Looking out of my window on Saturday morning I was a little worried by the grey weather at 7am. But just like the HOPE not hate logo the sun was soon shining as our team of organisers had breakfast, before setting off to collect 50,000 leaflets from Jon Cruddas’s office where they had been prepared the night before. The suspension on our Ford Fiesta was really low after 30,000 leaflets and three men were crammed in.
Half the organisers had already headed to St Margaret’s Church in Barking to start setting up for the day of HOPE. By the time we arrived, HOPE not hate balloons decorated the front of the church and people in yellow T-shirts were busy preparing for the day ahead. Big pots of tea were on the go – food was coming later.
By 10.30 around 40 activists had turned up, including Jon Cruddas MP and the new Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Liam Smith, all eager to get out leafleting. As we readied the walks and handed out bags of leaflets, more and more people arrived – the Mayor of Barking, the Vicar of St Margaret’s Church, local people, activists from across east London, the Labour Party, the Irish Society, Young Labour activists, trade unionists from Barking GMB branches B10 and B11. In total over 70 people came out, including one super activist all the way from Basingstoke.
The order of the day was a cracking, four-page, full colour glossy leaflet, proudly sponsored by Barking GMB, which ripped into the BNP over their mad caravan park scheme to solve the local housing shortage. It also featured a rogues’ gallery of possibly Britain’s worst councillors, showing how some BNP councillors had cost local taxpayers nearly £1,700 per meeting attended.
After a photo shoot in front of the HOPE not hate bus and the ancient church, activists headed out across the borough. A number of wards were completely covered and in many large chunks were completed with small areas to finish off this week.
An amazing spread, prepared by Mrs Tarry, was put on for lunch, which hungry activists tucked into before going out again for another two hours. David Lammy MP, the Minister for Higher Education, joined us for lunch and spent the afternoon delivering HOPE across Barking; he even caught the bus home afterwards with activists. A great day was had by all and people left fired up to do more in the weeks to come.
A special thanks must go to Thompsons solicitors and members of the Parliamentary Unite T&G branch who came down on Friday and knocked out a big part of one ward. The rest of the 50,000 leaflets should have gone out over the next ten days with sessions planned this week in another three wards.
HOPE not hate local organiser
PS I won my bet with Cllr Smith that Leicester Tigers would beat London Irish in the rugby Premiership final. So he now has to deliver 1,000 of my HOPE not hate leaflets on his own in a ward of my choice!