The mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, has won his fight to be named the borough’s Labour Party’s mayoral candidate for the 2018 election.
Twenty-six out of 44 Tower Hamlets Labour wards and affiliates voted for Biggs to remain as Labour’s mayoral candidate in 2018, with 11 voting for an open selection process and seven not casting a vote.
In a newsletter sent to members, Biggs said: “I am extremely proud to have been confirmed as the candidate by members in the trigger ballot. Over 600 members voted personally and I received the support of the majority of those members. I was supported also by affiliated organisations and trade unions.”
Biggs’ win comes after allegations of misconduct in the Tower Hamlets Labour Women’s Forum on November 1. Three aggrieved members sent a letter to the general secretary of the Labour Party asking for the immediate suspension of the whole ballot until a full investigation into the matter had been carried out.
Despite receiving no response from the party headquarters, chair of Tower Hamlets Labour Party, Chris Weavers, said the ballot rigging controversy has been solved: “Regarding the Women’s Forum, more people were getting into a room than people who has been registered to vote. We investigated when people arrived and checked their identity. The meeting was cancelled and we had a new meeting.”
The rescheduled vote went against the current mayor, 43-36.
Although Biggs himself says he won the popular vote, the only publicly available statistics suggest otherwise. Amongst wards and forums, he lost 456 votes to 454, highlighting a divided local party.
Biggs, who served as a Labour assembly member for 16 years won the mayoral election in June 2015 with 40 percent of the vote, defeating nine other candidates.
“There is an important job to do now to build towards the 2018 election and show the leadership our borough needs,” said Biggs, “given our recent past in Tower Hamlets this is a particularly vital need.”
Biggs replaced former mayor Luftur Rahman, who was found guilty of corrupt and illegal practices after a legal challenge was launched by four Tower Hamlets residents.