Newham fights back

N ewham Socialist Alliance last week chose its candidates for the forthcoming local elections. The east London borough has 20 wards, all of them Labour-controlled. After a brief debate the 15 people present at the meeting selected four comrades: myself (CPGB, Wall End ward), Berlyn Hamilton and Paul Phillips (SWP, East Ham North and Forest Gate North respectively) and Musin Haque (independent, Forest Gate South). Despite a flurry of glossy magazines from the council of late, which may convince newer residents otherwise, Newham still remains one of the poorest boroughs in the country. Indeed, in common with many other boroughs, its residents have seen council tax rates increase yet again and many soon have a taste of Blair's 'modernisation' in their own homes with the proposed introduction of a private finance initiative in Canning Town - set up to deliver profit-orientated 'management and financial resources' to 'improve' their rented accommodation. With many asylum-seekers being 'resettled' in Newham and with an already large Asian community, racist harassment and attacks on individuals have increased. The BNP is seeking to whip up tensions - it is standing in Canning Town and Beckton wards. Newham SA has not put forward a candidate for the borough's first directly elected mayor - a post endorsed in a referendum in January. This is unfortunate, for it would have allowed us to reach the whole electorate much more efficiently in relative terms compared to contesting a handful of wards. My time over the next three weeks will be taken up attacking the council's PFI plans for housing, defending asylum-seekers and the Asian community from racist attack, exposing the sham of democracy intrinsic within the new mayor's office and helping to build a movement capable of halting Bush and Blair's threatened war against Iraq. Bob Davies