Tag Archives: Byelection

Forest Gate North results

15 Jul

SeyiAkiwowo 2016 Jul 15

Newly-elected Anamul Islam joins his fellow councillors

The results of yesterday’s by-election in Forest Gate North have been announced:

Candidate Party Votes Percent
Anamul Islam Labour Party 1150 52.5
Elisabeth Whitebread Green Party 681 31.1
John Oxley Conservatives 301 13.8
James Rumsby Liberal Democrats 57 2.6

 Turnout: 21.3%

So congratulations to Anam and commiserations to the other candidates.

To no-one’s great surprise, Labour held the seat comfortably with more than 50% of the vote. But their vote was down about 5% on the 2014 election. Interestingly, another by-election in Islington last night saw a similar decline. Perhaps even at the local level the negative consequences of the current party infighting are being felt.

Although they didn’t win, the Greens will be celebrating too. Second place and 31% of the vote is a terrific performance. They put a lot of energy into the campaign and benefited from having an excellent candidate. 

The Tories fractionally increased their vote, but remain (ha!) a very long way from being contenders in this part of the borough.

The Liberal Democrat candidate withdrew from the contest not long after nominations closed, so it was a surprise to see his name on the ballot paper yesterday. There was no advice at the polling station to let voters know either. In the end it didn’t matter much, but had his vote been greater than the gap between first and second it might have created an interesting challenge for the returning officer.

Conservative candidate selected

20 Jun

West Ham Conservatives have selected John Oxley as their candidate for the Forest Gate North by-election.

They have issued the following statement on their website:

John has lived in Newham for four years. He is a barrister working in family law and has worked with a number of legal charities. If elected, he will work hard to address the problems caused by the council’s neglect of Forest Gate, including the poor state of the roads and fly-tipping. As the only opposition voice on Newham council, he will hold the Mayor and council to account on behalf of the whole borough.

John says “The current council are complacent, and are failing to address the day to day issues in Forest Gate. I will tackle fly-tipping, work to improve the roads and boost facilities for cyclists. A one-party council is bad for the whole borough. As a Conservative opposition, I will fight for better, more cost-effective services and an end to council waste.”

According to his biography on his law firm’s website:

Outside of work, John maintains an interest in the cultural history of Victorian England and the history of dress. He enjoys watching Yorkshire play cricket and endures supporting Sheffield Wednesday FC.

Your by-election candidates

17 Jun

Nominations have closed and the following candidates have been officially announced:

  • Anamul Islam – Labour Party
  • John Oxley – Conservative Party
  • James Rumsby – Liberal Democrats
  • Elisabeth Whitebread – Green Party

The election will be held on Thursday 14th July 2016.

Boleyn result

4 Dec

Boleyn result

Image via @BritainElects

Congratulations to Veronica Oakeshott, the successful Labour candidate, and commiserations to the rest.

A big Labour win was never in doubt, but it is still surprising to see the party increasing its share of the vote, albeit on a very low turnout – just 21% of electors made it to the polls.

But the bigger surprise is the collapse of the Tory vote – down more than 12 percentage points – and the Liberals coming (a very distant) second. Bear in mind that in the 2014 general election the LibDems lost their deposits in both Newham seats and couldn’t even find a paper candidate to put up in the Stratford by-election.

The Greens also did a little better than their 2014 result would have suggested – they polled around 3% in East Ham. I think they’ll be reasonably pleased.

But for UKIP, this is a truly dismal result – though one that will hearten the rest of us. The hard right has never amounted to much in Newham and this continues that happy record.

A bluffer’s guide to Boleyn

9 Nov

Boleyn map


Boleyn ward came into existence in 2002, following a major reorganisation of boundaries in Newham, which reduced the number of wards from 24 to 20. The newly created Boleyn ward was made up from bits of the old Bemersyde, Castle, Central, Greatfield and Plaistow wards.

Greatfield ward, from which the southern part of Boleyn comes, was once a stronghold of the Residents & Ratepayers. They held the ward at every election from 1968 to 1982, when the SDP-Liberal Alliance won. Labour took all three seats in 1986, but lost two of them in 1990 to the Conservatives. The ward went back to Labour in 1994 and stayed that way.

The northern part of Boleyn mostly comes from Castle ward, where Sir Robin Wales first cut his teeth in Newham politics. He was elected there, as plain old ‘Robert A Wales’, in 1982. He replaced ‘Margaret D Brown’, who is better known these days as councillor Dianne Walls OBE.

Although Respect came close to causing an upset in 2006 Labour has won Boleyn ward at every election since it came into existence.

At the 2014 elections there were 9,689 voters on the electoral roll in the ward. Turnout was 44% – slightly above the Newham average – and the three Labour candidates cruised home.

Candidate Party Votes
Obaid Khan Labour 2658
Charity Fiberesima Labour 2505
Harvinder Singh Virdee       Labour 2425
Jamal Uddin Conservative 869
Yasir Asif Conservative 823
Yaseen Farmer Conservative 756
Ben Robinson Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition        342
Barbara Chukwurah Christian Peoples Alliance 270
Stephen Williamson Christian Peoples Alliance 259

Population & Demographics*


  • Total: 15,932
  • Male: 53%
  • Female: 47%
  • Average age (mean): 31
  • Median age: 29


  • Total: 4,928
  • Avg HH size: 3
  • One-person HHs: 24%
  • Deprived HHs: 77%
    • Single deprivation: 37%
    • Multiple deprivation: 40%
  • Owner-occupied: 42%
  • Private rent: 31%
  • Social rent: 26%
  • Overcrowded HHs: 33%


  • Christian: 35%
  • Hindu: 10%
  • Muslim: 40%
  • Other: 3%
  • No religion/not stated: 12%


  • White British: 13%
  • Other white: 9%
  • Asian/British Asian: 55%
  • Black/Black British: 16%
  • Mixed/multiple: 4%
  • Arab/other: 4%

Place of birth:

  • Born in UK: 46%
  • Born in EU (ex. UK): 8%
  • Born other countries: 47%

Time in the UK:

  • In the UK less than 5 years: 35%
  • In the UK 5 – 9 years: 20%
  • In the UK 10 years or more: 45%

Economic activity (16-74 yr olds)

  • Economically active: 49%
    • In employment: 32%
    • Self-employed: 7%
    • Looking for work: 9%
  • Economically inactive: 51%
    • Retired: 23%
    • Looking after home/family: 7%
    • Long-term sick/disabled: 14%
    • Other: 5%
    • Students: 3%

* Based on 2011 Census. Figures may not sum due to rounding.

2015 candidates

Labour’s Veronica Oakeshott is a campaigner for Save the Children UK. She has an MA in political campaigning and was the subject of a brief profile in the Newham Recorder in 2011.

Emmanuel Finndoro-Obasi is chairman (sic) of the East Ham Conservative Association. In the 2014 local elections he stood as one of his party’s candidates in Beckton, finishing sixth.

David Mears was UKIP’s candidate for mayor in 2014, when he came third with just over 6% of the vote. Three months later he stood as the party’s candidate in the Beckton by-election and again he came third, this time with 11%.

Diane Ofori is an independent film and TV producer. Her showreel on YouTube includes an election broadcast for the Christian Party.

Green party candidate Frankie-Rose Taylor describes herself in her Twitter bio as a ’22 year old actor, feminist and sunshine child.’ She is a leading member of the BoleynDev100 campaign, which is calling for 100% social housing on the Boleyn Ground site, which will be redeveloped after West Ham United move out next summer.

Sheree Miller is the Liberal Democrats’ candidate. She lives in Plaistow and works as a Customer Experience Manager at the Barbican Centre.

The issues

Housing. Housing. Housing.

Look at the map. The Boleyn Ground stands at the heart of the ward. The 850 ‘luxury homes’ to be built there will have a huge impact on the character of the area. Even the small number of allegedly ‘affordable’ shared ownership homes will be far beyond the reach of local people. Labour will claim it’s pushing hard to get a better deal from Gailiard Homes, the developers, and will cite the last minute ‘offer’ (details unspecified) that led to the strategic planning committee deferring its decision last month.

But their opponents will hammer the council’s dismal record of failing to stand up to greedy developers. And the fact that the only homes Newham is building itself, via its Red Door Ventures business, are for private rent – at market rates ‘starting at’ £1500 a month for a 2-bed flat.

Byelection update

7 Apr

The Stratford and New Town by-election, caused by a combination of malice and incompetence among Newham’s Labour leadership, will be held on Thursday 7th May – the same day as the general election.

If you’re interested in standing:

Nomination papers must be delivered to the Returning Officer, Town Hall, Barking Road, London, E6 2RP on any day after the date of this notice, on Monday to Friday 9.30 a.m. to 5 pm (excluding bank holidays) but no later than 4 pm on Thursday, 9th April 2015.

So far Labour have confirmed that Charlene McLean will be their candidate to recapture the seat they took off her last month and the Conservatives have selected Matthew Gass. He stood in the same ward last May and came fourth (behind the three Labour nominees) with 777 votes. 

The newly-resurgent Newham Green Party are due to announce their candidate this week. I’ve heard nothing from the other parties.

UPDATE (8 April): The Greens have announced their candidate:

Isabelle Anderson, 29, is Newham Green Party’s candidate for Stratford and New Town. 

Anderson’s family moved to Newham when she was 12 years old from South West London. She now lives in Stratford and New Town with her partner and their son.

“As a young family with a modest income we struggle with the spiralling cost of housing. I believe that Newham Council should be working harder to provide decent affordable homes for all. Newham Council’s failure to provide sufficient social housing pushes vulnerable people out of London and breaks up families and communities. By electing me as your councillor for Stratford and New Town you will ensure that Labour’s unwillingness to stand up for the vulnerable and the marginalised will not go unchallenged.

“The Green Party offers a real alternative – a party that fights inequality and prioritises the needs of the many above the profit of the few. If I am elected I will campaign for social housing; for measures to improve the toxic air quality that kills 4000 Londoners a year; and for community initiatives that will address social issues such as crime, inequality, unemployment and poverty, and improve wellbeing.”

Maternity blues

23 Mar

More embarrassment has been heaped on the mayor and his fellow councillors over the expulsion of Charlene McLean.

The Evening Standard covered the story under the headline Councillor ‘dumped’ from authority over time off after giving birth prematurely.

The story says local party members are outraged and quotes one ‘angry member’:

“This is a working class mother who had time off during a very difficult pregnancy and was then caring for an unwell, premature baby.

“Despite that, she was injudiciously dumped from the council. Charlene is a dedicated Labour member committed to her residents but not seen as a leadership loyalist. That’s valuable on a council with no opposition.”

The normally supine Newham Recorder also got in on the act, headlining their story New mum dropped as Stratford councillor in maternity leave dispute.

Both stories include the council’s claim that then-councillor McLean was misadvised by an unnamed officer and that neither senior officials nor the executive were aware of this.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Newham Council said: “In this case, an officer provided incorrect information to another member regarding statutory maternity leave and it appears this advice was passed on to Ms McLean.

“Neither the council’s executive or the council’s monitoring officer were aware that incorrect information had been provided to Ms McLean.

“Had the council officer or Ms McLean informed the monitoring officer or the council’s executive, steps would have been taken to agree an extended period of absence for Ms McLean.”

But documents released under the Freedom of Information Act throw this claim into dispute. Mike Law asked last year for details of the amount of individual casework allocated to councillors between June and September. The reply he got in October includes this:

McLean Maternity Leave 1 

He then asked a follow up about case work in October, November and December. That was answered last week:

McLean maternity leave 2

The information governance team knew she was on maternity leave, but we are supposed to believe Sir Robin and none of his executive did.

One of Charlene McLean’s fellow councillors in Stratford & New Town is Richard Crawford. Aside from being a long-standing friend and drinking buddy of Sir Robin’s he is also the full-time, 5-days-a-week mayoral advisor on ‘resident experience’. Odd that he either never noticed Cllr McLean’s absence nor thought to mention it.

Equally odd is that the other councillor who was on maternity leave at the same time had the fact announced on her profile page on the council website:

McLean maternity leave 3

Both of Farah Nazeer’s fellow ward councillors are members of Sir Robin’s inner circle of full-time advisors. They knew she was pregnant and was on maternity leave, but apparently failed to spot Charlene McLean was in the same condition.

The council’s executive are not the only ones who were selectively inattentive. I am told Labour chief whip Steve Brayshaw called two other councillors in – Sheila Thomas and Amajit Singh – to make sure they remained legal whilst ignoring Charlene McLean’s absence.

There is something deeply rotten in the state of Newham Labour. Claims of mayoral and executive ignorance are transparently an attempt to cover that up.

The Casual Vacancy

20 Mar

Charlene McLean

There is going to be a council by-election in Stratford & New Town ward.

Charlene McLean has been removed from office under section 85 of the Local Government Act 1972: 

if a member of a local authority fails throughout a period of six consecutive months from the date of his last attendance to attend any meeting of the authority, he shall, unless the failure was due to some reason approved by the authority before the expiry of that period, cease to be a member of the authority. [emphasis added]

The circumstances in which the by-election has been triggered and the timing – so close to the general election – reflect very badly on the leadership of Newham Labour party, which has done nothing to support a young mother in exceptionally difficult circumstances.

As (now ex) councillor McLean explained in a letter sent to all ward members last week, before her removal was confirmed:

Last August, I gave birth to my baby daughter Esme two months prematurely. Prior to that I had to go on sick leave due to serious pregnancy complications, which risked both my life and that of my baby. Following her birth, I spent over three months monitoring her care at the specialist neonatal intensive care unit at the Royal London Hospital, and then at Newham General. Once she was allowed home, I had to provide specialist care for her, which required my full and uninterrupted focus. 

That is why I believe that what has happened to me warrants a full and urgent discussion among Council Members concerning the Council’s maternity leave policy for expectant Members, and those who have become new parents. 

As you can imagine to now have to deal with this situation is agonising, but with the support of Ward Members, my fellow Councillor colleagues, Terry and Richard, and the wider Newham Labour Party; I am hoping that I can come through this. 

I am in the process of discussing next steps with the national Labour Party and London Region, as well as the Chief Whip of Group, if a by-election has to be called because of the mistakes made by the Council. As such, I do intend to seek selection as the Labour Party Candidate for Stratford and New Town ward if such a situation arises. 

Charlene McLean was led to believe she was on approved leave – as the Local Government Act allows – but she wasn’t. And no-one bothered to tell her.

Although she points the finger at poor advice from unelected officers, the real culprits are her own comrades. The mayor, the Labour group chair, the chief whip and other leading councillors knew what was going on and did nothing. 

I am old enough to remember a time when Labour whips in parliament carried dying MPs through the lobbies on stretchers to ensure the government survived. This lot couldn’t be bothered to organise a babysitter and a taxi.

Backbench councillors and ordinary members need to ask why not. If Labour chief whip Steve Brayshaw doesn’t offer his resignation, councillors should demand it. Others within the leadership group need to take a long hard look at themselves too.

A borough as diverse as Newham needs a council made up of people from a wide range of backgrounds and at different stages in their lives, not just middle-aged men. The council has a moral responsibility to ensure that people are not excluded from taking part just because they are starting a family.

But as it is led by a mayor who thinks it’s okay for his Equalities lead to do her work unpaid that is not a priority in Newham.

Members in Stratford ward passed a motion last week calling for Charlene McLean to be immediately reselected as their candidate.

Last night, on direct instruction from Labour’s London regional office, the Newham local campaign forum voted unanimously to do just that. It is overwhelmingly likely she will be back on the council before the end of April.

Nonetheless, local Labour party members are furious. Or as one person put it to me, they are “going fucking mental.” They’ll have to spend time and resources fighting a council by-election when they should be out campaigning for the general election. Nearby Ilford North is a key Tory-held marginal. If Ed Miliband wants to be prime minister it’s a seat Labour must win.

They also know how embarrassing this is. Residents are being asked to go to the polls two weeks before the general election to re-elect a councillor they only voted into office 10 months ago. All because the overwhelmingly white and exclusively male cabal at the top of Newham Labour party failed to support a young working class black woman facing immense personal difficulties.

It would be harsh on Charlene McLean but if voters decided to punish Newham Labour for this, who could blame them?