The man who Channel Four dubbed a “political star” in last night’s documentary: ‘Nigel Farage: who are you?’ probably won’t lead UKIP to victory in Tower Hamlets say locals – even though they admit they are sick of Labour, The Conservatives and Independent Mayor Lutfur Rahman.
Although UKIP has become a popular alternative to voters, their rapidly growing support from Labour controlled councils is not expected to reap the same results for candidate Nicholas McQueen in the forthcoming mayoral elections on May 22nd.
Some East London residents have said that despite their lack of faith in the Labour party, they’ll probably just vote for them anyway.
“I don’t like how the Labour party is nowadays but there’s not much else to choose from” said Tower Hamlet resident Dave McMann.
McMann adds: “I don’t like Rahman, but UKIP, I think, are dangerous”
The 54 year old, a part of the ‘Tower Hamlets Votes’ Facebook group, said he regards UKIP as the ‘BNP-Lite': “They seem to attract a lot of racists but hide it with a veneer of ‘quaint old England’ so I’m not voting for them; Tories, nope; Lib-Dems, nope. Labour… John Biggs is decent enough, so I will probably vote for him just to try an oust Rahman.”
UKIP Tower Hamlets candidate Nicholas McQueen has prided himself on being ‘unpolished’ and a “born and bred East-Ender”
He stated on the UKIP website: “In some ways, I go further than Labour when it comes to delivering social protection. In other ways, my policies are more conservative than those promised by the Conservatives”
McQueen’s recent campaigning to win over reluctant residents has come alongside both UKIP and the current mayor being put under the microscope by the media.
Nikki Sinclaire, a former UKIP MEP, told the BBC Daily Politics show that people need an alternative choice from the alternative itself.
She launched a backlash against the right-wing party, which has a higher proportion of working class voters than any other party, accusing UKIP of operating a poor party system.
“UKIP have blown its principles and linked itself with criminals and violence”
For university student Philippa Burton, the newsspotlight on UKIP and the heavy criticism of Mayor Rahman’s transparency and accountability are reasons why she and neighbouring residents may end up looking elsewhere for the elections.
Rahman was subject to a BBC Panorama investigation which was scheduled directly after the UKIP documentary on Channel Four last night.
The half-hour programme, which was “much anticipated” by locals, looked into the local politics and power of the borough’s independently elected mayor.
Panorama claimed that Bangladeshi-born former Labour councillor Rahman has had more personal power over his council than ordinary leaders.
It was reported that against the budget agreed between the mayor and fellow Tower Hamlet council officers, Rahman had channelled additional millions of pounds into faith organisations who are predominantly Bangladeshi or Somali run.
Tower Hamlet resident Philippa Burton criticised the mayor’s regime claiming that it is all propaganda to get votes because other parties like the Conservatives, Labour and UKIP have a better chance of success.
“The vast majority of Rahman’s voters in the last election were of his own faith and community so it makes sense that he would pay over two and half times more than agreed in order to rally support from these organisations.”
Burton adds: “Tax payers in this borough are being misrepresented when you consider the fortunes being spent within a community which only accumulates to one third of the population: there’s no such thing as ‘one Tower Hamlets’ under Rahman.”
Chris Wilford, Tory contender for mayor, said that being active in Stepney Green for the past five years has given him passion for the area.
“People are really fed up of with what’s going on. Parties have not been doing the case work they should be doing and locals are generally feeling shut out of a positive campaign for those who are on a long term plan for the borough.”
Wilford is confident that the rapid growth in Conservative party membership and his more traditional method of campaigning such as door knocking and leafleting will engage more people than opposing parties UKIP and Labour.
In John Ware’s investigation of Rahman, he challenged the issues raised by residents and rival political candidates.
Rahman was asked about his accountability to his residents as well as the reasons why he has avoided mayoral Overview and Scrutiny meetings in the past claiming that he had other business to attend.
Rahman refused to answer the questions in the interview.
GLA Labour member John Biggs, who is standing in the mayoral elections next month, took to twitter in response to Rahman refusing his S&O invitation. Biggs said: “I asked – he declined.”
According to the council constitution, it is required that any elected mayor is to undertake S&Os at least four times a year.
Ware in his Panorama on Rahman said: “How can it be against human rights to force an elected mayor to answer questions?” It appears his residents agree.
Miss Burton suggests that the lack of trust in politicians goes beyond Rahman’s council: “The fact that UKIP are gaining support where the Conservatives have never been able to show that there’s a radical change of the political landscape in boroughs like Tower Hamlets.”