Monday, February 6, 2012

Speaking up for our communities‏

In May, London will elect its Mayor and the 25 members of the Greater London Assembly. While many will be focused on the no doubt epic struggle between ‘Ken’ and ‘Boris’, there is an equally important struggle: to ensure that London is not disgraced by having a representative of a racist organisation elected onto the Greater London Assembly.

Four years ago, in part because of low turnouts in inner city boroughs (which tend not to vote for racist parties) the British National Party (the BNP) made a significant electoral breakthrough. In a proportional representation system, their member Richard Barnbrook was elected to represent London on what is known as the ‘top up list’.

With just over 130,000 votes (just 5.4% of the total votes cast) a man who represents a party of racial hatred and division was elected as a London-wide Assembly member to represent us (yes, us!).

The BNP went on the following year to win two seats to the European Parliament, and at one time it looked as if they may get an MP elected and win control of Barking and Dagenham Council. This was followed by the formation of the so called English Defence League, a bunch of racist thugs who have tried to bring terror to the streets of multiracial areas, such as Tower Hamlets.

Fortunately, and thanks to the hard work of community organisers up and down the country, the BNP’s electoral gains were stopped in their tracks, as communities mobilised to ‘get the anti-BNP vote out’. As a consequence, they were wiped out in Barking and Dagenham, and across the country. We need to ensure that the GLA election sees the continued demise of this truly nasty ‘party’.

How did they win?
Put simply, we did not get enough of our people to the ballot box. The BNP needed just 5% of votes cast to win a seat, so despite over 94% of voters picking other parties, the BNP still won an assembly seat.

To stop them winning again in May we need 19 anti-BNP votes to counter every one they receive. Our task, therefore, is to ensure that everyone in Hackney who opposes the ‘politics’ of hatred understands the consequence of not voting: everyone who votes for a party other than the BNP makes it harder for them to win a seat, while everyone who stays at home makes it easier for them.

Hackney Unites is committed in our constitution to ‘challenge racism and other ideologies of exclusion and division.’ To challenge the hatred of the BNP we will be running a voter registration and voter mobilisation campaign in the run up to the election in May. We will, as in previous years, be working closely with our long-term allies in the HOPE not hate campaign. The aim is to ensure that:

  • enough people vote for parties that don’t promote hatred and division in our communities,
  • the BNP lose their one seat, and
  • we restore some dignity to the London Assembly.
We will also be seeking to ensure that those politicians who want our votes understand that we expect them to be accountable to our communities. Hackney will face many challenges over the next four years, and we will need GLA Assembly members who are going to speak up for us.

We are planning to undertake a voter registration and mobilisation campaign: to get people on the electoral register, and then to get them out to the ballot box. By doing this we can not only beat the BNP, but we can strengthen our communities, and remind other politicians of their obligations to us.

Community newspaper
We are preparing another edition of our community newspaper written by and for our communities which will highlight the issues around the election (and insist that politicians listen to the needs of our communities). If you want to contribute something to this paper then please visit: to register your interest. If you have a good news story to tell about our community, a campaign which needs promoting, or if you simply want to explain the needs of the community you represent, then get in touch. We are also looking for photographs of our communities for the paper. Let us know if you have good quality photos in electronic format.

The deadline for all articles to be with us is Friday 24 February, but you will need to register your interest immediately if we are to reserve space for you.

Once the paper is published we will need lots of volunteers to help distribute it door-to-door, and at community venues across the borough.

How you can help
We are planning a weekend of voter registration activity over the weekend of 25 – 26 February. Put the date in your diary and email john.page45@btinternet to let us know if you want to get involved.

Community newspaper distribution
If you can help distribute in your street, or co-ordinate delivery in streets in your area let us know (email Also, can you join us on a series of co-ordinated deliveries on either over the Easter weekend of 7th or 8th of April, or 14th or 15 April.

We hope to distribute 50,000 papers, so we will need as much help as is possible. Drop an email to John.page45@btinternet with offers of help.

Other news
Please help publicise out unemployed workers project which now meets every Friday from 12 noon until 2pm at the Navarino Mansions tenants’ room, Navarino Mansions on Dalston Lane (junction with Navarino Road). More details from

Hackney Rail User Group
With fares rising above the rate of inflation, and a government report calling for the closure of ticket offices, it is time for rail users to develop an organised voice in the borough. Hackney Unites is working with a range of groups under the umbrella ‘Together for Transport’ with the aim of creating an authentic voice for Hackney rail users. We are holding a meeting at Homerton Library on Tuesday 28 this month. Can you help us distribute leaflets at any of the rail stations in the borough? If so please contact George:

Please cascade this on
If you are not already on our mailing list, you can sign up on-line ( to receive regular updates.

Many thanks

John Page
Hackney Unites

No comments:

Post a Comment