A Breakthrough for the Left, a Setback for New Labour

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Kevin Morton, the Tower Hamlets Labour councillor, should be ashamed of his recent remarks in which he compared Oliur Rahman's historic victory for Respect in the St Dunstan's and Stepney Green by-election with the BNP's victory in Millwall in 1993.

It displays ignorance, as not only did Respect humiliate Labour, but so did the Lib Dems. Respect's votes and support came from all sections of our community-from many who opposed the immoral war against Iraq, white voters as well as Bengali.

But anger with the war was only one of the issues. We connected with white working class voters who would traditionally have voted Labour. We had the support of an ex Labour mayor, an ex Labour council leader, the former Labour chair of housing, and two other former Labour councillors all backing Respect publicly, because of its opposition to war, privatisation, and the inequalities between rich and poor that are widening under Labour.

His remarks also insult the 879 voters who voted for Oliur and the many more who voted Respect in Tower Hamlets in the European and GLA elections.

But Mr Morton's remarks are not only ignorant and insulting, they were also dangerous. We all stood side by side in 1993 to fight fascism in Millwall after the BNP won, and we succeeded in defeating them.

Anyone who makes comparisons in the way Kevin Morton does risks underplaying the terrible dangers that the BNP represent. And all of us could pay a price for that.

Kambiz Boomla
East London