From Tower Hamlets to Bradford West – lessons for Labour

February 12, 2013 2:00 pm

The Democratic Audit report into the Bradford West by-election is important because it demonstrates that the party is changing, and that Ed Miliband, Sadiq Khan and others will listen when the voters send them a clear message.

Bradford West and Tower Hamlets are very different places, but there are some things we have in common –local traditions of Communist and anarchist politics, diverse with big South Asian populations, significant numbers of Muslims.  Both Tower Hamlets and Bradford have above average numbers of young people, and each of our communities is scarred by high levels of youth unemployment.

In Tower Hamlets, Iraq was a rupture in trust, coupled with a sense of impatience that after 8 years of Labour government families were still living in overcrowded, damp, rotten homes and too many couldn’t get decent work. Tower Hamlets received massive investment from 1997-2010, and we made good use of it, but many still felt left behind.

Rebuilding trust with the electorate in Tower Hamlets will need us to acknowledge some more fundamental truths.

The line in the Democratic Audit report into Bradford West that had the most resonance for me was:

“While the party has been vigilant about far left infiltration, it has been slack about guarding against infiltration by others who have no commitment to Labour values.”

For us, losing control of Tower Hamlets council was desperately sad, with the only upside being those that were only ever in politics for short term personal advantage went with it.

In 2010 we lost the Tower Hamlets mayoral election because the majority of local people stayed at home.  This is an issue beyond Tower Hamlets or Bradford– there is a national disaffection with politics, and a crisis of trust in our major institutions, from newspaper phone hacking to MPs expenses to the banks to the BBC.

In Tower Hamlets our challenge is greater because a destructive, transactional politics led many of the people who should be our supporters to switch off and disengage.

To renew trust in Tower Hamlets we have to acknowledge that in the past, Labour made mistakes.  We took too long to challenge the destructive politics of making deals with vested interests.

If we are to regain the trust of the people of Tower Hamlets we have to change.

We are already moving forward, with a new, diverse generation of leaders.

Our focus is that of our communities – strong public services, decent housing, homes and neighbourhoods, and jobs.   We will win back the council if people see us as authentic and rooted, and if they believe that we can offer hope.

We will achieve our ambitions for Tower Hamlets when people choose to vote, participate and take part in moving Tower Hamlets forward.

  • Daniel Speight

    “While the party has been vigilant about far left infiltration, it has
    been slack about guarding against infiltration by others who have no
    commitment to Labour values.”

    I didn’t know Progress was that big in Bradford.

  • Daniel Speight

    “While the party has been vigilant about far left infiltration, it has
    been slack about guarding against infiltration by others who have no
    commitment to Labour values.”

    I didn’t know Progress was that big in Bradford.

Latest

  • News Are Labour going to make the NHS the focal point of the 2015 campaign?

    Are Labour going to make the NHS the focal point of the 2015 campaign?

    Earlier this week, a poll found that Labour hold an 18-point lead over the Tories as the most trusted party on the NHS – the only topic voters consider a “major issue” that sees a Labour lead. The NHS being a crucial issue of the Scottish referendum, with both sides accusing the other of lying. Many of today’s votes rest on whether they trust Yes Scotland or Better Together’s claims about the health service. Now reports say that Labour are considering […]

    Read more →
  • Comment We stand up for human value – we proudly defend the Human Rights Act

    We stand up for human value – we proudly defend the Human Rights Act

    If you’re part of the Labour Party, or hold any similar values, you will certainly share the absolute belief in respect and dignity for everyone. I don’t think anyone in our movement, with our principles, would disagree. And so, with those common values, we are entirely right to stand up, loud and proud, for the Human Rights Act. The publication this week of Human Rights: Reflections on the 1998 Act by Jonathan Cooper in Stephen Hockman’s Law Reform 2015 (with […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Scotland Friendship and solidarity must prevail, as the fog clears

    Friendship and solidarity must prevail, as the fog clears

    The air hangs thick this morning with the referendum. Last night a deep fog rolled down across Edinburgh, but in reality it is the campaign which has blotted the vision and stopped even the keenest of observers from seeing what lies just a few footsteps ahead. The final days has provided one crucial clarification though – the No campaign is capable of great passion and powerful rhetoric. Mocked, endlessly criticised, a reputation dragged through the muck. Despite it all – […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Scottish Referendum – The Liveblog

    Scottish Referendum – The Liveblog

    Are you campaigning in Scotland today? Send us your stories (named or anonymous) to elections@labourlist.org – and we’ll run the pick of them on the liveblog. 16.14: Need some cheering up after all these stories of intimidation? This is good: selfies, speeches, leaflets and memes – it’s Labour No’s campaign wall. 15.41: In Newarthill, Labour NEC member Johanna Baxter tells us that one man refused a poster today because the guy who was putting up No codex boards in his […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Scotland Please don’t go

    Please don’t go

    I’m pretty well known for writing from a personal perspective. So I thought a column comparing the pain I feel about the referendum to the pain of my divorce would be easy to write. maybe a little trite even. How can this compare to that kind of personal pain? Well, it does. Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does. I feel like a lover treading on eggshells desperate to please. I really, really don’t want Scotland to leave me. So yes, […]

    Read more →