Hackney by-election: residents and workers need a fighting, socialist mayor

The Socialist carries below edited excerpts from a statement by Hackney and Islington Socialist Party

Philip Glanville, directly elected mayor of Hackney since 2016, has resigned in disgrace. Questions emerged about when he and the Labour Party became aware that former Labour councillor Tom Dewey was raided and arrested on child pornography charges, and when he broke off contact.

Hackney Library Strike
Hackney library strike. Photo: Brian Debus

When Tom Dewey resigned as a councillor the electorate received no explanation. Left-wing activists in Labour state they didn’t either, causing serious safeguarding concerns. They state that after Hackney North Constituency Labour Party (CLP) officers raised these concerns, London Labour staff replaced them with unelected, right-wing appointees!

Labour suspended Glanville’s party membership pending investigation, and he has now resigned from office. He leaves behind him a dysfunctional Labour council responsible for years of passing on Tory austerity attacks.

If he had not resigned as mayor there would have been no democratic route to remove him before 2026. The Socialist Party stands for the democratic right to recall elected officials at any time.

It is right that Glanville has resigned – but the whole local administration, and its politics, are rotten. There can be no trust in the Labour Party machine, or any of the pro-austerity capitalist establishment, to investigate their own misdeeds. Hackney Socialist Party calls for an independent workers’ inquiry led by the local trade union movement.

Failure to challenge austerity

The Labour mayor and administration have failed to challenge Tory austerity for over a decade, slashing over £200 million of jobs and services in real terms, attacking residents and workers to balance its books. They have done nothing to resolve a housing crisis that continues to push the working class out of the borough. No wonder they shy away from openness and accountability to their electorate and workforce.

We need a socialist mayor with a fighting, anti-austerity programme.

The council could refuse to implement Tory cuts, instead mobilising a mass campaign of local workers and residents to win back the funding our borough needs. Hackney holds £345 million in ‘usable’ reserves. It could start rebuilding those council homes, jobs and services tomorrow and send the bill to Westminster.

The working class needs political representation

On top of years of cuts and the Glanville scandal, right-wing Labour’s anti-democratic moves against Hackney North CLP have prepared the ground for ousting Diane Abbott, one of a handful of remaining left MPs. The moves are part of Keir Starmer’s purging from the Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity programme.

The workers’ movement needs a new, mass political vehicle to give the working class a voice. A step towards this would be a fighting, anti-austerity mayoral candidate from the workers’ movement.

Hackney Socialist Party members have led or supported strikes of workers over jobs and pay in libraries, schools, housing maintenance, refuse collection, SEND transport, and more. We have been part of community campaigns against service closures and rip-off property developments. The Socialist Party stands alongside other working-class fighters in an electoral alliance, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

Hackney Socialist Party invites all local trade unionists, socialists and community campaigners to discuss with us a fighting platform and standing such a candidate.