Sunday, 13 January 2013
Stirring success in Newham
The meeting at the Harold Centre in the heart of Newham was to relaunch Newham Respect. The audience of young and old, men and women, black and white, Muslim and non-Muslim heard speeches from Yvonne Ridley, Lee Jasper and George Galloway who then answered questions and responded to contributions from the floor.
Yvonne, talked about her membership of the Labour Party and the way today’s New Labour had abandoned all the principles that had brought her into politics. Respect represented the values she had always supported and was the party that now represented the interests and aspirations of working people. Labour fears the rise of Respect, proved by the sight of MPs tramping to Rotherham for what should have been an easy election for Labour.
Lee talked about the racism that black and Asian people suffer, regardless of whether or not they speak English. He denounced Newham Council’s decision to refuse planning permission to the misnamed “Super Mosque” and pointed out that Black Christian churches were also being denied planning permission because of racism. He wants to see a broad coalition brought together of black and Asian, Christian and Muslim, together with everyone of a progressive outlook. This now potentially constitutes the majority in London.
George committed Respect to challenging for control of the council and, above all, defeating the reviled Labour mayor “Sir” Robin Wales. He railed against the incoherent capitulation to racism by Ed Miliband with his language tests for immigrants, whilst Labour and Tory governments and councils had slashed funding of ESOL teaching. George welcomed the many new people and the many potential council candidates who had come to the meeting, as well as those who had been with Respect from the beginning. He pointed out that Respect had polled some 40,000 votes in Newham in the past. In response to speakers from the floor who said that Labour councillors had said they had voted against granting planning permission to the “Super Mosque” because Robin Wales would expel them from Labour if they didn’t, George denounced their cowardice. Respect councillors would be people of principle who would bow down to no-one in pursuit of justice and the interests of their constituents.
Most of the audience then signed up to be part of Newham Respect and to build confidently for elections in local and mayoral elections in 2014, the General Election in 2015 and GLA elections in 2016.