Yesterday some THINkers were present at local election “Your Voice Your Vote” hustings. The event was held at Al Manaar and was held by Migrants Organise – an organisation which campaigns for, helps and celebrates refugees and migrants here. Please check out their website here:
There were plenty of Labour councillors and candidates present – Emma Dent Coad (pictured, far left) out local Kensington MP and also councillor for Golborne Ward, Cllr Pat Mason (pictured, fourth from left) , Cllr Monica Press( pictured, second from right) and Cllr Judith Blakeman were all present. Liberal Democrat Cllr Linda Wade (pictured second left) was there. So were Annabel Mullin(pictured on the far right) , Valerie John-Baptiste, Melvyn Akins (pictured – third left) and Claire Van Helfteren from Advance.
So what about the Conservatives, you may ask? Well only Cllr Eve Allison bothered to turn up! (She is in our picture, third from right) .We had memories of a certain hustings before the General Election in Earl’s Court back in June when most of the local Tories failed to turn there up too (giving the lame excuse of a “school meeting”!) See our old post about it here:
Anyway, many subjects were discussed, with residents, local campaigners and politicians giving their opinions on social housing, crime, education and the local area.
Linda Wade was particularly good in mentioning the academisatuon of schools and that many teenagers being expelled from these local schools end up drifting into a life of crime.
This was also mentioned by Pat Mason (who has a background in youth work) and by Emma Dent Coad,and all three also mentioned the importance of good provision of youth services locally.
THINK strongly agree with Linda, Emma and Pat and we are very concerned about the rates of knife and gun crime among young people in London – there is one person stabbed to death in London every three days in fact – we believe that it is vital that politicians both locally and nationally, seriously take this on board and have some reconsideration over the policies of some schools and also do not make any cuts to youth and community facilities. We also strongly feel that there should be no more cuts to policing.
Melvyn Akins, a well-known local North Kensington resident and candidate for the newly-formed Advance party, also spoke well and mentioned his own experiences and called for change.
One resident at one point made an impassioned plea for both residents and politicians to get more involved with community and youth work. He lifted up his top at one point to show scars from knife wounds that he had received in the past.
Some at the meeting did not appear to be very familiar with politics and how the system works. Some were so upset and frustrated after suffering years of cuts and neglect by both RBKC and the Government, not to mention also being traumatised after Grenfell. that they vented their frustration on Emma Dent Coad and Labour opposition councillors.
We at THINK point out to these residents that we have had a Conservative council in Kensington and Chelsea, that has been in power for 117 years, and that we have a Conservative Government. So Emma , in her role as both an opposition Member of Parliament and councillor, is very limited in her powers as to what she can do and does not have any role in shaping the policies and cuts that have been inflicted by both national and local governments. The same goes for the other opposition councillors at RBKC
We say to all frustrated residents that to change the system, you have to vote for change and then be the change in holding those who you vote for to account. It is no use to sit on one’s hands and blame a system if you do not play an active part in trying to to bring about change.
The deadline to register to vote is in just four days time. If you are not registered to vote, or have changed address, name or nationality, please do fill in the form on here (it only takes five minutes) :
THINK also believe that lifelong provision of education is vital to the wellbeing of all residents and we remind all candidates of all parties that keeping KCC Wornington College in North Kensington open and also extending provision of courses provided there is crucial to this local community.
Grenfell was discussed, with Labour’s Judith Blakeman speaking about our council’s less than adequate response and that they are buying properties without bothering to find out what survivors actually need first.
Most of the local representatives who spoke were very impressive, particularly Linda Wade from the Lib Dems and Labour’s Monica Press.
We also heard some excellent impassioned speeches which were straight from the heart by Labour candidate for Norland Ward , Mona Adam, and by Labour candidate for Colville Ward, Nadia Nail. Both Mona and Nadia come from refugee backgrounds and have real knowledge and insight into the issues that many refugees living here face. Labour candidate for Golborne Ward, Sina Lari, also spoke well about his parents’ background as immigrants.
THINK stand with Mona, Nadia and Sina and as people who have migrants in some of our own family backgrounds, we believe that it is vital that local government in RBKC reflects the make up of the local population and fully takes on board the issues its residents have.
The lone Conservative councillor there, Eve Allison is the only black Conservative councillor and was the only Tory present at yesterday’s event.
She spoke strongly about her being alienated from the local Conservatives, talked of her deselection and the fact that she had to go to national government to be reinstated. Cllr Allison also spoke about her own background and the fact that she lives in social housing. She made the case that her own party needs to be more representative of the local population and to include persons like herself. We agree with Eve, about the Conservative Party needing to include more people like herself but know that the policies of this council and Government have alienated so many in our community.
As for the other local Conservatives, who did not even bother to turn up, THINK believe that their non-presence speaks volumes about their attitude towards not only North Kensington and Grenfell, but also young people, community groups, migrants and refugees. It says it all if not even one member of the RBKC Tories’ leadership bothered to attend.
Eve Allison has a majority of only 1 vote in St Helen’s Ward and we are not banking on her to hold on to it, so maybe some senior local Tories may be relieved to not have her speaking out against them in public as a local councillor after the elections , but we thank Eve for speaking out and we say to the other RBKC Tories (who come from overwhelmingly white upper and upper middle class backgrounds) – shame on you.
There is also hustings, presented by local campaign group Westway23 at Acklam Village, Acklam Road, W10 on Tuesday the 17th April. THINKers will be there of course and we fully expect local representatives from ALL the parties to be there.
THINK urge our local readers to do the right thing at the local elections and vote the RBKC Conservatives out of power.