Galloway – Great Success in Atherton, Lancs.

gallowayposter.jpg54 people braved a bitterly cold night to attend the launch meeting of the new Respect Renewal branch in Atherton, Lancashire on Tuesday 19th February. Atherton is a small otwn near Wigan. It is worth noting here that we have made a decision in Respect Renewal to be very accurate and truthful about numbers attending events. When we say 54 people, we mean 54 people. George Galloway has a busy day in manchester today, with two two walkabouts , one in north manchester, then one south manchester, and a Respect meeting at 5pm in Rushlome, S. Manchester, followed by a Stop the War Coalition meeting in north Mancs this evening.

Here is a report from Clive Searle.

Despite the failure of the heating last night the temperature inside the meeting soon heated up as the start of the meeting had to be delayed while George Galloway MP conducted a live interview with Channel 4 news from inside the meeting hall. George passionately defended the gains of the Cuban revolution receiving a great round of applause from the meeting after tearing a strip off the interviewer in London.

As the meeting proper got underway, prospective local election candidate Steven Hall outlined why he was taking on the council at the May elections. Steve spoke of how the former industrial and mining town had been reduced to a ‘dormitory town’ by the closure of the pits and local industry under both the Margaret Thatcher, and more recently New Labour, governments.

Steve also celebrated the history of resistance and radicalism in the town, recalling the fantastic struggle of the Women Against Pit Closures locally in both 1984-5 and later in 1992-3. Some of those campaigners were in the room to acknowledge his praise.

Steve laid special emphasis on why Respect should be championing the issue of youth services in the locality but also called on Respect to celebrate its own young supporters by setting up a youth section.

Next the meeting heard from Dr Kay Phillips, Respect’s prospective candidate in the Cheetham ward in nearby Manchester. Kay recalled how as a GP working with the homeless so many of her patients had spent time in the army – only to be thrown on the scrap heap battered and scarred by their experience of war, with little support from those who had sent them to fight.

She also raised the issue of Virgin Health Care trying to get their hands on – and extract profits from – some of our NHS services. She contrasted the welcome given to these privatisers with the way local community nurse Karen Reissmann had been sacked for speaking out against NHS cuts.

Finally George Galloway MP took to the floor. In an inspiring speech George took the audience through a century of Labour history – from the path-breaking election of Kier Hardie to the terrible betrayals of Blair, Brown and nearby Bolton MP Ruth Kelly. George emphasised that Respect stood for all those values, and all those people, abandoned by New Labour – whether students, trade unionists or pensioners. He called on all present to back Steve’s election to the council as ‘a lion that will roar in the council chamber.’

During contributions form the floor one speaker, whose son had been tragically killed in Iraq, spoke of how he wanted to see Blair on trial for lying about the war. He also complained that the army was being prevented from recruiting in town centres and schools. George responded to the moving contribution by agreeing for the need for Blair to stand trial but saying he felt the army should be prevented from recruiting more young men to die needlessly’ for a pack of lies.’

As George left for yet another interview at the BBC in Manchester many stayed behind to talk about supporting Steve’s campaign. With a number of new recruits joining on the night and several more taking membership forms away to consider joining Respect it was a very successful night for the new branch

33 comments on “Galloway – Great Success in Atherton, Lancs.

  1. Well done comrades! GG and Respect Renewal activists up and down the country
    are doing an excellent job of helping to ensure that the organisation will expand
    from its modest base in the months ahead. Lots of work to do of course, but we’ve
    got enough dedicated and enthusiastic people on the ground to make sure it happens.
    It sounds like a very solid start has been made in Atherton – Respect Renewal is
    here to stay!
    Cheers, Jay.
    http://www.bristolrespect.org

  2. passing leftie on said:

    Atherton moves into the new Bolton West from the next election, held by a certain Ms R Kelly (Lab)

  3. sunshine1 on said:

    Very good report on meeting and 54 in attendance is very good, it’s not the quantity but the quality that counts at the end of the day.

    I hope to persuade, win approval and support for a meeting in Canning Town Newham, as we need to start to build Respect after all the argy-bargy of the recent past, however some comrades think we will not get a “full house”. I think they are wrong and will stand my ground on this. Canning Town is in the top five per cent most deprived areas in the UK with local people suffering from poor health, low education and poverty. If we stand for Peace, Justice, Equality and Socialism in Respect, if we stand for it in Tower Hamlets, if we stand for it in Green Street, then we stand for it in Canning Town and that our job is to work for it wherever poverty, inequality and deprivation makes it home. We need to organize, agitate and educate.

    “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”

  4. Clive Searle on said:

    “Clive,
    A friend of mine went last night. Said there were rather too many sad conspiracy theorists attracted by Galloways radio show.”

    Well that may have been your friend’s opinion. No one made contributions about conspiracy theories from the floor of the meeting that I heard (I did miss one contribution tho’) so I don’t know how s/he got that opinion but, of course, he/she is welcome to hold it. From my point of view it was a solidly working class meeting laying the basis for firm growth of Respect in an area that desperately needs an alternative to New Labour.

  5. passing leftie on said:

    #7 “From my point of view it was a solidly working class meeting laying the basis for firm growth of Respect in an area that desperately needs an alternative to New Labour.”

    Is the Community Action Group, or whatever they’re called, still active in Wigan? I know at one point they had some elected councillors?

    Will Respect be working with this group if they do still exist?

  6. Since when did Cliffites use language like “defend the gains of the Cuban revolution?” I thought it was state capitalist.

    BTW Clive, nothing sectarian about pointing out what a political charlatan Galloway is. But then the SWP always thought that any kind of criticism was sectarianism, a neo-Stalinist feature that they shared with big brother Militant and Hatton’s private army.

  7. paul, the SWP has *always* “defended” Cuba against US imperialism.

    Given the current context, I’m not at all sure I’d have as many problems with the formulation now as I once did. Unless I was in a meeting with Stalinists (which hasn’t happened for quite some time).

  8. larry nugent on said:

    A tremendous report on what the real issues are. It can only auger well for RR. We are on the road again, Running the show again

    In other threads I have read that SWP activists are now joining up and that will be a boost for the progressive movement.

  9. BSP.

    That’s not what I said. Defending Cuba against the US is one thing. Defending the “gains of the Cuban revolution” is a rather different matter.

  10. BatterseaPowerStation on said:

    12. Understood. But the *only* context I can see myself getting all-edgy on someone talking about “defending the gains of the Cuban revolution”, *today* is in the unlikely company I don’t keep or, thankfully, see that much of.

    The Cuban poet on the Newsnight panel is an example of the former type – the Stalinists only pop up here from time to time…

  11. Hang on a minute. Clive Searle is using language more common in orth-Trot and Stalinist circles than his Cliif training of two decades. It seems cut free of an ideological framework, the pressure of championing life-long Stalinist Galloway, is taking its toll.

    Didn’t take long did it?

  12. Antonio Labriola on said:

    A few things. A meeting of that size in Atherton is very large – the organisers should be really proud of themselves. It is good that different traditions are in the room expressing how we defend working class interests world wide. That there may be different views on Cuba is a good thing not a bad thing because the working class movement is broad and diverse. The response of Paul is really sad, and sadly shadows the line of the SWP CC which wrecked the growth of Respect when they were members. Now they have lost the national office, lost the right to use the name and lost an SWP councillor to the Tory Party and face further investigation by the Electoral Commission for breaking a rather simple and understandable electoral law for taking a cheque from a company based on privatisation scams, perhaps what is required from the SWP CC and their trolls is a period of silent reflection.

  13. Read post 9 Antonio. I’m no friend of the SWP. Two things bother me here. Promoting Galloway as a leftist leader, and the formula that Searle used about Cuba, a country where there are no “different views” allowed.

  14. Clive Searle on said:

    What a shame that paul, whoever he is, can’t find anything other than nit picking to respond.

    Well, you may not like it but I’m not that fussed.

    I’ve just come in from one of the most inpsiring meetings organised by North Manchester against Wars. 165 people listened to Andy Burgin form Stop the War, Rae Street from CND and a comrade from United for Peace and Justice in the States.

    The also heard the most devastating critique of the sudden step-change in Isalamophobia in recent weeks from Anas Al-tikriti. And that old ‘political charlaton’ Georeg Galloway moved many to tears with a powerful speech attacking the devastating legacy of the Iraq disaster.

    The contributions from the floor were of equally high quality. I think many people who were in the room will remember that night for years to come: the Stop the War Coalition at it’s best.

    Now my years of training in the SWP would say to me that any Bolshevik worth their salt would want to be in that meeting. Yet the SWP had just one member there – a member who spoke in a passionate and fraternal manner. But where were the rest?

    I would also have thought that any decent socialist would have wanted to be with the 69 people who came to a meeting with George at 5.00pm in Rusholme, or have taken part in the walk about in both Cheetham Hill and Rusholme earlier in the day – meeting and talking to hundreds of people.

    That they have chosen to absent themselves from that political forum and instead embark on a fast track into the wilderness is their choice. But it makes little sense to me – it must be my neo-stalinism creeping in again!

  15. Clive Searle on said:

    “Promoting Galloway as a leftist leader.” seems to bother our friend paul.

    well I suppose, whoever he is, he must believe that galloway is a rightist leader if he’s not a leftist one. In which case he has absolutely no grasp on reality.

  16. yes clive
    comrades from the swp would be warmly welcomed by GG on his walk about!!!
    I can assume that RR are going flat out to build the world aganst war meetings about to take place around the country……………????? and the profile of RR in the campaign against widdecombe’s attacks on abortion rights has been overwhelming.. I mean GG has really pushed it on his radio show!!!!What about RR involvement in B’ham’s 20,000 council strike…….noticeable by their absence.. but hey you have only 2 cllr,
    Well done u got 55 people to galloway in Atherton- I agree not bad but GG’s profile will always get an audience- nothing wrong with that but u are seriously living in dream world if u think that is enough to build an organisation.
    so clive – cut the bull…if the SWP had done a walk about with GG he would have had one of his hissy fits so this is nonsense.
    recent stop the war events in B’ham and Bristol have seen no input from RR members!!!
    but clive i can agree with u on one thing- listening to GG does reduce one to tears…….
    also 165 in manchester to GG is not bad but he is not the figure he once was and lots of decent activists have really turned away from GG post BB. Its true and we all know it but in the world of RR it can’t be mentioned.
    Out of intrest when is that members meeting to discuss KL being held………Andy keeps telling us its not offical postion to back KL but it appears no one told GG cos he is brown nosing KL for all he’s worth. Must feel a bit uneasy Clive with GG behaviour?

  17. JJ: “recent stop the war events in B’ham and Bristol have seen no input from RR members!!!”

    This is untrue. RR asked for a speaker at next week’s STW public meeting in Bristol, but were blocked by the SWP. We are building for that event anyway.

  18. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    Just indoors after getting back from a truly amazing 36 hours in Manchester and Atherton.

    Tonight’s StWC meeting was profoundly moving. Video is going up soon, I believe. That meeting is going to be taed about by all who were there for some time to come.

  19. howardt on said:

    Respect has a lot of potential and can make an impact, including where it has not organised before because of the SWP wanting to build SWP because the comrades didn’t want to build Respect.
    Can I ask RR comrades to refrain from petty discussions with SWp on who did most where as it is pointless.
    The SWP have an existing machine that has been operating for years, so they can always turn out to event if they so wish. RR is just establishing groups and has to work out priorities, and will not include a parachute regiment.
    If Respect is going to report on what it is doing, don’t get bogged down in the stupid jibes about Galloway doing meetings is pointless.
    I attended a meeting a week or so back in Southwark and I was impressed by the fact that SWP wasn’t mentioned once but the meeting was devoted to opposing government attacks on the working class, which is exactly what matters.
    It is easier to answer SWP on Cuba in practice. The SWP limit their ‘solidarity’ work on Cuba to opposing US intervention. Respect members should get involved with Cuba Solidarity – they do not have an entrance exam on the class character of Cuba – they just ask for willing support on the basis that even the SWP could put in resources, but never have.

  20. Clive Searle on said:

    Agreed Howardt. Of course we never mentioned them at the RR meetings – very few are interested in the mechanics of the split – and from now on I hope not to mention them here either. There’s much more important things to do.

  21. OK, so no answer on the class nature of Cuba then: the politics of it isn’t important is it? And calling into question your alliance with Galloway is “nitpicking”.

    Or sectarian, or both I presume.

    Welcome to the British far left swamp.

  22. Clive Searle on said:

    On the class nature of Cuba – it may not surprise anyone to discover that I have a different view to GG. So when reporting Galloway on Channel 4 I could have said ‘Galloway passionately defended Cuba against US imperialism and explained how the Cuban Revolution was an example of deflected permanent revolution.” But, you know what? He didn’t. He defended the gains of the Cuban revolution. Do I have a problem with that? No I don’t. Hey ho, it’s called being in an alliance – one I’m very proud of, if fact.

    But more importantly Paul. I don’t know who you are, what your politics are, where you come from or what your agenda is. So please, since you seem so unhappy about the ‘British far left swamp’ why don’t you go away and post your tripe on Harry’s Place. You can all whine together there. And while your at it take jj with you.

  23. Someone who may or may not be called Paul said:

    Welcome to the British far left swamp

    Blimey, that takes me back – I haven’t heard it called that in years. New Bruce, are you a disgruntled ex-Mig?

  24. Ger Francis on said:

    “recent stop the war events in B’ham…have seen no input from RR members!!!” More nonsense from JJ whose role on this site appears to be one of spewing lies and gossip. Try some politics instead. At least 4 RR were elected onto Brum’s STW ctte at the recent AGM. These included Salma as chair, again, for the very good reason she is the most high profile anti-war figure in the city and a very powerful ambassador for the anti-war movement: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/feb/15/iraq

    In deliberately trying to marginalise Salma from the anti-war movement, Rees and German’s sectarianism has only managed to undermine that movement by under utilizing one of its brightest stars. They are now trying the same process with George. It is incredible that the SWP would boycott a STW public meeting in Manchester because George was on the platform. And that they would fail to invite him to the Tower Hamlets STW AGM. Their deranged sectarianism in Respect is spilling over and infecting their work in the Stop the War Coalition.

  25. passing leftie on said:

    It does appear from a distance, that whilst R(R) are going ahead and getting on with things, the SWP are doing their best to put up blocks and barriers. But then again, I’m just passing through…

  26. I used to work in Atherton for a few months. 54 to a meeting’s not bad at all I think.

    I thought Flores Sukula spoke at the meeting in Manchester- worth a mention I think as she is fighting a battle for her and thousands of other asylum seeker students to be able to study at university.

    Jason

  27. Still confused by your line on Cuba Clive, but there you go.

    For the record, I consider myself a third camp Marxist.

    Something you might have been once.

  28. Stephen Hall on said:

    As Respect’s prospective candidate in Atherton and the opening speaker at the meeting I’d just like to make a minor correction to the report made by Clive Searle which is otherwise excellent.

    What I said concerning young people was that I wanted to make the representation of the interests of the young people of the town a central issue of the campaign, whether that be for better youth services, greater accessibility to resources, better schools or in fighting to defending the environment they will inherit.

    I think the idea of a completely independent youth forum in the Town and the launching of our own proposed youth organisation within that framework and within the framework of my election campaign is the way to ensure, whether I’m elected or not, the fight for young people’s interest no longer goes unnoticed in the town and in the Wigan Borough.

    That’s why I’ll also be out on Saturday evening talking to the young people who are out and about in the town centre, about what it is they themselves want to see and testing out the water for my own ideas abd proposals.

    By the way, the first meeting proper of the newly formed South Lancs Branch will by at the Old Isaac’s on Market Street, Atherton on Thursday 28th February. I’ll try andl keep you informed of our progress.

    Stephen Hall

  29. As a participant of the meeting in Atherton last week i left with everyone else feeling pretty encourged and upbeat. I saw many old faces but quite a few new ones as well. With a population of around 20,000 people and getting over 50 workers to attend was quite positive and firmly lays the basis for a new R.R. Branch and bodes well for the future.

    The most encouraging aspect was the amount of workers who joined on the spot (over 14 did so) and a further 20 or more put their names down as wanting to know more about/join R.R. This represented an excellent ratio of those present wanting to join R.R. outlining the political vacuum that exists on the left not only in this small town but right across the country.

    Other reports have been made about the Atherton meeting but i raised 2 very important issues from the floor, which have not yet been mentioned, which are;

    1) The vital importance of building genuinely democratic structures within R.R. as we cannot repeat the failure experience