Unity in east London. Around 60 people, including Respect candidates, joined a protest last week at the Royal London Hospital, called by Tower Hamlets Keep Our NHS public, against cuts and privatisation (Pic: Jess Hurd /
Labour councillor denounces the policies that make his battle harder
Phil Waker, a Labour councillor for Village ward in Barking & Dagenham, made this speech last week at a CWU union national meeting to discuss strengthening Labour Party networks
‘When you go canvassing in Barking & Dagenham you find real discontent.
There are many people who have tough jobs on low pay. And housing is a crucial issue.
A couple of nights ago I visited a postal worker. He was paying £600 a month for his privately rented flat. He wants a council house.
Because of the sale of council houses and the restrictions on how councils can use the receipts from council house sales, there is very little we can do for people in such circumstances.
A second household of white people was paying £355 a week – yes a week – for their pokey temporary accommodation flat. They had been dumped in Barking & Dagenham from Newham, another Labour council.
The rent was going to a black landlord. Of course that’s no excuse for racism, but the build up of bitterness and frustration leads some people to vote BNP.
I was called an angry young man in the past, but I’ve got a lot angrier since I became a councillor.
We said we didn’t want academies, so our capital funding was cut. What’s the plan – have one good school in Dagenham and close the rest?
Margaret Hodge hasn’t helped by raising the BNP issue in the way she did.
She’s right about the alienation of sections of the white working class from politics – sections of the whole working class actually. But it’s never been true that eight out of ten white people think of voting BNP.
The only time you might hear that is if Margaret Hodge is going round herself.
Raising the issue in this way has made it easier for the BNP. I hear people now saying that they might vote BNP to shake up the government.
I will fight as hard as I can and with every bit of energy to defeat the BNP and to return Labour councillors. But we’re getting done over every day and I can’t answer some of the criticisms we’re getting on the doorstep.’
Campaign against the BNP
The BNP is standing 13 candidates in seven wards in Barking & Dagenham. Unite Against Fascism urges anti-fascists to help leaflet against the BNP this Sunday.
Meet at Dagenham Heathway tube station (District line), Sunday 30 April, 12 noon.
Go to www.uaf.org.uk for more information