Tower Hamlets

The Telegraph’s Andrew Gilligan reports from Tower Hamlets with “’Stolen election’ in the heart of London

As the count dragged all through Friday May 23 and deep into the night, 2,000 supporters of the borough’s extremist-linked mayor, Lutfur Rahman, gathered outside, effectively barricading Mr Rahman’s Labour opponents in the building… almost 36 hours after voting closed, Mr Miah’s count had finished. He was top in his ward with 2,270 votes, 149 more than his nearest Rahman-supporting rival. But then things started to go wrong.

“The returning officer was about to announce the result,” said Mr Miah. “Then the mayor in person came down and said you must recount.” The recount, with five other wards, took place the next day. “When we went to the new count centre, we saw Lutfur talking to his candidate, saying, don’t worry, you will definitely win.” According to many witnesses, last Sunday’s count was even worse than the day before.

“There were far fewer controls over who got into the building. Lutfur Rahman supporters were everywhere, leaning over the count staff, shouting at them, intimidating them, jabbing fingers,” said Peter Golds, the leader of the Conservative opposition.

The story speaks for itself…

UKIP

Still in the news, Matthew D’Ancona of the Telegraph observes that “Nigel Farage, the Purple Pimpernel, can’t remain an outsider forever

(Following the Iraq war and the Kelly affair)… the hatred of the political class now had a martyrology as well as a catalogue of grievances. The parents of Ukip’s rise were the domestic effects of the Iraq war and the MPs’ expenses scandal generated by The Telegraph’s disclosures in 2009.

Nigel Farage has never looked more worried than when he was alleged in April to have made improper use of his allowances as an MEP – more worried, in fact, than when his remarks about Romanian neighbours churned a debate about his party’s extremism. The Ukip leader argued – correctly, as it happens – that the allowance system at the European Parliament is not the same as the regime governing MPs’ expenses. But he also knew that voters are far too busy to bother themselves with such technicalities. What his movement absolutely cannot afford is to be perceived as just another party, another variation on a dismally familiar theme.

The Guardian catches up on yesterday’s Telegraph news on the ComRes/Sykes poll with “Ukip to contest seats of senior Tories in 2015 general election

The Express reports from Newark with this story: “Newark Conservative activists: ‘We voted for Ukip’

MOST Conservative activists in Newark voted for Ukip in the European elections, it was claimed last night. Party supporters vented their frustration at David Cameron’s refusal to listen to them over Europe. The revelation comes just days before voters in the ­Nottinghamshire town elect a new MP, following the resign­ation of disgraced Tory Patrick Mercer.

Activist Frank Ward, 84, said: “I voted for Ukip and I can tell you most of the other (Conservative) members here did too. It’s the only way to get David Cameron to listen to us. I voted to join a free trade association, not a European union.” A party member for 45 years, he added: “Unless he starts to show us he’s listening to us, the ones who have worked so hard for the party all these years, he will not get a majority next year. I feel ignored.”

The Mirror reports that “Eric Pickles to be given task of wooing UKIP voters back to Tories before General Election

Blunt Yorkshireman Eric Pickles is to be given the task of taking on UKIP for the Tories in next year’s General Election, reports the Sunday People. David Cameron is set to make the Communities Secretary Tory Party Chairman in a Cabinet reshuffle.

Current chairman Grant Shapps will stay in Cabinet and is likely to become Commons leader in the shake-up ­expected later this month. The PM believes 62-year-old Mr Pickles – MP for Essex seat Brentwood and Ongar – has the right ­heavyweight image to woo back UKIP voters to the Tories.

We would comment that his seat isn’t particularly safe, either. The same paper also attempts to smear Bill Etheridge, one of UKIP’s West Midlands MEPs.

BBC

The Telegraph reports on remarks made by IDS about BBC bias: “BBC is ‘downgrading’ Cameron’s referendum pledge

The BBC is systematically “downgrading” David Cameron’s pledge to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, leaving most voters ignorant of the Prime Minister’s radical plans, Iain Duncan Smith has said.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the Cabinet minister suggested the BBC was failing to provide viewers and listeners with a genuine public service because of its coverage of politics. Audiences relied on the BBC to keep them informed about political debate but were being let down, the Work and Pensions Secretary said.

Europe

There is a lot of truth in what Christopher Booker says in the Telegraph: “The Euro-elite won the election – not Ukip

After the euphoria of those 24 seats for Ukip and that “Eurosceptic earthquake” across Europe, we are back to Euro-reality with a bump. Nigel Farage and millions of others may rightly be cheered by the first-ever victory in a British election of a party without a single MP. But, in terms of democracy, just as significant was the fact that Ukip still only won the support of 9 per cent of the total electorate, two thirds of whom did not bother to vote at all.

EU-wide, despite the success of that ragbag of “Eurosceptic” parties, only 43 per cent of electors voted, and the three largest groupings in the European Parliament, all supporting further integration, won an overwhelming majority, with 522 of the 751 seats.

Virtually unreported in Britain, the response of that fervent integrationist, José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, was to say that the best answer to “those who protested or did not vote” was for the EU to “take more decisive action for growth and jobs” and to hold a “truly democratic debate” on Europe’s future.

The Guardian takes a different line around the appointment of a new Chief of the European Commission: “David Cameron says vote for Juncker might push UK out of EU: report

David Cameron has warned he would no longer be able to guarantee that Britain would remain a member of the European Union if European leaders elect Jean-Claude Juncker as European Commission chief, Germany’s Der Spiegel said.

The commission president is selected by EU leaders but must be approved by the assembly, where Eurosceptics from the right made gains in last week’s election. The European People’s Party, which won the most seats in the vote, had chosen Luxembourg’s former premier Juncker as its candidate.

In a pre-publication copy of an article, Spiegel said the prime minister had explained, on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels on Tuesday, that if Juncker became commission president, Cameron would no longer be able to ensure Britain’s continued EU membership.

Cameron is playing a complex web of games here – a large proportion of people are convinced he is a 100% Europhile.

Immigration

The Guardian reports on Douglas Alexander’s “EU Reform Plan” : Labour must take tougher line on ‘mass migration’ from Europe, Miliband told

Ed Miliband is facing a backbench revolt over immigration policy as senior Labour MPs publicly warn of catastrophic consequences for the party unless he seeks constraints on the free movement of EU workers.

The unrestricted entry of EU citizens from eastern Europe since 2004 is hurting the “very communities that the Labour party was founded to represent”, the MPs claim in an open letter published in the Observer.

Miliband is urged by the rebels, including two former ministers, to commit a Labour government to seeking to constrain the free movement of labour from European countries with much lower incomes than the UK, such as Romania and Bulgaria. Two million national insurance numbers have been issued to nationals from eastern European accession countries since 2004.

Meanwhile, the Mail reports on a senior Tory echoing similar sentiments: “‘We must close our borders to migrants who burden Britain’: Senior Tory adds fuel to incendiary debate over immigration from EU that is dividing the Cabinet

Edinburgh’s Tram

The Guardian reports from Scotland on another shambolic project in the capital: “Edinburgh’s tram system opens – £375m over budget and three years late

Edinburgh’s problem-plagued tram system opened to paying customers on Saturday – three years behind schedule, more than two times over budget and limited to a route that covers less than half the network that had originally been planned for it.

The first service left the city’s Gyle shopping centre at 5am. Passengers included tram enthusiasts Marjory Broom, 59, her husband George, 63, and son Christopher, 31. “It was chock-a-block, and it was a real carnival atmosphere on board, with people cheering as the tram set off,” Marjory Broom told reporters.

NHS

The Independent reports that: “Death more likely after a weekend operation: Weekly dip in recovery rates worldwide proves need for a ‘seven-day NHS

Sick? In need of an operation? Then keep your fingers crossed that your consultant doesn’t schedule your procedure for a weekend afternoon – especially one in February. Patients are up to 17 per cent more likely to die if they are admitted at the weekend, an unprecedented global study has revealed.

As the NHS prepares to enter an era of seven-day working, data from 72 different research projects covering more than 55 million patients found that the “weekend effect” is international. Researchers from Tohoku University, Japan, who analysed worldwide hospital death rates, said the most likely explanation for the results was poorer quality care at weekends.

Broken Banks

The Independent also casts gloom over the taxpayer-owned bank with “RBS could fail due to ‘£100bn black hole’ – with British taxpayers in line to lose their entire £45bn stake

British taxpayers risk losing their entire £45bn stake in Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) which is in grave danger of failing within 10 years, according to an explosive new book.

A new study of the disgraced bank, which brought the UK to the brink of financial ruin, reveals RBS still has a £100bn “black hole” in its finances due to “five broad areas of alleged criminality and wrongdoing”.

They include the mis-selling of financial products such as payment protection insurance, the alleged duping of investors who were persuaded to plough more than £12bn into RBS shares just before the banking crash in 2008, further fallout from the Libor scandal, and current criminal investigations into the manipulation of the £3trn-a-day foreign exchange markets.

Liberal Democrats

The Independent reports that “Nick Clegg survives a coup but Lib Dem MPs’ fury over poor election results rages on

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg will this week face angry MPs from his party who are demanding an overhaul of its strategy after disastrous local and European election results.

The Parliamentary party will meet after the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday, the first time that the bulk of LibDem MPs have been together since the party lost 11 of its 12 MEPs last weekend. Some MPs had hoped to use this meeting to demand Mr Clegg consider his position, but the Deputy Prime Minister survived a botched coup last week that has eased the pressure on him.

Instead, it is thought that more than 10 MPs – about a fifth of the LibDems’ Parliamentary caucus – will demand that the party abandon its “stronghold strategy”.

Islamic Jihad

The Mail on Sunday has a piece on “The British Bin Laden: Former House of Fraser trainee unmasked as sadistic Al Qaeda killer

A young British Muslim who fled his suburban upbringing and travelled abroad to become a fanatical terrorist can today be unmasked by The Mail on Sunday. London-born Ismail Jabbar, 22, is fighting for the ‘Unit Bin Laden’ of violent Islamic extremists in Syria, where he boasts of killing his enemies.

A former trainee with the House of Fraser store, he also incites fellow Muslims to murder soldiers, police officers and unbelievers back in Britain. He disappeared from the UK nine months ago and smuggled himself into the war-ravaged country as a Kalashnikov-wielding jihadist who revels in bloodshed and has used a series of aliases to hide his true identity.

The same has paper has this story too, on a similar topic, and this on measures to “crack down” on the problem.

Bank Holidays

The Express reports on the continued implementation of multi-culturalism with “Exclusive: Parliament plea for Muslim and Hindu bank holiday in UK calendar

An online petition requesting a day off for Hindu festival Diwali and Muslim celebration Eid has attracted more than 119,000 signatures and has three months more to run. Under the rules of the e-petition scheme, introduced in 2011, once the 100,000 signature mark is passed it should be considered for a House of Commons debate.

The debate will stir controversy because these could become the first non-Christian religious holidays in Britain and could lead to calls from other faiths for similar treatment. It could also anger nationalists who have complained St George’s Day and St David’s Day are not holidays. However an e-petition calling for these days to be marked has so far attracted only 34 signatures.

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