Labour blasts off east London’s General Election run on struggling surgeons and bedroom tax

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 April 2015 | UPDATED: 10:29 09 April 2015

Rushanara Ali, Labour's candidate for Bethnal Green & Bow

Rushanara Ali, Labour's candidate for Bethnal Green & Bow


Rushanara Ali has fired off Labour’s General Election campaign in east London with a rally calling for more investment in homes and education—claiming teachers and even surgeons are “struggling to live in the East End”.

Rushanara Ali with Lord Kinnock at People's Palace election launch and [behind] Tower Hamlets Labour Opposition leader Rachael SaundersRushanara Ali with Lord Kinnock at People's Palace election launch and [behind] Tower Hamlets Labour Opposition leader Rachael Saunders

Next month’s polls were also a battle to keep nurseries and GP surgeries open and services “under attack” and threat of closure, she told supporters.

The gloves were off for the May 7 votingas with Labour sending its Big Guns like Neil Kinnock, Frank Dobson and Margaret Hodge to kick off the campaign for Rushanara Ali’s bid to be returned to Bethnal Green & Bow and Lyn Brown to get a third term at neighbouring West Ham.

“Nowhere is the housing crisis more critical than in the East End,” Rushanara told the rally.

“Our teachers can’t afford to live in London, so they’re moving out.

Lord Neil Kinnock backs Labour candidates' re-election bidsLord Neil Kinnock backs Labour candidates' re-election bids

“Our doctors can’t afford to buy homes—even surgeons are struggling—so they’re moving out.

“We have to make sure every kid, every young graduate struggling to get a job, has a guarantee to get into work as soon as they’re out of the education system.

“Parents don’t want their kids to be just another statistic. We have to end that waste of talent.”

Last Thursday’s rally of the party faithful was held at the People’s Palace in Mile End, chosen for its historic social significance for the Labour movement where Clement Atlee, a former Mayor of Stepney and MP for Limehouse, learned he had won the 1945 General Election in a landslide against Winston Churchill.

Baroness Oona King with her children at launch, seated next to London Assembly's John  BiggsBaroness Oona King with her children at launch, seated next to London Assembly's John Biggs

Lyn Brown opened with a scathing attack on David Cameron over growing numbers of families depending on foodbanks and soaring numbers made street homeless over ‘bedroom’ tax and benefit cuts.

Food banks were now being used by a million people, she pointed out, while Cameron claimed it wasn’t because of ‘bedroom’ tax, benefit payment delays, explosion of zero hours contract, fall in wages or rising rents.

“He put it down to foodbanks being advertised in jobcentres,” Lyn Brown scorned. “The man is absolutely shameless.”

Street homelessness had shot up by 55 per cent since 2010 with more people having to sleep rough, she claimed, pledging a Labour government would “build 2,000 new homes a year by 2020” and get a better deal for renters.

Her prediction for May 7 was that it was “going to be nasty and dirty, right down to the wire.”

The rally for the two women was chaired by Jim Fitzpatrick, who had launched his own election campaign three days before for neighbouring Poplar & Limehouse which he has held since 1997, including boundary changes in 2010.

Rushanara Ali was the new girl on the block in 2010, now a seasoned campaigner at Westminster who is back in the ring for another bout to secure a second term. It was a far cry, the audience heard, from the days when she was “a bag carrier” for Oona King, the former Bethnal Green & Bow MP.

Baroness King was in the “reserved for VIPs” front row with her two fidgeting children smiling at her former protégé on stage firing salvos at the Tory-led government. Alongside Baroness King was the London Assembly budget chairman John Biggs.

The grandees of Labour who turned up at the People’s Palace to support the two women candidates were a tough support battalion brought out to rally Labour’s east London supporters, some having weathered defeat at the polls themselves in the past. Kinnock had lost the 1992 General Election to John Major, Dobson was routed in his bid for Mayor of London in 2000 by Ken Livingstone, Oona King was pushed out in 2005 by George Galloway and John Biggs was battered in his bid for Mayor of Tower Hamlets in 2014 by Lutfur Rahman.

Now the party faithful were being rallied to “go out and win” at the polls on May 7.

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