Following the resignations of several members of our party I wanted to put down some of my thoughts and reassure Ilford South residents and our Labour family across Redbridge that we remain united.
I was saddened to see our own Ilford South MP, Mike Gapes, had made the decision to leave the Labour Party. He has been a committed local MP for 27 years and he will be missed in the party.
I have worked closely with Mike for years and consider him a friend as well as a colleague. While we did not always agree politically, on topics ranging from the war in Iraq to the direction of the Labour Party, we always agreed on putting residents first and winning for Labour.
We’ve got to reflect on why colleagues have left the Party and do so in a way that brings the whole Party back together. Divided, we risk keeping the Tories in power for generations – with all the consequences of austerity that will follow. United, we can win and make a positive difference in the lives of ordinary people – as we have shown in Redbridge.
As Jeremy said last Summer, antisemitism has caused immense pain within the Jewish community and we must all hold both ourselves and one another to account. I know from my discussions with Jewish community leaders in Redbridge that this pain is widely felt, and residents are deeply affected. It is our responsibility as the party of equality and fairness to stamp out all forms of antisemitism from our Labour family and have a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of hatred. To witness someone leaving our party because they felt bullied and discriminated against, should shame us all, however I believe we can only tackle hatred and discrimination together, united within the Labour Party. That is why I remain committed to working within our party to achieve the best possible future not just for Redbridge but for our country as a whole. Words are not enough, and it will be our actions that we are judged upon.
In Redbridge we have achieved incredible things together and I am immensely proud that we unanimously accepted the IHRA definition of antisemitism, the APPG definition of islamophobia and the hate crime pledge. I and the rest of the councillors are committed to continuing this good work, representing our residents and providing the best possible services for the people of Redbridge.
I joined the Labour Party and its core values are as true today as they were when we formed over a 100 years ago. So, while we might offer differing opinions, and disagree, we are fundamentally a family. I am a collectivist at heart, and I believe division only helps our opposition, the Tories. Our energies and our focus must be on removing them from power and providing the social justice, investment and services that only a Labour government can. I will continue to work closely with my Labour colleagues locally and nationally to proceed through this difficulty together and focus on the people that we represent.
My priority is, and has always been, serving the people of Redbridge. I will stay focused on investing in our borough, protecting our critical services and delivering the results residents all deserve. And I will campaign tirelessly for the Labour Government our people need.
Cllr Jas Athwal
Leader, Redbridge Labour