We won the Battle for Barking! The fascist British National Party failed in its attempt to win its first MPs and take control of the local council. I want to send a personal message of thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who came to the borough and worked with Hope Not Hate, Unite Against Fascism, Labour Party activists and others who together convinced the people of Barking & Dagenham to send a clear message to the BNP and their politics of hate.
And what a powerful message it was – the BNP lost every single seat they had on Barking & Dagenham Council, where previously they had been the second largest group. Their leader, Nick Griffin, who stood for parliament in Barking, came third behind the Conservative candidate, causing me to jump off the sofa and cheer – the first time I have ever celebrated a Tory result.
But when the celebrations are over, the people of Barking & Dagenham still have legitimate concerns about housing, jobs and local services that will need to be addressed by a Labour Party that has ignored their plight in the past 13 years.
And although the BNP has been run out of town, they remain a menace to our society, winning half a million votes across the country. Our continued support for the anti-racist cause is the only way of ensuring the extremist right never again get so close to power.