Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

Posted on 19 February 2018 at 15:11 GMT

Walthamstow: Building the campaign against clearances of the working class

The Blairites' private monster block would crowd out important community public space, photo Walthamstow Save Our Square

The Blairites' private monster block would crowd out important community public space, photo Walthamstow Save Our Square   (Click to enlarge)

Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Waltham Forest Socialist Party

Where are Jeremy Corbyn's representatives in Waltham Forest's Labour council? That is what campaigners will be asking - especially after they saw council leader Clare Coghill write to George Osborne's Evening Standard to tell the Labour leadership to butt out of a local battle over her latest hated regeneration plans!

This forms a pattern, with the attack by right-wing Labour council leaders on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour NEC for intervening in Haringey sent to the Sunday Times.

This battle is reflected everywhere working class and young people are forced to fight back. The instinct is to appeal to John McDonnell and Jeremy for support and often it is the Labour right who are conducting the attacks.

The Labour-dominated council in Waltham Forest, east London, has approved a plan to hand public land in the town square over to private developers. The plan will deliver 500 flats - but none will be affordable to the families and young people in housing need in the borough.

The plan also includes a reduction in the number of trees, replacing the children's play area with one that is smaller and nearer to the bus station fumes, and no new services.

Coghill's statement followed the Evening Standard's report of a trades council meeting where John McDonnell spoke.

Chair of Walthamstow Save Our Square and Socialist Party member Nancy Taaffe appealed to John for support. He replied: "My message on all these [regeneration schemes] is listen to local people, take on board what they are saying and try and take people with you, and if you can't convince them, think again whether it's the appropriate scheme."

According to the Standard, Coghill said Mr McDonnell should focus on winning Tory marginals rather than "querying" the work of Waltham Forest council.

But demanding that Labour councils show in practice the difference John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn's leadership could make is exactly what is needed to convince more people to vote Labour and to build the movement to get the Tories out.

Against local residents' interests

This scheme in Waltham Forest may not include the actual destruction of council homes like Haringey council's HDV does, but is part of the same anti-working class pro-developer approach of the Labour right wing who dominate London's councils.

That is because they have chosen not to build homes for social rent, to hand over public land for private profiteering and, instead of standing up and fighting the Tories' decimation of the local government grant, to aim for a borough where more residents pay higher council tax and rates.

In other words this is social cleansing, London clearances of the working class - unless we stop it.

A campaign is fighting back and the Socialist Party has thrown itself into helping to build the most effective campaign possible.

After 3-400 attended the council's planning meeting in December, 150 attended a trades council-hosted campaign launch and since then there have been weekly open organising meetings to organise, and discuss and debate the campaign.

We are using every tool in the box to fight. In January a campaign activist moved an amendment to an anti-development motion at a Labour Party branch calling for a referendum on it, as per Jeremy Corbyn's call at Labour Party conference.

The strength of opposition is already clear. The council had received 948 letters of objection and 79 in favour and 2,015 people have already signed a petition against it.

We have attempted to use the council's petition mechanism whereby if we get 4,000 signatures in favour of the call for the council to run a referendum we at least get a debate in the council chamber on the issue.

But an unelected council officer on 110,000 a year has ruled this out. We have written to Sadiq Khan and requested that he use his power to intervene and block the plan.

When Sadiq visited the borough on Saturday, the campaign went to appeal to him. We welcome that under the pressure of the movements in London he has done a u-turn on his opposition to Jeremy's correct proposals on referendums.

The main public event is an occupation protest of the town square on 24 February. Leaflet depots have been established at friendly cafes and pubs and a silent army of campaigners has distributed over 15,000 ads for the event already.

We have discussed speakers who will help draw together an idea of how the campaign can go forward.

May 2018 local elections

But the timing of this campaign gives us one particular advantage. In normal times we could protest, petition and organise our little hearts out and the councillors would attempt to ignore us.

But 68 days after the occupation is the local elections when the Labour councillors who have supported this will ask for re-election.

Indicating how much they fear the odium attached to this plan the two Labour members of the planning committee who are up for re-election in May sent substitutes to the planning committee meeting.

But unfortunately, unlike our neighbours in Haringey where a groundswell of opposition to that Labour council's HDV plan emboldened the left inside Labour to organise a surgical strike of deselections against the pro-private developer councillors, we have the very same proponents standing for re-election who have been carrying out all the anti-working class policies.

Ultimately a victory for the campaign will mean the council retreating. That is our aim. How we can make it happen is the question.

At the latest organising meeting the Socialist Party proposed that the Labour members in the campaign ask election candidates to show both in words and action which side they are on - by pledging to reverse the decision and pushing for an emergency council meeting to reverse the decision. This was agreed by majority vote.

The meeting also agreed to deliver a letter to Stella Creasy, Walthamstow's anti-Corbyn Labour MP, appealing for her to intervene on the council's plans, which she has so far studiously failed to do.

If you are in London please do come along on the 24th. We have ambitious plans for an event that defends the use of 'our land and your land' as a site of political debate and for fun too! Let's unite against social cleansing and fight the forces of austerity.

The Observer/Guardian carried an article on 18th February in which Nancy Taaffe is quoted: London's Labour leaders in new row over Walthamstow regeneration plans.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 19 February 2018 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

Related links:


triangleTUSC plans to stand on Waltham Forest anti-monster block platform

triangleSave Our Square occupation: "This land is our land!"

triangleGroundswell of opposition to high-rise development

triangle'Occupy to save the town square'

triangleOutrage against 'monster block' plan

Working class:

triangleRefugees march against racism and to demand rights

triangleContinuing the fighting tradition of working class women

triangleSocialist Party congress 2018

triangleSpain: millions on streets against sexism and capitalist oppression


trianglePassing the council cuts test

triangleHated Blairite mayor ousted: now fight for a no-cuts Newham!

triangleLeicester: Blairites block Labour Party democracy


triangleJeremy Corbyn and Brexit

triangleThe Socialist inbox

Waltham Forest:

triangleWaltham Forest: Save Our Square public meeting


triangleHackney Socialist Party: The Left Opposition's fight against the rise of Stalinism in Russia

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Hands Off HRI campaign granted judicial review



Refugee Rights to be launched in Manchester



Over 1,000 on Newcastle NHS march


Socialist Party

Why I joined: 'The Socialist Party is at the forefront of defending Corbyn's anti-austerity leadership'


Socialist Party

Past fund-raising campaigns show dedication to the fight for socialism


May Day

Ideas matter: help us fight to win with May Day greetings



Refugees march against racism and to demand rights



Unions condemn 'culture of bullying' at Merseyside hospital



Hull college workers ballot for action against mass redundancies



Strikers and parents rally again in Newham against academies



Hinkley workers win back unpaid wages after sit-in protest



UCU strike: staff and students unite to continue pensions fight after magnificent 14 days of action



Walkout from undercover policing inquiry



Hated Blairite mayor ousted: now fight for a no-cuts Newham!



NSSN conference moves

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018