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One Tower Hamlets – or two?

March 7, 2010

Labour councillors join Respect

“On Friday outside the House of Commons jack-booted skinhead thugs of the English Defence League paraded with banners saying ‘Close the East London Mosque Now’ and ‘Ban the Burkha’,” said George Galloway at a press conference in Brick Lane yesterday. “This is where the witch-hunt launched by Jim Fitzpatrick last summer against Muslim weddings was bound to end up.

“Fitzpatrick also inspired the Muslim witch-hunting Dispatches programme last Monday and has created an atmosphere inside the local Labour Party where Graham Taylor, the Labour Party chair, can describe Tower Hamlets Town Hall as a ‘centre of Islamic Fundamentalism’.

“The Respect Party is standing in this election for peace, justice and equality, fairness and common sense for all sections of our diverse community in Tower Hamlets.

“We proudly welcome the two councillors who have just resigned the Labour whip and will be standing as Respect candidates in the May elections. Councillors Salim Ullah and Fazlul Haque, and other senior Labour members, including its former vice-chairman, have finally decided enough is enough. so said George Galloway at a press conference yesterday.

“We are demanding Labour candidate Rushanara Ali sacks Graham Taylor as her election agent and he resigns as Labour chair and council candidate. Pandering to racism and Islamophobia is disgusting and dangerous and we will strongly resist any attempt to divide Tower Hamlets on these lines.”


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“The Labour council is keen to tell us that we are one Tower Hamlets. But it’s not true,” said Councillor Abjol Miah, Respect candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow. “There is a massive contrast between the opulence and splendour of Canary Wharf and the gated communities that have sprung up in East London and the conditions in which most of us have to live and work, if we are lucky enough to be working.

“There are officially 23,000 on the council’s housing waiting list and officially over 15,500 families in overcrowded conditions. And yet less than one in five homes being built in the largest building programme in London are earmarked to address this housing scandal. Seven out of every ten new homes are officially “unaffordable” for the vast majority of people who live here.

“Most of the homes for the less well off are ‘car free’, meaning residents cannot get parking permits. To add insult to injury the council and the housing associations are pursuing a draconian parking enforcement policy ticketing, clamping and towing away cars at the drop of a hat, costing car owners hundreds of pounds.

“We are demanding a crash council house building programme which will both stimulate our depressed economy and address the massive housing crisis we are facing. And we want an end to punishing car owners.”

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With the Tories the gap between Labour and the Tories narrowing in the polls, there is every prospect now of a hung parliament. This could make Tower Hamlets the decisive influence over the next government.

Very senior Labour figures have approached George Galloway to find out our attitude towards a potential minority Labour government.  This is our response.

If there is a hung parliament and George Galloway and Abjol Miah are returned as Tower Hamlets MPs, Respect will have three minimum conditions on which we will support a Labour-led government:

A MASSIVE COUNCIL HOUSE BUILDING PROGRAMME TO ADDRESS THE HOUSING SCANDAL IN THIS BOROUGH AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY

THE RAPID WITHDRAWAL OF BRITISH TROOPS FROM ALL ILLEGAL AND POINTLESS WARS

THE RADICAL DEMOCRATISATION OF OUR CONSTITUTION WITH A FAIR VOTING SYSTEM, ABOLITION OF THE APPOINTED HOUSE OF LORDS AND CLEANING UP PARLIAMENT – NO MORE SECOND HOMES FIDDLES.

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All the early indications from our canvassing support our conviction that George Galloway and Abjol Miah will be the next MPs for Tower Hamlets. We are also confident that, with the excellent candidates we have selected for the council elections, Respect can become the majority party in the council.

For more information, contact, etc, please contact Kevin Ovenden 07983 360874

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