red letter | 02.10.2006 11:44
"This is a tremendous tribute to the good sense of the people of Tower Hamlets," says Respect MP for Bethnal Green & Bow George Galloway. "It ought to mark the death knell of the New Labour policy of so called housing choice. In reality it is no choice. Tenants have faced bullying, blackmail and blandishments to transfer to a private landlord.
"The council – New Labour controlled by the smallest possible majority – ought now finally listen to its tenants. It ought to scrap council house privatisation and instead invest in council housing, repairs and renewals. It could start with taking the £6 million it wastes annually on promoting housing privatisation and spending it on housing people instead. It could take the fight to the government for council house funding – something which is in fact Labour conference policy. It has the chance to behave a little like a real Labour council.
"I suspect that the craven New Labour leadership in Tower Hamlets will do no such thing. In which case Respect will take the fight to the council, inside the council chamber and to the government. And we will make this a central issue in the by-elections that we confidently expect to take place in the borough.
"Since Respect broke through in the East End 18 months ago ballot after ballot has rejected privatisation. A bit of Respect goes a long way. Blair is on his way out. His failed policies should go the same way. It's time for a return to traditional labour movement values and policies. And east London is leading the way."
The results are quite incredible given the resources that were deployed to persuade tenants to transfer, particularly on the Ocean estate. The Boundary is also remarkable. Only 32 people voted to transfer where 87.6% voted to stay with the council. The Boundary estate was the first municipal public housing in London.
The full results:
Ocean 416 (62.7%) NO; 248 (37.3%) yes turnout 67.7%
Locksley 199 (65.5%) NO 105 (34.5%) yes turnout 62.3%
Cleveland 74 (58.3%) NO 53 (41.7%) yes turnout 67.9%
Boundary 221 (87.6%) NO 32 (12.6%) yes turnout 74.2%