News from Unmesh Desai: Column for Newham Recorder Newspaper
With many people from Newham, I attended the protest against President Trump’s visit to this country. Whilst he is of course the elected President of the United States, his on-the-record views on women, Islam, and immigration, not to mention his attacks on the NHS and gratuitous remarks about the London Mayor, are at odds with the values Londoners hold dear. It says a lot about our city that the protests were relatively peaceful even though so many Londoners felt that he should not have been given the red-carpet treatment.
Alongside Newham Stand Up to Racism, I attended, and spoke at, the counterdemonstration to the ’Free Tommy Robinson’ rally in Whitehall. I used my speech to remind everyone that the East End remains as united against any form of hatred as it did in the days of Cable Street. In these turbulent times we must remain vigilant against attempts to divide our communities. Robinson is in prison for contempt of court. His views, and those of his supporters, will always find vehement opposition in this part of London.
Whilst part of my role is to challenge that which threatens our values, a more positive part is celebrating those very values we hold dear. Pride is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the LGBT+ community and our diverse city. To show my support for Pride month, I attended a City Hall event with Mayor Khan and met with Lyn Brown MP and Mayor Fiaz with some Newham residents outside Stratford station before they went to the Pride march.
I marked the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the NHS by meeting ambulance service staff at City Hall. The NHS is an iconic institution which represents everything that is great about Britain and Stephen Timms MP and I were out and about in East Ham High Street asking local residents to sign a petition to call for the Government to fund it properly.
Finally, many congratulations to the England team. Not only did they perform brilliantly, but their endeavours also united a whole nation. Watching some of those games with local residents in Stratford and East Ham certainly made me feel like I was part of ‘One Newham’!