Saturday, April 29, 2006

Labour to lose Tower Hamlets council?

In the early eighties, I lived in pre-gentrification Wapping. Before all the warehouses were converted into million pound yuppie flats, this was London's low rent district par excellence.

You know the the sort of inner city place. About 98% working class, with a few students and struggling artists squatting the derelict council joints. Things just didn't get any scuzzier.

It was in Shadwell ward that I signed up to the Labour Party. On the day of the 1983 general election, myself and three Labour Student buddies got up at dawn, each did massive lines of amphetamine sulphate, and canvassed solidly from when the polls opened to when the polls closed.

Labour won both Tower Hamlets seats, natch. Home turf. But Thatcher got a thumping majority in the country. I'll never forget the next morning. Ever had a bad speed comedown and woken up to another four years of Tory rule? Pure hell.

At the municipal level, Labour were the absolutely dominant power in the borough. Although the authority has since then seen Liberal administrations, this part of East London should rightly be natural Labour territory. Not any more, according to the Daily Telegraph:

'In Tower Hamlets the loss of Oona King's Bethnal Green and Bow seat to George Galloway last year suggests that Respect could gain at least nine councillors in predominantly Muslim areas, and perhaps even the ward of Shadwell, solidly Labour since 1919.

'With the Lib Dems stirring in the north of the borough, and the Conservatives likely to take all six councillors for the Isle of Dogs, Labour will lose this borough in the heart of the East End after being assailed on three different fronts.'

If I still lived in Shadwell, I don't know if I could steel myself to vote for Respect. But I'm damn sure I wouldn't be voting New Labour.

(Hat tip: Dead Men Left)

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