Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales urges residents to have their say through the ballot box


- Credit: Newham Cll PR

Residents have the opportunity tomorrow (Thursday) to use their vote. A basic and fundamental right for everyone in our society, it is worth carefully considering the issues, the candidates and their policies before voting for Newham Mayor, local councillors and the European Parliament.

Elections inevitably cause a temporary sense of ‘tribalism’ as groups come together to campaign for policies they agree on, for the people they believe can make a positive contribution and against those they disagree with. That is all part of the cut and thrust of politics.

But that can go too far. In the past two weeks we have seen offensive, divisive leaflets which have been printed and distributed anonymously, with the clear intention of creating division in Newham, based on lies. I genuinely believe they have not been produced or approved by any of the candidates standing to be Mayor of Newham. But those candidates should make it clear, publicly, that they will have nothing to do with material such as this or the people who are behind them.

Fairness and equality - treating people the same irrespective of their beliefs, backgrounds or abilities - are values I believe are shared by the vast majority of Newham residents. It is not just enough to treat people as equals, you also have to be seen to do so. That is the reason why I will never prioritise one part of our community – not one faith group, country of origin or viewpoint - over another.

In Newham, the most diverse place for its size on the planet, people tell us they get on well with their neighbours. In part that is because residents have rejected, and continue to reject, the politics of division and separation. Whoever you are and where ever you are from, as long as you are prepared to treat others fairly, you are welcome in Newham.

We run the risk of allowing the politics of separation and intolerance to triumph if enough people do not turn out to vote. You, your family and friends can have your say through the ballot box.

I hope you will decide what you value most in these elections, and then vote for it.