Labour in London enters the May election at a high point, says Sally Powell
More than 1,800 Labour candidates in London’s 32 boroughs are preparing for
one of the most important elections since the Labour government was elected in 1997.
This May’s local elections present
a real challenge and opportunity for Labour in London. Four years ago
we confounded the pessimists who predicted that we were bound to lose ground in the London boroughs after our 1997 general election triumph.
Labour in London enters the May elections at a high point following our successes in 1994 and 1998. Now, in 2002, we need to repeat that same process, building on our historic second parliamentary term, our strong and improving delivery record in local government and with the knowledge that we have Labour candidates of undoubted ability and commitment.
This election is about public services. The Tories offer only cuts
to our public services. The Lib Dems will offer anything they can think of
at the time and will cost Londoners more and deliver less. Only Labour offers investment and reform.
Labour councils and councillors
are truly committed to the necessary investment and reform needed to deliver the improvements that all Londoners want: helping schools
to raise standards; supporting local communities and the police in tackling crime; improving local transport; tackling social exclusion; and improving the environment in which we all
live and work.
In many boroughs, like Croydon and Harrow, which for decades were considered Tory strongholds, we have not just won control of the council,
we have also won many friends and supporters. Londoners have seen how Labour councils, working with the Labour government, can make a real and positive difference.
Labour councils have been putting a strong emphasis on delivering high quality services and effective community leadership. They have consistently demonstrated how well-run and responsive councils can really improve the quality of people’s lives.
Let us not forget what Labour has already achieved. The biggest sustained programme of investment in the NHS. Police numbers in the capital have seen their first substantial rise for over a decade and overall crime in the capital has fallen by over two percent. Londoners enjoy record levels of employment, almost a quarter of a million more people in London have jobs than in 1997. The Working Families’ Tax Credit benefits over 95,000 families in London. Around 70,000 of the lowest paid workers in the capital have benefited from the minimum wage. Record primary schools results and only two percent of the capital’s children in classes of over 30 pupils and further improvements
in secondary education. These are just some of the improvements that Londoners have seen with Labour.
At a time when participation rates in elections at both national and local levels have been falling and there is widespread cynicism about politics,
we will need to redouble our efforts to further engage with the local electorate and work for a decent turnout on 2 May. We have the candidates, we have
a demonstrable track record and the vision to deliver modern and effective local services. But to ensure success we must not be complacent and must work flat out to deliver a London fit for the 21st century. If we are serious about delivering improving local services we don’t just need a Labour government, we need Labour councils too.