Campaigning for the May 2022 local elections started last year if you knew where to look but it is becoming increasingly obvious as parties start stepping up activity ahead of May 2022 that it is underway now.
So, I thought I should make clear what my own plans are.
At this stage– 9 months away from the local election, I plan to stand as a candidate for the Canary Wharf ward election as an independent (a member of no political party).
A reminder there are 2 Councillors for the ward, so you will have two votes.
Democratic elections are about choice and the good thing is that Canary Wharf ward will be a real contest, as a ward that different political parties (Aspire, Labour, Conservative) have won in recent years and will all fancy their chances here so your vote really will matter. In May 2018 there was a 7-vote difference between the 2nd, 3rd, 4th candidates!
As an independent candidate whether I get re-elected or not will be up to you as voters. I will have no party machinery behind me, no automatic bank of support I can rely on, no money except my own.
If I fail to get re-elected then I can go on a lovely long holiday, first proper one in 8 years, stop working 7 days a week, and get a chance to read some of those books I still buy as if I have the time to read them
But as a now experienced Councillor who still has a long list of things I want to get done (more on this in coming weeks including a Mayoral manifesto and a local Council for the Isle of Dogs), I feel a duty to stand again. If you want me to represent you for another 4 years I will do it, if not I can relax and go do something else.
But to be honest one of the things I am struggling with is to what extent I try and finish stuff in the next 9 months (that infrastructure analysis for the Isle of Dogs!) and how much time I spend on campaigning. I know the two reinforce each other but a lot of the work I do is not visible or so boring that many people won’t be interested (trying to change the Councils strategic plan targets for example or writing fire safety recommendations).
One reason for standing again is that we do not have enough Councillors today who are both capable and who will do the work (see my analysis of Cllr work levels) and Tower Hamlets has less Councillors (45) then almost any other local authority so we cannot afford to have too many duds. Today we have around 15 excellent Councillors, 15 OK Councillors and 15 poor ones. You as voters need to do a better job voting for good people next May, but then political parties also need to pick better candidates!
So, one of the things I aim to do over the coming months is provide residents with a better understanding of local politics, issues and what Councillors actually do when we have a Mayor with all of the power. So that come next May you will be able to make
To register a political party takes time, it can be done like Rabina Khan did with PATH in 2018 and Lutfur Rahman did with Aspire. But I quite like being an independent, it allows me to work with people from other political parties.
Will I re-join the Conservatives?
I was asked if I would re-join the Conservative party recently and I said no. I am politically homeless at a national level as no major party represents my views. I am like former Conservatives David Gauke and Rory Stewart, the Conservative party nationally has moved away from me, and I have wide policy differences even if the Westferry Printworks decision was the final straw for me.