Saturday, 24 April 2010

That’s why I’m not voting Labour!

When Tony Blair stood down some three years ago, one of the first places he came to visit, just to say thanks and goodbye was the London Borough of Newham. This was his and is still considered the flagship of Labour’s local controlled Authorities’.

Thatcher had Westminster and Dame Shirley Porter, so it was that Tony had Newham and Sir Robin Wales.
Just to refresh those yonder memories: Lady Porter, while leader of Westminster City Council managed the "Building Stable Communities" policy, later described as "homes for votes" scandal and was consequently accused of gerrymandering. The policy was judged illegal by the district auditor, and a surcharge of £27m levied on her in 1996. This was later raised to £42 million with interest and costs. She eventually settled in 2004, paying a full payment of £12.3 million.

Now I’m not connoting that Sir Robin Wales is in anyway a bent or dishonourable politician, far from it, but then again what ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’ depends on what you mean by bent, I do suppose.

As I have already mentioned in other posts covering these elections, Londoners will be voting in both the general and their local government elections come May 6. So in a way you could say that this is an election ‘bonanza’ for us Londoners, and just like the famous red bus that you’re waiting for patiently; suddenly along come two or in this case three, so come Election Day here in Newham, we will have three votes, we will be electing an MP, a Full Council and a Mayor.

Now I’ve already covered in these selected constituency election reviews, the West Ham parliamentary seat held by Lyn Brown, so now I propose to have a brief look at the other Newham seat of East Ham held by Stephen Timms, and then move on to the re-election bid of Sir Robin and a look at his career.

I think that the first thing that I should say is that East Ham is currently held as I say by Stephen Creswell Timms, Member of Parliament since 1994. He is also the Vice-Chair of the Labour Party, with particular responsibility for faith groups. Timms is presently the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. It is Timms' third time in the post, having been Financial Secretary between 1999 and 2001, and again between 2004 and 2005. So I suppose you could say that Timms is Gordon’s man at the Treasury keeping an eye on Darling.

                                                        Stephen Timms

In August 2009, he was given extra responsibility for "Digital Britain" In September, 2009; he subsequently announced plans for a tax of £6 per year to be levied on each land phone account in the UK. At the time, this was broadly thought of as a stealth tax in the UK media. Whatever one would call it, it remains a good example of New Labour forcing us to layout the cash only to see internet provider’s benefit from the profits that will be extracted from us in the years to come; something wrong here I think.
The constituency has the largest proportion of non-white people in the UK; a significant British Asian presents and as a result the RESPECT Coalition targeted it for the 2005 election, hoping to benefit from opposition to the Iraq war and invasion and taking second place, this time they are not standing for the seat so this will be a safe return for New Labour and Timms. Other than that Timms is a rather popular person not controversial, quite boring really so let’s move on to the Sir Robin.

Well the first thing to say about Sir Robin is that he’s a scot, but lets not hold that against him here in multicultural Newham the host borough of the 2012 Olympic games, and I must say a swore point is that for me, or Sir Robin’s part in it, I’m of course referring to my former home Clays Lane Housing Cooperative, which was taken away levelled flat so that some athletes would have a home for a few weeks, allegedly Sir Robin said that he intended to see the co-operative wiped of the face of the earth.

He currently sits on the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.

It’s not just the Tory party that has some very smutty people in it: New Labour is not very far behind in them stakes; and Sir Robin is not an exception. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting the man although I’ve been in his presence a few times, lucky escape I suppose: for him not me!

A friend of Tony Blaire and Gordon Brown, Sir Robin Wales has often been described as a New Labour man through and through. He was elected Mayor of Newham in 2002, after seven years as leader of the council, the first Labour directly-elected Mayor in the country. He was re-elected in 2006, and so this will be if re-elected on May 6 his third term taking him into twenty years at the helm of Newham.

                                                  Sir Robin

Newham has seen many changes under Sir Robin’s stewardship, and I would argue not in the best interests of the pronominally working class population that has always made this a bastion and rampart of old East End Cockney Culture. Of course I can’t blame everything on Sir Robin, the decline of the Docks and old industries were well under way before he turned up on the ballot paper, nevertheless he has contributed to a quickening of that process.
I think that it’s impotent that we do understand what New Labour have been up too, not just in national but also local affairs, in fact working together servicing, doing the biding on capitalisms behalf. The Olympic Games is but one such example, it’s not about sport but about money and property development, as it has always been.

They have ripped apart working class communities, prostituting themselves running the so-called capitalist economy.

Turning their backs on the working people that built and fought to build a Labour movement; has been the story of the Labour Party.

As in our adjoining and neighbouring borough of Tower Hamlets, gentrification is the order of the day. The restoration of run-down urban areas by the middle class, resulting in the displacement of low-income residents, moved out of the borough.

In Tower Hamlets were the decanting of the working class has been ongoing for more than twenty years and by a Labour council, the result is the local council Tory free for years now has an active group in opposition, and even worst they are serous contenders for a parliamentary seat in the coming general election, but more about that latter in the week.

In time to come, I will endeavour to explain in more detail how the Labour party in Newham works and more importantly who they work for…It’s not the working class, if anything this was proven when Sir Robin bent over backwards trying to get a ‘supper casino’ built in Newham, and next month the operators bidding processes are supposed to be getting underway to chose who will run the "large casino" that will be allowed up to 150 slot machines and open in time it is hopped for the 2012 Olympics.

Newham is a deprived area, with much poverty and this is New Labour’s answer gambling.

And a spokesperson for Newham Council has said:

"We are committed to achieving the greatest regeneration benefit for local people by awarding the licence through an open and transparent process.

The Olympics and New Labour under Sir Robin have provided property developers large and small with a golden goose opportunity to make a killing, and yet Newham has 11.6% of dwellings unfit to live in. Compared to a London figure of 4.4% this indicates a big problem in the borough along with over 29,000 households on the council’s waiting list for housing.

And finally I could not possibly end this post without mentioning the astonishing attack levelled at the unemployed by Sir Robin, Knight of New Labour; just after he was re-elected 4 years ago, he said: that the people of Newham struggled to get out of bed by 11am as they were so used to being unemployed, that he was "sick" of seeing large numbers of people wasting their lives on unemployment or incapacity benefits.

It's the same the whole world over,

It's the poor that get the blame,

It's the rich that get the pleasure,

Ain't it all a bloody shame.

The true history of East London has been Docks closed, replaced first with decline and then redevelopments, often driven by profit, ignoring the interests of local people. In Docklands this process brought enclaves of luxury housing and office complexes. The cognitive operation that I call gentrification has claimed much of the East End for the middle class. Much of the Isle of Dogs, Limehouse, Wapping and Spitalfields, have changed beyond recognition. However, despite this, all is not lost, we can still stand and fight for our communities in the years that lie ahead, as the crises of capitalism worsens and people are downtrodden and ignored by their elected politicians such as Sir Robin Wales and New Labour, we must and can re-build first confidence and then resistance – yes, another world is possible!

That’s why I’m not voting Labour!

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