Thursday, January 24, 2008

Explaining Tory “Dog Whistle” Politics in London

Last night, we had as our guest speaker at Labour Party General Committee (GC), London Assembly member, John Biggs. John represents “City & East” consistency which is made up of the City of London, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Barking & Dagenham. Some points from his address I thought were important (my interpretation): –

With regard to the current allegations made against the Mayor, Ken Livingstone. John pointed out he is the deputy Chair of the London Development Agency (LDA) which is at the centre of (what I believe to be largely malicious) allegations made by the Tory “Evening Standard”.

There has been more than 600 projects funded by the LDA. Given the “challenging” nature of many of these schemes it is inevitable that some will fail. Such project’s takes up less than 1% of its funding.

The allegations are in reality what are called “Dog Whistle politics” as practiced by conservatives in Australia. It is no coincidence that the current allegations are mainly against black led projects and leaders. This is in order to polarise white voters and frighten them into not voting for Labour.

Recorded crime has gone down in London. More needs to be done. But one obvious reason for this reduction is the increase in the numbers of Police and the introduction of dedicated teams of regular Police and Community Support Officers in every London ward. While this reduction is due in part to the work of a London Mayor and assembly members. However, it is also due to a partnership between the Police and local Councils and their communities.

In London we have a number of very large, single deck “bendy buses”. The Bendy bus service 25, which goes though much of East London, is one of the busiest routes in London with 22 million passenger journeys per year. Buses are a “bread and butter” issue since many low paid workers cannot afford to travel on the tube or railway. There are problems on “bendy buses” with fare evasion, anti-social behaviour and overcrowding. However, there are number of sensible initiatives to tackle these problems. Such random spot checks on a whole bus by the Police and fare inspectors.

John talked about the various significant environmental issues being tackled by the Mayor and the GLA. He also acknowledged that he had always argued for greater powers for the Labour assembly over scrutiny of the Mayor, but the government had disagreed.

He concluded by re-instating that we need to maximise the Labour vote in London on May 1 to keep Ken as Mayor; Stop the BNP gaining a seat and send a national message to smug Cameron and the Tories that they will be beaten.

We also later had a lively Parliamentary report and Q&A with our MP Lyn Brown.

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