Letter: Growing opposition to the BNP among 'islanders'

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The Independent Online
Sir: On what basis does John Torode ( repeat the myth that the Labour organisation 'with Militant connections' was responsible for the victory of the BNP in the 1993 Millwall by-election?

In 1990, Labour won Millwall with its highest ever vote on the island, increasing its vote against the trend in Tower Hamlets as a whole. The campaign included pledges for 1,000 homes for the island, a rent freeze and non-prosecution of poll tax non-payers.

Moreover, in the year prior to the elections, the party had set up an anti-poll tax union (APTU), following meetings attended by more than 200 people. The anti-poll tax campaign was probably the most successful community campaign on the island for more than a decade, reflected in Labour's 1990 vote.

The APTU won wide support on the island's estates - but not from a Labour Party hierarchy terrified of working class people fighting back. In 1991 the national office expelled 13 Militants from Tower Hamlets' Labour party, including myself.

The Labour right-wingers who then took over (not 'last year' as stated by Mr Torode, but three years ago) did not organise a single campaign, turning the party into an empty shell. This was done with the full knowledge of the national Labour Party. The result of this was seen last September when Labour's vote fell by 11 per cent compared to 1990, allowing the BNP to win its first council seat.

Yours sincerely,

CLIVE HEEMSKERK

London, E14

29 March

The writer was vice-chair of the Millwall Labour Party from 1989-91.

(Photograph omitted)

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