Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats have had a policy motion accepted for debate at the party’s Autumn Conference setting out steps to tackle corruption and corporate crime more effectively.
The borough has had its share of news stories on the subject in the last year, with former mayor Lutfur Rahman on the receiving end of an asset freeze and banned from running for public office after being found guilty of electoral fraud and corrupt practices. A number of firms in Canary Wharf also found themselves subject to investigations as a result of details leaked in the Panama Papers in April.
Elaine Bagshaw to fight Poplar and Limehouse Constituency
Will Dyer to fight Bethnal Green and Bow Constituency
Elaine Bagshaw and Will Dyer were selected unanimously as the Liberal Democrat candidates for the constituencies of Poplar & Limehouse and Bethnal Green & Bow yesterday.
Elaine has a fantastic record of fighting for the people of Poplar and Limehouse, having first fought for this seat at the last election and since then campaigned for the job of Mayor of Tower Hamlets in 2015, and to be our local London Assembly member in 2016, as well as securing a local vote of 67% for Remain in the EU Referendum.
Will is a student at Queen Mary University in the Constituency and worked on the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign that secured a strong vote for remain vote across London and in particular in Tower Hamlets.
With the Brighton party conference less than a month away, the Tower Hamlets Lib Dems gathered in Kafe 1788, a friendly gallery and café in Poplar, to discuss the Conference agenda over some pizza.
This was a great opportunity to consider and discuss some of the key motions for the Conference, and prepare any positions, questions and amendments. Two key conference issues were chosen: ‘Safe and Free’ and ‘An End to Homelessness’.
Liberal Democrats in Tower Hamlets have condemned the latest suspected racist attack in the wake of last month’s European Union referendum vote.
Elaine Bagshaw, Liberal Democrat GLA candidate for City & East, said the attack on the Brick Lane curry house owned by leading remain campaigner Amzal Hussain was a “disturbing development” in the borough.
Mr Hussain told the East London Advertiser that he fears that windows in his restaurant were smashed last week because he had been vocal during the referendum campaign, including making appearances on Bangla TV in support of Britain remaining in the EU.
Figures released by the Met Police last Tuesday showed that in the days after the referendum result, allegations of hate crime in the capital soared by 50 per cent.
Tower Hamlets voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU by 73,011 to 35,244.
Elaine Bagshawe said:
“This attack is a disturbing development in our borough which over centuries has been the first place that many immigrants came to build their new life in the UK.
“I commend Mr Hussain’s call for people to come together after the attack on his business and applaud his willingness to accept the views of others – including those he campaigned so hard against during the referendum.
“Tower Hamlets Liberal Democrats are determined to stand up for tolerance and internationalism, particularly in the wake of this divisive referendum. We will not allow the result to give licence to racists and xenophobes and will continue to campaign loudly in the defense of our diverse community and liberal values.”
Now is a time for reflection, as we consider the consequences of the fateful decision to go to war in Iraq.
Our first thoughts need to be with the families across the world who have grieved loved ones, experienced life-changing injuries, and witnessed destruction and despair often beyond description.
There is no justice that can compensate their loss, and today we have learned from the Chilcot Report what we all knew already in our hearts – it did not have to be this way.
For many members in Tower Hamlets, the Iraq war was a genuine turning point.
Many others chose to join the Liberal Democrats when they saw Charles Kennedy step up to the challenge, in difficult times, and provide the strong, principled leadership our country so desperately needed.
In 2003, every Liberal Democrat MP voted AGAINST going to war in Iraq.
It was the right thing to do, and that has been proven again today. Sir John Chilcot’s report has shown that this was a war of choice, that options for a peaceful resolution still existed, and that our Prime Minister wilfully mislead parliament and the British people to march us into a war he had already decided to launch.
We were proud to see our leader Charles Kennedy refuse to compromise, despite enormous pressure and abuse pouring in from all sides, on the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to internationalism and respect for international law.
You can see Charles’ speeches below, he was a real example of principled leadership in a time of crisis. It is not just Liberal Democrats who are missing Charles today. Our whole country is all the poorer without him.
Finally, while Chilcot gives us the chance to reflect on past mistakes, we still have a duty to oppose the mistakes that our leaders are making today!
Right now, Britain risks cutting herself off from our most valuable allies and trading partners, putting millions of jobs at risk and doing massive harm to our economy. We're proud of Tim Farron for showing equal determination and leadership to fight Brexit and put Britain back where we belong, at the heart of an open, tolerant, free, and prosperous Europe.
If you agreed with us in 2003, if you agree with us now in 2016 – it is time to join the party that is proudly and passionately fighting for the better future we all believe in.
P.S. You can see some great videos of Charles Kennedy’s speeches on Iraq in Parliament and at the anti-way rally in Hyde Park here (via Lib Dem Voice)
We read with horror of the attack at O’Kitchen Restaurant in Gulshan, Dhaka and the tragic loss of the twenty civilian hostages and two police officers killed during the shooting. Our deepest condolences are with the friends and family – particularly any here in Tower Hamlets – of Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain, Abinta Kabir and Ishrat Akhond and the victims from India, Italy, Japan and Sri Lanka killed or injured in the attack.
We condemn the cruel actions of the terrorists responsible for this and other recent attacks in the country, and call on the British government to stand firm with Bangladesh in preventing the spread of militant activity and restoring a peaceful and secular democracy where all citizens can live their lives without fear of violence.
We join in mourning with the Bangladeshi communities here in London and in Dhaka and hope fervently for a more tolerant and peaceful future.
King Edward Memorial Park is a beautiful space, and an integral part of Tower Hamlets’ riverfront. As part of the Tideway sewer expansion project, which will run under the park, its layout will be affected and thus the Council has gained £3 million in funding to redevelop the park.
While we support the expansion of London’s overstretched sewer capacity, any redevelopment to the park needs to be done sensitively, as it is such an important part of Tower Hamlets’ heritage. Having said that, the park has been grossly neglected over the last few years, and this project could provide a good opportunity for some well-needed maintenance.
Tower Hamlets Lib Dems attended a consultation at the park on Saturday 4 June, where the developers were canvassing suggestions for the redevelopment. Although they did not provide any firm plans at this stage, there were some key ideas that were being suggested. These included installing a café and toilet in the park, linking it with the proposed Wapping Lido, and increasing the capacity of the over-subscribed tennis courts.
These could help improve the park, but we have some remaining concerns:
- Any expansion would require the removal of the bowling green. Although this has fallen out of use in recent years, we would be interested to know if any local residents would prefer this space to be regenerated rather than removed.
- Incorporating the lido could have an impact on the residents of Glamis Road, who live in between this and the park.
- The Western end of the park is very unkempt, with little access between the park and the sports areas. This should be opened up and made more attractive and accessible.
- The main element of the Tideway project will be large towers that will be installed at the front of the park. The developers have given little indication of what these would look like and how they would be incorporated into the new look-and-feel of the park.
The consultation is continuing, with a meeting at Raine House, 16 Raine St, on 8 June at 6.30pm. Please let us know your views at email@example.com, or come along to the meeting on Wednesday.
So the Government thinks the solution to the crisis in our prisons is to give governors more power rather than have a more strategic sense of what the prison system is for and how best to lessen re-offending and properly rehabilitate offenders.
Liberal Democrat peer Jonathan Marks is unimpressed with the Government’s plans. He said:
It is a scary thought that the grand architect who oversaw the dismantling of the school system as we knew it is now getting his hands all over the nation’s prisons.
It is no secret that our prison system is in crisis. We lock up far too many people each year with inadequate facilities and staffing.
These reforms might tackle the problems at the surface but without root and branch reform of our criminal justice system the whole process will be built to fail.
The academy model for schools is falling apart as we speak so why the Government feels that this template is appropriate for prisons is incomprehensible.
Instead we should be focusing on ensuring that our criminal justice system is centred on rehabilitation and diverting people away from prisons wherever possible rather than this continued obsession with locking them up.
For those who do have to go to prison, we should be putting education at the heart of the prison system, to give prisoners the skills to lead a productive life on release; we should be helping prisoners deal with mental health issues and histories of drug and alcohol abuse; we should be focusing on offering them meaningful support in preparing for release. These things can only be achieved if we increase staffing in prisons, cut overcrowding, and give prisoners a proper amount of time out of their cells.
Just making some structural changes will be no more effective than rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic unless we provide the extra resources and the commitment to make prisons work as places of rehabilitation.
On 19 April 2016, we held the latest instalment of our round-table forums on policy priorities.
Following on from the highly successful "Pizza & Politics" night in February, The Tale of India restaurant hosted our "Poppadom & Politics" night, focusing on diversity within the local party. The importance of discussing this issue was apparent from the outset, given the composition of the attendees - 100% white and 90% male. But this certainly didn't preclude a lively and informed discussion on what our diversity priorities should be and how we should go about improving diversity within the local party.
York is a beautiful city, and with the mild weather and the daffodils coming into bloom along the city walls it was a beautiful time to be there… but with a packed agenda in only two-and-a-half days, there wasn't a lot of time for smelling the flowers!
The Liberal Democrats used the conference to set out some big, bold, new policy ideas – you may have seen the headlines about legalising cannabis or the broadcast with Norman Lamb.
Caroline Pidgeon, Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London, put forward new policy on protections for private renting, and former London copper Brian Paddick made it clear that we would strongly oppose the Home Secretary's "Snoopers Charter" to let spies follow everything you do on the internet (even more important, now that Labour are going to give the government a free ride!).
And, as we had guessed at our Pre-Conference Pizza & Politics, the most hotly debated motions were a move to oppose fracking and another to make the Party's MPs more diverse and better reflect the people we want to represent.