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Progressive Politics after the General Election

May 27, 2010

The Respect party have issued a national statement on the situation facing our and other progressive parties after the general election.

‘Progressive Politics after the General Election’, a frank, honest and open assessment of the way forward Respect believes can be built for a progressive society, can be found here.

Abjol Miah: “Let’s renew our efforts for peace, justice and equality”

May 17, 2010

Last Thursday’s result was obviously disappointing for us in Respect and for myself personally in Bethnal Green and Bow. I would like to thank my friends, family and my many thousands of supporters who placed their trust in me to make the case for jobs, homes and peace in Bethnal Green and Bow. Volunteers worked tirelessly for myself and for George Galloway for weeks and months and every single contribution is hugely appreciated. My thanks are also due to the hundreds of you who have contacted me since last Thursday to offer your sympathies and your support.

New Labour may have won the battle in East London this time, but they have lost the war. Even in opposition, Labour will be unwilling to defend the most vulnerable and impoverished in society. That role will fall to Respect and others like us, in the labour movement and in our broader communities. Despite the results we remain the most successful left-of-Labour party in generations. United, our work goes on. I have been heartened by the determination of our supporters to plot a course ahead.

In the East End of London, we owe George Galloway far more than he knows. He showed us in 2005 that as a community, together, we could stand on our own two feet and no longer had to rely on deceitful, corrupt and warmongering parties that took us for granted. Try as they might our opponents cannot ever erase that contribution.

I said throughout my campaign that I have always been a community activist for everyone in Tower Hamlets, and if elected I would be an MP and a community activist. I will soon be back on the streets of the East End as a community activist again. My first and foremost consideration has always been and will continue to be the people who live here.

The bitter frustration I felt on Thursday has not lasted. If we believe we are correct to stand up to inequality, racism, cuts and war, in a Britain where the banks are bailed out and the people are hung out to dry, and say ‘there is an alternative to this, it does not have to be this way’, then nothing should frustrate us.

Let us be patient with ourselves and impatient with injustice, and let’s renew our efforts for peace, justice and equality.

Galloway in postal vote election theft claim

April 21, 2010

“Once again elections in Tower Hamlets are being stolen from the people.” So said George Galloway yesterday as he wrote to the police, the Electoral Commission and the Tower Hamlets Returning Officer to voice his fears.

Galloway raised the fact Jim Fitzpatrick has sent out freepost postal voting forms urging voters to return the form not to Electoral Services but to him at Labour Party HQ. “If this isn’t illegal,” said Galloway, “it ought to be. Voters have to ask what possible reason could Jim Fitzpatrick have for receiving these forms rather than having them sent directly to Electoral Services at Tower Hamlets Town Hall.”

But Galloway also raised even more serious allegations against candidates who are using friends and family to obtain blank ballot papers which they will then have filled in to their advantage. “We know which candidates are corrupting the electoral process and we intend to provide the police with all the information we have. Those candidates need to know that if they are caught and convicted, they will go to jail for a long time. In Blackburn, a Labour councillor was sentenced to three years recently.”

It is thought undercover officers are at work trying to root out the voting fraud which has undermined confidence in elections in Tower Hamlets in recent years.

Ends

For further information contact Rob Hoveman on 07507 600561

Notes to editors:

The letter to the police, the Electoral Commission and the Returning Officer is reproduced below

To Dr Kevan Collins, Returning Officer London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Borough Commander Paul Rickett, Ms Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission and Mr Peter Wardle, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission Dear Dr Collins, Commander Rickett, Ms Watson and Mr Wardle,

Once again it seems there is the very strong likelihood that the elections in tower Hamlets on 6th May will be besmirched by significant voting fraud and corruption courtesy of the postal voting on demand system. I have confirmed reports of candidates, including sitting councillors, signing up voters, particularly elderly voters, on the basis that those voters will then provide their unfilled ballot papers to friends and family acting on behalf of those candidates. These ballot papers will then be filled in by persons others than the voter themselves to the benefit of those candidates and other candidates they support.

Although this is definitely going to happen and I believe on a significant enough scale to affect the outcome of at least some of the elections to be held in Tower Hamlets, this is an almost undetectable crime if witnesses will not come forward. Because securing these ballot papers involves friends and family, witnesses will usually not come forward unfortunately. And as Isabella Freeman points out in her response to my letter to the Tower Hamlets Returning Officer, if voters give their ballot papers to others, there is nothing that can be done about it, even though these others would then be committing a serious criminal offence in procuring and filling in these ballot papers.

This is the fundamental flaw in the postal voting on demand system which the major parties, presumably because they are beneficiaries of this system, and the Electoral Commission continue to refuse to take seriously. For all the tightening up in the system there has been. postal votes on demand undermines fundamentally the secrecy of the ballot that was secured after long struggle in 1872. There is absolutely no solid evidence that turnout is higher because of postal voting on demand and in my view any slightly high turnout is outweighed by the undermining of the integrity of the election.

I am also extremely concerned to find that at least one of the candidates in the constituency I am contesting, the incumbent government minister Jim Fitzpatrick, has been sending letters to voters urging them to take out a postal vote by filling in the council’s postal voting form which is then to be returned to him at Tower Hamlets Labour headquarters through a freepost address handily attached to the back of the form by Mr Fitzpatrick. If this is not illegal, it ought to be. It certainly breaches those guidelines produced by the Electoral Commission which require candidates and parties not to engage in any activity which might bring suspicion of corrupting the voting process. The question every voter should ask is why should this postal voting form be sent to Jim Fitzpatrick rather than directly to Electoral Services at Tower Hamlets Town Hall where it belongs.

I urge all of you to do all in your powers, limited as they sadly seem to be, to try to ensure that the elections in Tower Hamlets are not once again undermined and potentially stolen from the people by a system which remains fundamentally flawed.

I look forward to your responses.

Yours sincerely,

George Galloway

Council motions: Crown Estate sell-off, Bethnal Green war memorial, transport cuts and more!

March 24, 2010

At tonight’s meeting of Tower Hamlets Council the Respect group have tabled the following motions:

A) Facilities for cricket

B) Anti-social behaviour

C) Crown Estate sell off

D) Dispatches programme and slurs against this council

E) Bethnal Green Stairways to Heaven war memorial

F) Respite breaks for carers

G) Transport for London cuts

H) John Smith Mews residents objections

Read the motions in full – click Read More

Read more…

Tory-Labour witch hunt claims first Muslim victim

March 18, 2010

The witch hunt against Muslims in Tower Hamlets, and above all in the council, has claimed its first victim. Lutfur Ali is the highest ranking council official of Bangladeshi origin in Britain. Appointed in 2008, he was immediately made a target by Tory leader Peter Golds. Golds went on national TV and gave selective private information to attack Lutfur’s appointment, the first appointment to a senior council position in Tower Hamlets of a Muslim from the Bangladeshi community.

Now Lutfur Ali has been forced to resign after this vicious campaign against him and the Muslim community in Tower Hamlets. The witch hunt of the Muslim community has been orchestrated by the Conservative paper the Telegraph with the help of Jim Fitzpatrick MP, others in Labour like Helal Abbas, and Conservatives like Golds and Tim Archer.

Lutfur Ali has done a very good job since he was appointed and is praised by the chief executive Kevan Collins in the council’s press release on the matter. He has been put under terrible pressure.

George Galloway, MP and Respect candidate against Fitzpatrick, commented: “We can expect more of this as some in Labour and the Tories play the race card trying to divide Muslim from non-Muslim and divide the Muslim community itself. All to boost their miserable electoral prospects.”

Councillor Abjol Miah, leader of the Respect group and parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow, added: “We will not be divided. And we will not let them witch hunt Muslims out of the Town Hall or anywhere else.”

Abjol Miah’s campaign website launched

March 13, 2010

Abjol Miah, Respect Parliamentary Candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow, has launched his campaign website.

Find it here.

Respect’s answer to the Council’s funding crisis

March 12, 2010

This is the unabridged version of a letter that appears in this week’s East London Advertiser

To the editor,

There can be no doubt that local government spending is going to face a massive attack over the next few years. Professor Tony Travers, the expert on local government, estimates cutbacks of up to 20% are likely as central government tries to reduce the massive deficit brought on by the collapse of the financial sector. Council officers are projecting an £18 million council deficit next year, again the year after and even worse in 2014.

The council is legally obliged to balance its budget. Council tax, which only accounts for 15% of council revenue, is likely to be capped at a low rate of increase and is fiercely regressive and unfair anyway.

Therefore, massive cutbacks are in prospect.

Respect has a five point programme to address the impending crisis in our local authority finances.

Firstly, we urgently need a reform to the council tax system. The cap should be lifted on tax on properties worth more than a million pounds to make the tax fairer and to allow more funds to be raised from it and the system of local taxation needs to be changed to make it more closely related to ability to pay.

Secondly, control over the business rate needs to be returned to local government so that the banks in Canary Wharf make a much larger contribution to the welfare of Tower Hamlets residents.

These two measures will allow much more money to be raised locally.

Thirdly, the council needs to be able to borrow to invest, particularly in the vital area of housing which is going to be hit very badly by central government cutbacks.

Fourthly, central government needs to urgently introduce a Robin Hood tax to tax large financial transactions in order to cut the government deficit instead of cutting spending. This could raise billions to plug the hole in central government’s finances.

And lastly, we need to have a council pro-active in encouraging foreign direct investment into projects of social benefit to the people of Tower Hamlets.

Unless we take radical measures to raise revenue, there will be mass redundancies and services that are vital, particularly to the less well-off in Tower Hamlets, will be slashed over the next few years.

Councillor Abjol Miah, Respect Group leader
Town Hall
Mulberry Place
5 Clove Crescent
London E14 2BG