Socialist Worker

Respect’s next steps in east London

by Oliur Rahman, Respect councillor
Issue No. 1915

Respect supporters were out in the Millwall ward of Tower Hamlets, east London, over the weekend, leafleting door to door, as the campaign for the council by-election there got underway.

The Millwall by-election comes on 9 September, just weeks after I was elected as a Respect councillor in the St Dunstan’s and Stepney Green ward of Tower Hamlets.

We now hope to build on that historic breakthrough by fighting for a good result in Millwall.

It will be a hard fight, but we are determined.

The by-election in Millwall has been caused because one of the New Labour councillors did not attend council meetings and so has been automatically disqualified from office.

This contempt for local people is just one reason why New Labour will lose this

by-election, and will deserve to lose it.

They will also lose because of the record of Tony Blair’s government, the war on Iraq and the privatisation of public services.

The widening gulf between the haves and have-nots is all too obvious in Millwall.

Millwall is in the Docklands area on the Isle of Dogs, where real poverty for many ordinary people sits face to face with luxury gated riverside compounds for the rich.

The local Tower Hamlets New Labour council is mired in sleaze, pushes Blair’s pro-business privatisation policies, and does nothing for ordinary people.

The Tories hope to gain from disgust at New Labour.

The growing numbers of wealthy people in the ward certainly provide a base for the Tories.

In the 10 June London Assembly and European Parliament elections the Tories won in Millwall, with 727 votes to New Labour’s 520.

But the Tories supported the war and Blair’s privatisation of public services.

Only Respect speaks up for ordinary people.

If we can reach out to the majority of working class people in the ward we can win a good result.

Respect got 257 votes in the ward on 10 June, but it was an area we did little campaigning in. The Greens got 204 votes on 10 June but are not standing this time.

Our candidate is well known local campaigner Paul McGarr. Paul played a leading role in the successful fight to save the local Barkantine health clinic from being sold off for luxury flats. As a result of that fight a new health centre is being built on the site.

Paul also played a key role in the fight to defeat the racist British National Party (BNP) when they won a council seat in Millwall a decade ago. The BNP are not even putting up a candidate in the ward now.

We will be fighting hard to carry our message to as many people as possible in the ward.

To get involved in the campaign phone 07958 535 231.

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Article information

Sat 21 Aug 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1915
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