I noticed this week that I was the only council leader to be included the Daily Telegraph’s top 100 influential figures on the left.
I am flattered that I merit a mention. But for me, my inclusion says more about the way we are running this council.
As the BBC’s Sunday Politics show highlighted, Tower Hamlets is pioneering progressive policies designed to protect our residents from the cold winds of government austerity.
Their coverage focused on our reintroduction of the government axed Educational Maintenance Allowance, our commitment to the London Living Wage and our introduction of a new energy co-op.
These are not our only important policy initiatives.
I am proud too that we are building more affordable housing than anywhere else in Britain, that we are keeping free homecare for the elderly, and that our exam results across all ages are improving.
However with the government having axed our budgets by 27%, forcing us to make cuts of £100 million, and with more cuts to come, there are strict limits on my scope to introduce more of the kinds of policies this borough needs to ensure greater equality for all.
That’s why I support Owen Jones’s call for councillors up and down the country to develop a national strategy of resistance to the cuts. We have strength in unity.
Passivity is not an option here. Nor is sitting back for two years and hoping for the election of a Labour government to come to the rescue. Last year’s riots have given us a glimpse of how growing inequality can contribute to increased social tensions. Who knows the depth of the damage this government will have caused by the time of the general election?
If we want to prevent a whole generation being thrown on the scrapheap, we need to reshape our national politics in the interests of the many, not just the few. That’s why I will be joining many councillors from across the political spectrum on the TUC’s demo for ‘A Future that Works’ on October 20th. My hope is that that event will mark a new chapter in developing the resistance to austerity.