Published On: Thu, Dec 19th, 2019

London Labour activists build a mass campaign to fight the Tories

In 2017 election Labour made significant gains in London. In the upcoming election Labour are targetting a number of marginals where there is a good chance of Labour victory. There are also new, socialist candidates in a number of constituencies across London, looking to shift the Parliamentary Labour Party to the left. Socialist Appeal supporters have been active in a number of campaigns to get Labour elected in key marginals and have supported the campaigns of socialist candidates.

Here we publish reports of campaigning in Chingford and Wood Green, the launch of the campaign for socialist candidate Apsana Begum in Poplar and Limehouse and the fight to turn Cities of London and Westminster red.


Iain Duncan Smith is on the run in Chingford

By Ben Gliniecki, Chingford and Woodford Green CLP

On Sunday 17 November, 300 people were out in the Chingford and Woodford Green constituency knocking on doors and handing out leaflets for the Labour candidate Faiza Shaheen.

During the afternoon session, 20 Socialist Appeal supporters from all over London – including as far away as Camberwell and Peckham – joined a mass canvass in this key marginal constituency.

Before campaigning got underway Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, gave a militant speech about the need to turf out the Tories and bring in a transformative Labour government. Faiza Shaheen addressed the crowd of 150 activists about her determination to kick out Iain Duncan Smith, the sitting MP for the constituency.

Sunday’s campaigning was focussed on one of the less Labour-friendly areas within the constituency. Even so, plenty of people said they’d be voting for Labour, and many took ‘Vote Labour’ posters to put up in their windows.

Jack from Walthamstow said about the afternoon’s canvassing:

“I’ve never had such great conversations on the doorstep. There were loads of people who said they weren’t sure which way they’d vote. But after talking to them about Labour’s policies on the national education service, the environment, and broadband, they said they would definitely be voting Labour.”

One small group of Tory canvassers was spotted in the area, looking slightly demoralised as hundreds of Labour activists swarmed the streets of Chingford.

After a successful afternoon’s canvassing, many of us decamped to a local pub where, much to everyone’s surprise, we stumbled upon Iain Duncan Smith himself. One Socialist Appeal activist asked him what he was going to do for work after 12 December.

Watching him scuttle out the back door of the pub in the face of around 30 left-wing activists hopefully paints a fitting picture of what we’re going to achieve in Chingford and nationally in this general election.


Socialist candidate Apsana Begum launches her campaign in Poplar and Limehouse

By Tower Hamlets Socialist Appeal supporters

Apsana and matt wrackOn Saturday 9 November, the Labour parliamentary candidate for Poplar and Limehouse in East London, Apsana Begum, launched her campaign at Christ Street market. Hundreds of Labour Party members and supporters turned up to support Apsana’s campaign, as she was mobbed by people who wanted to take selfies with her.

Less than two weeks earlier, Apsana had won the ballot of local Labour Party members in a meeting with over 500 present and voting. Apsana had the support of the left, both in the constituency and from the wider party.

In her hustings speech, Apsana said that she grew up on a council estate in the constituency. She emphasised that she is a socialist, calling for a break with the past and for a new kind of politics. She defeated her rival, who was supported by the right wing, by a wide margin.

At her launch event, Apsana was supported by a number of speakers, including Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, and Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the FBU.

Matt in particular made a radical speech, contrasting the wealth of nearby Canary Wharf with the poverty of Eastenders in the streets around. He said that the only way local working people had gained anything was by fighting, citing the examples of the Poplar councillors in the 1920s and the Battle of Cable Street.

The launch ended with groups of Labour Party members going off to canvass in the local area. Such was the enthusiasm for Apsana that she was unable to move very far with all the people wanting to wish her well. The one sour note was that many right-wing local councillors failed to turn up and the directly-elected Mayor of Tower Hamlets was noticeable by his absence.

Socialist Appeal supporters backed Apsana in her selection campaign and we received a warm reception selling the paper during her election launch. We will be working hard during the next few weeks to ensure she is elected.


Labour look to turn Cities of London and Westminster red

By Nat Arkwright, Streatham CLP

Socialist Appeal supporters joined around 80 Labour Party members in Pimlico on Sunday 17 November to fight for a socialist Corbyn-led government, as Gordon Nardell looks to unseat the Tories in the Cities of London and Westminster constituency.

There was a clear enthusiasm and willingness on the part of Labour activists to take the fight to the Tories and turn Two Cities red for the first time. After a rousing speech by shadow cabinet member Richard Burgon, canvassers knocked on doors of the Churchill Gardens Estate and encouraged residents to back a bold, radical vision for the future on 12 December.

While this constituency may host some of the most powerful political and financial institutions in the world, it is also home to stark levels of deprivation. Westminster has the second highest level of inequality of any London borough. Low income residents, meanwhile, can expect to spend an average of 91% of their monthly wages on rent.

The massive profits accrued by the bankers in the City, with the help of their representatives in Parliament, has only created poverty and immiseration for thousands of people in the area, who are in desperate need of a socialist Labour government.

Also running in the constituency is Chuka Umunna, in his latest guise as a Liberal Democrat. Despite finishing a distant third in 2017, the Lib Dems have chosen to campaign hard in the area, where any vote against Labour is almost certain to deliver a Tory victory. Voters would do well to heed Umunna’s own comments from 2013: “You can’t trust a word the Lib Dems say.”

The staggering child poverty rates in Westminster alone are enough to recognise the poisonous legacy of the five years these Yellow Tories spent implementing the devastating austerity policies of the coalition government.

In order to fight back against the vicious attacks on ordinary people carried out by the Tories and their Lib Dem enablers, workers and youth must organise across the country to bring Labour to power on a socialist programme.


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