Labour leader Ed Miliband visits Tower Hamlets on anniversary of BNP defeat

By Rob Virtue on May 6, 2014 4:55 PM |

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Labour leader Ed Miliband used the 20th anniversary of the British National Party being voted out of Tower Hamlets to call for unity in the borough.

Mr Miliband threw his support behind his party's mayoral candidate John Biggs on a visit to Brick Lane on Tuesday. And he said, at a time of current mayor Lutfur Rahman facing accusations of being divisive, Mr Biggs would bring the borough back together.

Derek Beackon became the BNP's first elected representative in a by-election in 1993 before losing his seat a year later, following a campaign led by Mr Biggs.

Mr Miliband said: "John drove out the BNP 20 years ago. He called for unity and not division. And that means you're a mayor who serves all of the people you were elected to without fear or favour. I know from his record that's what he'll do.

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"He offers the unifying vision for this borough and I think that's a vision people in Tower Hamlets share."

Mayor Rahman was elected as an independent in 2010 after being kicked out of the Labour group months earlier.

But Mr Miliband refused to say it was of key importance for the party to win Tower Hamlets back.

"It's important for the people of Tower Hamlets," he said. "I want them to have a good mayor and one that's going to serve them well.

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"And I know that man is John Biggs because the current mayor hasn't delivered on his promises and John has a clear and costed manifesto on the issues that matter - whether it's the cost of living, free school meals, housing, anti-social behaviour and free school meals, he's going to deliver.

"It's not about the importance for a political party. It's about the the importance for the people John came into politics to represent."

Local, European and mayoral elections will be held in Tower Hamlets on May 22.

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