Case study – young people in politics

Politics is a topic which many young people are not very involved in and somewhat avoid, I believe that the lack of subjects that are related to politics is having a major impact on the young generation. At my age, many people are not aware of the various actions and achievements of Parties and the benefits that the public are receiving due to the actions of politicians.

Politics surrounds our modern society and therefore awareness of the subject is hugely important. I think that political parties can reach out to more people in education by making politics a viable option for GCSE, alongside the current subjects such as Business & Economics and Design & Technology, this allows an interest in politics to be forged at an early age which could result in more of the population becoming more aware of the ongoing actions of politicians. It would also be beneficial for party leaders to visit secondary schools during their campaigns as, although we cannot vote yet at this age, knowledge and understanding of the subject may influence our future actions and career choices.

Overall, I believe that for a subject that is so relevant to our current events and society, there is a lack of understanding from secondary school students pre-A-Level. This could change very quickly if parties targeted the younger generation a bit more throughout their campaigns to raise awareness, this would be beneficial for the students and the party as it would improve the knowledge that students currently have on politics and the issues around which it surrounds.

Name: Bobby Zhu

Age: 16

From: Chelmsford

Hobbies: Sports-orientated (Basketball, Swimming etc.)

Future Ambitions: I hope to continue my studies at KEGS for sixth form and study Law at university after completing my A-Levels in two years’ time.

Employing Society

Political earthquakes taking the form of Brexit and the US presidential election have brought inequality, globalisation and automation into public debate. Global trade and new technologies have made the world a richer place, but have failed to address the worsening domestic inequalities found in many advanced economies.

In the UK, the worst examples of domestic inequality are often found in deindustrialised areas. Already victims of global competition and then chronic underinvestment, a third punch to the gut was administered through the financial recession and following austerity. Families find themselves at increased risk of poverty by virtue of where they live, and the increasing casualisation of work doesn’t help. The increase in zero-hour contracts leave some trapped in an involuntary cycle of low paying work and unemployment. The rise in self-employment bodes ill too. The Resolution Foundation estimates that the average wages (in real terms) of the self-employed are lower now than they were in 1995.

It should be no surprise that a rage is building against the machine. For some the wheels are falling off, for others it stalled long ago. Allowing this state of affairs to continue will only drive further division in our society. Policies going forward must recognise the failure to address these inequalities over the last 40 years. It must also recognise that though cash transfers support those suffering from poverty and unemployment, they do little to change the forces at work that cause these inequalities in the first place. Structural changes are needed across the economy in order to build one that provides everyone with the choice of a fair wage and the social benefits that stable employment can bring.

One way to begin tackling inequality would be the introduction of a voluntary job guarantee, giving unemployed individuals the choice to work on public projects for their local community and improve their skills, in exchange for a socially inclusive wage. With proper implementation a job guarantee could serve as a powerful tool around which structural economic issues could be solved.

First, it promotes a minimum standard of employment. Earning your keep shouldn’t mean submitting yourself to exploitation. Giving employees an alternative would encourage firms to improve practices and compete to retain their employees, promoting higher productivity and work standards that benefit us all. Firms that can only compete because they subject employees to poor work conditions would be rooted out. In the end the job guarantee is always there to support displaced employees as the economy changes meaning nobody loses out.

The job guarantee also provides a direct channel for local investment. Administering the scheme through local agencies would ensure projects are planned around the specific needs of each community and its residents, avoiding a top-down approach. Investment wouldn’t only target structural needs, but also environmental and cultural ones which would enrich and enable communities in ways that profit-focused investment might not be able to.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a job guarantee is focused on the individual. The skills and interests of those on the scheme are matched to the needs of their community (with some compromise). A job isn’t just about earning an income, but also a way to develop and improve ourselves. A job can be an outlet where we share our potential and passion for the benefit of those around us.

Would we rather support others by giving them the chance to contribute to society, whilst improving their skills and knowledge?

Or do we leave them on a scrapheap of excess labour, marginalise them and sacrifice what their potential could have brought into the world?

The answer should be clear.

Babatunde Salau – Young Labour Member, Whalebone Ward

Women’s Empowerment Month in Barking & Dagenham

Politically how are we as women faring?  We have 51 labour councillors and many of them are women. However – are we treated in the same way as male colleagues? I would argue no.

The elected Councillors can put key women in positions of power, but what is the day to day experience like?  Have any of us here been at a venue or council event, and male colleagues reach out to shake our male colleagues hands and then eventually get round to us, or even not at all.

I have been on site visits and this has happened many times, what do I do? I go over and shake the people’s hands and get them to acknowledge my presence.  I am not disputing that our husbands, partners, sons, uncles, cousins and male friends may be amongst our strongest advocates but we are a long way from equality. In some council departments the presence of women is very low.

Much has been achieved but it is still a work in progress.

Having a keen interest in politics, I watch most political TV programmes. How many times when Theresa May is on TV, does the camera shoot to her shoes? Ok they may be nicer than Andrew Marrs shoes, but it distracts from the political message that is sought to get over. How many column inches were given to her leather trousers or a secretary of state’s handbag?

Donald Trump is an interesting Subject. We may all groan, but here is a man who has been elected by the American people, to be the American President. Not all who voted for him were men, or he would not have got elected. We have to ask ourselves as women why would an American Woman vote for Trump?

We also have to ask, why did women hit the streets (rightly so) in the UK and worldwide to campaign against him? But haven’t done so in solidarity for the women of Saudi Arabia, or the young girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Or the young girls raped in India? Are we saying that as a Western Leader we hold Donald Trump to a greater accountability? Could it be we are saying western lives matter more than other countries?

Am I a Feminist? Yes I would say I am. But I would argue at this point Feminism has failed many women worldwide. We still hear of court cases where a serious rape has occurred and we are told the female had been drinking and hence a question mark over the innocence of the woman is put forward.

Women still earn much less than men, that is true across the world. In Western countries we will recount our historic victories but then choose not to look to other countries where the rights of women, are not unlike what women in this country suffered one hundred years ago and far worse.  If child is sick, or an elderly relative needs care, the emphasis is placed on women to find solutions, not men.

I have heard women say when a man forgets a Christmas or birthday present for a work colleague at work, “you would think his wife or partner would sort that out”. That’s a very high standard to place on women.

Women  bring a different skill set and perspective to politics, thank goodness! Many times what a woman can say in ten minutes, can be more effective than two hours of debating in a meeting with the same conclusion. I think many of the women here tonight have a lot to give, and I would urge them to think of a political career, and lend their voices to future Women’s Empowerment Month’s at Barking & Dagenham Council.

Councillor Margaret Mullane – Village Ward Councillor and Dagenham and Rainham CLP Secretary

CWU East London Postal Branch Political Report: Political Side of Life Still Relevant

The problems we face as a Union are affected by the political background as are the problems our members and their families face outside of our place of work.

The political situation affects our children’s future.  For example, will they be able to access good jobs and will they be able to secure decent housing at a reasonable rent.

The Labour Party is still the only party that has got any real intention or possibility of securing a better future for ourselves and our children.

We are facing the worst housing crisis for a century, we have a health service in meltdown, cuts to services, and reducing pensions along with an ever-rising retirement age all affecting everyone except the very privileged.

New Leadership Hope

Our Union has twice successfully given its support to Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, not just because he was always there for us, giving his support over the years in the various battles we went through, but because we found that when we supported a Labour government between 1997 and 2010, that Government did not support us very much in return.  In fact, we needed to fight against an initial privatisation attempt in 2009 and also faced many industrial disputes in which the Tory anti-union laws were either threatened or used against us.

Prior to our Union pushing back the privatisation attempts of the last Labour Government our Union came close to disaffiliating from the Labour Party.  While I fully understood the reasons for the Union considering disaffiliation, that was something I was opposed to because it would only have ever given us a bit of short-term satisfaction.

It was because of the failure of past Labour Governments to properly stand up for working people that meant when the Labour Party leadership election came, members of the Labour Party elected a leader who politically stands against the cuts to public services, really is in favour of truly affordable council housing, supports a well-funded NHS, and wants to stand up for workers’ rights.  As we know, this decision was not made just once, but twice and with an even bigger majority the second time.

But for this, the Labour Party may as well not bother to exist.  If it is to be another version of the Tory and Liberal Parties, what point does it have?

Workers Battle in Labour Party Not Yet Won

However, despite having a Labour leader who is a great friend of the CWU and working people generally on every front, there is a lack of willingness from the majority of current Labour MPs to support this turn to support working people.  The leopards are not changing their spots, as the old saying goes.

As well as the MPs, a powerful right wing and anti-working class group still controls the Labour Party machine, its structures in other words.  In many respects this group is stronger today than ever before, and seem dedicated to making it almost impossible for good working class socialists to get onto Labour’s approved panel as prospective councillors and MPs.

In the past local parties could decide such things without outside interference and it means that many skilled, talented people with both work place and life experience are excluded while the ‘professionals’ from the right wing Liberal elite get through.  Our Union now needs to be part of changing that.

Get Involved

Financial support from Unions, and a general, but largely passive support for the Labour Party, is great, but membership and activity is absolutely crucial if we are to bother with the Labour Party at all.

Affiliated Unions can have their own delegates to Constituency Labour Parties as well as give extra support through the political fund if that party selects CWU members as prospective Councillors and MPs.

At present the party has a mountain to climb if it is to become anywhere near to forming a Labour Government.  To do this it must have good quality representatives – the days of so called safe seats, where you could stand anybody, are gone.

The Labour Party’s position on the EU debate exposed how completely out of touch the right wing of the party are in not recognising the reality of how the EU has been used as a vehicle to drive down workers terms and conditions with big business using a flood of cheap labour and allowing companies to outsource work to low paid workers on temporary contracts or on pretend self-employed tickets.

It was also bizarre that our own union leadership supported Labour’s right wing in supporting the EU when it was in EU law that a country, no matter what government they had, are not able to keep services in public ownership or retake them back into public ownership.  The EU forced countries such as Romania to privatise their whole public sector, leaving them along with many other European countries, economically devastated.  They were sold a lie!

No trade unionist or socialist could ever support such an outfit in my view.

The only trade union pro-leave argument given in the media was on Radio 4 by an RMT representative.  With the Blairite section of the Labour Party supporting the EU still firmly in control of the party organisation and not wanting to move on or make the party a genuine broad Church as it was to some extent in the past, we have many battles and problems to confront in the futureBut more importantly we do have many good members who could become active and the Labour Party is now already the biggest political party in Western Europe.

There is no short cut on this, so I would urge everyone to get active and join the Labour Party as a union representative.

Councillor Lee Waker – Political Officer East London Postal Branch CWU

Healthy, Interactive Political Debate

As a student majoring in Political Science at a university in the small town of Waco, Texas, I am often immediately stereo-typed by my peers as being “too political” or “too opinionated,” just because of what I study. At my university, as is common with many young people throughout the United States, politics is often seen as a taboo topic of conversation, and one that should be avoided so as to prevent any potential conflict that could arise from it. It appears that students either feel as if they personally do not know enough about current political affairs, or they feel that the other student has an opposing or contradicting opinion. Regardless of what the reason is, avoiding political debate in a discussion seems to have become an unspoken rule that, as a Political Science major, I tend to break all too often.

With that being said, upon arriving in the United Kingdom for a semester abroad, I was pleasantly surprised to find that young people are not only open to political debate, but actively seek to engage in it with one another. I can name countless occasions – whether that be on the tube, at a coffee shop, or even at a lively pub on a Friday night – where I have encountered students discussing their opinions on Brexit, the new Prime Minister, etc. They seem to be unapologetic about their views and opinions, and have strong arguments to support why they believe what they do. Furthermore, whether one student agrees or disagrees with the other, they are still willing and able to listen to what their peer has to say (contrary to many American students). After each side has expressed their views, they then either continue their debate, or take the discussion with them to ponder on later.

Over the past few months in the UK, my admiration for British students being unafraid to “talk politics” has only increased, and since dwelling on the subject for quite some time, I have established numerous benefits to young people engaging in political discussion:

  • The possibility of participating in a political debate creates the incentive to actually make oneself aware of what is going on around them, whether that be in the affairs of their local government, or matters involving the state and federal governments
  • Political debate increases ones argumentative skills and public speaking skills, which are invaluable skills to have when entering the job world
  • Opposing opinions on political matters allows both parties to consider their peers’ arguments and evaluate whether they were convinced by any specific points made

While there are many additional reasons to engage in such discussion, it is so important for young people to hear from various different perspectives on politics, instead of shying away from these opinions. Because we are young and impressionable, we are in the unique position to take all that we learn from class, from the media, and from the perspectives of our peers, to then form our own, unique political opinions.

Upon completing my semester abroad, I will be eager to return to the States and encourage a more positive connotation in regards to political debate, instead of the negative connotation that currently exists. Thank you, the young of Britain, for showing me the benefits of engaging in healthy, interactive political debate, and that by doing so, we are bettering ourselves and the society around us.

Isabella Haelen – B.A. International Studies, Baylor University 2018, FIE Intern at Office of Jon Cruddas MP

How Labour can connect with the young working class?

I describe myself as Working Class. Why? Well, I live in rented accommodation, I attended my local Comprehensive school, I’ve grown up watching my mum and dad work extremely hard to put food on the table, as an adult I live on the breadline and commonly use the phrase ‘I rob Peter to pay Paul’ in order to settle bills. I live by the government guidelines of what they deem to be the lower class because unfortunately I don’t have the money to branch out, I don’t have any rich family to inherit from.

I don’t allow this to define me. I am different from many women you may meet in the political world. I went to University, and I graduated with first class honours, but I didn’t study Politics, I studied Music Performance and Technology. I owned my own Dance School for 5 years here in Dagenham, which saw over 220 students pass through my doors overall. I’m a massive sports fan following Chelsea Football Club and my beloved basketball team The New York Knicks. I wear head scarf’s and gold hooped earing’s. I come from a musical family and have everything on my iPod from Etta James and Joni Mitchell, to Biggie Smalls and Jay Z. I speak fast, I’m opinionated and sometimes I like to be just as surprised of what comes out of my mouth as others do.

Yet amongst all of this, I am the Youth Officer for Dagenham and Rainham Labour Party, I am the Havering Coordinator for Jon Cruddas MP, I am the Women’s Officer for Havering Young Labour, and I am a proud parent campaigner and activist. Why am I telling this to you all? Because it’s real. Just as I am sure all your life stories are. We are real people. We have faced struggle, we have faced deprivation, we have grown with strength and we have welcomed happiness. I am an example of realism. Something the current Government lacks.

So this leads me to speak about how Labour can engage with young Working Class People. I personally feel it is all down to real life issues. High Uni Fees – the fear they feel of enrolling at Uni because they are not sure if they’ll ever be able to afford the cost. Education and the threat of privatisation – young people don’t want to feel segregated. They don’t want to feel that the standard of their education all comes down to what mum or dad can afford. The NHS, many young people study years upon years to become our next generation of Doctors and Nurses. Many are currently Junior Doctors suffering at the hands of Jeremy Hunt and his Tory Army, whilst also being scrutinised for the busyness of hospitals as Theresa May continues to ignore the fact that The NHS is now described as ‘a humanitarian crisis’. Tap into the issues that matter to these young people the most, find out how it affects them locally, campaign alongside them, show them what Labour can do for them, how it can support them and gain the backing of MPs in Parliament. Give them that sense of pride that their fitting for something they believe in, and that their fight can make a difference.

Young people are hungry to make a difference. Whether that be a small issue or a nationwide issue. The youth are the future of our Country. They will decide the rules and regulations for my son’s generation. Treat them well. This world is a dog eat dog world and over many years it’s become cold and disheartened. I’m one person, yet I feel I can make a difference, and that’s all thanks to the belief my local Labour Party has put into me. Imagine if we did that for so many others?

I am going to finish this speech with one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite politicians, the great Jo Cox..

‘We have more in common with each other, then things that divide us.’

Fay Hough – Havering Coordinator, Dagenham and Rainham CLP Youth Officer, Havering Young Labour Women’s Officer

Petition to stop disabled children and adults being changed on dirty toilet floors

I am writing this blog post a week before MPs debate in Westminster Hall about public accessible amenities for people with disabilities. Even though this debate is generally a widened subject, a petition has been launched by a mother with two disabled children and I am 100% behind her. Why does this debate matter to me? I’ll tell you why…

I have been the mum on the floor of a dirty public toilet changing my 5-year-old son who was still in nappies whilst he is screaming, kicking and hitting me because he is in so much distress. I know that dreaded feeling of walking into a disabled toilet and not seeing a changing table – therefore the toilet is no different to an ‘ordinary’ toilet for my son’s use. I have had comments such as ‘change him in the baby changing room’ – my son is 3ft8, above average height for his age and trust me, I have tried in a baby changing room! But then comes the bend of the baby changing table as he’s too heavy to be on there, not including the tuts and the stares from other parents queuing to use the changing room too as they see my son misbehaving and assume he’s just a naughty child. He isn’t in a wheelchair or visibly disabled therefore there can’t be anything wrong with him? That’s the normal impression I receive on a weekly basis from the public. Little do they know that his disability lies within his brain, and ‘actually’, autism doesn’t come with a dress code.

Seeing our children on these filthy floors because simple suitable changing facilities cannot be provided is demeaning and immoral. This matter needs to be bought to attention over and over until someone listens and change comes. My son, and so many other children and adults do not deserve to be treated differently simply because they have a disability.

Please click on the link and add your name, let’s let the Government know how important this issue is…

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/177423

Fay Hough – Dagenham and Rainham CLP Youth Officer and Havering Young Labour Women’s Officer

What’s happened to all the social housing?

We as a nation were once hugely proud of our public housing. The Becontree estate was initially held in high esteem and commonly thought of as a significant improvement following the inner city slums of interwar East London. Estates such as Becontree, and their high-rise ‘city in the sky’ counterparts were host to residents of mixed social and economic backgrounds. Communities blossomed, and people took pride in their homes. Most importantly, housing was affordable. This seems a utopian vision in comparison to the present day.

In the 1970s, the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher embarked upon a programme of privatisation of state assets in an attempt to reduce state spending. As part of this policy came the sales of British Telecom, British Rail, British Gas and the closure of mines. Surprisingly, the most profitable asset sold was state owned housing. Much of this was sold under the Right to Buy scheme, which offered significant discounts to council tenants. A pattern emerged in that a large proportion of the housing bought under the scheme was desirable, suburban housing in largely middle class areas. A policy thought initially by the Conservative government to be highly egalitarian resulted in increased inequality. Councils were frequently left with the least suitable, smallest and least desirable homes from which they could house those struggling to make ends meet.

Large discounts offered under right to buy also made it possible for residents to sell their properties onwards at market price, making large profits in the process. Whilst beneficial for the minority that could afford homes initially, landlords and developers increased rents and prices to levels unaffordable for a large proportion of the population. With relatively low levels of house building today, and a growing population, basic economics suggests that demand is beginning to outstrip supply, resulting in a higher cost of housing for us all.

State owned housing was partially replaced by housing allowance. Oddly, although it has enabled large numbers of vulnerable people to gain access to housing, it has also acted as a transfer of wealth to landlords, developers and speculators. This is because when such large numbers of homes are in private hands, large amounts of housing allowance are spent in the private rents.

Ironically, Conservative governments have in recent years cut housing allowance. This has forced individuals, couples and families out of the houses and communities they once called home. Why? Because housing allowance in a landscape of private home ownership and a volatile private rental market is costing the government too much. However the huge increases in private home ownership have been actively encouraged by Conservative policy. Meanwhile, state owned house building has faced a relative hiatus, keeping prices high, and existing state housing stocks have fallen into disrepair.

Is this a better, cheaper approach to housing than keeping the money in public hands? I think not. In my view the Conservative government has taken a sound housing model and instilled unnecessary inequality. The private rental market will always be a part of sound housing policy, but it is essential that the state retains, builds and maintains high quality housing to create security for those truly in need of it. Our constituency is a model of this outlook. Labour in Dagenham and Rainham is doing a commendable job in overseeing the redevelopment of the Leys estate as well as the Gascoigne estate in Barking. Both are highly progressive developments, which will feature council owned and affordable private homes for hard working local individuals and families.

Noel Moka – Young Labour Party member in Whalebone Ward

From the UK to the USA – have we forgotten who we are fighting for?

I have seen a lot on social media attributing the recent US Presidential Election result to racism, sexism, and homophobia and thought I would throw my two pence into the ring. So here it is.

In my opinion saying the election result this week was about race, gender, or sexuality trivialises a much larger root problem. Ultimately I would argue that the recent election which saw Donald Trump named as the 45th President of the USA was an expression of frustration on a colossal scale. Like the UK Brexit vote back in June the result stemmed from a place of social alienation, feelings of disillusionment, and neglect. It highlighted traditional working class voters in deindustrialised areas, and modern working class voters turning around and screaming into the social, political and economic echo chamber – ‘WE’RE STILL HERE!’

When industry began to dissipate, we were on the cusp of a cultural and technocratic revolution which saw younger generations, typically in metropolitan areas taking the reins and dictating the direction of our economic and social structure. The emergence of a new middle class who are (in my opinion) socially liberal and economically conservative has caused the traditional and modern working classes to be marginalised and overlooked during the course of a thirty-year period.

What I mean by this is that with a perceived diminishing base in the working class, politicians of all creeds have chased the votes by legislating to benefit this new emergent social caste. Turning their backs on entire communities, often in rural areas. In recent years’ politicians have consistently undermined and patronised the concerns of what they believed to be a dying vote.

The terrifying thing is that whilst the relatively new middle class liberals manipulate the national agenda, the working classes are being left in isolated communities propagating their unrest with every new generation in both the UK and the US. They are not diminishing, and I would suggest that the demographic turnout of both the UK EU referendum and the more recent US Election is indicative of the fact that people have had enough, feeling unrepresented and forgotten.

The sad state of affairs is that because of all the above, the gap is widening and people who were once the core support of the left are being pushed into obscurity and into the arms of alternatives. Not because they believe in what that person/party is saying; many in fact still self-identify as Labour, but they feel the only way to get attention is to smash the status quo.

I’m working class, and Labour through and through. I am an active Trade Unionist, Campaign Organiser, and now CLP Chair. However, controversially I voted to leave the EU – and whilst I think it is a global tragedy that Trump has been elected, unfortunately I can see the logic that put him there.

I hope these events are an eye opener for the Labour movement, and that our members don’t just flippantly cast off the people who voted in the UK and USA. I see the UK referendum and the US election as cries for help from a forgotten class, living in forgotten communities. The very people the Labour Party and Democrats were established to represent.

Andrew Achilleos – Chair and Campaign Organiser for Dagenham & Rainham Labour Party

Time to stop sneering and start re engaging: A fairer vision for Barking and Dagenham post Brexit

If the saying, “A week is a long time in politics” is true, the last few months then have seen seismic change rarely seen over years.  The people of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham voted convincingly to leave the European Union – 62.8%.

However, following this exercise of their democratic right, the analysis and reflection on their motives has been nothing short of shocking. The conversation in many places in traditional forums and on social media has taken a sneering, nose holding tone. It seems some want the will of the people as long as they vote the way “they think” they should.  By “they” I mean the Establishment. Who am I including?  Not just the media but disappointingly some MPs too,  anyone who didn’t vote to stay are derided as less “knowing” and intellectual as those that did.

Barking and Dagenham Council were recently featured in a housing programme on the BBC. (October 2016) The BBC filmed in the Borough for nine months. I, having worked for an MP for nine years, and a Councillor for six years, did not feel it truly represented the problems of housing in the Borough and the complex issues that are faced. The biggest omission of all however, was that it barely touched on the issue of Council housing.

The cuts to the Borough’s budget by 2020 will be a staggering 153 million. The impact cannot be underestimated. The cuts are ideological and are set to dismantle communities and to ultimately dismantle the welfare state as we know it. That is not unexpected from right wing Tory Governments is it?  The programme featured phrases such as “no aspiration in the working class”. The working people of the Borough are depicted as “grasping”, “moany”, and desperate. Nothing is further from the truth in my experience and it represents weak journalism. Like the language post Brexit, the needs of those who felt “left behind” by the established political elite are devalued with lazy stereotypes.

If a person goes to work, pays their taxes, pays their council tax, is a home to call their own out of the question? Are we saying to the residents yes please, be our refuse collectors, caretakers, Mid-day assistants, nurses and carers but if you want a home be prepared to place a huge deposit of £20,000- £25,000 on a private flat, pay a rent from a £1000.00 a month or take part in a “part buy” part rent property. And when they can’t afford it are we saying don’t look to a Labour Council to help?

Council housing is the realistic, achievable and obvious answer. I don’t mean being offered a percentage to buy again. I am talking about social housing at a real social rent and please let’s move away from the tag “affordable”. 80% rent is not affordable to people on a working wage, unless you are lucky to have a very well paid job and perhaps a dual income.

As a Borough we advocate slogans of “One Borough” and “No-one left behind”. These slogans sound great in a presentation or seminar. If they are mere rhetoric though, they are valueless They can only be used if we can truly as a Labour Council put our hands on our hearts and say we have concrete polices to ensure no one is left behind.

To reiterate and I make no apology for doing so, build more Council flats and homes and offer them as a working people’s option. The rent is less then private Landlords, the council keep the properties and the rent is affordable for the people in the Borough who work and don’t received the highest wages.

Let’s get a rent cap campaign running. The Borough will come behind it. We are not here to build property portfolios for Landlords but to serve our residents. The rents are so high, working families have to claim housing benefit to live and many seek out Foodbanks as the rent takes a huge proportion of their salary. At the moment until a Labour Government arrives at No 10 the community will suffer, but the community needs to see the Direction of a Labour Council.

There isn’t a person I have met in the Borough that doesn’t aspire to a better life for themselves or their families. That isn’t just a prerogative of the affluent or well-paid is it? Language is a very important part of political discourse and we need to be aware how we deliver it. It is too easy to write off communities in negative language and not engage with their lives, fears and hopes. Without this engagement and a programme of council housing, people will be forced out of the borough. With this gentrification will come a shift in ideology moving the Borough’s leadership away from any hope for social mobility and equality? A changed demographic will not deliver a fairer society. We need not to lose sight of socialist principles and a vision where truly – No one is left behind.

Simply put – build more council housing in Barking and Dagenham.

Margaret Mullane is a Councillor for Village Ward in Dagenham, Office Manager of Jon Cruddas MP, and the CLP Secretary of Dagenham & Rainham Labour Party; also a member of Unite and the GMB Union