last night in north manchester

“THERE IS A SPLIT IN RESPECT”

“North Manchester Respect is now aligned to Respect Renewal – and is committed to entering into a dialogue with others across the city and the region to build a broad, mass based left party.”

Outcome:

Last night at the North Manchester Respect Members Meeting a resolution was carried to recognise the split and manage it as best as possible, separating North Manchester into one Respect Renewal branch and another Bury Respect branch.

This was approved by 35 to 16 (appended at the end of this report).

Another resolution (standard SWP – “resolving to continue the work of building Respect – the Unity Coalition”, “recognising the Fourth Annual Respect Conference … as the only national decision making body of Respect”, and agreeing to support its decisions) was defeated by the same margin.

Process:

The meeting was very well behaved, with almost entirely reasoned, measured debate on both sides. There were over 60 people present (including observers). The debate was well chaired, by consent of all present, by Geoff Brown (Chair of Trades Council, SWP member). People spoke for or against, in turn, and kept to time.

The resolution (below) was introduced on the basis that everyone present opposed the war and privatisation and supported Karen Reissmann, sacked Unison steward (and SWP member). [Note – Karen was the Socialist Alliance candidate in the 2001 General Election in North Manchester; though she was not present last night.] The disagreement was on what to do on the left of Labour – and no-one had the answer. It is a debate in France, Germany, New Zealand, and even in Venezuela they get things wrong sometimes. But people here are not going to agree – even though there will be craziness of different placards and leaflets on demonstrations. The other resolution is wrong to recognise one conference only. The future of Respect wont be settled in Manchester. But the future of the Manchester Left should not be allowed to let divisions harden here.

The SWP opposed this and proposed their resolution, admitting right at the start that they had been wrong to say that those who attended the Renewal Conference had left Respect. Their position was that Respect had been successful, but success brought problems, Tower Hamlets Councillor defecting to Labour, not holding to policies elected on. The split is only a victory for Gordon Brown. However, there has to be a split. There are two separate organisations. This needs to be clarified.

Other speakers amplified these points. [Note: this is in order of debate, without further indication of the political origin of the comments.] The split isnt ours, but due to egomania in London. But there should be a split, as people havent been serious about building Respect. On the other hand, we cant solve political disagreements organisationally. The act of not going to the (official) conference is turning one’s back on an organisational. Respect’s orignal vision – RUC – or a new organisation? We should build a mass party, functioning, not just at election time. The SWP want a united front of a special kind, this is putting a privileged position for the SWP. We have had a paper in Manchester, the SWP only want SW. Respect came out of Stop the War, split has occurred, must follow it locally. In Birmingham, people paid for members to join at a selection meeting; this was compromise with businessmen. But you can’t have a coalition with yourselves. SOAS report showed the unconstitutional student delegations, and that is why elected delegates went to Renewal instead of Westminster conference. Renewal Conference was not full of people who were “right wing”, “communalist”, “witch-hunters”. There are still lots of decent people in SW (and this was applauded at Renewal Conference); but the SW leadership is wrong. We cant go on aruging instead of getting on with activity.

For the SWP, you dont have to come to meetings to show commitment. Respect Renewal – what type of party is it going to be? So broad that issues such as gay, women’s socialism are on the back burner? [but isnt this what SWP were criticised for in starting Respect?]

For North Manchester comrades, it was said that every Saturday they have had members standing on the streets; while other people (SWP) were in Respect but not committed to it – for the SWP the response was that the fact that they had not been seen before didnt mean they werent activists. “Huddling on a corner on Cheetham Hill Road doesnt build a movement” [this was probably the only truly insensitive and insulting line in the whole debate].

Concluding speakers said that Respect Renewal was no less left than Respect; the division was about a broad socialist left party and a united front. A member of Socialist Unity in Greater Manchester (who recently joined Respect) quoted some of Lenin and suggested that the division between the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks was organisational as well as political. The final SWP speaker admitted that Respect had not been their priority and was “sorry that some of the best socialists are running off with Galloway”.

The vote was taken, counted by Chair and two observers, and the result was 35-16 in favour of managing the divisions.

The SWP then left the meeting and North Manchester Respect continued with the business for which the meeting had originally been convened.

North Manchester Respect – Renewal – Across the Manchester Area:

A paper was introduced (this is 2 sides of A4 and I dont have it on computer) – outlining the consistent work done by North Manchester Respect [and it should be said, by the North Manchester Socialist Alliance before that] and calling for continuing this activity, together with friends and comrades in the SWP (and other left groups and individuals). The decision arising was that North Manchester Respect was aligned to Renewal, committed to support a national newspaper (and a local paper – 1000 copies to be out this Saturday), committed to building democratic, pluralistic and inclusive branches across the locality, and to fighting effective election campaigns, and doing this through dialogue with others across the city and region to build a broad, mass based left party.

In discussion it was clear that this recognised how North Manchester Respect would from now on be a focus for all the Respect members (and others who had joined and left, or who had never joined) across the Manchester area, who wanted to work in an inclusive left organisation.

This was all agreed unanimously by the 30-40 people who had remained for the meeting. [Some observers clearly stayed for this meeting, though some may have left; it is not clear if anyone else had left other than those who had voted for the other resolution.]

The meeting then proceeded to debate forthcoming elections (this was one of the prime purposes of the meeting, as notified publicly at the Galloway / Yacoob / Lavalette / Reissmann public meeting on November 6th) and agreed unanimously to support Kay Phillips for Cheetham Hill Ward (to stand against the odious Labour councillor Pagel who is on the Board of the Mental Health Trust currently sacking Karen Reissmann). Kay stood for this Ward and gained over 500 votes in 2004 – she was subsequently prevented from standing by changed Respect priorities in the following years.

The meeting also agreed that comrades would put further proposals – on whether or where to stand, with reasons – to the next meeting (January 10th, Saffron, Cheetham Hill).

Fund-raising and other activities were also discussed and comrades were thanked for their proposals – details of more activities to be circulated.

Appended – Successful Resolution – Carried 35-16

A proposal for managing the divisions within Respect in the North Manchester & Bury area.

As campaigners and activists there is more that unites us than divides us.Many of us have stood alongside each other in countless struggles over the years. It is vital for the outcome of current and future struggles in Manchester that the Left and other progressive forces can work together in a spirit of cooperation and unity.

However, there is a split in Respect. This is not something that anyone would have chosen. There are two visions of Respect. This is what lies behind the split. Both sides of this debate are equally convinced of their position.

We have to manage this division as best as possible. We have pull back from unnecessary confrontation and stop a bad situation from getting worse. The decisions about the future of Respect will not be decided in North Manchester. There is no value in meeting up on a monthly basis in one room to see divisions harden and deepen and to watch political relationships deteriorate.

We therefore propose this solution.

We separate North Manchester and Bury Respect branch into two separate branches. One branch will be a Respect Renewal branch aligned with the Bishopgate conference and accepts RR members. The other branch accepts those who support the Westminster Conference decisions. This arrangement is for the mutual benefit of all activists. No side of this debate should proclaim a ‘victory’ over the other in this agreement

The two branches will work together jointly over campaigns and struggles. This will necessitate an ad-hoc coordination on an open and fraternal basis

41 comments on “last night in north manchester

  1. ‘she was subsequently prevented from standing by changed Respect priorities in the following years.’

    That would be the strategy of concentrating forces into small areas, that was agreed by just about every national figure in Respect. The strategy that actually led to wins in a number of areas, and that was also unanimously agreed (after this springs elections) to have gone past its shelf-life.
    Just contributing my ha’penny worth to combatting the tendency that I am detecting of blaming every problem, argument or frustrated desire of the last 4 years on a certain leninist organisation.

  2. Mark P on said:

    Muonn. Err, paranoia doesn’t come into it? If John Nicholson had wanted to criticise the SWp I am sure he would have done. Instead his report indicated a welcome injection of collective and public self-criticism. Not something SWP members of course are overly familiar with which may be why instead you decided to indulge your paranoia.

  3. Not really paranoia, after hearing a statement at the South Brum meeting that ‘the swp have been undermining us for the last 3 years’.
    Euroelections in West Mids: swp election agent. Ditto both GE campaigns. Ditto at least some wards in both 2006 and 2007. Total swp contribution I reckon around £300-500 each from a lot of active members here if u take both subs and one-off donations into account.
    And I’m sure its not the only place where this ‘discourse’ is emerging.

  4. (take ur point that John Nicholson ain’t pushing this line though, but the phrase fits into a general pattern)

  5. garagelanduk on said:

    I think the electoral strategy of only targetting wards where you have a chance of winning is a mistake, it was a mistake for the Socialist Alliance and a mistake for Respect.

    Standing in elections should be seen as being part of a process of building links and profile over a LONG TERM period. New parties don’t get sweeping gains across the country over night. It takes YEARS of work in most places to even register a vote in double figures. That means you have to start from a small base. If you never make that start then you will never get beyond that small base – unless your strategy is entirely predicated on making a massive splash at a national level which will get overnight mass support in the localities – an entirely unrealistic perspective.

    This argument is about short termism versus long term strategy. For example for people who are sympathetic to green causes – they will think electorallly in terms of whether to support the major parties or supporting the Green Party. This is possible because they have seen the Green Party stand in local elections year in and year out – the Green Party is part of the political landscape as a consequence – it is known to people. What do potentially socialist votres do? There is no such equivalent for them in most of the country – various temporary organisations come and go and none of them have been around long enough to establish themselves. Working class people are laregly deeply suspicious of politicians – they only see them at election time and if a socialist candidate is unknown from an unknown organisation, then why should they be trusted anymore than any other crap politician? It takes time to build respect and trust – it means being seen year in year out as fighting for working class interests in a manner that the local working class can relate to – and that is not just at election time. It means having a long term and stable identity which doesn’t change every year or two. We need a class struggle workers party that has some long term basis which can become as well known as the Green Party. The Left needs to abandon quick fix politics and starty thinking long term – where are we going to be in 10 or 20 years time? Have we succeeded in building something that people can relate to and trust? We need a party which working class peple can start viewing as *their* party – that means something solid and long term which is built up over many years. All the quick fixes have built nothing.

  6. Spanish comunist on said:

    Garagelanduk is right. From a foreign country is difficult for me to understand the british lefties. You seem to be attached to the labour party, you criticised. To build an alternative you would present all the real candidates you can. I don´t think is good to present paper candidates,as sometimes we have done in Spain in small villages, but you refuse too much, because the labour one is left, the tory can win… That´s not the way to consolidate a political proyect.
    Perhaps the problem is that you don´t really believe in the party you are, socialist alliance, respect, respect renewal or what else…
    PD I must be really boring and disapointed to read these blogs so often. Perhaps with the actual spanish left disaster it´s funny to see other bigger disasters.

  7. Richard Searle on said:

    Silly argument paulm, more motivated by an opposition to RR I suspect. When Paul Mcgarr stood in the Millwall Ward he pushed Labour into third place and let the tories in.
    ——————–
    Conservatives 828
    Respect 635
    Labour 571
    Independent 195
    Liberal Democrats 150
    Total: 2379
    ———————

    So you suggest that we do nothing to hold new labour to account ?

  8. Paul,

    It’s great to hear you have such confidence in Respect:
    last year Mohammed Khan got more than four times more votes than the Liberal candidate. It seems you expect Respect to win a lot of votes from Labour if the Liberals are going to overtake Labour.

    But… if respect wins that many votes from Labour, then Respect will have more votes either Labour or the Liberals.

    So, you’ve convinced me. Respect should stand there!

  9. Richard,

    I think you’ll find that Paul’s strategy to hold Labour to account is to keep on voting for it, ‘supporting Labour like a rope supports a hanging man’.

    Duncan.

  10. Paul,

    Now I get it: the Labour councillor in Cheetham that Respect wants to run against is Martin Pagel, who is now [would you f-ing believe it, and how are the mighty fallen] on the board of the NHS trust that sacked Karen Reissmann.

    I do think that you and the aforementioned gentleman may be well acquainted….

    Duncan.

  11. So would you prefer a Labour or Liberal Council? If you don’t care vote for Respect.

    Not sure what your point is Duncan.

  12. Come on, Duncan, it’s not that hard.

    In general, we don’t contest Labour in a situation that would let the Lib Dems in. But that’s a rule of thumb, not a foundational principle of socialism.

    If a repulsive Labour warmonger or privatiser is standing, there’s nothing tactically wrong with a Respect candidate (either side) spoiling his/her vote, so long as the voters already perceives the Labour candidate in these terms, or at the very least if we can inform many voters of the reality.

    If such tactics were used repeatedly in a particular ward or constituency, with substantial effect, then the local (or national) Labour Party ought to become nervous about standing obvious right-wingers.

    If there’s a chance of a Tory getting in instead of a Lib Dem, I’d agree the case has to be considered more carefully.

  13. When Paul Mcgarr stood in the Millwall Ward he pushed Labour into third place and let the tories in.

    labour coming third shows that it was them standing against respect that split the vote and let the tory in

  14. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    Good points in #5 garageland

    Standing in the Preston by-election in highly marginal Tulketh ward risks not only the extreme likelihood of letting in the Tories who now run the Council, but the small but definitely possibility of the BNP getting in. That might be justified if it was a hard right Labour candidate, but apparently its a former councillor who when he was on the Council was one of the small minority of the Labour group who supported Lavalette’s motions to twin with a Palestine town and to oppose Nuclear Weapons being moved into the City.

    Apparently SWP-Respect are planning on ONLY contesting the by-election in January but definitely NOT the normal election in May, because it’s a Labour candidate they support. By standing in January there’s a chance that all they’ll do is help the Tories and BNP build their vote against Labour and risk further erosion of its support for the May election. They’ve also said they won’t stand against the other Labour Councillor in the ward, so their long term strategy to build an electoral base, is to contest the ward only two out of every four years. (There are elections EVERY year in Preston – 3 years for the City, 1 year for the County).

    So the ‘targeted strategy’ is now being replaced with the “Okey-Cokey strategy”.

  15. ” outlining the consistent work done by North Manchester Respect [and it should be said, by the North Manchester Socialist Alliance before that] and calling for continuing this activity, together with friends and comrades in the SWP (and other left groups and individuals).”

    So why not have this kind of unity in action then across Manchester and anywhere else like a kind of Socialist Alliance at its best but without the need to agree yet on the precise formulation for an elctoral challenge?

    You never know one might come later. It might be interesting for supporters of bothe the SWP, Respect Renewal and indeed anyone else to come to the socialist unity meeting (no relation to this website I’m afraid) on Thursday (postponed from last Thursday to avoid a clash) to discuss practical initiatives in relation to education- against academies, against pay cuts, against racist discrimnation, for students, workers and the communities to control campaigns for comprehensive fvree education for all.

    FMH this Thursday 13th Dec- got to rush now for NUT activists meeting in Bolton.

  16. Jason
    It now clashes with a Reissmann strike benefit at the Irish club in Chorlton so don’t be too disappointed if the turnout is low.
    I’ll try to get to both.

  17. Ger Francis on said:

    It is notable that Islamaphobic right-wing trolls like Tim are intervening to encourage the SWP’s new line about the threat of religious fundamentalism inside Respect. ‘The split will strengthen the weight of the Islamists in Respect Renewal’, SWP National Sec Martin Smith approvingly quotes, without a single shred of evidence to substantiate, in a disgraceful article in this months Socialist Review.

  18. #21 “Jason
    It now clashes with a Reissmann strike benefit at the Irish club in Chorlton so don’t be too disappointed if the turnout is low.
    I’ll try to get to both.”

    Oh well, that can’t be helped. Doesn’t actually say what time it is on website:
    “Thursday 13th December, Strikers’ Solidarity Event/Benefit Night and gig (for the campaign to reinstate Karen Reissmann), Irish Community Centre, 17 High Lane, Chorlton, Manchester, M24 9DJ.
    £5 entrance fee to raise money for the strike fund, music, DJ, raffles (entrance fee includes raffle), prizes. Buy on the door or in advance from the venue – also tickets available on the picket lines. All proceeds from this event will go to the strike hardship fund.”

    Presumably at 8 but people probably won’t get there till 9 or do you think it be earlier?

    Obviously the strike has to take priority in many ways but I think we could do both. Flores’ campaign to be able to study and the fight against academies is very important too but may be we’ll have to finish early to prioritise solidairty with this very important strike.

    Thanks, Jason

  19. JimPage on said:

    “Standing in the Preston by-election in highly marginal Tulketh ward risks not only the extreme likelihood of letting in the Tories who now run the Council, but the small but definitely possibility of the BNP getting in”

    BNP polled 14% in tulketh last time, so it would take a result of epic proportions by them to win there. The bnp have already announced they are standing, and it gives a good opportuntiy for Respect toi beat them- whcih is well within their ability

  20. #18 Jason:

    ” It might be interesting for supporters of both the SWP, Respect Renewal and indeed anyone else to come to the socialist unity meeting unity meeting (no relation to this website I’m afraid) “

    That isn’t strictly true jason. The comrades running this blog, and the Socialist Unity groups in manchester and Swindon are loosely networked together.

    I think you will find it was me who suggested the name change froom “people Before profit” to Socialist Unity a few months ago at the Friends meeting House, and JOhn Nicholson and Declan o’Neill are contributers to this blog.

    That is not to say that the people participating in the Socialist Unity groups are in any way obliged to sign up with the politics of the blog. BUt the initiative around practical collaborative work between socialists comes from the same inspiration as this web-site – coming out of the Socialist Allaince.

  21. OK, then, second cousin to this website then! But seriously, even though it helps explain why they’ve got the same name I just meant that the Manchester SU group is not the same as this website – the first being run democratically and the second being under your editorship- though certainly with open access on the comments.

    “BUt the initiative around practical collaborative work between socialists comes from the same inspiration as this web-site – coming out of the Socialist Allaince.”

    I can sign up to that and indeed open debate without necessarily agreeing with say your particular politics. However, perfectly prepared to take part in joiunt action and fraternal and hopefully mutually enlightening debate!

  22. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    JimPage

    The BNP vote in Tulketh when they contested it in 2006 was actually 17.7%. It is the only time they have stood in Preston.

    They have been campaigning for some months now in the ward and if they are going to do well anywhere in Preston, it is probably this ward. There is only a tiny asian vote, compared to over 20% in a lot of other wards in Preston.

    The danger is that the BNP vote climbs to well over 20% and they start to be seen as a real option for Tory voters who are a near majority in this ward. I don’t think there’s much chance of them doing this in this by-election though it’s not a possibility to be ignored as they are in a clear third place and there is a Labour government and Tory council for people to be disillusioned with. However as SWP-Respect are saying they are only going to contest it this time and not in May, by eating in to the Labour vote in January and then not standing in May, there is a real danger of the BNP building a significant vote.

    Respect would do well to get 10% in this ward. They only got 5% in a similar neighbouring ward in 2007; and in the 2005 County Council elections when Respect councillor Steven Brooks stood for an area including this ward he only got 9.4% and not only was he a sitting councillor for this ward, elected only 2 years before, the County division also included a ward that Respect has done very well in (St George’s).

    So contrary to the claim by Martin Smith in Socialist Review this is not very fertile territory for Respect, so one has to question what is to be gained by contesting it in this by-election but not in May? It is at least questionable that the risks might outweigh the benefits. There will be 20 or so other wards up for election in May 2008 – is there not a case for concentrating on some of those rather than what could be an adventurist by-election campaign?

  23. solidarity on said:

    Excellent turnout in Keynsham.

    On receipt of unsolicited e-mails from Respect Renewal I unsubscribed. Appears I’m now on the blacklist. As an active trade unionist I think of it as a badge of honour.

    Subject: Goodbye from our mailing list
    From: info@therespectparty.org

    Goodbye from our mailing list, sorry to see you go.

    You have been unsubscribed from our mailing list.

    This is the last email you will receive from us. We have added you to our “blacklist”

  24. Well I don’t know what is meant by a “blacklist”, but I do note that they say:

    “sorry to see you go.”

    and you asked to be taken off the list, so it is not much of a “blacklist”.

    If you want to go back on, I am sure you can be.

  25. solidarity on said:

    I expect no offense was intended – found it amusing. I suggest you get someone in RR to replace “blacklist” with language more appropriate.

    oxford dictionary – “blacklist”

    a list of people or groups regarded as unacceptable or untrustworthy

  26. HAHAHA I love the way “solidarity” has posted that email here.

    We use a bit of software that has auto-generated emails for people who unsubscribe. It calls it a “blacklist” – putting people right out of reach so that even if we try to mail them again, we can’t. Anyone who uses this software automatically has those emails sent out if people unsubscribe (as in, it’s built in to the program, and we’ve got better things to do than mess around with the code)

    It’s a good way to stop accidentally sending unsolicited mails.

    Of course, the person who posted this (not interested in solidarity at all, you’ll have gathered) didn’t post the whole message.

    “Solidarity”, you’re nothing more than a dishonest sectarian. I note you say you’re sure no offence was intended – which is why, I assume, that rather than discuss it with the email system custodian, you chose to post it to an open internet comments box.

    And the mail to you wasn’t unsolicited. It was sent to Respect members by the Respect email people. You’re on the Respect mailing list so you got it. I hope that clarifies any confusion for you.

    You have to wonder why they’re so determined to find offence.

    When you’re trying to play the victim you need to lose all vestige of proportion, common sense and humour.

  27. Thankfully, I was previously registered with an old email address that no longer works, so I’ve not had any of these unsolicited emails from Galloway’s new party. As I read it, though, “Solidarity” was just pointing out that “blacklist” was quite a funny word to use, in the circumstances.

  28. Piko seems to be an expert on Tulketh. He certainly wasn’t an expert on the October 2000 parliamentary selection between Val Wise and Mark Hendrick. He made many very basic errors in his description of this.

    His/her errors here are:

    a) Tulketh is not marginal. The Labour wunner in may had an 18% lead over the conservatives.

    b) Irt does have a sizable Asian population. But scattered throuighout the ward.

    c) As a resident I have seen no evidence of campiagning by the BNP at all in Tulketh since May 2006. I have seen no evidence of support for the BNP.

    d) Respect should stand – it will make no difference to the result, but make the campiagn interesting.

    Eric Jones

  29. Sorry meant Prinko exile.

    Respect in Tulketh might win some votes from Liberals. Maybe people who don’t normally vote. Know Steve Brooks no longer lives in the ward – and had very few limited support anyway – it is unlikely they will dent the Labour vote.

    Anyway Tulketh people are honest. Brooks hs left a bad name for respect. They don’t like electing a Labour Coucnillor for that Labour Councillor to defect to another party – as did Brooks – and completely ignore their voting intention.

    Brooks played them for fools the Tulketh voters remember that

    Eric Jones

  30. Tulketh people are honest. Brooks hs left a bad name for respect. They don’t like electing a Labour Coucnillor for that Labour Councillor to defect to another party – as did Brooks – and completely ignore their voting intention.

    I’ve no intention of putting in the hours to validate this impression, but it seems to me that switchers have this problem far beyond Tulketh (and far beyond RESPECT). My own ward in Manchester was a Lib Dem gain from Labour last time out – except that it had previously been Lib Dem, and gone Labour by means of the councillor jumping ship.

    It does occasionally happen that the individual has enough of a personal following to keep the seat in his/her own right. Sometimes (I suspect even more rarely) the councillor is so energetic in campaigning, and in publicising their political change of heart, that they can convert enough of their former supporters to, in effect, win the seat for their new party. (The Greens have picked up a couple of council seats that way.) Mostly, though, switchers get punished. Looking no further afield than Preston, Elaine Abbott is a former leader of the Labour group; she went to RESPECT three years ago and hasn’t got re-elected yet.

  31. Elaine Abbott was never Leader of the Labour in Preston or anywhere else. She joined Respect because she got deselected in her own ward (having tried to deselct her fellow Riversway Councilor the previous year.) She could have taken ion the liberals in another ward but figured she would stand a better chance of staying on Council as a Respect candidate in Riversway

    Nothing to do with her political views and her dislike of Labour. Everything to do with her desire to be a Councillor. She gambled and lost.

    Eric Jones

  32. I’ve seen her described as “former Chair of the local Labour group” or words to that effect. I may have misunderstood the terminology.

  33. Yes she was chair.

    She was also Portfolio holder for Housing and oversaw the transfer away from Prestons Council ownership of Housing to a Housing Association againt the opposition of the left of the Labour Group.

    She was deselected from Riversway in late 2003, despite fightinh topoth and nail to win the selection. She complained in the Lancashire Evening Post the next day that many of the selecction panel “coulddn’t even speak English.” Does MICHAEL LAVALETTE support that sort of Racist claptrap in his fellow respect members.

    In January she was selected to fight Larches warrd against the sitting Liberal. A ward which was traditional Labour and could have been won.

    In April she defects to Respect saying she has had enough of New Lanour. Enough of New Labour havong been a Labour Coucnillor for ten years (the same time Blair was Leader of the Labour Party). Having thought elections under New Labour in 1994, 1998 and 2002. Having openly criticised other people – Tony Reid et al – for leaving the Labour Party. She suddenly decides she has had enough of New Labour and leaves ther Labour Party.

    Bollocks. She left because she wanted to be a Councillor and calculated this increased her chances. If she had not been deselected she would probably still be in the Labour Party.

    Principles and Ms Abbott are strange bedfellows.

    Eric Jones.

  34. Sorry Andy.

    Spelling was always poor.

    Does anyone know if Respect leafleted Tulketh this afternoon.

    I heard a rumour support was being bused in to do this- but we haven’t had a leaflet.

    Thanks

    Eric Jones

  35. solidarity on said:

    The following article by Elaine Abbot appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post on Thursday January 12 2006:

    What seemed a good idea turned out to be the wrong one

    I was the cabinet member for housing on Preston Council from 2002 to 2004, a time when the authority was being urged to sell off its housing stock. At this time many of the homes were in a terrible state and couldn’t be lived in. A lot were damp and had been patched up.

    Many people, including myself, thought the situation had been badly managed – the money had been there but had not been spent effectively. The result was sub-standard housing across the city which I particularly saw in my Riversway ward. A lot of local authorities had been operating stock transfer following a decision by Margaret Thatcher and the Conservatives to allow only housing associations to modernise their homes by putting up their stock as collateral for loans. When Labour and Tony Blair came to power we had high hopes he would allow local authorities to do the same. But it became more and more clear it was not going to happen.

    When the idea of the Community Gateway came along it seemed perfect. It was a community-led form of stock transfer and I urged all colleagues to vote for it. I now wish that I had investigated the homeless situation with authorities who had completed stock transfers.

    Since I left the council and since I became chairman of the management committee of the Preston Women’s Refuge, I have realised the transfer was wrong. Although people in housing at Preston Council are very helpful with applications we make for housing we are still having great difficulties. I fear the housing transfer makes the future look very bleak for homeless people trying to rebuild their lives and get a new home.

    Recently I have been involved in a personal case in Sunderland, trying to get a friend accommodation. Their officer in charge of accommodating the homeless indicated it had been a nightmare for councils in England because the local authority has very little to say in allocating properties. She predicted a bleak future for Preston.

    On reflection, I feel I made a grave mistake in arguing for transfer. The most needy people in our society face being left out in the cold. I have had a crisis of conscience in recent weeks and I am big enough to say when I have made a mistake.

    I believe campaigning for this transfer will end up being one of the most regrettable things I did as a city councillor.

  36. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    Eric Jones

    You are confusing two things in 2000. Valerie Wise, who lived elsewhere, lost Tulketh in May 2000 to the Tory Margaret McManus by 28 votes, full result:
    Preston City Council Elections: Tulketh Ward 2000
    Party Candidate Votes
    Conservative Margaret McManus 746
    Labour Valerie Wise 718

    What I said was that I didn’t think losing a key marginal seat helped her chances in the selection contest for the parliamentary seat in October 2000. If she had still been a councillor, it would have strengthened her position, but sadly she narrowly lost and not a single person who voted for any other candidate in the selection transferred to her in the eliminating ballot.

    In terms of marginality, there is the vote for 2000 above when the Tories won a straight Tory/Labour battle. In 2002 there were all out elections for three seats because everywhere else excepte Tulketh the boundaries had changed – the LibDems stood that time and the result was Labour won 2, but the Tories won 1 (McManus again beating the third Labour candidate).

    In 2003, the LibDems did not stand and Steven Brooks, who lived in the ward, beat McManus by 27 votes:

    Preston City Council Elections: Tulketh ward 2003
    Party Candidate Votes
    Labour Steven Brooks 791
    Conservative Margaret McManus 764

    In 2004, the LibDems did not stand again and Matthew Brown beat McManus by 49 votes.

    2005 there were no City Council elections – Steven Brooks stood for Respect and won only 9% in a division that included Tulketh, his ward that he won for Labour in 2003, but also St Georges which is a ward that Respect has had strong votes in.

    You are certainly right in that in 2006 and 2007, Labour had healthier majorities, but both candidates were sitting (Jean Al-Serraj) or previous (Robert Boswell) councillors for the ward who lived in the ward and were well known; the LibDems stood (both times) and the BNP in 2006; and Margaret McManus was not the Tory candidate.

    The Labour candidate for the ward in this by-election does not live in the ward as I understand it; I do not know if the Respect candidate will be somebody who lives in the ward (I do not know of any prominent or active Respect members who live their).

    I still think it is accurate to describe it as marginal. I think the fact that you have not had a leaflet from either Respect or the BNP may be indicative of where you live, but I have certainly heard that the BNP are active and their website indicates they will be treating the by-election seriously. Given what has happened in Blackburn and Burnley in terms of the far right winning seats, I do not think they can be underestimated.

    The Asian population of the ward at the time of the census was 4.1% Indian origin and just 0.7% Pakistan/Bangladesh. The muslim population was just 1.8%. By the standards of Preston (parliamentary constituency) and certainly by the standards of wards contested by Respect, this is very low. Even University ward, where Respect bombed (37 votes!) this May, had a slightly higher proportion.

    I do not agree with your comments about either Elaine Abbot or Steven Brooks. But you seem to be confirming that Respect are likely to come fifth with maybe something of the order of 100 votes.

  37. Dear Prinkipo

    I agree that it is impossible to tell what the result would be. I accept your point the ward is marginal.

    I would be interested to know what you don’t agree with me about Elaine Abbott or Steve Brooks. I don’t lioke hypocrites from any political party.

    Val Wise never had a chance in the October 2000 parlimentary selection contest. Second preferences all transfered away from her – but their was nothiong anybpdy could have done to alter this.

    We talking about aprox 30 votes who didn’t vote for Wise or Hendrick. About 20-23 went to the Muslim NEC flunky.It was the agreement that Hendricks votes would switch to him; and his votes would switch to Hendrick. Not underestimate the rights ability to make such an arrangement.

    The remaining votes were probably in the gift of the Atkins clan whose haad a relative standing. Ron Atkins hates Valerie (although he worshiped Audrey) and would have transfered to anyone other than her.

    It would have made no difference whether Val was Councillor orr even Leader of the Councillor. The votes were stiched up. Don’t underestimate how unpopular she is – and not just on the right. Many people who have had dealing with her knows that valerie supports valerie and no one else.

    Her bid was doomed from the start.

    Eric Jones