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Dumped Labour leader wins Tower Hamlets

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A candidate for a mayoral election who was dumped by Labour then stood as an independent won the contest with more than half the vote.

Lutfur Rahman secured 51.76% of the vote in Tower Hamlets in east London.

The campaign sparked bitter local infighting for Labour.

Former council leader Mr Rahman was Labour’s initial candidate, but when he was rebuffed by the party he announced he would stand as an independent with the backing of several Labour councillors.

Labour’s contender for mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, then risked internal discipline by campaigning for Mr Rahman against the party’s new candidate, Helal Abbas.

The row gave new hope to the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green would-be mayors in an area which has traditionally been solidly Labour.

Yesterday’s poll was the first ever ballot for a directly-elected mayor in Tower Hamlets, a borough which takes in not only the poor neighbourhoods of the East End, but also the glass-and-steel skyscrapers of the Docklands financial centre.

Turnout was 25.6%.

Votes were as follows:

  • Lutfur Rahman, Independent - 23,283.
  • Helal Uddin Abbas, Labour Party - 11,254
  • Neil Anthony King, Conservative Party - 5,348
  • John David Macleod Griffiths, Liberal Democrats - 2,800
  • Alan Duffell, Green Party - 2,300

The result will further fuel calls for Mr Livingstone to be disciplined.

Earlier this week, the veteran politician called the deselection of Mr Rahman an “utterly unacceptable” move by Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) which “ignored the views of the local electorate”.

He insisted however that he backed the official candidate and was simply trying to encourage voters to put the independent down as their second choice in an effort to keep out the Conservatives

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