John Falana, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Esther Smith, Christian Peoples Alliance 

West Ham

  • John Gray, Labour & Co-operative
  • Charlene McLean, Labour & Co-operative
  • John Whitworth, Labour & Co-operative
  • Abul Abdullah, Conservative 
  • Thomas Barber, Conservative 
  • Natalie Pendrous, Conservative 
  • Kenneth Lyle, Green Party
  • Alexander Tuppen, Liberal Democrats
  • Sheila Brown, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Barbara Chukwarah, Christian Peoples Alliance 
  • Dieutane Parson, Christian Peoples Alliance 

Compared to 2014

Party 2014 2018 Change
Labour 60 60 0
Conservative 60 60 0
Christian Peoples  Alliance 55 24 -31
Liberal Democrats 11 14 3
TUSC 8 4 -4
UKIP 7 2 -5
Independent 3 2 -1
Green Party 2 11 9
Communist 1 1 0
Communities United 1 0 -1
Democrats & Veterans 2 2
Total 208 180 -28

Green candidate announced

4 Apr

Green mayoral candidate Chidi

The Green Party has announced its candidate for Mayor of Newham, Chidi Oti-Obihara.

According to the local party website, he

… lives in Beckton and became a member of the Green Party while working with us on our investigations into Newham Council’s mis-sold Lender Option, Borrower Option (‘LOBO’) loans.

Previously an Investment Banker, Chidi turned whistle-blower in 2007 and testified to Parliament about the practices he’d witnessed and been bullied for not colluding with. He now works as an independent financial consultant.

Chidi Oti-Obihara was the party’s candidate for East Ham at last year’s general election.

He joins Labour’s Rokhsana Fiaz, Conservative Rahima Khan and Liberal Democrat Gareth Evans on the ballot.

UPDATE (9 April 2018):

Newham Green Party has announced that it will not be proceeding with a mayoral nomination:

“A number of factors led to our decision, including the fact that Chidi’s caring responsibilities meant that he couldn’t dedicate the time to it that he wanted, as well as our not wanting to stand in the way of a Labour candidate who has consistently opposed the current mayor and his financial scandals and dictatorial style.”

Finally…

4 Apr

The last remaining places on Labour’s slate of candidates for the local elections next month have been filled.

With the deadline for nominations to be submitted looming on Friday, the party imposed three candidates in Plaistow South and one in Custom House to replace Rokhsana Fiaz who is now the mayoral candidate.

Plaistow South

  • Neil Wilson
  • Rohima Rahman
  • Carleene Lee-Phakoe

Custom House

  • Sarah Ruiz

Neil Wilson is a sitting councillor for Plaistow South and Rohima Rahman is councillor for Green Street East ward. Her selection is a bit of a surprise, as she’s been on ‘administrative suspension’ from the Labour Party since late 2015. Her suspension made her ineligible for selection in the original process, so it being lifted now is a happy coincidence of timing for her.

The other Plaistow South candidate is the wife of Daniel Lee-Phakoe, the locksmith who featured recently in the Newham Mag and is standing in Plaistow North.

Sarah Ruiz was previously elected three times as a Labour councillor in 1995, ’98 and 2002, but lost her seat in 2006 standing as a Respect candidate.

UPDATE (5 April 2018)

Not so finally after all…

Last night, after nomination papers had been signed and campaign photos taken, Rohima Rahman received an email informing her that she had been re-suspended from the Labour Party. A replacement candidate, Jane Lofthouse, has been imposed instead.

The whole Plaistow South thing is a bit of a farce. The original selection was abandoned after members refused to accept the only two women left on the long list. The party invited fresh applications and had time to organise a proper selection, but for some reason this didn’t happen. They failed to communicate with the branch and left potential candidates in the dark about what was going on. If they’d simply put a few more women on the approved candidate list in the first place they could have avoided the whole thing.