Tag Archives: local elections

Choices, choices

15 Oct

The much-anticipated referendum on the future governance of the borough is going to happen next May. 

Rokhsana Fiaz confirmed her commitment to this in an interview with the OnLondon blog, saying it would enable her to honour her manifesto pledge that a referendum would be held “before the end of my third year as Mayor.” 

Local authority governance referendums must offer voters a choice between the area’s existing model – in Newham’s case, the directly elected mayor – and one government-approved alternative. After the Democracy and Civic Participation Commission failed to recommend what that should be, a working party of Newham Council Labour group members convened to consider the options. Their findings were due to be voted on by Labour group last night. Whatever was agreed will  go forward for formal determination at the next full council meeting on 23 October.

So what are the options?

The so-called ‘People’s Petition’ campaign, which was run by a company based out of the house of Labour councillor Suga Thekkeppurayil and promoted by East Ham Labour chair Tahir Mirza, wanted the Leader and Cabinet model. This is sometimes also called the ‘Strong Leader’ model. Under this arrangement the council leader has powers similar to those of a directly elected mayor, but instead of being elected by the voters he or she is appointed by councillors from among their own number. The leader serves for four years, unless removed by a vote of no confidence by full council.

Executive power is held by the leader and the cabinet they appoint, with other councillors having little or no influence (does that sound familiar?)

This is arguably less democratic than the current situation. Now, party members – Labour, Conservatives, Greens and Lib Dems – across the borough select their candidates and the voters make their choice. Under the ‘strong leader’ model, only councillors get a say and the winner is whoever is backed by the largest faction within their political group. Assuming Labour retains 100% of the seats in 2022, just 34 councillors out of 66 will decide who’s in charge.

In Croydon, campaigners want a referendum to switch from this kind of ‘strong leader’ to a directly elected mayor. They argue that a mayor elected by the people will be more attentive to the needs of voters across the whole borough and more accountable. Perhaps in a borough that has a clear Labour/Tory split that will prove to be the case; in one-party Newham, it certainly wasn’t.

The other option is the committee system. Councils run on this model make most decisions in committees, which must be balanced according to the size of each party in the Council (not a huge issue in Newham right now). The Council Leader is appointed by full Council, but has no executive powers and the chairs of the committees are elected by the councillors. 

Campaigners in Sheffield are organising a petition to move away from the ‘strong leader’ model to a ‘modern committee system’. They say the current model excludes the majority of councillors from decision-making, asking “What is the point of voting if your councillor has no power?” They argue that a committee-based system will empower all councillors to do the job voters elect them to do. Councillors will have to work together to make decisions and cooperate to do the best for the city.

This option removes the idea of a ‘strong leader’ – be that a directly elected mayor or a council leader – and requires councillors to do the work collaboratively. Perhaps most importantly in Newham, it requires all councillors to do some work.

We will know in a week or so which alternative to the current model we can choose. 

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

Outgunned

16 Apr

Yesterday in Canning Town South…

Labour & Co-op Party canvassersTory party canvassers

The Co-op Party’s first ever canvass in Newham drew a rather larger group of campaigners than the Conservatives managed.

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.”

Newham council 2018 -22 (probably)

26 Feb

Forest Gate North candidates and supporters

The Forest Gate North candidates and their supporters

Over the past two weekends Labour members in Newham have been selecting the 60 candidates that will contest May’s local elections. Given the party’s massive polling lead across London and the expectation it will be taking control of true blue Tory boroughs like Wandsworth, the prospect of losing even a single seat in ultra-safe Newham is extremely remote.

One ward, Plaistow South, failed to select any candidates after members rejected both women on the shortlist. The meeting will have to be re-convened.

So here are 57 of the 60 people who will (almost certainly) be your councillors for the next four years:

(* = sitting councillor for the same ward; ** = current councillor for a different ward)

East Ham

Beckton

  • James Asser
  • Ayesha Chowdhury*
  • Tonii Wilson*

Boleyn

  • Genevieve Kitchen
  • Veronica Oakeshott*
  • Harvinder Singh Virdee*

East Ham South

  • Susan Masters*
  • Quintin Peppiatt*
  • Lakmini Shah*

East Ham Central

  • Julianne Marriott*
  • Aisha Siddiquah
  • Sugathan Thekkeppurayil

East Ham North

  • Daniel Blaney
  • Zuber Gulamussen*
  • Firoza Ahmed Nekiwala*

Green Street East

  • Muhammad Ali
  • Nilufa Jahan
  • Muzibur Rahman

Little Ilford

  • Nazir Ahmed
  • Pushpa Makwana
  • Riaz Mirza

Manor Park

  • Ken Clark**
  • Mariam Dawood
  • Salim Patel*

Royal Docks

  • Steve Brayshaw*
  • Anthony McAlmont*
  • Patrick Murphy*

Wall End

  • Jennifer Bailey
  • Omana Gangadharan
  • Lester Hudson*

West Ham

Canning Town North

  • Ann Easter*
  • Shaban Mohammed
  • Delphine Tohoure

Canning Town South

  • Rohit Dasgupta
  • Alan Griffiths*
  • Belgica Guana

Custom House

  • James Beckles**
  • Rokhsana Fiaz*
  • Patricia Holland*

Forest Gate North

  • Sasha Das Gupta
  • Anam Islam*
  • Rachel Tripp*

Forest Gate South

  • Mas Patel*
  • Tahmina Rahman**
  • Winston Vaughan*

Green Street West

  • Hanif Abdulmuhit*
  • Mushtaq Hussain
  • Mumtaz Khan

Plaistow North

  • Zulfiqa Ali
  • Joy Laguda*
  • Daniel Lee-Phakoe

Plaistow South

  • Selection suspended

Stratford and New Town

  • Joshua Garfield
  • Nareser Natalie Osei
  • Terry Paul*

West Ham

  • John Gray*
  • Charlene McLean**
  • John Whitworth*

A number of sitting councillors are seeking re-selection but have so far not secured a position (with only Plaistow South still to be resolved):

  • Aleen Alarice (sitting councillor in Plaistow South)
  • Jose Alexander
  • Andrew Baikie
  • Clive Furness
  • Idris Ibrahim
  • Mukesh Patel
  • Paul Duraisamy Sathianesan
  • Neil Wilson (sitting councillor in Plaistow South)

In addition, a large number of councillors decided step down this year, including three who were ineligible due to suspension:

  • Seyi Akiwowo
  • Freda Bourne
  • David Christie
  • Frances Clarke
  • Bryan Collier
  • Ian Corbett
  • Jo Corbett
  • Richard Crawford
  • Unmesh Desai
  • Forhad Hussain
  • Obaid Khan
  • Conor McAuley
  • Ahmed Noor
  • Rohima Rahman
  • Kay Scoresby
  • Amarjit Singh
  • Ted Sparrowhawk
  • Sheila Thomas
  • Dianne Walls

Manifesto, what manifesto?

28 Apr

Manifesto meeting

So if Sir Robin was able to tell Labour members back in February what would be in the party manifesto for the local elections, why are voters still being kept in the dark?

With less than a month to go to polling day there’s no sign of it on the Newham Labour website. Where is it?

Sir Robin and – in all likelihood – his 60 councillor candidates will be elected in May. Shouldn’t we have some idea, beyond a few bland bullet points on a leaflet, what they plan to do for the next four years?

Other local parties have produced excellent manifestos, with detailed proposals. For example, Plymouth Labour Party and our neighbours in Tower Hamlets.

The difference is that those parties are in genuine contests where they are fighting for every vote; where there is competition between competing visions for the future of their areas.

But Newham is a one-party state and the local Labour party’s contempt for voters is staggering: they think it better we don’t worry our little heads about trivial things like policies and just gratefully vote them back into office.

 

 

Next year’s council election results today

8 Jul

This is the full list of Labour party candidates selected this weekend to fight next year’s local elections. Given the electoral history of the borough, the vast majority of these people – and probably all of them – will be elected as Newham councillors on May 22nd 2014:

Beckton: David Christie, Ayesha Chowdhury, Alec Kellaway

Canning Town North: Ann Easter, Kay Scoresby, Clive Furness

Canning Town South: Sheila Thomas, Alan Griffiths, Bryan Collier

Custom House: Pat Holland, Rokhsana Fiaz, Conor McAuley

East Ham Central: Unmesh Desai, Ian Corbett, Julianne Marriott

East Ham North: Paul Sathianesan, Zuber Gulamussen, Firoza Nekiwala

East Ham South: Quintin Peppiatt, Lakmini Shah, Susan Masters

Forest Gate North: Ellie Robinson, Seyi Akiwowo, Rachel Tripp

Forest Gate South: Mas Patel, Winston Vaughan, Dianne Walls

Green Street East: Jose Alexander, Rohima Rahman, Mukesh Patel

Green Street West: Hanif Abdulmuhit, Tahmina Rahman, Idris Ibrahim

Little Ilford: Andrew Baikie, Farah Nazeer, Ken Clark

Manor Park: Amarjit Singh, Jo Corbett, Salim Patel

Plaistow North: Forhad Hussain, Joy Laguda, James Beckles

Plaistow South: Gordon Mackinnon-Miller, Aleen Alarice, Neil Wilson

Royal Docks: Steve Brayshaw, Anthony McAlmont, Pat Murphy

Stratford: Richard Crawford, Terry Paul, Charlene McLean

Wall End: Lester Hudson, Ted Sparrowhawk, Frances Clarke

West Ham: John Gray, John Whitworth, Freda Bourne

Boleyn ward has not yet been able to select its candidates due to a dispute with East Ham CLP. The ward party was unexpectedly suspended last week, despite this being the sole prerogative of the national executive. So expect any of Sir Robin’s favourites who failed to make it in the other 19 wards to be imposed on Boleyn.

Respect yourself

4 Jul


Once upon a time in a land far, far away… 

In 2006 Hanif Abdulmuhit was elected as a Labour-hating, Galloway-loving Respect councillor in Newham.

In 2008 he was Respect’s candidate for the London Assembly in City & East, standing against Labour’s incumbent, the saintly John Biggs.

At the time he said, “We need a party in East London that puts people before profit. New Labour has turned its back on its own supporters.”

And George Galloway commended him, saying “Hanif Abdulmuhit is an excellent councillor… Londoners deserve better than New Labour timeservers.”

Now, in 2013, Mr Abdulmuhit has put all that behind him. He is a loyal Labour man and on the shortlist for the 2014 council elections.

Of course he won’t be the first ambitious local politician to realise that the path to electoral success in Newham requires a change of allegiance. There are at least four current councillors who previously stood for other parties before converting:

  • John Gray stood and lost heavily 3 times as a Liberal Democrat. Since 2010 he has been secretary of the council’s Labour group
  • Patricia Holland also ran unsuccessfully as a LibDem
  • Alec Kellaway was actually elected 3 times as an SDP/Liberal Alliance/Liberal Democrat before defecting to Labour in 1994. He is now Sir Robin’s Executive Member for Business and Skills.
  • Forhad Hussain, now Plaistow Community Lead Councillor, stood in 2006 for Respect

If he is successful Mr Abdulmuhit already has a blog he can revive, proudly bearing the masthead ‘Councillor Hanif Abdulmuhit’. He may want to delete the rest of it though.