TOWER HAMLETS Respect activists have shown their support for direct investment in council housing, and their opposition to privatisation and stock transfer housing schemes.
The decision to prioritise housing issues as a key campaigning area was taken at a Tower Hamlets Respect conference in east London last Sunday.
Last week’s front page of Socialist Worker highlighted the atrocious conditions many Tower Hamlets council tenants face. Respect councillor Oliur Rahman wrote in Socialist Worker how Sanur Ali’s family of nine are crammed into a two-bedroom flat.
Delegates confirmed their intention to run candidates in the next general election. Respect will stand against the borough’s New Labour MPs Oona King and Jim Fitzpatrick.
Nominations for both constituencies are now formally open. Around 50 Respect supporters attended the conference, representing a cross-section of community activists, trade unionists and socialists.
Much of the day was devoted to formulating concrete policies on social issues faced by people in the borough, one of London’s poorest.
In addition to housing, delegates voted to oppose internal privatisation of the health service and campaign against restrictions on healthcare provision for asylum seekers.
The meeting closed with a speech by George Galloway pledging Respect’s continued support for the people of Iraq and opposition to New Labour’s policies of privatisation and cuts.
Tower Hamlets has seen high votes for Respect.
Oliur Rahman won a council seat there in August, while Paul McGarr came second in the recent Millwall by-election, beating Labour’s candidate into third place.
The New Labour government is right back where it didn’t want to be—in an intractable crisis over the occupation in Iraq.
The anti-war movement has been proved conclusively right by the CIA’s own Iraq Survey Group report showing there were no weapons of mass destruction.
Against this background the Respect executive met last weekend and called on all its members to redouble their efforts to build the Stop the War Coalition.
The Stop the War Coalition is to issue a call at the ESF this week to set a date for an international day of action early next year in opposition to the war in Iraq.
With 71 percent of the British pubic in favour of setting a date for the troops to be withdrawn from Iraq, it is a vital moment for everyone on the left to re-energise the anti-war movement.
The executive also heard reports from over 80 local meetings in preparation for the Respect conference at the end of October.
Key discussions will take place on war and imperialism, Respect’s general election strategy, and defending communities.
John Rees, Respect national secretary