Respect supporters in Waltham Forest, east London, have voted to back Carole Vincent in the Leyton ward council by-election scheduled for Thursday 14 February.
Carole is well-known in the borough, where she has lived and campaigned on many issues for more than 25 years.
The by-election was triggered when a Labour councillor in the ward, Miranda Grell, was convicted on two charges of making false accusations about another candidate in the 2006 council elections.
The council is currently run by a Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition.
Carole told Socialist Worker, “They work together on nearly every issue. So if you vote for one of them you are really voting for both. We need a change.”
Carole joined many other Respect supporters leafleting the ward at the weekend.
She said, “We’re off to a really good start – there is real enthusiasm for the campaign. There is a lot of anger in Waltham Forest – and a lot of resistance.”
Carole joined refuse workers protesting over their single status pay deal on the steps of Waltham Forest town hall on Thursday of last week.
The workers’ Unite union steward Tommy Anderson returned the solidarity by turning out on Sunday to help to leaflet for Carole’s campaign.
Tommy told Socialist Worker, “I came to show my support for Carole. We need to show this council that there’s an alternative to Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
“I wish Carole much success in her campaign.”
Carole has a long track record of working with young people in east London. She has been a foster carer and worked with many youth groups in the area. She was recently given an award from the Terrence Higgins Trust for her services as a volunteer.
Carole said “I have always tried to help support young people. I am angry about the way the main parties demonise young people.
“We have to address the lack of youth facilities in the borough and we need to look at education services.”
Waltham Forest council has recently awarded the contract for school improvements and support services to the VT Group – an arms manufacturer.
The company even has interests in the nuclear industry, having recently acquired British Nuclear Group Project Services.
Carole said, “What message does this send to young people? We are trying to teach them about peace while selling off education to an international firm specialising in warships.
“We need to put a stop to the council’s privatisation. They have sold off homecare, recycling, some of the housing stock, youth clubs and parts of education.
“They have also sold off many council buildings. These resources belong to the people of Waltham Forest. The council is basically asset stripping the borough.”
Carole has campaigned over many local issues, such as saving Whipps Cross hospital, but also over national and international issues. Many in the ward recognise Carole from her TV appearance on Big Brother but many more recognise her as a local campaigner.
“I have been a peace campaigner since I was in my teens,” she told Socialist Worker.
“I was also an anti-apartheid activist. This helped to make me aware of the need to fight against racism.
“I have been involved in Waltham Forest in working to counter racism, fascism and the recent growth of Islamophobia.
“I have supported many groups of workers in the area. Just in the last year I have supported workers in dispute in the council, the post office, on the buses and in the civil service.
“I am also very keen to support pensioners in the area – we need to fight for decent pensions.”
Carole’s election agent is Darren O’Grady, the secretary of Waltham Forest Respect.
Darren told Socialist Worker, “Over the past year the anger at the council has deepened. There have been big protests and meetings over issues such as library closures and cuts to the William Morris gallery.
“There are a number of campaigns in Waltham Forest now where people are asking serious questions about the future of this area and are beginning to hold this council to account. Our election campaign is part of that process.”
Respect is asking supporters from across London to help with the Leyton by-election.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” says Darren. “We would welcome as many people as possible coming to help us out in Leyton. Together we can make a big impact.”
There will be leafleting every Tuesday and Wednesday evening in the run up to the by-election. On Tuesdays meet at Cafe des Delices, 258 High Road, London E10. On Wednesdays meet at the Desert Rose Coffee Shop, 401 Hoe Street, London E17.
Activists will be leafleting and canvassing every Saturday and Sunday, meeting at the Desert Rose Coffee Shop at 11am and 2pm.
For more information or to help with the campaign phone 07010 707351 or go to » www.respectcoalition.org