Unsuccessful comeback of the year: Lutfur Rahman
One of the most disturbing political news stories of the year had to be the takeover of Tower Hamlets council by central government after the spectacular conviction by an electoral court of the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, for electoral fraud. The local authority, under his directly-elected mayoralty, had been converted into a rotten borough worthy of a whole issue of Private Eye.
Unceremoniously stripped of office, the court found him guilty of attempted nobbling of votes, unfairly favouring Bangladeshi community organisations above others for grants, propagating untruths about his opponent John Biggs, and a number of other counts.
And so it was that the chutzpah-laden former Mayor had his friends organise a rally, supported by those doughty supporters of the underdog, the Unite union leadership, to try and build support for a comeback for Rahman: an appeal. The utterly damning judgement, of course, was clearly all a horrid plot by racists and Islamophobes.
Indeed at the rally, Unite’s chief of staff, Andrew Murray – Stop the War stalwart and now part of Jeremy Corbyn’s kitchen cabinet, of course – even claimed the support of his boss, the redoubtable Len McCluskey, for the disgraced mayor.
Sadly for Rahman, a couple of days later, the same McCluskey was forced to write to the Guardian, “clarifying” his position, i.e. roughly translated, that even a far-left firebrand could see that Rahman was political poison and would likely not do his cause, of attempting to appear moderate in the run-up to the general election, any good. And so hastily back-pedalled on Murray’s commitment to his support.
And thus, with the withdrawal of powerful union support, did the fraudulent former mayor’s comeback fall flat on its face. It has all gone remarkably quiet since.
Civic pioneer of the year – Jim McMahon MP
Last year we gave this award to Sir Richard Leese, who continues to put the powerhouse into the north with his work as leader of Manchester City Council. This year we give it to someone who has recently left local government and leadership of one of the local authorities in the same combined authority as Manchester, Jim McMahon.
Nothing defines McMahon’s local government tenure like his departure. His impressive and pragmatic transformation of Oldham smashed to smithereens UKIP’s hopes of securing a second MP via the recent by-election in this northern town. McMahon proved that a working class hero is still something to be and Uncut looks forward to him bringing his can-do spirit and resolve to Westminster.
Overseas Inspiration: Justin Trudeau (more…)