When I first decided to go into local politics, rather than continue in law, I guessed that life would never be easy, especially in a borough such as mine whose turbulent yet rich history forms part of the tapestry of London's East End .
As the country's first directly elected British Bangladeshi Mayor, my first duty is to try and represent all the diverse communities that go to make Tower Hamlets one of the most diverse in the land. In recent weeks I, along with a number of councillors who form my Cabinet, have come under sustained attack from the London Evening Standard.
Realising that they had only published half of the story, the newspaper agreed to take a response from me, but reneged. So this, I hope not only takes on that newspapers clear agenda- to attack Ken Livingstone through his supporters like me, but allows me to present a very different picture and to what I think is more discerning audience.
My borough has its contradictions. In the shadow of Canary Wharf , we still have the highest rates of child poverty in the country - and yet our schools consistently outperform those of wealthier boroughs. We continue to support a variety of public services, such as free home help, while other local authorities have got rid of them.
We do so because Tower Hamlets is a poor borough, with a history of poor housing. We have a large number of multi generational families living in overcrowded accommodation combined with a high population turnover, which is why we also take recent claims of potential electoral fraud very seriously indeed.
I would simply remind politicians who have hopped upon this particular bandwagon, that following complaints of voter fraud in the 2010 General Election, investigating police failed to find a single case in our borough. Council officers vigorously check any suspicious registrations and take people off the electoral register where deemed necessary. We didn't invent nor did we advocate the current registration system and the expansion of postal balloting, and there is a clear argument for a national review. But we must really be careful that we do not turn people off from the democratic process by avoiding some of the suggestive allegations that have appeared in recent weeks.
Since being elected Mayor, I have stood shoulder to shoulder with leaders from all religious faiths, with the LBGT community and residents from all walks of life in our cosmopolitan borough in preventing far Right extremists from the British National Party and the English Defence League from tramping their way through the East End as Mosley and his Black shirts did in the 1930s. Sadly, the racists and bigots feed from, and re-print, much of the dangerous nonsense that is being promulgated in some quarters that somehow my administration is 'Sharia law fringed' or 'Islamism-lite'. My religion is a private matter. But the kind of society I want to see mirrors that envisaged by Prince Charles. It is essentially where no one particular religion has hegemony; instead we have a community of faiths.
The move, for instance to clamp down on strip clubs in the borough, did not come through any religious pressure, but because councillors were increasingly concerned at complaints of anti social behaviour outside them and the exploitation of women. Unfortunately we cannot comment on specific premises, as the draft policy is out for consultation, but we can say that the policy is based firmly on existing national legislation.
Whatever my hopes for May's London Mayoral elections - I want Ken Livingstone to win - my fervent hope is that my borough is not, and will not, becoming the whipping boy for all of those who don't want Ken to win. We are so much more that.
Come and see for yourselves.
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