Not once, but several times Operation Black Vote took up the fight to ensure Lutfur Rahman was allowed to stand for the Tower Hamlets Labour Mayoral contest. Why? Because he was a popular politician, and his exclusion seemed to be politically motivated, having been excluded twice by the Labour party hierarchy. On Saturday we were proved right. Rahman not only won, he won by a landslide.
Rahman, a former leader of Tower Hamlets Council has had an extraordinary journey to reach this critical stage.
Born in Sylet, Bangladesh, he arrived in Tower Hamlets as a young boy and was the first generation of his family to go to University. He graduated in Law and became a practising solicitor, although he remained a staunch community activist promoting issues ranging from social justice and civil liberties to opportunities for young people.
In 2002 he was elected to Tower Hamlets Council, and re-elected in 2006 and again this year. He stood down as leader of the council earlier this year and pursued the Labour nomination for Tower Hamlets Mayor despite major obstacles.
If Rahman was to win the election for Tower Hamlets Mayor he would become one of the most powerful BME politicians in the UK. Furthermore, he would be one of the few prominent Bangladeshi public figures.
“All I ask is to serve this community, I want the opportunity to work hard to make Tower Hamlets a better place for all of us” .
The other six candidates who contested the Labour mayoral nomination were GLA member John Biggs; ex-council leader Michael Keith; Council leader Helal Abbas; Tower Hamlets cabinet members, Siraj Islam and Shira Khatun; and health expert Rosna Mortuza.
The turnout for the contest was 70%, with over 900 people casting a vote. Mr Rahman’s victory is seen as definitive with a margin of 150 votes separating him from the next nearest candidate, John Biggs.
OBV have been long term advocates for a directly elected Mayor for Tower Hamlets and spoke at the launch of the referendum campaign back in February 2010.
Other candidates selected in the race are criminal barrister Neil King for the Conservatives and former councillor John Griffiths for the Liberal Democrats.
The date for the election of the first executive Mayor for Tower Hamlets is Thursday 21 October 2010. The term will be for four years. You can find out more on the Tower Hamlets site on how to register to vote if you are a Tower Hamlet’s resident, as well as the the duties of the elected Mayor.