Thursday, 3 February 2011

Lutfur at 100 days

As any existing readers of this blog will no doubt recall, I have been writing about the strange case of Lutfur Rahman, the Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets for the past hundred days.

Andrew Gilligan had been very informative on all that was going on in an almost Mafia-style operation to control that largely Muslim area of London, and now ConservativeHome has provided an update on the new mayor's progress. It makes extremely interesting reading. Here is the list of Rahman's "achievements" to date:

"In his time in office, Mr. Rahman
  • has been forced by freedom of information requests into revealing a diary which shows him rarely getting into the Town Hall before lunch – despite being paid £65,000 a year to be Mayor.
  • Despite this, Mr. Rahman has managed to book in regular sessions with the Council’s Head of Communications to “look at the proposed news list for East End Life”, the council’s propaganda newspaper.
  • has been revealed in his diary also to have gone straight back to his old ways of meeting exclusively with core supporters and key activist groups. Those who have not been loyal seem to have been frozen out of the Mayor’s schedule.
  • has gone on the BBC to attack the Government’s plans for councils to make public all their spending over £500 – despite a number of London councils voluntarily making their data available early. It was then revealed that in his previous term as leader, Mr. Rahman spent over £26,000 on celebrities such as Barbara Windsor for in-house council functions.
  • Demanded at his first council meeting as Mayor to be paid £75,000 a year – nearly four times the average wage in the borough – despite the council’s Constitutional Working Party originally proposing a salary £10,000 lower. Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors all backed a cap of £65,000. 
  • In one of his first acts as Mayor, sent council officers to Covent Garden to pick up iPhones for himself and his deputy, Cllr. Ohid Ahmed, at a cost to the Council of £600 apiece. An FOI request then revealed that the Council’s Head of Communications had banned responses to a press query about the phones.
  • took the best part of a month after his election to even appoint a Cabinet, leaving council departments with a combined budget of £1.3 billion rudderless.
  • added numerous staff to his private office, including a Head of Mayor’s Office on a salary of £60,000, while selling off historic buildings such as Limehouse Library and the LEB building on Cambridge Heath Road, and proposing cuts to council services elsewhere in his planned budget.
  • failed to turn up to represent the borough at the Remembrance Sunday service at Tower Hill."

We as a nation can use this information as a warning that exactly the same thing will no doubt be done elsewhere, systematically taking control of more of our non-national government where one individual or a clique can wield enormous power and with a huge budget (from the public purse) behind them. To all those who said "it couldn't happen here" - well, it has started to do so and will grow if we don't deal with this subversion of our local democracy to minority (and apparently downright evil and highly corrupt) interests.

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