Dear Respect Member,
Our answer to the alleged “witch hunt” in Respect
Last Friday 26 October a letter titled “Respect Appeal against the witch hunt” went out to all members from the Respect National Office.
We deplore the fact that the letter, which has been circulating through non-Respect channels for a week by the SWP, is titled “Respect appeal against witch-hunting” as though it had some kind of official sanction. It has never been agreed at either the National Executive or the National Council. It is not a “Respect Appeal”.
We, as members of the Respect National Council who are not members of the Socialist Workers Party, wish to answer this petition.
There is no witch-hunt against “socialists including the SWP” in Respect.
The letter claims there “is now overwhelming evidence that the democratic structures of Respect are being circumvented and marginalized” and that “some national officers are attempting to unilaterally by-pass the existing democratic structures of Respect and to witch-hunt socialists including the SWP.”
No evidence is provided to substantiate these or any of the other claims in the letter.
Unfortunately, it is the SWP leadership which is orchestrating a campaign of misinformation against George Galloway and others of us who disagree with them.
The SWP leadership carried an editorial in last week’s edition of their paper Socialist Worker, publicly attacking George Galloway.
At no time has George Galloway or any one of us attacked the SWP in the national media. Regrettably, as a result of the SW editorial an article about divisions within Respect appeared in yesterday’s Observer.
We reject the other accusations made in the letter:
The SWP leadership is attempting to delegate students to the Respect conference where there is no entitlement to these delegates. We have no objection at all to student delegates properly elected according to the constitution.
We completely disagree with the interpretation of events in Tower Hamlets. SWP members there prevented a members’ meeting from electing delegates and then purported to elect an unrepresentative list of delegates at an unconstitutional meeting held when the overwhelming majority of members had left.
We no longer have confidence that the conference called for 17/18 November will be validly constituted.
We are shocked that access to the Respect database and therefore communication to Respect members was denied to the chair, Linda Smith, and the vice-chair, Salma Yacoob, when the access codes were changed unilaterally by the SWP leadership. Only under pressure has that information been released.
We further deplore the fact that four councillors in Tower Hamlets split from Respect on Thursday evening, a fact they announced in a widely circulated press release. The four include two members of the SWP and two close allies. They are, in fact, the first four signatories to the SWP’s ‘Respect Appeal against the witch hunt”.
Instead of deploring the split by these councillors and asking them to rejoin Respect, SWP members in Tower Hamlets and elsewhere are supporting this step.
We, however, remain absolutely committed to the principles and policies of Respect as contained in our founding statement, subsequent manifestos and conference decisions: Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environment, Community, Trade Unions.
Yours in solidarity,
Linda Smith, National Chair
Salma Yaqoob, National Vice Chair
Mobeen Azhar, National Council
Ayesha Bajwa, National Council
Victoria Brittain, National Council
Rita Carter, National Council
Ger Francis, National Council
George Galloway MP, National Council
Jerry Hicks, National Council
Abdurahman Jafar, National Council
Abdul Khaliq, National Council
John Lister, National Council
Ken Loach, National Council
Abjol Miah, National Council, Leader of Tower Hamlets Respect Councillors Group
Bernie Parkes, National Council
Yvonne Ridley, National Council
Clive Searle, National Council
Alan Thornett, National Council
Nick Wrack, National Council