The following are my own opinions, posted on my personal blog. I am not writing on behalf of Left Unity or TUSC, the two organisations I’m representing in the general election.
Anger and resentment are rising in Tower Hamlets following the election court decision on Thursday. Even people who didn’t previously support Lutfur Rahman recognise the ruling for what it is – a hypocritical, State-sponsored attack on local democracy, with strong racist under-currents.
Some people have said we have to ‘respect’ the legal process, as though the English law system is infallible and its judgments above criticism. But I seem to remember it’s made one or two mistakes in the past!
Among the many damaging aspects of the decision is its potential to sow political disillusionment and apathy. It’s an attempt to intimidate and neuter political dissent and shore-up the political establishment. But many people in the borough are not prepared to bow down. They’re ready to strike back!
As I understand it, various legal appeals are being considered. But there’s a more immediate opportunity to send a message to the establishment – ‘Hands Off Tower Hamlets!’
We have a rich tradition in the East End of defying the political elite. In the 1880s, this was the birthplace of industrial trade unions and the organised labour movement. In 1936, the people of Tower Hamlets didn’t ‘stay indoors’, they drove Mosley’s fascists out of Cable Street. We did the same to the NF in the ’70s/80s, the BNP in the ’90s and the EDL three times in the 2010s. In 1945 we elected a Jewish communist MP who demanded decent homes for all. The establishment said that was a ‘religious’ stitch-up too! In 2005 this is where a politician who voted in favour of an illegal war paid for it with her job – the only place it happened. And this is the borough where someone who wanted to represent the Labour Party and had been democratically selected to do so, refused to accept it when they tried to block him, took them on as an independent and beat them – twice!
On May 7th the people of Tower Hamlets have another chance to tell the establishment ‘we’ll decide who to vote for and who runs our borough’. It can be our ‘Judicial Review’! Imagine the reactions of Judge Richard Mawrey and Eric Pickles when they open their ‘Daily Telegraph’ on Friday 8th May and find those pesky East Enders have not been cowed: they’ve voted for a trade unionist and socialist who isn’t Bangladeshi but stands against cuts, privatisation, racism and war.
(Left Unity – TUSC candidate, Bethnal Green and Bow)