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

  • Featured Scotland Johann Lamont resigns as Scottish Labour leader

    Johann Lamont resigns as Scottish Labour leader

    Johann Lamont has resigned as leader of the Scottish Labour Party with immediate effect. She told the Scottish Daily Record: “I am proud of what we have achieved over the last three years. We held Alex Salmond to account” But was critical of some Scottish Labour colleagues, saying: “colleagues need to realise that the focus of Scottish politics is now Holyrood, not Westminster.” The BBC also reports Lamont accusing some in the party of trying to run Scotland “like a branch […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour shouldn’t offer cosmetic solutions for our education system

    Labour shouldn’t offer cosmetic solutions for our education system

    Until told otherwise I am going to assume that all teachers have a deep and noble interest in the education of children and young people in Britain. There is, then, no need for them to put their hand on their heart or a bible or a framed photograph of Nicky Morgan and swear an oath to education. I mean how would that go exactly? “I solemnly swear that I absolutely have not fallen into teaching because it’s guaranteed work and […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour MP receives vile anti-semitic messages

    Labour MP receives vile anti-semitic messages

    The Jewish Chronicle have reported that Luciana Berger MP and Louise Ellman MP have been subjected to anti-semitic tweets. Following the conviction of Garron Helm, who sent anti-semitic messages to Berger on Twitter – last night she faced further verbal online abuse. Messages sent to Berger included one that used the ‘jude’ – which in German means Jew. Another read “Only two places for Jews. The desert or in hell with their father the devil. #ExpelLucianaBerger” Berger has not responded to these […]

    Read more →
  • News George Osborne doesn’t accept living standards are falling

    George Osborne doesn’t accept living standards are falling

    Here’s one for the “what was he thinking?” files. George Osborne was interviewed by ITV news about today’s growth figures, yet when Economics Editor Richard Edgar noted that living standards are falling as wages have fallen behind inflation, the Chancellor disagreed with that fact, saying “I don’t accept that.” Here’s Elgar’s tweet: Living standards have fallen since 2010. So why won’t the Chancellor accept that? Is it because it punches a hole in his narrative about the British economy…?

    Read more →
  • Comment Europe Farage has chosen to cosy up with the sort of political party that makes most of us feel sick

    Farage has chosen to cosy up with the sort of political party that makes most of us feel sick

    Why do so many of us go canvassing and door-knocking in the rain? Or give up evenings and weekends for the Labour Party when we could be anywhere else. There’s always a candidate to support or a campaign to be won. But ultimately it’s about more than that – it’s about fighting for our values. We all get into politics to argue for what we think is right and to change our world bit by bit, day by day for […]

    Read more →