Under the old system you could register anyone you liked, without having to produce any ID. This meant fraudsters could bag votes for people who didn't actually exist. We saw serious abuse of this flaw in the Tower Hamlets Mayoral elections last year, and the courts have since overturned the election result. In 21st Century Britain ballot stuffing is not acceptable.
This is a lesson that Mr Pickles and his government, as well as the opposition, needs to grasp with alacrity and start to work together to undo the harm that has already been done. Otherwise, we can expect communal, pork barrel politics to increasingly become the norm and so more of the likes of Luftur Rahman running councils and unwelcome Trojan Horses appearing in schools and elsewhere.
We are hearing a lot about development at the moment. The Mayor of London has released an audacious paper about what London should look like. From the Olympics to the airports debate everyone is excited about the modernising face of London. And yet too often ordinary people are promised affordable homes, then shut out of the development process whilst space is eaten up by unaccountable giants.
Rahman tries to claim that only he and those who support him have stood up to the EDL and other racist groups so that he can attack anybody who challenges his policies as implicitly racist. The puerile nature of this argument would be laughable were it not so dangerous - it isn't just the right-wing that can stir up community division.
Recently the Cross Government Group on Anti Muslim Hatred reported a growing and disturbing trend of hostility towards British Muslims. One statistic stood out in particular - namely that a quarter of young people apparently "do not trust Muslims". I was not surprised in the slightest by the group's further findings.
UPDATE: Two men have been arrested after the EDL and members of the Muslim community held demonstrations in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. ...
Old Flo is being used as a political football; those that talk about art at a time of austerity are the ones that do not have issues with finances. For many in Tower Hamlets life has been getting tougher, when the credit crunch hit, some of them had no credit to crunch, whilst the lovey-dovey, pretentious wine sipping art lovers enjoyed well paid jobs.
It is no secret that street food in London is thriving. Every month new traders hit the scene with mind boggling new concepts and taste combinations crazy enough to make Heston think twice... But our own experience thus far has been fraught by intransigent councils and endless negotiating with the powers that be.