A long and explosive read – based on leaked information, interviews and comments from the current mayor of Tower Hamlets John ‘Master’ Biggs’ camp, wider Tower Hamlets Labour Party, Corbyn sympathisers and lo and behold the Conservative party supporters. It also provides a glimpse into the ‘new McCarthy-esque political witch-hunt’ – in the last throw of the dice desperation – to be activated by John Biggs in 2017 with support from the Blairites’ best friend and his not-so-secret political adviser, Tory Group leader, Councillor Peter Golds, 1 of the 4 Eric Pickles’ Commissioners, those with personal vested interests and the far right in Tower Hamlets’ web of Bigly politics.
By Katie Tower
The tragedy of modern politics is that, with the stroke of an evil genius, it has convinced a significant number of people that injustice suffered by some people in our society is their fault.
In the post-truth society, after the Brexit and emergence of Trumpian politics, if you are one of those people who blindly follow the line given by your party or group which conforms to your prejudices or if you are easily influenced by highly questionable yellow journalism at play in Tower Hamlets’ case, you may not wish to let the facts get in the way as to who is the actual ‘hero’ or ‘villain’ in Tower Hamlets politics.
Most people of Tower Hamlets already know this, it’s about time others make a little bit of an effort to do the same.
So, if you have an inquisitive and open mind and are willing to change opinion based on facts and evidence, you may want to read on.
The leaked Bigly plot – another catastrophe in the making
While most people are thinking about how to survive Biggs’£75m brutal cuts, the families are just about managing with the usual agony and ecstasy of the Christmas holidays and the New Year on mind, John Biggs, his political ‘firm’, and his personal Tory adviser are planning something a lot more malefic.
Behind the PR hogwash and the publicity stunt of delivering a carefully photographed present and the usual political shebang, this is their way to welcome residents to 2017 under John Biggs’ glorious rule in Tower Hamlets.
The details of this ‘new’ and despicable ‘Bigly-Golds’ plot, which is being adjusted in an extreme panic due to catastrophic setbacks, internal bickering and infighting has now been leaked to ‘We the Public (WTP) blog’.
In the typical East End version of the political ‘firm’ bossed by John Biggs, the new Bigly plot will not only discredit and malign his ‘real’ political opponents, but will also provide him with an opportunity to divert attention from his £75 million cuts to residents’ services, his record-breaking Council Tax increase of 4%, and ‘the cut’ from ‘the Bigly firm’ in the pay packets of his backers in his Cabinet, with John Biggs and Peter Golds topping the list with over 11% and 40% increases in their pay packets.
But reports are emerging that close allies are now secretly turning against Biggs or doing private deals to secure their political ambitions and future.
R E V E A L E D: Frantic meetings are taking place between the Tory Pickles’ blue-eyed Commissioner, Max Caller and Peter Golds. The latest such meeting took place on 20 December 2016 – just five days before Christmas.
John Biggs originally came up with what he thought to be a ‘perfect’ high-level ‘Bigly scheme’ in the face of growing democratic opposition due to his divisive politics, lack of leadership and absence of vision but his ‘original’ Bigly plot (Whitechapel by-election project) spectacularly back-fired, following its initial but very limited success.
So now the iniquitous Bigly-Golds alliance has come up with another sinister plot.
The central concept of the Bigly-Golds scheme is simple, repeat a lie often and people will think it to be the truth.
Like most things in Tower Hamlets, the new plot has its roots in the past.
Like before, John Biggs, his political ‘firm’ and Peter Golds are underestimating the intelligence of the people of Tower Hamlets.
Transparency & Accountability
Some of you might remember Bigly-Gold rhetoric last year before the Mayoral election.
Early this year, a senior Tower Hamlets Blairite figure reportedly arranged to employ a private detective to obtain up-to-date details to discredit former Labour colleague, former Cllr Shahed Ali, who later abandoned Labour due to what he felt was unfairness and injustice by the local Labour party.
Shahed committed a cardinal sin, something Tory Group leader Cllr Peter Golds has never actually dared despite his cosmetic, holier than thou, misleading and hypocritical rhetoric in his Conservative Home (Editor is his mate) rants and the council chamber.
Shahed dared to expose Blairite Biggs’ £1m corruption relating to Rich Mix. Biggs’ corruption was deemed so serious that the former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, called on Biggs to come clean about Rich Mix in the national media.
But in a typical Bigly fashion, John Biggs came up with well-rehearsed machine politics excuses, borderline arrogance tinged with a clear sense of entitlement in his response to the allegations, and then privately pledged to sort Shahed out, with the help of Michael Keith’s prodigy and current Rich Mix Board Member, a thoroughbred Blairite, Cllr Denise Jones, who is a clear conflict of interest, still does not declare on the Rich Mix website that she is a sitting Labour Councillor while she conveniently scrutinises decisions relating to Blairite pet-project Rich Mix.
Biggs’ mate Cllr Denise Jones, is on the Tower Hamlets ‘Scrutiny’ Committee which is ‘supposed to’ hold mayor John Biggs to account and ensure transparency and accountability. Cllr Jones was present at the scrutiny meeting that cleared Rich Mix and dropped the clear-cut case and awarded labour’s pet-project astonishing £1m. She attended and was present at the ‘scrutiny’ meeting when the Rich Mix was let off, without leaving the council’s official scrutiny meeting as she should have done. According to the Council rules and Nolan principles, this should have been a disclosable financial interest and she should have left the meeting for this item – no one batted an eyelid, including the 4 Commissioners or the Council’s Chief Legal bod present (who by the way took a golden hand-shake from Tower Hamlets Council on Tax Payers’ money and is now back on his third stint in the borough on very high consultant charges).
Avid observers of Tower Hamlets’ Bigly politics will know that Rich Mix is a Labour pet-project whose top boss is the former Blairite leader of Tower Hamlet Labour, Michael Keith, and others key members include Blairite Oona King, Tower Hamlets Labour’s Cllrs Candida Ronald and Asma Begum, as well as, Cllr Denise Jones.
Below is the make-up of current Board with details.
For Denise Jones’ blind loyalty and services to the Bigly cause, Micheal Keith’s prodigy, Cllr Denise Jones was rewarded with an additional personal pay packet of £7,000 as one of the three newly appointed ‘Master Bigly’ advisers. In a shameful claim, John Biggs said that the position was ‘a stepping stone to the Cabinet’ for individuals’ – Cllr Jones is a former leader of the council and has been a Labour cabinet member. What stepping stone John? After 30 years in the right-wing of the Labour party, is it the best you can come up with?
In case this is not enough, here’s a fact – Cllr Denise Jones, is also the owner/director of the company which has a commercial contract with Tower Hamlets Council. Talk about conflict of interest and cronyism!
Still not enough? well, how about another fact, Eric Pickles’ blue-eyed Commissioner, Max Caller, is a ‘very close chum’ of then Chief Executive of Rich Mix.
Commissioners deliberately allowed Rich Mix to have residents’ money without proper scrutiny and against the Council’s legal advice.
Remember the rhetoric about transparency, accountability and ethics. Well, that just presumably only apply to a certain kind of Mayor.
Councillor Shahed Ali made a huge mistake and has paid for it. His original sin was about his housing saga, after his father’s death and subsequent non-declaration, all this was known to Biggs, Weavers and Peter Golds but they waited to strike at the right time for the maximum damage to Shahed, to teach him a lesson – rest is now history, but not without consequences.
Refusal to learn
A ‘novice’ Lutfurite Shafi Ahmed defeated the might of the Blairite machinery and the Biggs’ divisive politics in an open, free and transparent by-election in Whitechapel.
But the very people, the UKIP, Tory and Blairite supporters, egged on by Biggs and Golds who fronted the McCarthy-esque political witch-hunt against Lutfur Rahman are now questioning the result of the Whitechapel by-election.
Enquiries and freedom of information requests about the result have already been facilitated and made to the Council’s returning officer, which is another way to keep Pickles’ Commissioners in place by Golds.
These people need to get a life, rather than malign the name of hard-working people of Tower Hamlets and the ordinary council staff but don’t hold your breath.
Last month, Blairite ‘Master’ John Biggs, came up with a new cunning plot in his £630,000 per year [paid for by Tower Hamlets Tax payers] ‘Bigly Tower Office’, to revive his unofficial mayoral campaign for 2018.
A source within the Labour Party, who learnt of this despicable plot, told the WTP blog:
“I feel so ashamed to be Labour in Tower Hamlets under the current set-up. If I was not a life-long member, I might let my membership lapse. For the life of me, I can’t believe John Biggs gave an early Christmas present to himself with an astonishing 11% personal pay rise, gift of an eye-popping 40% increase to the pay packet of Tory Council leader, Cllr Golds, together with a record increase for his Blue Labour Cabinet pockets for their ‘yes Master compliance’, while he treats the residents with utter contempt and excuses by subjecting them to a record 4% increase in their Council Tax and imposes brutal cuts to women, parents, ex-servicemen care house, children services, youth centres, elderly and the most vulnerable in Tower Hamlets. This is supposed to Labour administration. We can’t carry on like this.”
Biggs’ plot is pure Gold
The top objective was simple, eliminate or discredit the only political rival that matters, Lutfur Rahman – at any cost, and anyone who supports him.
To do this, Biggs and Golds must drown the key Lutfur lieutenants in action – Independent Group’s Mayoral candidate for 2018, Cllr Ohid Ahmed, who is reportedly campaigning hard at the grass-root level and making serious ground, and Cllr Rabina Khan who stood against Biggs as Lutfur’s candidate in June 2015, as well as ‘enigmatic’ Cllr Oliur Rahman, Leader of the Tower Hamlets Independent Group by discrediting his left-wing credentials – all in one hit, along with their key supporters.
New Smear Campaign
The new sinister plot also involves smearing various third sector and community organisations.
It reportedly has a built-in ‘black-ops component – using manufactured whistle-blowers who could easily be duped, intimidated or are happy to accede to ‘you scratch my back and I will scratch yours.
This means lurking deeper into the happenings of activists like Atik Rahman, Akhtar Zaman as well as, digging dirt on Cllrs Aminur Khan’s previous job and his personal associations, Alam’s Tax affairs, and into the business association of Robbani, Miah and others.
All Machiavellian tactics and Bigly-Golds contacts are fair game to gather enough dirt to sling mud and malign the opposition and to reclaim dwindling credibility and control of the local Labour party – the political status quo benefits Peter Golds, his personal ambitions and divisive brand of politics. Critically, this way, Golds retains his proxy control of the Council and holds Tower Hamlets Labour to ransom through Biggs.
latest ‘Bigly-Gold witch-hunt’
The first obstacle was to provide this black-op witch hunt a corporate cover.
The key vehicle to provide official cover to Bigly-Golds political-witch-hunt is an aptly named ‘Clear-up project’ (aka to clear out any political opposition and try to secure the foundation of Bigly victory in 2018 that seems more distant with every passing month) which will dig dirt on all above and more.
The ‘black-ops will involve cajoling or threatening vulnerable or naive members in the third sector community organisations, those ‘willing to do deals’, together with a new ‘whisper campaign’ in an attempt to manufacture evidence and allegations against councillors and key persons Rabinthe first Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman.
Cllr Rabina Khan’s dealings with the Canary Wharf Group and Tower Hamlets Homes, as well as other matters, are also on the agenda.
Just like the ‘firm’ threat of union’s facility time to be taken away during the trigger ballot by John Biggs machinery, funding to the certain third sector and community organisations might be in jeopardy and their association and organisations smeared if they don’t play ball to support him.
Duping Cllr Rabina Khan
The plot contained a key double bluff narrative that involved duping Cllr Rabina Khan to divide the popular opposition.
This was done through various sources, using those who had recently been planted close to her, those previously worked with her and bypassing misleading information and false projections, to convince her to take a solo flight and to force her away from Lutfur Rahman in carefully choreographed manoeuvre. But once that is done, make her smell the coffee.
An ‘insider’ discussion was cited by a close Bigly-Golds source to WTP:
“Rabina was deliberately told she is getting popular and should march to the hills alone. But our internal data, voter id and community intelligence clearly showed that if she stands without Lutfur’s backing, she will be lucky to get even a few thousands of votes. We know that her votes in 2015 were almost entirely Lutfur’s vote-bank. In fact, she was carefully facilitated and deliberately deceived into thinking that if she forms her separate council group, she can claim her political adviser in the Council for the group. Let me tell you, it will be ensured that this can never happen. In fact, it won’t happen. I guarantee you that Rabina will not be given a political adviser by the Biggs administration. By then, her reputation and credibility will already be ruined for deserting the community and Biggs would have achieved the most important objective – dividing the Lutfur Rahman camp which spoke for the grass-root community and united left-wing forces in Tower Hamlets. Also, there are going to be some carefully planned events where she will be made to appear and speak and that will come back to haunt and finish her off politically. Just wait and watch.”
Also, a few inside sources have separately confirmed that Cllr Rabina Khan’s secret rendezvous with the Pickles’ Commissioner Max Caller, Tory hierarchy, the Canary Wharf Group and her association with Tower Hamlets Homes during her role as the Housing Cabinet Member are also under the powerful microscope.
Interestingly, a source claims that the next target is Cllr Oliur Rahman.
According to the source, John Biggs is reportedly considering a deal with Oliur Rahman which will not only help Biggs to take the fight to Abbas and Khales to teach them a lesson for daring to challenge him but also further divide the popular alliance of opposition against him. However, this claim is being strongly denied.
Another source who knows the inner dealings of Cllr Peter Golds and John Biggs told WTP:
“Despite Rabina’s constant and desperate attempts to ‘smooth things over with the Tory establishment, Peter (Golds)and John (Biggs) are in no mood to spare her. However, for the time being, the instruction is to provide her with a false sense of security, a few ‘personal calls’ and welcome until the daggers are ready” in a throwback to something like this and this
Shameful waste of Tax payers’ money (again!)
A left-wing Labour Member in Poplar and Limehouse Labour party informed WTP:
“Many left-wing Labour Party members in Tower Hamlets are unhappy and ashamed that all this is being done with the residents’ money, while the people have to endure brutal cuts and increased Council Tax by John Biggs, to pay for another fat-cat bureaucrat, on top of 4 Commissioners who have outlasted their Blairite welcome that should never have been extended in the first place.”
She was not done yet….and added:
“This political witch-hunt, after previously failed attempts, such as failed ‘Panorahman’ episode and the infamous ‘£1m PwC’ report which found no corruption whatsoever – only rhetoric and a few governance issues, not dissimilar to Newham, Hackney or Westminster councils if you send a team with £1m to find faults. This is a shameful waste of Tax payers’ money for personal vendetta and a quest for power.”
Mega setback 1
Like Whitechapel, the secret plot has already been jeopardized by very close internal personalities who were once Biggs’ key and reliable allies but are now working against Biggs in a fast-moving jockeying game of power, which includes forcing Biggs to either dancing to their tunes or jump before being pushed.
WTP knows who they are, so does Biggs but he is finding it hard to digest and deal with the betrayal by these people who were once very close to him.
A close Tower Hamlets Labour insider spilt the beans with details of the new ‘sickening plot’.
The insider was aghast that Bigly-Golds were to now pursue a synchronised approach to convince “the big-wig” at the GLA to secure high-level clearance and resources to kick-start another political witch-hunt against the community in Tower Hamlets and those who represent them. The specific target will be Lutfur Rahman and his key aides, as well as, the Momentum in Tower Hamlets and the nexus of Abbas-Khales and Rabina – “nothing is being ruled out.”
The insider said that “Tower Hamlets Labour under its current leadership has lost the plot” – even after being rejected by voters in Whitechapel where they were in such an advantageous position and the fact that almost 50% of the party’s own branches/wards gave a clear vote of no confidence against the divisive politics of Tower Hamlets Labour Party and John Biggs.
WTP blog has been made aware of ‘evidence’ to back this claim and we may decide to publish more on this in due course as the events develop.
‘Black-op’ fronted by ‘Clear-up project’, backed up by machine politics
The new vehicle to achieve this despicable Bigly-Golds ‘chop’ plot – ‘Clear-up project’ – will be delivering some of these targets very soon with further coordinated statements from John Biggs, Peter Golds, their political hunch (wo)men and their respective mouthpieces: Love Wapping, Trial by Jeory blogs and Mike Brookes of the ELA.
Predetermined witch-hunt with MSM & SM back-up
The new witch-hunt will be backed up by Tory and Bigly social media activists, Blairite elements of the Tower Hamlets, some Ukippers, a little unhinged Erlam as well as the usual mouthpieces Love Wapping and Trial by Jeory, supported by the unofficial copy and paste ‘press officer’ for Biggs – who doubles up as a journalist Mike Brookes at ELA. The right-wing local newspaper the Wharf will also join the action to support the Tory-Blairite alliance in Tower Hamlets.
The so-called ‘scrutiny’ chair of Tower Hamlets (unlike now, under the previous administration, this committee was chaired by the opposition Councillor), is Biggs’ fellow Blairite – Cllr John ‘Tammany’ Pierce – who is ‘supposed to’ be independent of party politics and ‘should’ hold John Biggs to account, will play his part to help Biggs in the hope to repay the faith to ‘Master’ Biggs – in return for a Cabinet position in future for his obedience.
By the way, the Local Government Act 2000 established this function for every council, with the key roles of scrutinising decisions at a ‘Scrutiny Committee’ before or after they are made or implemented. This is the Committee Cllr Denise Jones is a member of.
The cat was somewhat let out of the bag in a moment of excitement by Cllr John Pierce.
He just about controlled himself not to type in a wicked new meme or ‘wink-wink’ ‘nod-nod’ emoticons on his mobile when he posted this:
In a carefully planned and coordinated spin-operation, local Tories and Biggs’ unofficial ‘copy and paste’ press officer, local journalist, Mike Brookes, and Tories started to propagate the new political witch-hunt as soon as ordered.
Real corruption ignored
Of course, the actual corruption, the robbery of nearly £1m of Tower Hamlets residents’ money which was given to a Blairite-controlled pet-project, Rich Mix, in secret, by John Biggs is conveniently side-lined and told to be forgotten after a good excuse was found.
Also, the Keen private school lease and Kobi Nazrul corruption deals were secretly undertaken by Biggs and his ‘firm’ are also likely to have been ignored by the Commissioners and the new fat-cat bureaucrat under the chop project.
Scrutiny does not apply to Bigly-Golds
WTP blog has been informed by a source that Biggs’ original Rich Mix secret decision, titled 101, was successfully challenged, where John Biggs accepted under pressure, that he never saw the business plan before signing off the £1m worth of public money behind-closed-door to drop the case against the Council’s own legal advice.
WTP has seen evidence which confirms the claim that John Biggs signed off the Tax payers’ money without looking at the business case. He quietly dropped the court case to recoup the residents’ money against the Council’s legal advice.
Self-proclaimed transparency champions remain shtum
It is extremely concerning and ill-fated that the official representation made to Eric Pickles’ Commissioners about Rich Mix, who were sent to Tower Hamlets to uphold transparency, accountability, best value and to eliminate nepotism has been completely ignored and not responded to by the Commissioners. Rich Mix is most probably just one example.
The Commissioners were always seen by many as a political tool in an unfortunate marriage of convenience between Tory Cllr Peter Golds’ witch-hunt and Biggs’s quest for power at any cost, to prepare the ground for a political petition to get rid of Lutfur Rahman and then attack and discredit him.
But now Lutfur’s long gone, their (in)action to challenge and hold John Biggs to account confirms that hypothesis.
If they have any shred of dignity, they should hold their heads in shame in the way they have behaved in the appointment of the Chief Executive of Tower Hamlets (£200k+ per annum) and the deplorable Rich Mix corruption saga.
A local trade union activist incensed about the situation told the blog that:
“Does this new fat-cat bureaucrat, paid for by the Tower Hamlets residents, hired for so-called ‘Clear-up his Opponents Project’ (CHOP) and the 4 Commissioners, have their brain? Are they here on a jolly to act on whatever is being spoon-fed to them by John Biggs and Peter Golds to discredit political opponents and low paid staff? Why is it that different rules apply to John Biggs and Peter Golds? Why is it that if you are in opposition to these two self-styled, holier than thou ‘Masters’, the presumption is that you are guilty until proven innocent but these two get away with murder? Where is left-wing of the labour party and socialists?”
A local Black Lives Matter supporter and the UCL student said:
“Rule numero uno seems to be when a certain kind of mayor’ gives more than £1m to an organisation run by his party, it is clearly not corruption, of course, he has genuine reasons and many excuses but if another mayor allocated funds to the people based on their dire and genuine socio-economic needs who actually needed a helping hand to improve their social mobility, it is indeed corruption – just because of ‘who that mayor was’. God forbid, if he happens to be a left-wing Muslim, then lo and behold he is not only corrupt but an extremist and Islamist and planning to take over our system and must be stopped. It’d be laughable if it was not so tragic. You know what, enough is enough. We must challenge this as it reminds me of a legendary Bob Marley song my dad used to listen to ‘you can fool some people sometimes but you can’t fool all the people all the time’ and John Biggs must be reminded that people of Tower Hamlets might have given him benefit of the doubt in the past but they are no fools so he better indulge in his dog-whistle racist politics and scheme of political witch-hunt with the help of closet racists like Peter Golds, as many residents believe him to be, at his own peril.
She is bang on.
This rule was established long ago in Tower Hamlets, a glimpse of which was highlighted in an excellent investigative piece by the Battle of Tower Hamlets here and how a sophisticated Blairite operation, backed up by the local Conservative leader, Cllr Peter Golds, was supported by a dog-whistle racist and xenophobic campaign to bring and keep Biggs in power. You can read all about it here and here
The original Biggs’ plot had simple top-lines:
- Win the Whitechapel by-election at any cost. [Use dog-whistle tactic, if needed, like in trigger ballot.]
- Keep Tory Peter Golds on the side and get Pickles’ Commissioners to bail him out.
- Use 1 and 2 above to reassert his iron-grip on Tower Hamlets Labour Party and Council
- Destroy/punish those who dared to challenge in a throw-back to I’ll teach the bastards.
However, a catastrophic set of events took over and the plot thickened.
Bigly scheme had to be adjusted with two new targets.
- Divide, attack and smear Lutfur Rahman and his key supporters to continue milking the right-wing sympathy by using the ‘Clear-up project’, as a front for a political witch-hunt.
- Tame local Momentum, the Tower Hamlets Independent Group and other independents by offering them some carrots, or at least the illusion of carrots, provide misleading information to take the wind out of opposition build-up and strong democratic arguments and establish some mutually beneficial ‘environment’ to help Biggs. [Bigly sources claim Cllr Oli Rahman keeps falling for this and can easily be managed by John, just like Rabina Khan. Rahman supporters say Biggs’ camp will say that won’t they.]
The ‘firm’ activated
To start with, Biggs preferred choice was a no brainer for him.
His go-to card. His tried and tested ‘dog-whistle racist politics’ and this was duly unleashed in a synchronised attempt by Ted Jeory – a journalist who made his career out of attacking Lutfur Rahman, and a long-standing Blairite MP Jim Fitzpatrick, but fortunately the local community rallied around and this cheap media operation was called out for what it was, repulsive and deplorable racist dog-whistle politics, by John Biggs, Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Blairites supporters and their mouthpieces.
Biggs blamed the Whitechapel loss on ‘Bengali vote bank’, conveniently forgetting the two key facts:
a) Whitechapel ward does not have a majority Bengali population.
b) His local campaign team, Blairite MP Rushanara and most people who campaigned for him and his candidate in Whitechapel were British Bangladeshis.
But don’t let facts get in your way, John.
Many have documented this wretched behaviour from John Biggs far too many times to list them again now. This is not the first time John Biggs have deliberately used racial comments and dog-whistle politics to activate his right-wing voter-base and his political ‘firm’ in Tower Hamlets to indulge in his divisive political track record.
Two defining features of John Biggs’ politics
a) the readiness of his own and his lieutenants’ low-grade comments to throw around the word ‘Bengalis’ – accusing, slandering that everything is ‘Lutfur Rahman’, his predecessor or ‘Lutfur supporters’ fault; and
a) John Biggs’ personal pride in the achievement of the ‘New Labour’ under Tony Blair.
It is a matter of record that, in the past, John Biggs criticized Rahman’s cabinet, choosing to deliberately highlight the ‘Bangladeshi race’ of Councillors in Rahman’s Cabinet, then in his interview to the BBC insinuating that Bangladeshis are not the that important community in Tower Hamlets.
John Biggs has not changed, his behaviour has become even more pathetic now. Since May 2015, Lutfur Rahman, has not been able to take part in front-line politics and John Biggs has been in power, but John Biggs has again shamefully chosen to criticise the former Mayor Lutfur Rahman in his ‘Christmas message’ to the residents.
The ‘Firm’ reloaded
This behaviour is a continuation of and was supported by activation of his political firm’s ‘Tammanies’ to shut any debate within the Labour party before, during and after the trigger ballot.
Right on cue, notorious Blairites, Cllr Danny Hassell (Biggs’ political henchman and Labour Group Whip!), and Cllr Andrew Cregan (another astonishingly rude Tammany) were activated to ‘iron out’ any dissenters.
Coincidentally, both received ‘extra money’ in their respective pay packets from Biggs in special allowances, while another Blairite ‘Tammany’ Cllr John Pierce was held back, for now, to be used for the Bigly ‘chop’ project later. (Oh, he also received ‘extra money’ from Biggs and supposed to independently hold the mayor to account but more on that later..)
An inside source spilt the beans:
“Both Cregan and Hassell bitterly attacked a poor Caucasian Corbyn supporting Labour member, in a Labour party’s Bromley branch meeting, for daring to speak up to defend “democracy” in Tower Hamlets Labour when there were other important problems, like saving John Biggs and Blairite dynasty. The poor Labour member was called a “liar” and shut down in a public meeting when he tried to speak about ‘fairness’, ‘transparency’ and ‘democratic choice’ in Tower Hamlets Labour.”
As much WTP hates to publish the phrase ‘Caucasian, without a judicious edit, as it should not be relevant in 21st century Britain, it is agonisingly kept in the context that Blairite mouthpieces have deliberately propagated in a carefully choreographed dog-whistle media operation that all those who oppose Biggs are only Bengalis, which sadly is a lie.
This courageous and committed paid-up Tower Hamlets Labour member – an intelligent young man – who was shouted down and made to feel ashamed for speaking up for ‘democracy’ and ‘fairness’ – will probably now think twice before complaining about Blairite ‘Tammanies’ and to stand up for freedom of expression, democratic norms and transparency in Tower Hamlets Labour Party. Objective partly achieved by Biggs political ‘firm’, Tammany style!
But, we are confident that he, and many others like him, have more courage than these career politicians and will continue to fight the good fight. People of Tower Hamlets and the wider Labour movement must be proud of this young man who spoke truth to power.
A Corbyn-supporting Tower Hamlet Labour party activist, Jon, who gave us the permission to use his first name, told the WTP blog:
“Politically speaking, current Tower Hamlets Labour establishment deal with any difference of opinion or the opposition with iron-fists, bare-knuckle tactics, assisted by a sophisticated back-office operation. Unless you are in their inner circle, everything is kept away from local Labour members unless it has to be shared, even then it is done at the last minute.
“The idea is to completely discredit, humiliate and destroy any real opposition, both outside or within the party, and rule like a British colonial Emperor in Tower Hamlets, learning from the fiefdom of Robin ‘the great’ Wales’, who by the end of his ensuing term would have been in power for 27 years in Newham, lovingly described by some as the North Korea of the East End. The new generation of Labour members is being brain-washed by scare stories and political consequences at the expense of reviving a real left-wingless-roots movement in the East End of London.”
Before putting the drink down, he concluded:
“Lord Master ‘Mountbatten’ Biggs” has a certain ring and appeal to both John Biggs and Robin Wales.”
But for this Bigly plot to work, there needed to be a carefully synchronised choreography of political events and statements to control the narrative and to gain precious political capital to attack the opposition and to broker some deals to survive.
Local Tory leader, Cllr Golds, had to be kept happy by Biggs to get help and support in convincing Tory Eric Pickles’ appointed Commissioners and the Department of Communities and Local Government to give Biggs ‘a clean chit’ and a categorical announcement that ‘all’ powers were being handed back to Biggs in an unequivocal public statement by the DCLG that the Commissioners will leave Tower Hamlets by March 2017. This needed to be done pronto in the aftermath of Whitechapel.
Biggs needed this favour from his Tory friends and the Commissioners so the DCLG’s public statement was synchronised to come out the very next day after the anticipated Labour by-election win in Whitechapel, to help build Biggs’ fast diminishing political credentials so that he can declare himself as the self-pro-claim Messiah of Tower Hamlets.
After all, Golds must pay back the 40% increase in Golds’ pay pocket given by Biggs, with interest.
Catastrophic Setback 2 – Tory Conundrum
Tory members and hierarchy are increasingly getting jittery with their local group leader Golds’ unconditional support for Biggs and how it reflects on them and the party.
A Conservative party supporter, on the condition of anonymity, told the WTP blog.
“There is a palpable nervousness in some quarters of the Conservative camp. We need to think medium to long-term. We understand that there’s a serious and healthy difference of opinion in the Tower Hamlets Conservative Group, three of them and a significant number of local conservative membership privately feel that any chance of Tower Hamlets Conservatives gaining possible new seats, broadening their local appeal and the chances of engaging with the significant Bengali Muslim and other ethnic minority population in Tower Hamlets, has been fatally compromised so far due to peculiar personal relationship between Peter Golds and John Biggs where Conservatives seem to always bail John Biggs and Tower Hamlets Labour out. We got to move beyond a select few city-fringe middle-class areas or a very small loyal Tory voter-base in Tower Hamlets.”
Ironically, this is a concern which was shared by one of the active Labour party member and a Councillor in Tower Hamlets Labour Group, who on the condition of strict anonymity, said:
“It is an increasing concern with a significant number of local Labour activists that Tory Cllr Peter Golds is more powerful than Biggs in the current political set-up in Tower Hamlets due to his influence and demands on John Biggs. This, along with other vested interests in the Group, makes a toxic mix for Labour’s cause in Tower Hamlets. Some of us also privately feel that the Momentum should have been bolder, put down policy markers and come earlier on the scene. They must have known what is going on in Tower Hamlets when six members of Tower Hamlets Labour Group openly campaigned against Jeremy Corbyn.”
It seems that one man, Cllr Peter Golds’ vendetta, plotting and witch-hunt is now hurting the already diminished Tory appeal in Tower Hamlets at a time when they could have easily made serious inroads into Tower Hamlets politics and into the minds of the hard-working citizens of Tower Hamlets who feel let down by the Tower Hamlets Labour Party.
This ought to be food for thought for more sensible Tory Cllrs in Tower Hamlets like Julia, Chris and Andrew who have at least tried to hold the John Biggs administration to account when compared with Cllr Golds, whose enquiries and approach seem to surround mainly around three issues: changing room/showers, digging dirt on fellow Councillors and shouting obscene jibes with despicable body language at his political opponents in the Council and beyond.
If Conservatives want to have any hope of tempting the floating voters of Tower Hamlets or those disgruntled Labour members, who are unfortunately switching to the UKIP or to vaguely view the local Conservatives as a genuine alternative and the real opposition to John Biggs’ Tower Hamlets Labour Party, it’s about time they genuinely hold the Biggs’ administration to account, rather than playing short-sighted politics which neither helps the residents, nor the decent Conservative in Tower Hamlets.
Residents Vs. Commissioners/Golds
All this is taking place against a backdrop when the public and grass-root Labour confidence in John Biggs had nose-dived drastically due to the internal Labour Party trigger ballot where nearly 50% of local branches, wards and forums voted against Biggs. He was barely saved by underhand deals with the Trade Unions and affiliates, with reported threats of facility time being taken away, and other deals offered to secure votes for Biggs.
Biggs desperately needed a bounce from the anticipated Whitechapel to win to wrest control of Tower Hamlets Labour councillors’ selection for 2018 and parliamentary selection for 2020 by getting personally compliant or supportive Blairites s/elected. He wants to use councillors short-listings, local party office bearer positions and the Labour Group positions as bribes and lollipops to keep Corbyn supporting local Labour members out.
Biggs’ decision to appoint the three Blairite councillors as his advisers for an additional £7k each to buy their loyalty is a wrong choice, all three of these ‘personal advisers’ now get two salaries from the Council and in return serve their ‘Master’ Biggs.
Biggs need to decide if he needs a vote of confidence from the Pickles’ Commissioners and Tories or residents of Tower Hamlets. He can’t have both.
Setback 3 – Frankenstein’s Monster
It turned out that Max Caller, the influential blue-eyed Commissioner, the dogmatic tour de force, behind the lead commissioner Sir Ken Knight does not feel like leaving the Tower Hamlets Council any time soon.
So, the announcement from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government was less than what Biggs was promised and what has been publicly pledged by the DCLG to the Council that Commissioners will leave Tower Hamlets by March 2017.
Remember Commissioners came because Lutfur Rahman was such an evil mayor. Well, Rahman has not been in the post since the early part of 2015. Do the Commissioners and the DCLG have no real faith in John Biggs even if he has bowed down to their every single demand?
The announcement was not what Biggs was promised or hoped for despite his utter acquiescence, and not to forget the 40% increase in Golds pay packet to get the Commissioners off Bigly back, and not to mention for the Tory second preference votes to get Biggs elected in the first place.
So it was a surprise to Biggs that the DCLG statement did not categorically mention that the Commissioners will leave by March 2017, as promised. However, behind the scene, Biggs is reported to be begging Golds and others to help him get rid of Pickles’ Commissioner which he gleefully invited when in opposition.
But let’s see what the Secretary of State of DCLG said in a statement:
“…I won’t restore full powers until I can be sure residents’ money is in safe hands and will halt the process if commissioners raise any concerns.”
The commissioners’ latest report to the Communities Secretary highlights some progress at the council, ……, but warns that there is still “much more to be done” – keeping the door open for the Pickles’ Commissioners to stay even if Biggs bows down to Tory demands and dictate.
Where is Bigly courage?
A hugely significant majority believe that there was a political stitch-up to keep Lutfur Rahman out to make John Biggs win.
Having said that, John Biggs was elected by the people of Tower Hamlets and he must stand up to Commissioners and Golds.
Regardless of his chequered win, He has the mandate of the people, it is about time he shows the courage and determination to take on the Tories and the Commissioners if they do not leave by March 2017 as they have overstayed their short-sighted Bigly Labour welcome.
Commissioners remind John Biggs who is in-charge
Behind the Biggs’ spin and PR machinery, the actual status of Commissioners appointed by Eric Pickles means that regardless of the excellent work by the low and middle-tier Tower Hamlets Council staff, the Pickles’ Commissioners will continue to:
- exercise the council’s function in respect of the appointment and dismissal of the Electoral Registration Officer / Returning Officer for Local Elections.
- oversee the council’s decisions relating to the recruitment and dismissal of persons designated to the position of Statutory Officer.
- oversee the council’s decisions regarding property disposal or transfer to third parties and publicity.
- oversee the council’s decisions about publicity.
Biggs is trying hard to cut a deal with them to leave and may call the heavy guns rather than rely on the democratic mandate given to him by the people of Tower Hamlets – yet another mistake.
Biggs has recently told close aides that, after successfully sorting Khales out, he is going to go after the former Labour leader Helal Abbas for his part in the trigger ballot coup against him which means that all those reported deals about school in Whitechapel and Kobi Nazrul deals are now in jeopardy.
Helal and Khales supporters say they are ready to take on Biggs anytime and are confident of their political muscle, money and contacts.
Biggs’ £630,00 Bigly office is trying very hard, without much impact, to give the impression that all is well in the Bigly Tower but its First Citizen, Speaker of the Council, Cllr Khales Uddin is still suspended for the allegations of bullying and intimidation and his mayoralty is at stake. His Deputy Speaker is trying hard to take over former Speaker Khaled’s position.
Some of his own Cabinet Members, despite posturing one way to Biggs’ political proposals in meetings, are secretly indulging in ‘private deals’ to secure their political future.
This means ‘Master’ Biggs remains vulnerable to a genuine revolt against him inside the Tower Hamlets Labour Party – and indeed at the NEC level – based on the ground-swell of anger and disappointment in his (lack of) leadership and his choice of unpopular and austerity-supporting brutal cuts.
Also, Biggs and Blairites Tower Hamlets Labour who invited Eric Pickles to appoint Commissioners in their short-sightedness have now placed themselves open to being held ransom by Tories and the Commissioners, should they decide to renegade on the promises made to Biggs.
Biggs is also getting unpopular with ambitious Labour group councillors who see him as blocking their career progression in local politics.
This is the time for the Labour movement, the NEC, the left and centre within the party to act with decisiveness and boldness to ensure that the local Labour party remain a force for the good with a lasting legacy but this can’t be achieved without courage and ignoring a few trouble makers who may shout the loudest and have a few friends in the right-wing media but no grass-root support or the party’s best interest at heart.
This is the time for national Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn to stand up for the politically oppressed people of Tower Hamlets and his ideological and die-hard supporters in Tower Hamlets.
This is the time to unite Tower Hamlets, once and for all.
But time is running out.
People of Tower Hamlets have seen through the charade.
At his age, after 30 years wheeling and dealing in the local politics, this might be John Biggs’ last chance to be on the right side of history in Tower Hamlets and secure his legacy.
Unless Biggs find the courage to change course urgently and repent courageously to at last become a statesman-like figure, he is already lost.
At best, John Biggs is currently a lame-duck Mayor.
At worst, he is dead-man walking.