Respect Conference

Sadly, I was laid up in bed with this dratted ‘flu, and missed conference. But as comments about it are already seeping into other threads, perhaps it is better to start a dedicated discussion to it here.

Derek Wall has a third hand report on his blog, including this comment from a Green Party member who attended:

“‘Overall all speakers were very very positive towards the Green Party, George Galloway, Salma Yaqoob, Ger Francis and a number of other members made a very big deal of supporting the Green Party in various different ways and how we work mutually as two different parties.I think it is important to note that George Galloway called for people to vote for Peter Tatchell if they are able too and gave a stong endorsement of Peters politics, so fair play to George. They were obviously very positive about our decision to stand down for Salma but also talked often about Salmas support for us in the Euros and used it as an example about the right way to go about left unity. There was a lot of talk from George and others that Respect should not look to small far left cults for coalitions but to organisations like the ourselves”

196 comments on “Respect Conference

  1. Andrew, you are wrong here:

    Unkind people might suggest that Socialist Unity’s battle over Peter Tatcher owed something to the reluctance of Andy Newman to join in this move to the politics of Recycling Loft Insulation. That Comrade Newman has seen sense in hitching his waggon to the project of European left parties might seem to support this speculation.

    The argument with Peter tatchell occued in response to Derek Wall posting Tatchell’s criticism of the article in the book “Out of Place”. Once I looked into the issu, eI found myself on broad agreement with the authors of the article, although I thinks that they incautiously criticised Peter tatchell in such ways that were inaccurate at one or two points, ,thus fuelling the whole “lies and semears” distraction, that served to obscure the substantive political diference.

    I support the attempt by Respect to work collaboratively with the Green Party, where opportunities exist so to do, and I endorse the recommendation for people to vote for Peter tatchell.

    However, I also strongly endorse the call by George galloway that Respect are not neutral when it comes to the next election, and in the absense of a credible left or green candidate, then people should vote Labour.

    I see Respect as seeking in a very mature way to use its limited leverage to move forward the whole left, both through the example of collaborative working, through dialogue, and through consistently articulating a flavour of left social-democratic politics which is also intransigently anti-racist, anti-imperialist and multi-cultural.

  2. little black sister on said:

    Thank you, Andy. I’ll post my comment again here then the debate can move on in its proper place.

    “Those of us on the left in Respect”, can we stay on? This is complete nonsense. Those on the ULTRA-left may well be considering their position. That’s because the infantiles wasted a great deal of conference time repeatedly pushing this idea of a far-left coalition.

    Here was the choice. Should Respect orientate towards the left of the Labour Party and labour movement, which are to the right of us but in which are genuine mass forces, i.e. millions of people who can be pulled into more progressive politics? Or should it orientate itself to a few politically irrelevant and very narrow currents to its left which represent hardly anybody, in a coalition that hasn’t any confirmed trade union support and doesn’t even exist yet?

    I repeat, this is NOT a question of “the socialists” being forced out. It is a question of the infantile left being defeated for making a fantastical proposal. Whether they leave in a fit of “principled” pique or not is up to them. I know they earnestly believe they are good Marxists fighting for the working class, but they are not good Marxists because their strategy would hamstring the only party with a mass basis to the left of Labour. That does not serve the interests of the working class – on the contrary.

  3. Neil Williams on said:

    George claimed at conference that Respect was four times bigger and more than all the other groups. Now this is clearly not true. Respect at best has about 800 members and in many parts of England (let alone wales and Scotland) does not exist. The new right faction that now control Respect say we should think of nothing else than electing three Respect MP’s and in George’s words “the other groups will then come knocking on our door”.

    How short sighted, shallow in thinking in its responce. What, just what does George and Salma and friends think will happen to Respect if we win no MP’s in the next election and have made no attempt to link up with others on the Left for the fight against the cuts whoever wins the election? – it will leave the members domoralised and Respect totaly isolated in Socialist/Labour movement.

    Respects future I am afraid does not look good with this type of politics and I am afraid it may not exist in six years time. However I am in a minority on this in Respect but one that I think did represent about 1/3 of the Respect conference and many who have been active since day one.

  4. I am happy to stand correcetd that you do not want supporting a left party to stand in the way of a de facto (if often one-sided) alliance with the Green party.

    I am sorry to hear that you follow the post-colonialist criticisms of Peter Tatchell.Perhaps attending Soundings Cofnerences (people who have been going nowhere, apar from conferences, for a very long time) has clouded your judgement.

    As for voting Labour I would not vote for my local MP who has publicly called for Workfare. I suspect there are many other key issues that have led others to make the same decision not to vote Labour elsewhere.

    It really is sad that with something as far to right as Brown around anyone can issue a call to vote for Labour – except where there are ‘credible’ (how’s that defined?) left candidates. I wish we had a two-round system which would make having left candidates easier. We don’t. But we need left candidates, full stop.

    And what #4 was the “infantile left being defeated” proposal?

  5. Halshall on said:

    About the conference so far very little.
    What was the attendence?

    How did the discussions on the various motions and constitution go.
    The points raised etc, and the votes ?
    Who was elected to the NC?

    Is there anyone who was there who can give a full report?

    Personally I don’t think we’ll get anywhere with a coalition of only the far left.
    Have people forgotten that the aim of the original Respect was to be be a coalition of those to the left of Labour.
    That should involve those pissed off with Labour,as well as those alienated from the political process who seek broadly a left reformist agenda.
    Electoral non agression with the Greens ? Yes if we can get it.
    Vote Labour where ther are no ‘left’ or Greens ? I suppose this is the most dismal aspect of the collapse of the old Respect.
    Labour is loathed so we have to be very careful Not to be indentified with them.
    But if there’s no alternative ?
    Also we cannot establish a base if we are just electoral. We have to continue to campaign on the issues ( both local, national and international )between elections otherwise we won’t build.

  6. Ger Francis on said:

    Here’s my report:

    The Respect annual conference took place in Birmingham on Saturday with 210 delegates attending. The event revolved around the three key themes of our general election campaign: anti-racism and defense of multiculturalism, opposition to the cuts agenda of the mainstream parties, and international solidarity.

    The opening session was introduced by Respect party leader Salma Yaqoob. Salma laid into New Labour for creating the conditions under which the BNP has grown; with its attacks on the Muslim community and increasingly anti-immigrant rhetoric.

    She described how, since 9/11, Labour has resisted any examination of the disastrous role of its own foreign policy in creating a homegrown terrorist threat, leaving the impression that there is something intrinsic to the religon and culture of British Muslims that presents a threat to British society. She cited Jack Straw’s attacks on Muslim women who wear niqab; the attacks on mainstream Muslim organisations like the MCB and MAB for “sitting on the sidelines” in the fight against terrorism from the former Secretary for State for Communities, Ruth Kelly; and the Preventing Violent Extremism agenda, now described by Liberty as the ‘biggest spying operation’ since the Cold War.

    Similarly when Gordon Brown says that he wants ‘British jobs for British workers’, or ‘local homes for local people’, or curbs on immigration, he is stoking the fires of fear and intolerance that the BNP are the primary beneficiaries of. Salma challenged myths about immigrants being responsible for the recession or shortages in housing and concluded by emphasising Respect’s twin track approach in tackling racism: On the one hand, upholding and defending multiculturalism and challenging all forms of racism; and on the other hand, challenging the social inequality that allows the politics of resentment and division to breed.

    The following discussion was by far the best of the conference. Not only was the quality of contributions largely very impressive, but they also conveyed a deep sense of commitment to tackling racism and an engagement in that struggle.

    The second session was introduced by George Galloway, focusing on the recession and the politics of an alternative to economic crisis. Unfortunately, the discussion became distorted by those advocating the yet to be born ‘son-of-No2EU’.

    An account of what followed, by an observer from the Green Left, accurately conveyed George’s response: ‘Galloway absolutely hammered No2EU in particular for standing against Peter Cranie in the North West…and refused to entertain any talk of coalition with the son of NO2EU.’ In addition to hammering NO2EU for effectively letting the BNP in (‘if the left had united it would have been Peter Cranie on Question Time not Nick Griffin’) he was scathing about the exaggeration being peddled about son-of-NO2EU. Contrary to claims by Ian Donovan, there were not ‘three national unions’ supporting this initiative; the reality was that three national union secretaries addressed a meeting in a personal capacity on working class political representation. George predicted the FBU would not support any so-called ‘new coalition’ and ridiculed the idea that the Prison Officers Association were now in the vanguard of building a far-left of Labour alternative, saying this would come as a bit of a surprise to any prisoner, especially those black, Irish or Muslim prisoners who had been on the receiving end of dealings with ‘screws’.

    A sharp tone was adopted by both George and Salma towards an increasingly marginal current of opinion in Respect that sees our future as part of a coalition of the far left. The tone reflects the degree of frustration with an argument, just 6 months before a General Election, over backing a coalition with no name, no policies and no electoral credibility.

    It also reflects a clear difference of strategy. As both George and Salma explained, we are focused on building unity and working with others, but we reject the narrow conception of left unity that gives pride of place to organizations with absolutely no popular support. Respect’s former National Secretary, Nick Wrack, came in for particular criticism, with Salma pointing out the irony of his calls for ‘left unity’ when he was one of those insisting that Respect should stand against the Greens in the North-West European region.

    The message was delivered loud and clear: we wish all those who want to join the ‘coalition with no name’ well on their journey, and where we can establish friendly relations with any other progressive party or coalition we will do so, but we have an opportunity to advance the left by getting Respect MPs elected. If we fail, it will not be for the want of trying.

    The final session was introduced by Andrew Murray who received a standing ovation for his passionate call for opposition to the war in Afghanistan and for Respect to use its strengths to help Stop the War reconnect with its core support. He was followed by Francisco Dominguez from the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, who painted a vivid picture of the Bolivarian revolution 10 years on, the threats it faces, and the importance of international solidarity. Finally, Kevin Ovenden outlined exciting new developments in Palestinian solidarity, describing the way that Viva Palestina was fast becoming a global campaign, finding new and significant support in Malaysia among other places, and deepening its productive relationship with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

    There was genuine and sharp debate at this conference. And the outcome was clear. Respect’s leadership is absolutely determined that the influence of the ultra-left will remain marginal. There is no place for the kind of political sectarianism that is indifferent to a Tory victory or bitterly hostile to cooperation with the Green Party. Such views, often articulated by politically irrelevant grouplets of the far left, are an obstacle to the growth of a radical party of the left. The potential for a serious radical and left-wing party will be determined by its ability to speak to the millions who are essentially disillusioned Labour supporters, and its ability to provide convincing alternatives to the politics of war, racism and cuts.

    I fully expect the new National Council, on which the more sectarian voices are a shrinking minority, to drive through this perspective more forcefully in the coming year.

  7. Respects future was never good. It was always an electoral vehicle for George, Salma and their mates, based on the liberal electoral politics they advocate. That is now becoming obvious to all. Not before time.
    How many members has it got? Not very many. But many more now than it will have in a little bit.

  8. My report is from a green left observer, I think that the left should support strong local candidates and instead of arm waving should get out and leaflet and canvass for them.

    Caroline Lucas, Salma, Dave Nellist, Dai Davies, etc, etc.

    If the Greens and Respect as independent parties can cooperated locally this is good, other people should link their parties and networks.

    I think Liam and others will be producing fuller reports.

  9. thanks for positive comments Bill, you can always be relied on

    Just how many members does PR have ? and didn’t your bunch call for voting Labour in the Euros. One could reasonable argue that this put PR to the right of Respect and the Green Party.

  10. ECOLEFTY on said:

    As A Green Left member, I’m really pleased to hear all this positive stuff from the mainstream of Respect. I’d like to echo Derek’s call, people on the left should get stuck in supporting the most credible local campaigns and candidates, where they live.

  11. Ger Francis on said:

    Fine with me Derek with one minor edit: ‘North-West’ should read ‘West Midlands’.

    ‘I am in a minority on this in Respect but one that I think did represent about 1/3 of the Respect conference’.

    One of the problems with this debate is the way Neil et al exaggerate. A third of the conference voted to take an emergency motion. That cannot be read as one third supporting Nick Wrack (who incidentally did not put himself forward for the NC.) If a vote had been taken after conference heard George and Salma’s demolition job, that one-third figure would have been significantly less.

  12. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    Following the conference there is now a real desire in Respect to drive on to the elections and to continue expanding out of our core areas. Those promoting an alternative strategy – standing as part of a coalition with no name, whose previous incarnation got a quarter of our GLA vote in London and the same as the SWP’s front – had negligible support by the time the debate had been had.

    We will now seek to make the best contribution we can to rebuilding a powerful left in Britain, which is overwhelmingly to get three MPs elected and to offer what support we can to credible left candidates elsewhere.

    We are also firmly positioned in the broad labour movement, which means we are far from indifferent to a Tory victory.

    I, for one, have little time for those who, having lost the debate, claim that socialists are being driven out of Respect (witch-hunted is the traditional term). All characters and events appear twice in history – the SWP’s witch-hunt claims and break from Respect were a tragedy, Neil’s claims are farcical.

    The arguments put by many of us in the Respect leadership in, for example, the debate on immigration and anti-racism were grounded in clear socialist analysis. In opposition to the claim that “the working class knows” about the history of the struggle against slavery of support for the North against the South in the American civil war, for example, I pointed out that it is an unfortunate fact that some workers are racist and more are influenced by racist ideas.

    That can be changed; but not by pretending the problem does not exist, lionising the abstract “worker” and talking economistically about everything else but racism.

  13. “have pasted Ger report on my blog, hope this is all right, yes there are some difficult questions to be debate but I don’t think members of PR asking how many members any other group (I guess they are all larger) moves things on.”

    I wasn’t asking how many members they’ve got. They haven’t got many. They’ll have a lot less soon.
    Of course PR didn’t advocate a vote for the Greens or Respect. We don’t vote for non-working class parties or organisations. That’s not a very original or new position, but we hold to it.

  14. Neil Williams on said:

    Comment “I, for one, have little time for those who, having lost the debate”

    Kevin the real debate was ruled out of order so we never had it! Obviously people used what chance they had to air their views (George in fact used all of his very, very large summimg up time to do this as well as other opportunities)but its not the same thing as a full dabate on a clear motion.

    “We will now seek to make the best contribution we can to rebuilding a powerful left in Britain”
    George made it clear he saw this as other parties/groups knocking on our door after we had three MP’s elected – now just what is the stratagy if this does not occur and why at that point would we have any creditability?

  15. ‘Of course PR didn’t advocate a vote for the Greens or Respect. We don’t vote for non-working class parties or organisations.’

    hostile to Chavez, call for a Vote for New Labour, says it all.

  16. steelcityred on said:

    Ahead of the Scotland United event Osama Saeed, chairman of the Scottish Islamic Foundation, said that the only people missing from the coalition were Muslim elders themselves. There had been frantic wrangling behind the scenes as Mr Saeed and Mr Anwar tried to persuade mosque elders to take part.

    Mr Saeed said: “The people running mosque don’t get involved in anything and tend to be very reclusive – this is another manifestation of it. A lot of them are immigrants and don’t see themselves as part of society, not the prominent actors they could and should be. It requires a huge change of mindset.”
    I hope that Respect leaders take note of this Comment

  17. well Bill I am sure all 12 of you will continue to tell the Latin American left how they can build a movement as strong and socialist as you have succeeded in doing.

    I in turn will be out doing election work for Caroline Lucas and Salma Yaqoob.

  18. prianikoff on said:

    “The tone reflects the degree of frustration with an argument, just 6 months before a General Election, over backing a coalition with no name, no policies and no electoral credibility.”
    I’m quite suprised that no discussions with No2EU took place.
    Or did they?

    But Respect’s conference decision is frank admission that it can’t hope to get *any* union backing before a General Election.
    So it has to adopt a position to the right of Clause 4 and do electoral deals with non-socialist parties and dubious characters like Tatchell!
    This is an approach that essentially, evades the task of changing the policy of the mass organisation of workers in favour of electoral deals.

    To reject SonofNo2EU as an electoral alliance of the “ultra left” is a little bonkers, given the RMT’s role in its formation.
    Its programme is based on the “Peoples Charter”, which has been passed by the TUC (with an ammendment to argue for it inside the Labour Party)
    I’d agree that No2EU achieved no “electoral credibility”, but if the Unions had accepted that argument, they’d still be voting Liberal.

    Either way, the most that either of these alternatives will get at the next election is likely to be 3 MP’s.

  19. Hogan Burke on said:

    Will Salma’s voting base be equipped with enough postal votes?

    If so, the result ought to be a foregone conclusion!

  20. steelcityred on said:

    The point is if we just play ID politics (and we all do that)then we just play into the hands of the far-rigth

  21. little black sister on said:

    Excellent comments by Kevin and Ger.

    Respect just overcame a traumatic split caused by ultra-left stupidity. I’d really rather we did not have to endure more of the same.

    #18 “what is the strategy if this does not occur and why at that point would we have any creditability”

    Even if we only had one MP, we could not possibly have less credibility than marginal ultra-left groups that have no mass forces behind them whatsoever. The correct strategy would still be to orientate towards the green and labour movements and not to narrow and barely-existent projects.

  22. Larry N on said:

    Ger, Thanks for the report and the news that the ultra left is a diminished, if not spent force on the NC. Now lets all work to implement conference decisions.

  23. Having badly scalded my hand with hot coffee at yesterday’s conference, I’m not in a position to do much typing. But I can still cut and paste. Here is the motion that was undemocratically ruled out of order yesterday, despite the obvious fact that the subject matter occurred after the deadline for resolutions and amendments had passed, contrary to the whole labour movement tradition regarding the right to move emergency motions at conferences.

    Not skin off my nose personally. At least it brought about political clarity. It might be our motion, but the subject matter concerns much wider forces than ourselves. This action was a big “fuck you” to the left-wing of the trade union movement.


    Emergency Resolution on Left Unity

    Conference notes the formation of a new left-wing coalition to stand candidates at the general election, which was announced at the RMT union’s conference on the crisis of working-class representation on Saturday 7 November 2009.
    Conference notes that at this stage the coalition involves the Socialist Party, the Alliance for Green Socialism and the Communist Party of Britain and has the backing, in a personal capacity, of RMT general secretary Bob Crow and Prison Officers Association general secretary Brian Caton, and has called on everyone who wants a socialist, working-class and trade union alternative presented at the general election to get involved in the coalition.

    Conference welcomes the formation of the coalition. It ensures that there will be more left candidates in the general election and contributes to the much needed challenge from the left to the right-wing policies of privatisation, cuts and unemployment supported by New Labour, the Tories and the Liberal Democrats.
    Conference instructs the incoming National Committee and National Officers to write to the coalition organisers to seek joint work to promote support for left-wing candidates at the general election.

    Conference encourages Respect members and supporters to support coalition candidates at the general election and to work together with coalition supporters where possible to build united action around left-wing policies.

    Nick Wrack, Southwark
    Soraya Lawrence, Southwark
    Alastair Stephenson, Southwark,
    Ian Donovan, Southwark
    Mark Butcher, Southwark
    Will McMahon, Hackney
    Steve Hall, South Lancashire
    Neil Williams, Milton Keynes
    Steph Greig, Tower Hamlets
    Paul Vernon, Tower Hamlets

  24. And here is our letter to conference partipants:


    Dear Comrades, Sisters and Brothers

    Many of you may have heard about the new coalition that was announced last week by former MP Dave Nellist at the RMT conference on working class representation.

    The coalition has the backing of Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT, Brian Caton of the Prison Officers Association, national officers of the PCS civil servants’ union, and members of the national executives of the CWU, Unison, FBU and USDAW trade unions (all in a personal capacity).

    It also has the backing of the Socialist Party, Communist Party of Britain and the Alliance for Green Socialism.

    The coalition intends to stand against current and former cabinet ministers who have pushed through anti-working class policies. It has appealed for all those who want a working class, socialist and trade union alternative to be put forward in the election to get involved.

    Labour has followed the agenda of big business for twelve years. It has pushed through reforms which have weakened the working class in this country. The few progressive policies it has implemented have nearly all failed to meet their targets.

    Confronted by the recession it has chosen to maintain its neo-liberal course. If it wins the election it plans massive public spending cuts.

    If a Tory government is elected things may be even worse. But if the Tories win the blame will lie entirely with Brown and his party. They had the perfect opportunity to turn away from Blair’s rotten policies. They did not take it.

    From 1997 to 2005 Labour lost 3 million votes. It is set to lose more. The fact is that millions of working class people can no longer bring themselves to vote for Labour. They need a socialist alternative to vote for. We need to offer it to them.

    Successful left wing campaigns across the country can only strengthen us in facing the struggles that are bound to come after the election.

    We want to see left wing MPs elected, but Respect will only be standing in a handful of seats out of 650.

    We ask Respect members to support candidates of the new coalition wherever they stand and to become involved in their campaigns.

    A real alternative is desperately needed. The left standing together will be stronger.

    Nick Wrack, Will McMahon, Ian Donovan, Soraya Lawrence, Mark Butcher, Alastair Stephens, Neil Williams National Council members 2008 – 2009

  25. Karl Stewart on said:

    I think it’s clear from these Respect conference reports that Respect wants to focus on working with the Greens to try to build a strong social-democratic left current in UK politics.

    Those of us who see class struggle and the fight to replace the rule of the capitalist class with the rule of the working class as the central aim must stop whining about Respect’s decision and accept this reality.

    We should wish the Respect/Green alliance well and then get on with the serious work of fighting to build a unified Workers Party, uniting socialists and communists into a serious political force united around the central aim of working-class state power.

    Serious class-struggle politics and the type of Respect/Green liberal leftism being advocated by them are two distinct and separate political ideologies and it makes sense for them to be expressed in two separate parties.

    To the extent that the Respect conference decision is a.move towards greater political clarity between these two traditions, then it is to be welcomed.

    Time for us on the working-class left to stop dithering and unite our forces.

    Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party, Communist Party and pro-class struggle Respecters need to unite into a new Workers Party.

  26. ID is being profoundly dishonest. The motion was not ruled out of order ‘undemocratically’. The Conference Arrangements Committee deemed it ‘not an emergency’ because the contents was covered by other motions. The only thing that has happened since the close of deadline for amendments was the issuing of a leaflet by the people behind No2EU.

    (The only emergency I can see is that the ‘coalition’ has less formal backers than No2EU did.)

    Nick Wrack was able to make two speeches outlining why he thought the motion should be heard. Clive Searle from the CAC made one speech explaining the CAC position and saying it was ‘up to conference’ to hear the motion should it chose to overule the CAC. The conference then voted democratically by a show of hands by two to one to uphold the decision of the CAC.

    Put simply ID you lost the position you wanted. Tough. That IS democracy. You could have made an argument for the ‘coalition’ during your motion on Electoral Alliances (which was passed) but you spent your time mumbling about the fact the motion seemed rather abstract. Whose fault was that? After all, you wrote the motion.

  27. David Ellis on said:

    Sounds like a successful conference which has galvanised the membership and supporters for a good election campaign. Good that Respect will support one or two other credible candidates and perhaps some publicity generating ones but that overall they have declared their solidarity with the millions of workers who either with illusions or with the admirable desire just to keep the tories out will be voting labour. The best place for the anti-working class New Labour clique is back in power reaping the whirlwind of their vile policies, arguing for NHS privatisation, multi-billion service cuts and a war they cannot win. That way everybody will learn something and that is how a rope supports a hanging man.

    I am not sure about the Peter Tachell call though. He is the ultimate ultra-left in my opinion nevertheless it will put to bed all vile innuendo by the `decents’ that Respect is even remotely homophobic. I think those who lost the debate about messing around with the son of No2EU people should now knuckle under. Respect needs that, you need that and the working class needs that. Let us go forward and punch a serious hole in the opportunist and pro-imperialist labour and tu bureaucrats’ monopoly on working class representation.

  28. David Ellis on said:

    #38 `Serious class-struggle politics and the type of Respect/Green liberal leftism being advocated by them are two distinct and separate political ideologies and it makes sense for them to be expressed in two separate parties.’

    Karl: This is not Respect/Green liberal leftism. Respect has managed to get an agreement with the Greens that they will not stand against Salma in return for supporting one or two Green candidates where they have a remote chance themselves otherwise Respect has clearly said that in solidarity with workers everywhere a Labour victory against the Tories is second in priority only to the victory of its own candidates.

  29. last weekend when I spoke to CPB, I urged them to support Salma, Caroline and other Green and Respect candidates along with Dai Davies in Blaneau Gwent, lets get on with talking at a local level and supporting strong progressive General Election candidates rather than playing left fantasy football.

  30. Jonathan on said:

    Re: Kevin Ovenden’s contribution #16, does Respect honestly believe that it could win 3 seats at the General Election? I would be delighted if it did, but I’m afraid it is unlikely to win anywhere. Whatever the potential for a revival of class struggle, the left remains fragmented, weak and invisible to the majority. Even where Respect has a decent public profile, as in Birmingham, the outlook is poor. Faced with the awful prospect of a Tory government, many Salma supporters will hold their noses and vote Labour.

  31. As I thought, Respect are heading down a very sectarian road to political oblivion. GG condemnation of unity with son-of-No2EU is insulting and demonstrates that Respect is HIS political party. Like SSP/Solidarity in Scotland, Arthur’s SLP, Respect is following the same disasterous pattern. Too many egos!
    Time for a new workers party with a federal structure.

  32. Karl Stewart on said:

    ID, I agree with your politics as you know. But Respect is simply not a working-class party and neither is the Green Party.

    Much as I disagree with his political orientation, No2ID does have a point – you’ve argued your case and lost.
    The Respect Party has rejected politics of class struggle in favour of the “broad democratic alliance” outlook.

    This is the reality and you’re now wasting your time in Respect – time to move on comrade(s).

  33. Well I am sure that many Greens and Respect members will support Dave Nellist if a new workers party actually had strong candidates with good organisation the case could be made.

    However at present it is an abstract wish not a concreate set of viable candidates.

  34. Un-fucking-believable. After 10 years of New Labour attacks on working people, in the UK and elsewhere, what do George, Salma, Ger etc say to the vast majority of us?


    Will the British left never learn? Why do you think Die Linke didn’ts tell Germans to vote SPD? Because they know that Capital always has a spare party of government tucked up its sleeve to suck up the ‘time for a change’ vote.

    Oh sorry – this analysis makes me ‘far left’.

  35. David Ellis on said:

    Norrie: Respect doesn’t say `vote labour’ it says vote respect but in the absence of Respect candidates its supporters, in solidarity with the millions of workers who will be voting labour whether you like it or not, too will vote labour to keep the hated Tories out but it will continue with its criticisms of NLs record and manifesto which includes the privatisation of NHS Trusts john Lewis style.

  36. SteveG. on said:

    At the moment the Greens and Respect are the only left of new labour show in town – this is why they are worth supporting.
    If there are some who think only a class war party will be able to deliver the goods: get to it and sort one.

  37. Don’t forget Dave Nellist and Dai Davies, but the point must be practical left politics not some imagined unity that might keep some deposits in 2046.

  38. On one of the motions ruled out or order ) – it says:

    We ask Respect members to support candidates of the new coalition wherever they stand and to become involved in their campaigns.

    A real alternative is desperately needed. The left standing together will be stronger.

    Basically is says stand anywhere again no matter what damage it does – when they talk about the left – who are they actually talking about? Thats right only the chosen ones!

  39. “in solidarity with the millions of workers who will be voting labour”

    What a bizarre non sequiter. Millions of workers will also be voting Tory. Some will even vote BNP.

  40. David Ellis on said:

    #50 SteveG: The Greens are not `left’ they are a single issue outfit who oppose environmental degradation which in general every part of the political spectrum could agree with, hell even ICI could, in general, and probably even does, agree with it. However, Respect is obviously very happy to have secured agreement from the Greens not to stand against Salma in exchange for some reciprocity in one or two Green target seats but make no mistake, Respect is firstly for its own candidates and secondly very much in favour of the return of a Labour government in solidarity with all those workers who will be voting that way.

  41. David Ellis on said:

    #53 `What a bizarre non sequiter. Millions of workers will also be voting Tory. Some will even vote BNP.’

    Maybe, and even then I doubt it, but we are clearly not in solidarity with them or sympathetic of their illusions. I don’t see a problem.

  42. #50 SteveG: The Greens are not `left’ they are a single issue outfit who oppose environmental degradation which in general every part of the political spectrum could agree with, hell even ICI could, in general, and probably even does, agree with it. However, Respect is obviously very happy to have secured agreement from the Greens not to stand against Salma in exchange for some reciprocity in one or two Green target seats but make no mistake, Respect is firstly for its own candidates and secondly very much in favour of the return of a Labour government in solidarity with all those workers who will be voting that way.

    Comment by David Ellis — 15 November, 2009 @ 3:21 pm

    What an ill informed position about the Green Party – check our our website, press releases and policies before going making such glib statements

  43. mikey J on said:

    #35 says that the majority of conference voting down the motion calling for Respect to subsume itself into the son of No2EU was “a big “fuck you” to the left-wing of the trade union movement.”

    I am in Respect and on the left of the trade union movement, and the as-yet unrealised and improbable idea by a couple of trade union Gen Secs that they should cobble together a similar alliance to the one that performed so abysmally this year and let the BNP win in the North West is not at all appealing.

    The working class, in whose name you vaunt your every announcement, deserves better than reckless adventurism. This is people’s lives we are talking about. But you think a rejection of a fantasy-land miniscule coalition that can only help the Tories makes the majority in Respect ‘right-wing’. Well, firstly: BORING. Secondly, it was never a ‘fuck-off’ to the left of the trade union movement. It might have been a big fuck-off to you though.

  44. #57 What charm school did you go to, mikey j? And No2EU let the BNP win? You having a laugh? Mmmm the Labour government and their policies just may have had something to do with that, don’t you think? The same anti-working class government you advise people to vote for if their isn’t a Green (liberal) or Respect candidate.

  45. mikey J on said:

    If you want charm from your political debate Henry I’m afraid I cannot help you. Facts, on the other hand …

    The Labour government’s politics indeed paved the way for the recent successes of the BNP. But they didn’t most those successes certain. No2EU – ultra left infantiles with delusions of significance – did that for them. And everyone is the worse off for that.

    Meanwhile, you continue denouncing all who don’t think your workerist bastardisation of socialism will win over the masses come next May. The rest of us will get on with working to elect progressive, pro-working class candidates.

  46. mikey J on said:

    That should of course have read ‘But they didn’t make those successes certain’ in #60 above. Blind rage at wannabe revolutionaries obviously impairing my vocab today.

  47. and if we are coming over all workerist, why not match the rhetoric with some support for Jerry Hicks, a trade union militant who is a member of Respect who will continue to be supported by Greens in his work.

    Thought so just rhetoric!

  48. At the conference we passed a motion which contained the following points

    “If no national framework can be created, on a case-by-case basis, RESPECT, via the national Council, will consider lending support to candidates from other parties and new electoral coalitions who are in the best position to advance the broad arguments for progressive change and resist the return of a Tory government. Should new electoral coalitions be formed in specific local areas Respect members would be free to stand under those colours, subject to National Council agreement, so long as the policies of the coalitions were broadly in line with Respect policy and standing as such would not undermine Respect’s overall election prospects.

    Where there are good Labour MPs who deserve this support, we will back them. Where there is a strong Green Party challenge we will work with them too, while we also issue a renewed, public appeal to the Green Party to discuss an arrangement to prevent damaging and wasteful rivalry between our two organizations where RESPECT has the front-running candidate. Where there are independent candidates, or new parties, who have shown that they can present a credible challenge, we will take a positive approach to them while retaining our independence.”

    In other words should Respect members wish to stand as part of this new coalition they are free to do so. Something that I suspect would not be reciprocated should an SP member wish to stand as Respect.

    Whatever happens with son of No2EU it will not be a national alternative. It’s aiming to stand in tens of seats – not 655.

    In that situation is reamins part of the mosaic of the left – not the whole left. So why can people not do the sensible thing which Derek Wall suggests – and is now Respect policy – of backing the best placed left candidates. Respect have already indicated they will be supporting Dave Nellist, Caroline Lucas, John MacDonnell etc. Instead of creating false lines of polarisation why do we just recognise the situation and get on with some real camapigning.

    If Karl and the ‘new workers party’ brigade want to form one I wish you well. I’m sure there wuld be a tiny number of Respect members who would join you. Good luck – we can work together on supporting strikes, etc, and hopefully avoid conflict in elections. But you’ll still be just one part of the mosaic of progressive politics in Britain and we’ll still have to deal with all the issues that flow from a weakened working class movement still reeling from the defeats of the 1980s.

  49. Let#s get some facts straight for the benefit of people like mikeyj. The left electoral coalition is standing canddidates to provide a socialist alternative to the main neoliberal public spending cute, privatising parties including Labour. It will be supporting a tiny handful of credible left wing Labour Party candidates like McDonnell. It will not be supporting capitalist parties like the Greens. Incidentally, Roy, these Green policies other than the environmental ones, what do they actually do in practice with these, except produce them as bullet points on election material. People like Derek Wall provide a left veneer for a party that compaigns overwhelmingly on environmental issues between elections. How many Greens actively support striking trade unionists, for example? And don’t get me started on Green Party voting patterns in various councils. So, answer me this Respect supporters – if there’s a left winger standing in your constituency will you vote for them or a NL candidate with a classic NL track record? Yeh, thought so.

  50. As a point of reference – the point in the motion about a ‘call to the Green party’ was written before the Birmingham decision not to stand against Salma. That is the problem with resolutions – they can never keep up with changing facts on the ground. They should be a guide to action not a blueprint.

  51. “It will not be supporting capitalist parties like the Greens.!”

    And some people have had the cheek on this thread to accuse Respect of sectarianism.!!

    As for voting in individual constituencies Doug – well take them on a case by case basis. If there is a good left-winger vs a “NL candidate with a classic NL track record” the chances are that Respect members would vote for the leftie. If it was a cabinet minister then there would be no contest. I’d vote against them.

    Now Doug – would you recommend your fellow travellers to vote Respect in seat where we have a chance of winning?

  52. mikey J on said:

    Doug, you talk about facts, then immediately say ‘The left electoral coalition is standing canddidates …’ Really? Who? Where? Under what name? On what basis? With what politics?

    Nothing has actually been agreed on any of this, has it? That was one reason why Respect Conference was right to vote in favour of Conference Arrangements Committee, because the motion wasn’t an emergency at all, simply a report that a vague conversation had taken place. You’ll understand if we don’t all get swept up in the heady fervour.

    #62 Derek is your comment a response to mine about workerism? Because I wasn’t calling you a workerist! I will be supporting Caroline in May and though not a member of Unite, back Jerry Hicks.

  53. Armchair on said:

    I did not attend the Respect conference, although I have recently finally made the decison to “rejoin” (I let my very short term membership lapse after the split with the SWP).

    I had some sympathy with the NO2EU project and I did vote for them in the NW Euro seat. I understand why some say that people like me let in the BNP, although I do not accept this argument, whether it comes from GG or from my partner, or anyone else.

    However, having read the contribution from TLC, I really cannot see what the so-called left of Respect are arguing about- it appears that the position taken by the conference was the only sensible one in the circumstances.

    And Doug, the Green Party is a “capitalist party” is it? Does that mean that you wouldn’t vote for any Green candidate? What do you think of the Labour Party? Is that a “capitalist party? If not, why not?

    Do you have the view that Labour candidates should be treated on a case by case basis and that Green candidates should not?

  54. Party hack on said:

    Thank you, TLC, for arguing for your position in a measured, factual and comradely way (eg. post 63 above). It contrasts with the approach of others on different sides of different questions here.
    The CPB has declared its clear preference for a Labour victory rather than a Tory victory at the General Election – a position which CPB members will pursue in action where possible.
    At the same time, the party sees value in a left coalition which makes a distinct but limited intervention in the General Election campaign, putting forward policies which many on the left (including in the LP, Respect, Greens etc.) can agree with.
    Communists will support many more than just a few Labour candidates, while also – I suspect – backing good Green, Respect, Plaid Cymru and other non-Labour candidates.
    I don’t think handing out general fatwas against all Green, most Labour, all post-No2EU candidates etc. takes the left forward. For certain, it contributes nothing to building the left unity that is needed.
    And as for Derek Wall – who spoke as well as ever at this year’s Communist University: Derek, dear comrade, there are many socialists and Communists in Unite, with good records of fighting for working class interests, who will be backing Len McCluskey not Jerry Hicks in the GS election next year. You might not agree with that, and I respect your reasons. But it does not help a comradely discussion about electoral tactics to make this union contest the touchstone of left-wing credentials. You and I could do the same about, say, Cuba, but it doesn’t help.
    We can always find points of difference and make them points of division. Let’s do a bit more finding of points of agreement, and make them points of unity instead – which, to be fair, is what you usually do.

  55. Neil Williams on said:

    mikey J “Secondly, it was never a ‘fuck-off’ to the left of the trade union movement”

    Mikey am I deaf or what? George clearly stated that there would be no alliance between Respect and other (he called them all “ulta left”,”trots”, small etc etc)left parties, groups outside the Labour Party. Now just ask yourself what the views of those people and the many trade unionists who support them or may support the new left coalition will be to this?

    George and Salma’s views and those that support this view like yourself is that all other left groups should come “knocking on the door of Respect” after we have three MP’s elected. And if we have no MP’s elected – what then Mikey?, what then? Why would anyone on the left either inside or outside the Labour Party want to listen to us at that point? Respect has clearly moved to the Right in a big way not in small steps but in one big jump led by its current leaders!

  56. Dirty Red Bandana on said:

    The question before us all is how to mobilize the biggest left vote against the consensus for public service cuts and the war in Afghanistan among the three old parties. Respect has the widest electoral base and is recognized for its progressive agenda and anti-imperialism.

    The idea, mooted in the emergency motion, and all the nonsense poured out on the blogs by its tiny number of supporters such as Williams, Donovan and others, that Respect should spend its time looking for abstract ‘left unity’ now rather than prepare the biggest electoral challenge possible, is ridiculous.

    Conference was right to throw it out (by a bit more than two to one). It is a problem that we then were forced to address the argument motivated by a small and organized faction rather than address the key issue, which is looking at the experiences of Tower Hamlets, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and the new branches in forging a spearhead against the consensus. The debate took place for three hours and led to a series of quite brilliant points and contributions that increase my confidence that we can pull this off.

    Those with no electoral base, no audience and little responsibility are now arguing that this is a problem. It does not matter to them whether the left can act to break the consensus, get a bloc of left MPs elected and focus anger to the left (rather than to the right as the BNP is attempting). Instead, they want a coalition with no name, no policies and no chance only six months before an election to stand on ‘clear, socialist principles’ such as retreat, regroup and stay abstract. This is political cowardice.

    Respect has a responsibility to step up to the plate and swing the bat. Yesterday, we emphatically announced that we are taking that responsibility seriously. The sense of purpose and direction in the organization (along with the resultant growth) is brilliant to behold and marvellous to be a part of. We took a big step forward and one that will benefit the new left emerging while the old belly ache and look for excuses.

  57. Dear Party hack,

    I know we have to agree to differ over Jerry Hicks, I regret this but it is one of those things and in other ways we can cooperate.

    I hope you appreciate that with many people criticising the greens from a ‘workerist’ direction, many Greens are active union members and in this regard I was very keen to flag up support for my comrade and friend Jerry.

    many on the left outside the CPB support Jerry but this a debate for another time,

    The CPB event by the way was a comradly event which I enjoyed, and I suspect that many on the left including the CPB. Greens, Respect can support the same progressive candidates at the General Election

  58. Joe the Deliverer on said:

    you’d think by lloking at this thread that any of you were actually involved with a major party going on about respect being a great force to be reckoned with. has it occured to you that outside your little world of forums and comment boards most average voters have no idea who salma and george are and don’t know anything about respect.

    respect isn’t being talked about aznd althugh they have one mp, the Greens are better known as a party regardles sof pollling success.

    respect is pretending to be what it isn’t. it’s not a party for everyone, it aligns with radical muslims and nut-jobs and is homphobic. prove me wrong…..

  59. Just out of interest what is your definition of a Capitalist Party?

    So the Green Party is the same as the Tories and Lib Dems?

    Were you in the Labour Party? Just don’t remember a socialist revolution taking place or calling for a General Strike for the Miners?

    Or recently Gordon Brown supporting the Postal workers recent strike – Hang on the Green Party did! And also rail nationalism and a massive expansion of public transport etc etc

    I am sure that our leader Caroline Lucas MEP (for Dougs benefit an elected representative like our MEP in London – Jean Lambert- by a fair number of working class voters I dare say) said we the Green Party were an anti-capitalist party?

    Have a read of our policies and what we actually do to support workers in the GPEW before spouting off please.

  60. Dirty Red Bandana on said:

    Neil, you are a self fulfilling prophecy and I noted how articulate you were all day at the conference in support of your position. If all you do is roll around crying about the state of the left and looking for ‘a workers party’ that does not exist then inflate every word of a union leader to the left of Labour to see a new dawn, then of course, there will be nothing but pessimism.

    If you look at the history of defeat since Thatcher and the weakening of trade union organization, the prospect of a new workers party is going to take a long time to realize. In the meantime, what do we do? Ignore our responsibility and retreat in the face of a major austerity programme or stand up and try to get a group of MPs elected who can focus anger around the left?

    JtD. We have proved you wrong but you choose not to see it. Get over yourself.

  61. Karl Stewart on said:

    For me, there is a fundamental difference between Respect and the Greens on the one hand and what I describe as the working-class left – the main organisations being SP, SWP and CP – on the other hand.

    The first two are clearly left-of-centre parties, but they do not have the struggle for working-class state power as their essential aim, while the parties of the working-class left do.

    It is this key difference, for me, that defines Respect and the Greens as non-working class parties.

    Of course Jerry Hicks – a Respecter – has an exemplary record of trade union activism and of course Caroline Lucas made an excellent intervention in support of striking postal workers recently.

    But the fact remains that these two parties do not have a class-struggle basis to their essential aims.

    Therefore, a coming together of these two parties is not at all a bad thing, nor is it a matter for regret that they do not wish to be part of a future new Workers Party.
    On the contrary, the Respect/Green alliance, if anything, aids political clarity.

    What the working-class parties need to do is unite their own forces into a serious party of socialists and communists dedicated to the aim of working-class state power.

    Of course we should not adopt a policy of bitter hostility to the non-working class left and of course there can and must be pacts/alliances and joint work where we agree.

    But surely it’s time that we on the working-class left realised that uniting our own forces into a Workers Party of socialists and communists, united around the key aim of working class state power must be our first priority.

  62. Dirty Red Bandana on said:

    Then Karl, your definition of ‘working class politics’ is entirely programmatic. There has been a marked lack of clarity on the meaning of this phrase from the small group around Southwark Respect. They rail against Labour for policy, the Greens for composition, etc. I thank you for being honest about this.

    The problem is that Die Linke, The Left Bloc, the NPA all fall on your definition as well. I am proud to be in a small part of such company.

    The principle division is better viewed as a matter of strategy. Do we concentrate on the purity of programme, the style and method of organization (which has failed the left utterly since 1920) or on addressing left politics to a mass audience? I enjoy using the experience we gain to reassess what it is to be a socialist and the products and problems of working among new layers without the history and tradition of your ‘working class politics’.

  63. Larry N on said:

    If they cannot bide by conference decisions and openly express a desire to cause problems for our three candidates in the general elections then I hope they make up their minds to remove themselves soon. They are insignificant, and Respect conference has dealt with their silly emergency motion. Dirty Red bandana really sums up our mood against them. Political Gomorrah awaits them.

    Hail Hail to Dirty Red Bandana

  64. A rather intolerant attitude. Isn’t it awful to share space with people who disagree? Perhaps the alleged internal culture of the SWP would be more to your liking.

  65. Neil Williams on said:

    Dirty Red Bandana Post 76 “Ignore our responsibility and retreat in the face of a major austerity programme or stand up and try to get a group of MPs elected”

    Just like conference you pose a false choice (and this went on all day at conference on Saturday). Its slightly arrogant of you to think that those of us who want to link with other socialist parties, and by the way support a few of the best Labour MP’s who are anti-war and anti-cuts, somehow dont want to elect Respect MP’s. For five years I have treid to do nothing else.

    Speaking at conference is no badge of committment (nor should be) – there are many people who dont and never will. Its bit diffcult to speak on a motion which is ruled out of order is it not, when no debate on it is allowed?

  66. external bulletin on said:

    Neil, please stop being so dishonest.

    The membership voted that it wasn’t an emergency.

    No one did anything in secret, in a smoke filled room, or without the consent of the meeting.

    Your dishonesty undermines everything else you say.

  67. Dirty Red Bandana on said:

    Jota, I do not think so. There is a history here that goes back to March/April when our national secretary, treasurer and membership secretary all resigned after losing a vote on the National Council regarding support for NO2EU. It was evident then that the national secretary made promised to deliver Respect, despite knowing that the Greater Manchester had agreed to support Peter Cranie in the Euro Elections.

    It is interesting that the incoming team found a policy of near complete non-cooperation in the transfer of responsibilities including deleted emails (some of which were recovered). Branches reported factional communications and attempts to build opposition. There was also a campaign to continually revisit the question of the Euro Elections, despite the decisions taken. The new Respect officers responded with complete tolerance towards this situation and merely concentrated on strengthening the weak state of organization and democratic accountability. Hence, a new membership team was put in place and the executive committee was allowed to meet again.

    In June, there was an attempt to put a motion to the NC with only two days notice. The Chair ruled that it should be postponed to the September meeting when the NC would have time to debate it and to circulate it across the membership to seek opinion. Given that it amounted to a call to wind up Respect, this was reasonable. The September NC voted it down and supported the Yaqoob/ Galloway position.

    After the deadline for motions to conference, indeed in the last ten days, two ’emergency’ motions that were nothing of the kind were submitted by this group. The first was critical of Yaqoob’s position over the EDL demonstrations in the summer while the second was a call for support for the Coalition. Neither was an emergency in any sense and both related to issues already under discussion before the deadline for motions. It was a simple abuse of the democratic process in Respect at the expense of every other branch.

    They were ruled out and a vote taken at conference. Two points of order from Wrack were allowed, Searle put the position of the CAC and a vote was taken. Wrack was called twice in the subsequent discussion as were his supporters. They moved motions covering the same territory as well.

    Where is the intolerance? Respect continues to have no problem with the group working with the new Coalition (indeed, my greatest regret is that Wrack opted not to report his discussions on its steering committee back to Respect at any point). It is unfortunate that none of the group is well placed to stand as a credible candidate.

  68. Dirty Red Bandana on said:

    Neil, sorry but you have not been doing this. Read your own comments – I called it a self fulfilling prophecy and believe it is so.

    You are lying. We worked through three hours of debate that revolved around the Coalition at the conference. Galloway summed up on it. This was because there was an existing motion that covered this territory. If you put fingers in your ears and shout ‘la, la, la’, perhaps you will not hear a frank and honest debate.

    Your arrogance is that you think you know the answers when you have manifestly failed to come up with the bloody question.

  69. Prinkipo Exile on said:

    I must admit to being a bit puzzled by this debate.

    Now while I very much welcome the coming together of any left wing electoral alliance, there remains a few questions about the electoral strategy of this alliance, particularly given the track record of its three components. Of course the three unions talked about – RMT, POA, and I’m unclear who the third are: PCS or FBU? – but whatever, they certainly have yet to endorse this coalition. If they do then we enter a new ball game but at the moment we only know about the three declared political components – CPB, SP and AGS.

    As far as I know the SP and the AGS do not organise in Scotland but the CPB do – Solidarity however which includes the sister organisation of the SP as a major component have not declared their support for this alliance.

    Starting with the CPB … where candidates are selected who are CPB members, will they follow their Party’s longstandwing policy of calling for a vote for Labour elsewhere against other left wing opponents? Most notably in Scotland where a leading CPB member, John Foster, stood as no 1 on the No2EU slate and recently addressed the RMT conference on political representation – presumably he is likely to be a coalition candidate in Scotland just as he was when he came 14th out of 14 candidates with 1% of the vote in Glasgow Govan in 2003 – but what will he advise scottish voters in other constituencies to do? Vote Labour? SSP? Solidarity?

    One must presume that it is Labour. As recently as August 2008, in the aftermath of Labour’s defeat in Glasgow East, the CPB had the following to say:
    “calls for the ending of the trade union movement’s relationship with Labour should be rebutted forcefully. Given its current structure and continuing level of union affiliation, Labour remains the mass party of the working class in Britain” …
    “The voters of Glasgow East were just as unimpressed with the unedifying spectacle of the SSP and Solidarity, two parties of the left, competing for support, as they were with what Labour had to offer.”

    Then we have the AGS … well in the last General Election they stood in Brighton Pavilion constituency did they not? The result was as follows:

    Brighton Pavilion
    [E] Labour hold
    Lepper D.* Labour 15,427 35.43%
    Weatherley M.R. Conservative 10,397 23.88%
    Taylor K.R. Green 9,530 21.89%
    Thorpe H. Ms. LibDem 7,171 16.47%
    Crisp-Comotto K.J. Ms. UKIP 508 1.17%
    Greenstein A.N. Alliance for Green Socialism 188 0.43%
    Fyvie I.C. Socialist Labour 152 0.35%
    Rooke C.D. Ind 122 0.28%
    Jago K. Ind 44 0.10%

    Now in the 2010 general election, we all know that the Green candidate in this constituency is Caroline Lucas, who has an impressive record as an MEP. Will the AGS be standing against her again and seeking to better its 0.43% of the vote as part of the new coalition? Will the new coalition choose to stand down in Brighton Pavilion – and if they do who will they call for a vote for?

    Finally the SP … The SP appears to believe Labour as a Party is no different to the Tories, often without regard to whoever the Labour candidate is. In the 2001 General Election they stood under their registered electoral name of “Socialist Alternative” in Hayes and Harlington, having fallen out with the Socialist Alliance of which they were then a part about candidate selection. Let’s just remind ourselves of that result.

    General Election result, June 2001
    Hayes & Harlington Labour hold
    John McDonnell Labour 21,279 65.7%
    Robert McLean Conservative 7,813 24.1%
    Nahid Boethe LibDem 1,958 6.0%
    Gary Burch BNP 705 2.2%
    Walter Kennedy Socialist Alternative (SP) 648 2.0%

    So there we have it three components, three different practices about elections. So before we give a blank cheque to these groups coming together perhaps it is wise we ask a few questions about their plans first?

    Of course the best thing for the supporters of this alliance would be to do if they want to clarify their plans would be to invite Respect to attend a meeting so that they can discuss this.

  70. external bulletin on said:

    Prinkipo Exile – the truth is, those who support “The Coalition” don’t really care what its chances are, how deep its roots are, or any real world considerations.

    They are stuck in a hard left time warp; they don’t care about broadness or actually carrying working people with us: They cling to an idea that people “deserve” to have a “socialist”-orientated party, even if no one actually votes for it, cares about it or has even heard of it.

    The best traditions of socialism are in those who say we must build broad and build now, not those who believe they have all the answers and are willing to lie in the service of that belief. Those who now claim to be “the left” of Respect will have to join those who the SWP considered to be “the left” of Respect: Oli Rahman, Rania Khan, Ahmed Hussain and Lutfa Begum.

    That’s the essence of what Neil Williams is supporting when he says the SWP was right and that Respect is now in the grip of “the right”.

    Stop the witch-hunt!

  71. little black sister on said:

    Dirty Red Bandana is totally on the ball.

    #81 “It’s bit difficult to speak on a motion which is ruled out of order is it not, when no debate on it is allowed?”

    Nick Wrack was allowed to speak on why he supported the emergency motion. There were then contributions from the floor and then a vote was taken whether to allow the emergency motion. A majority of the conference decided not to allow it. This was a normal democratic process whose decision should be respected. This is why we have votes, precisely in order to decide such things.

    During the conference, the ultra-lefts continually spoke up about the coalition even when moving completely different motions. And people from the other side responded. There was certainly a debate!

  72. little black sister on said:

    #86 Precisely. And now they rail about how Respect is moving to the right, etc etc, because their own infantile (I use it in Lenin’s sense) version of socialism has been rejected. It is exactly what the SWP did during the split.

    But we should point out that they are not THE far left, they are one trivial part of it. Sensible Marxist revolutionaries should back the Galloway/Yaqoob line, because they want to actually change society, not preen themselves on their “purity” while engaging with no genuine mass forces whatsoever.

  73. Kevin Ovenden on said:

    Prinkipo Exile

    That’s a compelling point.

    For the record, speaking on a panel at the Socialist Party’s event last weekend I gave unqualified support to Dave Nellist’s standing against Bob Ainsworth in Coventry NE, in line with Respect policy and discussions on the National Council.

    I also made clear our support for Caroline Lucas in Brighton and, obviously, highlighted the contribution to working class representation by electing three Respect MPs. There were plenty of moments where that approach and generous support could have been reciprocated from SP members in the meeting. It was not. A disappointment which does not affect our support for Dave Nellist or our preparedness to engage constructively and to consider support for other left of Labour candidates case by case.

    In relation to the Greens, Coventry, Preston, Blaenau Gwent, John McDonnell and Jeremy, and to being part of the anti-Tory, labour movement bloc Respect has walked the walk.

    We will continue to do so, with our biggest contribution being the possible return of elected representatives.

  74. external bulletin on said:

    Kevin’s main point seems to have been forgotten in all the dishonest debating here:

    From the very start, it’s been part of Respect’s goal to work with the rest of the left. It didn’t happen under the SWP’s leadership for reasons that everyone but the SWP understands. Under independent leadership, Respect’s NC agreed to work with other groups.

    In fact, the former National Secretary was specifically tasked with writing to, and arranging meetings with, other left groups including Barrow People’s Party.

    For some reason it never happened, which makes me really cynical – it’s now being used as a stick to beat the “broad party” people in Respect with.

    And the fact that Socialist Party members – as well as SWP members (when put to the test in Birmingham) *still* fail to even offer qualified support to Respect (and in the case of Birmingham, not one single SWP member even replied to Socialist Resistance’s open letter asking for help in the recent election) shows that it’s not Respect’s “right wing” leadership that is being sectarian.

  75. I also could not make the conference -my lad & his school was in the Lords Mayor’s reactionary City of London parade. I have been reading with interest the reports of the conference. I would have supported the minority position it would seem, of suggesting Respect works with the developing forces of the left and the likely national coalition. In Lewisham we are seeking to register a local political party “Lewisham People Before Profit” with the Election Commission. Whilist checking with the EC I thought it might be helpful in this debate just to have a quick reality check of Respect. Will Mahon reports to the Election Commission in April this year of a collaspe of membership from 2,500 members to only 500 at the end of 2008 in only 10 functioning branches. The reality is that Respect does have the largest footprint of the left but Respect is ‘shoe-horned’ into only 4 or 5 tight fitting communities and its level of support outside these concentrated local areas, like the rest of the left is very limited. It would be good to see Labour loose the x3 seats to Respect, but it is likely to have even less chance now of breaking out of its strongholds after its Birmingham conference.

  76. Jonathan on said:

    Does Respect honestly believe that it could win 3 seats at the General Election? I would be delighted if it did, but I’m afraid it is unlikely to get close to winning even one. Whatever the potential for a revival of class struggle in the next decade of austerity, the left remains fragmented, weak and largely invisible to the majority of the population. Of course, all that may change but even where Respect has a decent public profile, as in Birmingham, the outlook is not rosy for May/June 2010. Faced with the awful prospect of a Tory government, many Salma supporters will hold their noses and vote Labour. Same in East London I suspect. Add to that the decreased salience of the war in the public consciousness and the circumstances do not appear propitious for Respect. Other left platforms will simply be annihilated. This is not an argument for vacating the field to New Labour, far from it. But, a reality check might be in order.

  77. Joe the Deliverer on said:

    #91 Nick Long: “Respect is ’shoe-horned’ into only 4 or 5 tight fitting communities and its level of support outside these concentrated local areas, like the rest of the left is very limited”

    That’s the man problem with Respect. Now that is has now SWP or other leftist support, it’s only alfoat in some muslim areas. without muslims it would wither away.

    thi sis where the Greens poll much better wth wide-ranging support. Greens are a national and international brand, although in different forms where as Respect has aligned itself with Islamists at the expense of other communities which it could never attract, including Jews and LGBT communities..

  78. Dirty Red Bandana on said:

    You’re out of touch, Nick. Membership is rising fast and new branches are being created. According to my sources, in the last week alone, we have registered another 78 members during the conference push. Your reality needs some checking. Of course, your figures could be used to suggest that Respect was not being allowed to develop according to its potential since the split. It could also suggest that the wrong officer team was in place.

    Good luck with the EC. You will find that PbP is already registered to Respect at the insistence of one Lindsey German a few years ago (maybe you will get somewhere with the local angle). Personally, I would back the Green candidate locally and make a major push to get members to Tower Hamlets to help with George and Abjol’s campaigns. That would be good to see.

  79. Nick, I think you need to be a little clearer as to the minority position. The question is not left unity or none but what type of Left unity do we aspire to.

    The conference passed a motion almost unanimously saying Respect would work constructively with others on the left. It specifically allows Respect members to stand as part of this coalition should they chose to. We have already stated our support for the only declared candidate of this as yet unnamed coalition – Dave Nellist. What the majority are in favour of is the broadest possible unity – including with the Green Party, Left Labour MPs, Dai Davis, Val Wise, etc. Unity not based on deals but on backing the best placed left candidate to resist the oncoming Tory onslaught.

    The minority position seeks to replace this with a coalition which specifically excludes the Greens. The majority think this is a foolish narrowing of left unity to the hard left – at a time when all left forces are weak.

    If you don’t want to back progressive Green candidates then fair enough – you are with good company with Doug and ID and Neil.

    But for me, we cannot afford to have such a rigid position in such important times. I’m interested in getting progressive, leftwing people elected – whatever party they belong to so they can become a pole of attraction in the coming firestorm against public services – not making small groups of revolutionaries feel relevant because they’ve recruited one or two people while taking 1% of the vote.

  80. A week or so ago, when it was announced that Greens would support Yaqoob in her constituency at the election, I posted some comments to the post announcing this on this site and asked ‘who is Yaqoob, is she a socialist?’. I also called for a socialist candidate to stand against her.

    A lot of bluster emanated from Francis and the like trying to put the best Left spin on what she says and does.

    But the reports from the Respect conference give the lie to that – she is very anti far Left and would much rather boast about her good relations with the cops. It was Galloway who, according to MacUaid used phrases like ““left group”, “Trotskyist” and “far left” as terms of abuse (at the conference) in much the same way you might call someone a “Bon Jovi fan” or a “Tory”” It sounds as though Yaqoob says the same.

    I’d actually vote for Galloway; I know who he is, his limitations and strengths; there is no denying he is a ‘socialist’ albeit a very different type to me but I just don’t know about Yaqoob – she has no record, her politics may be anything, as these reports show. I hope a Left stands against her.

  81. Ger Francis on said:

    Shit. Salma is going to have to wage the election campaign without the support of Southpawmunch. And he might come to brum to stand against her. Guess she will just have to take her chances…

  82. Good luck Southpawpunch – why don’t you try? I’m sure the voters of Hall Green will flock to your crimson banner. You can join the denunciation of Yaqoob alongside the Tories, New Labour and Lib-Dems.

    ‘She has no record’. Oh dear. Tell that to the people of Sparkbrook.

  83. little black sister on said:

    I am sure Salma Yaqoob is quaking in her boots at the prospect of a “real socialist” depriving her of about 0.1% of the vote.

    Southpawmunch is equating ultra-leftists with “the left”, as if they alone carry the torch of true socialism, whereas Marx himself would have laughed them out of the room.

    Let the infantiles have their tantrums. Proper socialists will meanwhile get on with trying to build a mass movement.

  84. Southpawpunch – Salma Yaqoob has a long record as a councilour here in Brum, would not be too hard to find out her politics if you could be arsed.

    Actually no just bitch from the sidelines, much easier that way.

  85. Hmm. A claim of 800? Respect members versus say 1500 Socialist Party members or 3000 SWP makes you trying build a ‘mass movement’, does it little black sister? I suggest remedial maths lessons.

    And I’m not saying just the revolutionary Left are acceptable to support or should be the basis of a movement – I’d support Galloway (of “Trotskiye Popinjay” denouncement fame). But I’m saying we need to be sure someone is at least a Left – praising the cops sets of the alarm bells. Steer clear.

    And Ben, if you are the same as the Ben from last time you will recall both that I took you to task for a clearly made-up ‘fact’ on your part and gave facts about what Yaqoob has and has not done.

  86. ‘“Respect is ’shoe-horned’ into only 4 or 5 tight fitting communities and its level of support outside these concentrated local areas, like the rest of the left is very limited” well at least Respect has the potential to win some seats, most of left has no local electoral base.

    I will be canvassing for Caroline and Salma and will be encouraging others to do so, nothing stopping others supporting in a practical way other candidates but the case has to be made with real candidates for real constituencies.

  87. Neil Williams on said:

    TLC comment: “If you don’t want to back progressive Green candidates then fair enough – you are with good company with Doug and ID and Neil”.

    I cant speak for other people but I have stated more than once on this site that i would welcome the Greens being part of a broader left alternative to New Labour but they have shown no interest in discussion either now or in the past (and rejected a move from Respect more than once in the past at national level) as they see themselves as “the” alternative (as George Galloway sees Respect as “the” alternative). It would appear that there are many, if not the majorty in the Green Party who would not be happy with a clear alliance with other Socialist parties/groups/unions or even Respect at national level (there is still no agreenment about East London as an example). I have a great deal of respect for people like Derick Wall and others in the Greens but i think they are a minority not the majority.

    I would like to think that socialist Greens and those who support the new left coalition will support each other but this will prove difficult if the Greens do not have a clear policy on joint working at national level.

  88. little black sister on said:

    #100 “800? Respect members versus say 1500 Socialist Party members or 3000 SWP makes you trying build a ‘mass movement’, does it little black sister? I suggest remedial maths lessons.”

    This is childish. Respect has an MP (and a possibility of getting two more), whereas the SP and SWP have none. That is all you need to know about the small but genuinely mass forces that Respect engages with, compared to the narrow politics of the other two parties.

  89. Kevin Ovenden on said:


    Have you followed the discussion?

    There’s an unprecedented agreement between the Greens and Respect in Birmingham and Manchester. Discussions elsewhere are taking place.

    The position you supported in Respect would blow that up and, had it been implemented last spring, killed it before birth.

    You may want left Greens elected. The people whose position you allied with in Respect do not.

    If you want serious moves to buildig a wider left, best reconsider the presumptions you’ve made.

    Failing that, good luck with the soon to be coalition.

  90. Joe the Deliverer: you say Respect has a real solid base amongst Muslims like it’s a bad thing! What section of the most oppressed in the working class can you claim to give a voice to?

    Little Black Sister says “I am sure Salma Yaqoob is quaking in her boots at the prospect of a “real socialist” depriving her of about 0.1% of the vote.”

    Indeed, but are you not rather flattering Southpawpunch with a whole 0.1%? Surely we must shun all mass forces, be extremely ideologically pure and command no support from, and give no leadership to, the working class whatsoever.

    I was out campaigning in Tower Hamlets today with Councillor Abjol Miah, and the respect – and recognition – he receives from local residents is very high. This is a left-of-Labour politician in a serious project to make the lives of the working class in one of the most deprived boroughs in Britain better.

    The ultra-left bang on about being true to the class, and simultaneously forget all about them. Continue revelling in your irrelevance, comrades!

  91. Joe the Deliverer on said:

    The Friendly Lefty @#105. I didn’t say aligning with Muslims or them being a core support for Respect was a bad thing. i said aligning with radicals as seen in Respect’s recent history was a bad thing.

    I also said it was bad that Respect only has one main community as their core support as this doesn’t put them in the company of other more universally appealing parties.

    How do you think it would play if the majority of the Green Party’s supporters were pro-Israeli Zionists or if the majority of the BNP councillors were white? Oh yeah, they are!!

  92. I hope everyone reads the above comments by the above members of the Respect right carefully.

    e.g. “A sharp tone was adopted by both George and Salma towards an increasingly marginal current of opinion in Respect that sees our future as part of a coalition of the far left.”

    I think they are very clear in their strong dislike of socialists; they remind me somewhat of how the labour Lefts were a long time ago – be sensible, you lotare nutters – as they moved towards Blairism.

    I won’t waste time on taking apart what they say (e.g. any politician can be popular, like supposedly Miah, but it is the politics that count); they have their politics, I have mine.

    But what are Lefts doing in that organisation?

  93. #106 ‘How do you think it would play if the majority of the Green Party’s supporters were pro-Israeli Zionists or if the majority of the BNP councillors were white? Oh yeah, they are!!’

    Pop quiz. If this was to be a coherent point, what would it be?

    #107 the fact is that you clearly know nothing about Councillor Miah’s politics. On what basis have you decided that you do?

  94. I don’t what it is about this blog where people will make outlandish statements without knowing whether they are true or not.

    So I’d suggest maybe instead “the fact is that you clearly know nothing about Councillor Miah”, you could try “do you know anything…? You will look less of a fool, friendlyleft.

    Sure there are good things about Respect and him in particular (and I wasn’t criticising him, I was looking at the record of Yaqoob and Respect generally but also pointing out the inanity of saying some is good because they’re popular – Cameron is (relatively) popular).

    But the answer is yes, I do know his record. I’m often in TH and read about him and Respect there.

    Such as his support for small businesses (motion to council against Tesco Express stores incl “the concerns of many small, local businesses that their businesses will be adversely affected by the opening of more Tescos stores”), their anti-democratic agenda e.g. for an elected mayor (making backbench cllrs even less relevant), him being a machine politician (see the SWP acct – not that the SWP are objective or innocent of that, of course) and his, I suppose you could call, Little Tower Hamletser politics (“Tower Hamlets residents now count for only two percent of employment on the Olympics site. Even that is exaggerated as the figures do not distinguish between long-term residents in the borough and those only living here whilst they are working on the site.” …”Let’s be clear what this protest is all about. It’s not about discriminating against so-called foreign workers. My kids were born in Tower Hamlets within the sound of Bow Bells, which makes them cockneys, but my parents were ‘foreigners’ once. What this is about is getting a fair deal for people locally and for workers more generally.”) I don’t live in TH but went for a job, when unemployed, at the Olympics site. Maybe he’s pleased an ‘outsider’ like me didn’t get it as that percentage would have gone down.

  95. Joe the Deliverer on said:

    TFL #108 “Pop quiz. If this was to be a coherent point, what would it be?”

    It is a coherent point if you follow it. If the majority of the Green’s supporters and members were indeed radical Zionists, it would deter people from other backgrounds from joing or supporting them, especially supporters of justice in Palestine or many Muslims.

    This is also the very reason the BNP is not diverse. Because it’s make up of white radical racists illustrates its core support, regardless of Nick Griffin shouting they are not racist and would have ethnic members. The fact is no-minority would support them.

    Therefore if Respect are claiming to be a diverse inclusive and non homophobic party, it’s no good simply saying it if when looking at the party main councillors, nearly all are muslims standing in muslims areas and Respect has no representation elsewhere. Then when you look at the kind of ppl who support Respect, there’s a load of radical nut jobs in there and Respect doesn’t seem to state their official stance on where it stands on all of this.

    Do you really think the general public are going to vote in droves for Respect when from the outset it just looks like a Muslim or Asian party trumped up by radicals and extremists?

  96. I was no supporter of some of NO2EU politics but to claim, as Galloway has, that they let the BNP in is nonsense. This lets New Labour off the hook and serve to demonise those on the left who are attempting to develop a left opposition to Labour. We have evidence from polls that Labour voters simply didn’t turn out to vote and that allowed the BNP to win. Blaming NO2EU for this is not only dishonest but covers up the real reason for Griffins win. How can the BNP be stopped if the left has a wrong analysis of what went wrong?

    I think Galloways attitude to NO2EU (and by extension other left formations) is disastrous and it’s a shame that his recent good work in Glasgow with Solidarity is being contradicted by his current statements.
    This rhetoric from those on the right in Respect is worrying but familiar. If Respect continues to follow the path of attacking others on the left then it will implode long before the general election.

  97. just passing on said:

    Bob Crow – RMT general secretary
    Craig Johnston – RMT executive
    Alex Gordon – RMT executive committee
    Nick Quirk – RMT executive committee
    Peter March – RMT regional secretary
    Peter Pinkney – RMT activist
    Ron Rodwell – Former CWU activist RMT staff rep
    Stuart Hyslop – Retired seafarer RMT
    Garry Hassell – RMT executive committee
    Roger Bannister – Unison NEC member
    Laurence Platt – UNITE branch secretary
    Rob Williams – Unite convener Swansea
    Kevin Nolan – Visteon convener,
    Frank Jepson – Visteon factory convener
    John McEwan – Lindsey Oil
    Keith Gibson – Lindsey oil
    Owen Morris –supporter Lindsey Olympic protests
    John Hendy QC – Leading human rights lawyer
    John Rowe – Health worker
    Nick Wrack – socialist barrister
    David John Nellist – Socialist Party Cllr MP from 83/92
    Malcolm Gribbin – Retired teacher, school governor
    Peter McLaren – Alliance for Green Socialism
    Andy Chaffer – Birmingham trades council
    Rob Griffiths – Communist Party Britain gen sec
    Trevor Jones – Deeside trades council secretary
    Les Skarrot – FBU executive committee
    Alec MacFadden – President of Merseyside trades
    Steve Radford – Liberal Party councillor
    John Metcalfe – Former dep Labour leader council
    Harry Smith – surcharged Liverpool Labour councillor
    John Foster – Scottish Against Euro
    Tommy Sheridan – Solidarity Co-Convenor
    Tom Morrison – Secretary Clydebank TUC
    Mike Davies – Alliance Green Socialism
    Professor Dave Hill – Former Labour Group leader
    Kevin Hayes – Ford worker
    Robert Wilkinson – NUT Secretary
    Nick Wright – Graphic designer and teacher
    Nick Chaffey – Youth worker
    Brian Denny – Journalist and democracy campaigner
    Steve Glennon – shop steward at GSK
    Phil Katz – Author and designer
    Pete Relph – Environmental campaigner
    Martin Levy – Newcastle trades council president
    Roger Davey – Health worker
    John Chambers –
    Paul Dyer –
    Avtar Sadiq – Unity Peace Socialism
    Syed Islam – Social worker
    Dyal Singh Bagri – President, Indian Workers
    Ajit Singh Uppal – Indian Workers Association (pc)
    Shangara Singh Gahonia – Unity Peace Socialism
    Onay Kasab – Greenwich UNISON secretary
    Gawain Little – Teacher CND NC
    Jo Stevenson – YCL general secretary
    Professor Mary Davis – Leading labour historian
    Lynn Worthington – Community and healthcare
    Celia Foote – Alliance for Green Socialism
    Councillor Jackie Grunsell – Huddersfield NHS
    Juliet Marie Boddington – Alliance Green Socialism
    Jacqui Berry – Medway trades council president
    Sarah Wrack – Student Sussex University
    Rachel Lynch – NUT activist (pc)
    Leah Ganley – Student at Dundee University

    Jean Thorpe – UNISON NEC member
    Laura Picand – UNISON Wales staff member
    Eleanor Donne – UNISON steward–
    Hannah Walter – UNISON shop steward

    No2EU received 153,236 votes from across the country

    Hanif Abdulmuhit
    Dilwara Begum
    Reza Mahbob
    Kay Phillips
    Ali Shelmanu
    Stephen Hall
    Abdul Aziz
    Ray Gaston
    Mushtaq Hussain
    Nahim Ullah Khan
    Salma Iqbal
    Arshad Ali
    Arshad Kanwar

    Respect party polled 96.320
    No union backing
    No senior trade unionist
    No presidents
    No millions of members
    Just the voters for a handful of candidates
    to me its the ballot box that gets the results not a bunch of people demanding things there way or else!
    so it is said only a certain breed have been doing all the work then “SHOW ME THE RESULTS !”
    for all that hard work put in for all them years
    please convince me that it has worked
    but surely we only need to really look at the results you may argue Respect membership has dwindled since the SWP departure but surely its the votes that really count
    If we were only to go by members the RMT has 80,000 members from almost every sector of the transport industry – from the mainline and underground railways, shipping and offshore, buses and road freight

  98. Larry N on said:

    #80. After The John Rees debacle of his Reespect/SWP project, we should not be drawn into Neil Williamson’s post that the SWP were correct in tarring Respect with communalism. His bleating rhetoric does not cut with the optimistic aspirations of the many in Respect. He has failed to damage our ship that is chartering a new course in britiah politics.

    If you want to tolerate intolerance you go to the present SWP thread on SU,it is filled with like minded people, probably like yourself, ” the pure selected selected few” with their ritualistic politics of the graveyard.

    Respect members deserve better from the likes of Neil WIlliamson’s crocodile tears. If you see him give him a hankie to dry his eyes

  99. rachel trickett on said:

    #112 Ray’s spin on the North West has more to do with the SWP’s desperate desire to be part of the coalition with, as yet, no name, no policies and no candidates than an objective assessment of the situation.

    Of course the seedbed for the BNP’s rise has been New Labour’s failure. That was a given. But that does not mean UAF, for example, goes round slagging off New Labour at every opportunity. On the contrary, it seeks to combat the BNP by taking the BNP on and exposing it.

    In the North West the left had the opportunity to rally round the best placed left candidate Peter Cranie in order to stop Griffin. Sections of the left, gathered in No2EU and taking a small but crucial numbers of votes, did not do this.

    A reasonable conclusion is that these people helped the BNP get elected, even though this was not their intention. Galloway was right.

  100. Karl Stewart on said:

    Mixed messages from the Respect Party. On the one hand, Mr Galloway is reported as ruling out any co-operation with trade union election candidates, something which, apparently, makes him “shake with anger.”

    And on the other hand, it is reported that the Respect Party conference voted to engage positively with such candidates.

    Who to believe?

    Perhaps we on the working-class left should get our own act together and collectively tell Galloway that his support is neither wanted nor required in any case.

  101. Ger Francis on said:

    No mixed messages Karl. There is no change in our position. We will be standing as ‘Respect’ in the general election and we will seek to support those candidates not in Respect best placed to advance the left. For example, George specifically mentioned Dave Nellist in Coventry in this regard. All we have done at conference is to be a lot more forthright in criticizing the ultra-leftism of a tiny but noisy number of Respect members who talk about ‘unity’ while being very hostile to working with the Greens and being indifferent to a Tory victory.

  102. Karl.

    I don’t know if you’re being deliberately obtuse but you are typing utter bollocks mate.

    “Mr Galloway is reported as ruling out any co-operation with trade union election candidates, something which, apparently, makes him “shake with anger.”

    Not true.

    just cos its reported, doesn’t mean that it happen. ask who reported it

    “it is reported that the Respect Party conference voted to engage positively with such candidates”

    read the resolutions that were passed

    there’s nothing mixed about it.

    its just a bit smarter than, ‘two legs bad, 4 legs good’ as some would like their politics

  103. ” trade union election candidates”

    Just to clarify the majority of trade union backed candidates will be standing for the Labour Party.

    This is not a value judgement on how good those individual candidates are, but we need sme sort of reality check on how only “son of no2eu” is the “working class option”. Most of the big unions, Unison, GMB, UNite, CWU, USDAW are affiliated to Labour and will be backing Labour in the general election.

    The next general election will provide opportunities for a limited number of well established alternative candidates, where the spade work has been done, where the candidates have an established track record, and where the parties have worked hard to establish name recognition. The whole left will benefit by success in any of these seats.

    But the big picture, in England at least, is Labour v Tory. The trade union movement is backing Labour, Latvian Waffen SS veterans and Polish homophobes are backing the Tories.

  104. Jonathan on said:

    Could someone from Respect respond to my #92, please? …

    Does Respect honestly believe that it could win 3 seats at the General Election? I would be delighted if it did, but I’m afraid it is unlikely to get close to winning even one. Whatever the potential for a revival of class struggle in the next decade of austerity, the left remains fragmented, weak and largely invisible to the majority of the population. Of course, all that may change but even where Respect has a decent public profile, as in Birmingham, the outlook is not rosy for May/June 2010. Faced with the awful prospect of a Tory government, many Salma supporters will hold their noses and vote Labour. Same in East London I suspect. Add to that the decreased salience of the war in the public consciousness and the circumstances do not appear propitious for Respect. Other left platforms will simply be annihilated. This is not an argument for vacating the field to New Labour, far from it. But, a reality check might be in order.

  105. jonathan: yes, we believe we can win three seats. That belief is based on the response to our election campaign thus far in all three seats.

  106. # 106 – “How do you think it would play if the majority of the Green Party’s supporters were pro-Israeli Zionists ………? Oh yeah, they are!!”

    Am i missing the joke or are you actually being serious?? I think its going to come as a great shock to those of us in the Greens to realise we are actually zionists.

  107. rachel trickett on said:

    #121 Six months ago the odds on Respect winning either of the seats in Tower Hamlets looked very slim. But two factors have changed the situation.

    The first factor is the very serious errors made by the Labour party. They chose a candidate in Bethnal Green and Bow who they thought was safe, an Oxford-educated Bengali woman who had not been part of the internecine conflicts and machinations in Tower Hamlets politics and who could appeal to both Bangladeshi and non-Bangladeshi voters. However she has turned out to impress no-one and to have become caught up in the civil war going on inside Tower Hamlets Labour.

    In addition, Jim Fitzpatrick decided to pander to the Islamophobes in the constituency by attacking the traditional wedding arrangements at Muslim weddings in which women are seated separately from men. He even proposed introducing legislation to outlaw these voluntary arrangements. This has seen his support in the not inconsiderable Muslim community in Tower Hamlets collapse.

    But secondly, as the election approaches, more and more people like the look of Tower Hamlets Respect and are coming on board. This is because of the consistent performance of its leading members, specifically George Galloway and Councillor Abjol Miah. The council has been pushed on to the back foot because of the campaigning inside and outside the council led by Respect. In the most recent development, almost 20,000 people have signed a petition, led by Respect, calling for a mayoral referendum. George Galloway has always impressed but Abjol Miah looks more and more like the next MP for Bethnal Green and Bow.

    It’s still a long way to go before the general election and anything can happen. But as things stand at the moment, it would be very wise to place a significant bet on Respect taking one or both seats in Tower Hamlets, if you can find a bookmaker to offer you decent odds.

  108. Neil Williams on said:

    Comment 124: “In the most recent development, almost 20,000 people have signed a petition, led by Respect, calling for a mayoral referendum”

    This never got discussed at the Respect conference but there is nothing particulerly radical/progressive about “elected majors”. I would however support the right of a local community to vote on this and make a decision that sits local circumstances.

    Examples of locally elected majors in the UK do not make positive reading and one can certainly make a case for saying they undermine the acountability of local councillors and accountability via the elctorate and the party system. It can also produce cconstant conflict between councils with a majority of one party (which could be Respect) and a elected major from another party (who could be a Tory or vis versa) who feels they have the voters support to overrride the majority party.

    So its not as cut and dry as one may think. Local communities should have the right to decide on the type of democracy they want (PR would be a good start and a more important issue for democracy than elected majors) but elected majors are no quick fix to a socialist/progressive council and can in fact produce the exact opposite result.

  109. Karl Stewart on said:

    I wasn’t at the conference obviously, which is why, in my reference (116) to Mr Galloway’s remarks, I said that these were “reported” remarks. But here, in the link that Andy provides in his introductory piece, is the claim about Galloway from someone who says he was there:
    “Galloway absoultely hammered No2EU and in particuluar for standing against Peter Cranie in the North West (Indeed he even began shaking with anger) and refused to entertain any talk of coalition with the son of NO2EU.”
    The “report” goes on to claim that Galloway practically accused No2EU of helkping the BNP!!

    And then, in this thread, we have seen contributions from TLC and Kevin Ovenden contradicting Galloway’s apparent attitude by making far more constructive points about Respect’s willingness to engage positively with with a new trade union-backed electoral initiative.

    It’s not unfair, having read this, to describe these as “mixed messages” is it not?

  110. Karl Stewart on said:

    If the “report” of Galloway apparently “shaking with anger” is inaccurate, why is it linked to in the article at the top of this thread?

  111. Jonathan on said:

    Thanks to Naz and Rachel for their responses. I would be simply astonished if Respect was to win 3 seats and surprised if it wins 1. It flies in the face not only of what we know about the conjuncture but also the structural constraints that still face any small organization under fptp, which nearly everyone (myself included) drastically underestimated from the launch of the socialist alliance onwards. If this were to happen it would be a victory for the left unparallelled in post-war politics. But, I fear that this is a case of ambition in inverse proportion to prospects. As far as any other electoral coalition of the left is concerned, it will fail disastrously, whether or not it adopts a crass and populist name like ‘No 2 EU’ or something more inspiring.

  112. By the way- although the debate on the conference seems to have got bogged down on left/right split I have to say that as an observer I found the conference a very positive experience.

    There were some interesting speakers including Andrew Murry from Stop the War and a speaker from the Venezuala solidarity campaign.

    I also found a lot of the motions and contributions from the floor to be very informed and positive, in particular the electoral strategy motion from ( i am pretty sure although correct me if im wrong as I am crap with names) Kevin Overdon and a motion to support free free public transport from a Manchester Respect member.

  113. Jonathan – as a regular sceptic regarding the left’s electoral prospects I share your instinctive suspicion. But in my opinion these three seats are genuinely in the air – they could go either way. If those on the left give their concrete support – i.e. by getting out on the streets – in the next few months it would be very helpful. If they want this support to be ‘critical support’, I don’t much mind. But there is a compelling case for everyone – including the SWP I think – to contribute, and I hope they would be welcomed into the campaigns and past differences put aside.

  114. rachel trickett on said:

    #126 The petition is not to establish a mayor but for a referendum to allow the voters to choose which system they prefer, a referendum that the Labour and Conservative parties are seeking every opportunity to deny the voters of Tower Hamlets. In this context, Respect is at least sticking up for the rights of the voters themselves to decide. More than that, the fact that the campaign has raised almost 20,000 signatures is merely an indication of the amount of support Respect is potentially attracting.

    As for the specific merits of a mayoral system rather than a “Leader elected for four years and Cabinet” system, which are the two systems on offer in Tower Hamlets, this has been extensively discussed on another thread. I certainly would not argue that one size fits all, but the specific circumstances of Tower Hamlets, which Neil to be fair cannot be expected to know, certainly seem to indicate that the mayoral option is preferable, which is why right wing Labour and the Tories are so opposed to it.

  115. #126 – Neil: not this again, please. Your comment on elected mayors is a textbook example of applying abstract thoughts to a concrete situation you obviously know little about. I encourage you to study the political dynamic in Tower Hamlets before you make your assessment. You will hopefully come to the same conclusion as in my understanding Tower Hamlets Respect have done – that the reason the New Labour-run council are opposing an elected Mayor so vociferously is because someone could far more easily be elected who, free from reliance on oppressive party machineries, can better represent the views of ordinary citizens.

    If that isn’t something we should be supporting I don’t know what is. Let us be clear – not PR, nor greater power for backbench councillors, nor workers soviets are currently viable options. It is either the corrupt status quo or an opportunity to shift the balance of power in the Borough – however small the prospect – in favour of working class representation.

  116. rachel trickett on said:

    #129 The SWP developed a theory similar to Jonathan’s to explain why Respect must fail electorally or cross the political boundaires that were acceptable to the SWP. The conjuncture was such that no electoral project could succeed if it maintained its political principles because “things” had turned against a left electoral challenge. the purpose of suich a challenge therefore becomes purely propagandist.

    I think Jonathan is right that things are very difficult for the left, both because of the objective situation and because of past serious mistakes, such as the ridiculous split in Respect promoted by the SWP. However it is too mechanical and, dare I say, universalist to say that, just because things are generally difficult, there cannot be exceptions to the rule. Dai Davies is such an exception. So is Caroline Lucas’s very strong challenge in Brighton. So is Salma Yaqoob’s very strong challenge in Birmingham. And, believe me, so is Tower Hamlets.

  117. #134

    “The SWP developed a theory similar to Jonathan’s to explain why Respect must fail electorally or cross the political boundaires that were acceptable to the SWP.”

    Indeed. John Rees used the “beachhead” analogy, that once you have established a beachhead you either break out or get pushed back into the sea.

    As i remarked at the time, those are two possibilities. But there is also the Anzio scenario, where the Americans landed in Italy, failed to break out the beachhead, but then held in that stronghold on until the tide of the war changed in their favour.

    Arguably, the historical experience of the German left has folowed this “Anzio model”. Where the PDS held just two Bundestag seats under FPTP, but because they held on they were able to exploit the new possibilities given by lafonatine breaking from SPD, and now die Linke have 70+ seats.

  118. rachel trickett on said:

    #133 Actually the mayor is elected by a form of PR in that the winning candidate has to get more than 50% on the first vote or it goes to the second vote to decide the outcome. But the general point you make is quite right. We have to look at the actual alternatives and what they imply in the specific circumstances. In Newham the Respect challenger for mayor did very well forcing the Labour candidate to rely on second votes to win. The mayoral system would certainly give Respect a chance of winning in Tower Hamlets. It would also potentially break the control of the Labour regional bureaucracy over the borough. Both are reasons why right wing Labour are opposing it and why Respect and some dissident sections of the Labour party are supporting it.

  119. Still nothing on the Respect website about the conference – things need to improve in the IT department!

  120. Clive Searle on said:

    Dear Locke, Sorry to disappoint you. As the National Secretary it was my responsibility to get a conference report up on the Respect website. The trouble is we have a voluntary web-master who has another full time job, as do I. A report has now been emailed to all members and will be going up onto the website as soon as it can.

  121. Fleabite on said:

    Galloway is a law unto himslef and he clearly sees Respect as his party.Interestingly just as he appears to demands that Respect is the only show in town with a negotiated truce with the Green party, the party has now scrapped it’s title as a ‘unity coalition’.

    For all his faults which are many hothead Galloway does have afew some strengths(Viva Palestina) but diplomacy and coalition building with the Left are not amonst them.His vigorous attack on Left forces both within and outside of Respect is very arrogant foolish and shortsighted and is something Respect and the rest of the outside Left can do without.

    To hold the No2 Eu yes to democracy coalition responsible, as he appears to do from what I have read of his conference speaches, for the election of the BNP during the European election is both crass, sloppy, dangerous and incredibly stupid.

    What would Respect be without Galloway ? who appears to be twitching at the thought of the electoral demise of his dearly beloved Labour party.

    Tanky George Galloway swimming in the politics of arrogance and ego, volume and mush.

    Hopefully many Respect members and supporters have more sense and greater intelligence and will work to keep channels of communication open with other developing Left unity projects and alliances in the making.

  122. Nick Bird on said:

    I was not at the conference but I am a Respect member. I am in favour of supporting the broadest possible left/radical challenge next year in addition to the Respect candidates, including Greens, whatever the SP/CP/Bob Crow initiative becomes, SWP candidates, SSP/Solidarity and so on. I am also in favour of supporting credible Labour left candidates. However, I am disturbed by the thought that we should call for a wider Labour vote on the basis of some of the arguments being put forward here. Let me also just state that I am not, nor have I ever been, indifferent to the prospect of a Tory Government. However, just because someone is not indifferent to the prospect of Manchester United winning the league it doesn’t follow that they support Chelsea.

    David Ellis in particular seemed to argue that Labour should be re-elected because they have been so bad that they must be forced to face the disastrous results of their own policies. That certainly turns electoral politics on its head and is a recipe for calling for a vote for all kinds of reactionaries.

    I think there is a case for a more honest politics. From what I read above it seems that Salma Yaqoob and plenty of others spelled out to the conference how bad Labour have been. To me it seems dishonest to be telling that truth in the constituencies where Respect is trying to displace Labour MPs, but in neighbouring areas to recommend that people vote Labour, unless that Labour candidate has a proven record of opposing the Government on key policies.

    Why not simply tell the truth: Labour has had 13 years and it has failed. It has not goverened in the interests of the working class, it has been worse even than most of us probably feared (pre-9/11), it has been impotent in the face of economic collapse and the rise of the far-right and it is the main reason why we are now facing the return of the Tories – rather than any great enthusiasm for Cameron’s policies, whatever they might be.

    And to those who say we will alienate trades unionists by not voting Labour, well – I’m an active trades unionist in PCS. I honestly don’t feel I would alienate many people in my workplace, on my branch executive or at my union conference by arguing against a Labour vote. Even those who will despairingly vote Labour (unless they’re certified New Labourites) will probably understand. PCS is not affiliated to Labour and this experience may not be universal (as Government employees PCS members may have particular reason to give up on Labour) but I suspect a lot of those union officials rallying to Labour in the coming months will do so because of the illusion of influence that is sustained by the Labour-union link. This is also a kind of dishonesty and a failure to face the reality of what Labour has become.

    I’ve said it before but I’m given to repeating myself at this time of night, for socialists to call for the return of the Labour Government is dishonest, counterproductive and feeds a general cynicism about politics that it is all just about jockeying for position instead of what we beleive in.

  123. Fleabite on said:

    While I would see the SWP as ‘the’ splitters par excellence (Socialist Alliance, Scottish Socialist party,Respect,the anti capitalist movement,Stop the War coalition, themselves to name but a few of their most recent exploits) I dont think they can wholly be held responsible for the Respect split.The questions of full democratic accountability and transparency regarding Galloway still leave a lot to be desired as the Respect party rules seem to bend in whatever direction Galloway dictates.

    I would suggest the party works if it is able to hold him democratically accountable before he becomes both your greatest strength and partdoxically your greatest liability as he desperately swims against the tide to try to save New Labour’s neck.

    Sink or swim it maybe but the more Respect is seen to be associated with trying help bail out New Labour at the next General Elections then it too will suffer the dire consequences.

    Be warned and beware!!

  124. I think the issue to support Labour because they are voted for by millions of workers and funded by the Trade Unions and that the Tories will be even worse – and by letting the Tories in, will be seen in a very poor light by millions of workers is what he was trying to get across as I understood.

    A fair enough position, but I think its far better for the awful breed that run new labour to take a good hammering – especially cabinet ministers and that the trade Unions etc pull the strings after the election – New Labour have done awful things in my and millions of other working class peoples names – and as we said in the anti war movement was – “NOT IN MY NAME!”

    Support good Labour MP’s who promote socialist policies(about 6)and reject the rest of the dross – by voting for the best placed left in each constituency

  125. mark anthony france [independent parliamentary candidate for Bromsgrove Consituency] on said:

    Well Well Well…. I really enjoyed observing Respect conference with representatives of the Jaqui Smith Must Go! Campaign from Redditch… I agree with comments that point to the mature approach of the conference and comments of little black sister in particular.
    RESPECT can win 3 seats.
    If RESPECT does this will represent the biggest breakthough for the working class and all the oppressed since the emergence of the Labour Party in the early years of the 20th Century.
    One of the most impressive things for me personally at RESPECT Conference was that Sparkbrook Councillor Mohammed Istiaq, without saying a word understood that me and my family are going through hard times since my victimisation and sacking by the DWP for organising the Julie Must Go Campaign in Bromsgrove.
    Councillor Istiaq supplied me with ciggarettes during the breaks in conference and at the end supplied me with a ‘doggy bag’ of 2 litres of beautiful curry 5 pounds of Rice and 10 Nan Bread….
    “From each according to their ability to each according to their needs”
    Mohammed Istiaq is a much better and practical ‘communist’ than many, many other ‘marxists’ that I know…
    The spirit of comradeship that exists inside RESPECT despite all the tactical differences should be cherished.

    Finally, I suggested to several National Committee Members that RESPECT in developing a positive ‘esprit de corps’ should adopt an Anthem to sing at the end of next years conference…
    I proposed ‘Jerusalem’… to facilitate a future alliance with the WI…in every English Village.
    Rob Hoverman furiously disagreed and insisted the Anthem of RESPECT should be Monty Python’s ‘Always Look On the Bright Side of Life’…..
    It is rumoured that Kevin Ovenden is forming a Faction in favour of the ‘Top Cat’ Theme Tune…

    Personally I am happy to leave the decision on what the Anthem should be to the new MP’s elected in 2010.

  126. mark anthony france [independent parliamentary candidate for Bromsgrove Consituency] on said:

    # 150 RobM no I was a Observer from the military wing of the North East Worcestershire Joint Endeavour for Welfare, Education and Liberation [NEW JEWEL]

    We demand compulsory National Service be reintroduced immediately…. and all young people between the ages of 18 and 21 be given military training and an automatic weapon…. and sent to do shopping for housebold elderly and disabled citizens.

    We demand this because the NEW JEWEL movement’s military wing is severely hammpered in it’s operations because we haven’t got any guns.

    On a more serious note … no I am not in the Green Party and am standing as an independent… the Green Party have indicated in the spirit of the Hall Green deal… that they will not stand a candidate in Bromsgrove.

    My campaign goes from strenght to strenght… why only last week I stood outside a council bonfire celebration with a bucket in the freezing cold for 3 hours and collected an impressive total of £25.58pence towards my Fighting Fund Target of £6,000…

    Comrades should soon be able to donate online at…. when I have paid for the webhosting… which should be in about a week after standing around dressed as Santa.

    Big up the Tamworth Posse!

  127. Armchair on said:

    #77 “But surely it’s time that we on the working-class left realised that uniting our own forces into a Workers Party of socialists and communists, united around the key aim of working class state power must be our first priority.”

    Karl S, DRB responded to this point #78, but I feel that I have to question you further.

    I believe very strongly that the medium term goal should be the creation of a mass socialist party to the left of the Labour Party. I also believe that such a party should aim to base itself on the working class, in all its diversity, and support working-class struggle.

    But what I have great difficulty with is the idea that a mass party can have as its central programmatic goal “working class state power”, not because I am opposed to the idea, but because I don’t believe that it is actually possible to reach sufficient agreement about what it means.

    Did the working-class hold state power in the USSR after the 1920s, in the DDR?
    Would a Labour Government with a 1970s style programme have constituted the working-class holding state power?

    Surely you realise that there are fundamental differences on this question among those who you would seek to unite in such a party.

    If you can’t agree about what a political position means, it is an abstraction, and you can’t build a party on abstractions.

    Do I want to fudge the question of revolution and reform? Categorically yes, along with a number of other questions.

  128. Stuart Graham on said:

    From what I could work out from the Respect conference, it has properly defined where it is in politics and it isn’t going to go down the dead end of British left sectarianism that deludes itself that it has real influence in the working class.
    Son of NO2EU (with the likely exception of Dave Nellist who has some roots) is a joke based on the usual workerist rubbish that parades as Marxism, but has nothing to do with it. Those on parade have no track record of fighting racism, have no contributuion to any anti-imperialist strategy, are usually white men. Among their ranks are definitley thgose who capitulate to ‘British Jobs’ and avoid any fight against islamaphobia.
    It seems Respect is intent on gulvanising progressive forces who break from new Labour, but not making the fundemental element of risking supporting joke candidates who mean resources are taken away from fighting the Tories. If they think that the Tories aren’t worse than what we have at present, they should just look at what the Tories are saying about Health, Education etc. As if labour wasn’t bad enough.
    It seems Respect is a serious organisation looking forward. If you want to link up with syndicalist non-politicos such as Bob Crow and failed sects such as SP – that’s up to you. But experience tells me you are wasting your time and no ‘left party’ will come out of it. (SP merging with CPB? Now we are in fantasy world!)

  129. unhelpful, over-blown nonsense. Sectarian ‘we are better than you, you are rubbish’ crap in place of unity building or real analysis. In fact everything you accuse you opponents of. And inaccurate too.

  130. prianikoff on said:

    #153 “Son of NO2EU (with the likely exception of Dave Nellist who has some roots) is a joke based on the usual workerist rubbish that parades as Marxism…”

    Well I went to their conference with an open mind and I have to say that I think your analysis here is what’s rubbish.

    I may not agree with all of Bob Crow’s politics, but to describe him as a “syndicalist non-politico” borders on the ludicrous.

    You seem to be applying the criterion of being able to win local or general elections to define “roots”, not the ability to win union elections, or to lead workers in struggle, like Keith Gibson did at Lindsey. This was a position that was supported by Respect’s Jerry Hicks, so if it’s capitulating to “British Jobs”, you have a problem there.

    The fact that the RMT has been excluded from the LP and that the CWU and PCS are considering their position is obviously of great significance to Socialists.
    The worst scenario would be if they break away, but don’t transfer their support to something better, either an alternative to New Labour within the LP, or a new mass organisation which isn’t a dead-end split.

    The RESPECT leadership are intoxicated by the very limited electoral opportunities they see opening up before them. Chasing the hope of three MP’s, they’re prepared to enter into an opportunist political bloc with the Greens. A party that’s moved to the right almost everywhere else in the world! A strategy is based on petty electoral arithmetic.

  131. Ger Francis on said:

    ‘Chasing the hope of three MP’s, they’re prepared to enter into an opportunist political bloc with the Greens.’

    Don’t you think this argument has been flogged to death now? We think the Greens are part of the left, with some candidates much more so than others. Nick Wrack and co, including yourself it appears, think otherwise, although were at pains to try hide that fact at conference. Anyway, discussion had, and conclusively won, that Respect should have a general orientation to the broad left, including sections of the far left. It is not a strategy based on ‘petty electoral arithmetic’. Rather, it is a view that if a mass party of the radical left is ever to be built, it has got to break out of the political ghetto many on the left seem so happy to occupy.

    ‘You seem to be applying the criterion of being able to win local or general elections to define “roots”, not the ability to win union elections, or to lead workers in struggle’

    This false polarization is tiresome. The stronger we get, the more we will be able to run a trade union department and have a more focused intervention in the trade union movement. But the hard fact of electoral politics is that in order to win you need ‘roots’ in defined geographical areas. And many workers live and work in different areas. You can have no roots in trade unions and still win elections, as long as you are rooted in the communities doing the electing. In my experience, it does not work the other way round. Trade union work and even high profile campaigning can compliment, but are no substitute. I would have thought that the fact Bob Crow polled the same number of votes as the SWP’s Lindsey German would have sobered you up to some realities about electoral work. And we will stand or fall as a radical party of the left by our ability to win elections. This is the brutal fact of life about the work we are engaged in, and this work is by far the most difficult for the radical left to advance in, as the record illustrates. Yet it is inconceivable that a broad socialist current, never mind a Marxist one, will assert itself sufficiently to impact on mass consciousness without such advance.

  132. In class terms the Greens are a petit-bourgeois party and as such can ally with either the bourgeoisie (as in Germany recently) or the working class. The British Greens have clearly taken a left trajectory in recent years and the left should support forming an alliance with the Greens. If comrades do not believe that the left should make alliances with left-wing petit-bourgeois forces and want to remain constricted to just ‘working class’ organisations then I suggest they go and read Lenin and then Gramsci.

  133. Armchair on said:

    I agree with the position arrived at by the Respect national conference, and with what Ger Francis says #156, but I find Stewart Graham’s comments to be a bit off the mark and unhelpful in terms of the need for ongoing collaboration.

    Not sure what you mean about “British jobs”. If you are referring to the Lindsey dispute, the SP people involved in its leadership precisely did not capitulate to BJ4BW and my understanding was that Respect correctly supported the dispute on the same basis.

    If Bob Crow is a syndicalist, why is he supporting an initiative around building a political alternative and standing in elections and why does he speak at political rallies on (for example) China?

    If the SP are merely a “sect”, why support Dave Nellist?

  134. prianikoff on said:

    Sorry, but this is just bonkers.
    The Greens are “part of the left”, but No2EU are just splitters who are letting the BNP in?

    I don’t think much of Respect’s chances of recruiting in the RMT, PCS or CWU.

    Interesting take on the development of a mass socialist politics too.
    Completely the opposite to what actually happened in Britain!
    But nevermind….

  135. Ger Francis on said:

    ‘The Greens are “part of the left”, but No2EU are just splitters who are letting the BNP in?’

    Is crass caricature the best you can do? We disagree with the NO2EU decision to stand in the NW and believe anti-fascism would have been better served by a united left response. But we will be calling for a vote for some ‘NO2EU’ candidates in the general election. And if you felt the position is ‘bonkers’ than you should have made the case at conference. It’s difficult to take you seriously.

    The rest of your comment is too vague to make any sense out of.

  136. little black sister on said:

    #159 To be precise, the Greens are part of the left, NO2EU is part of the left (just), but the difference is that the former is a serious mass party, whereas the latter is just ultra-left adventurism.

    i.e. the crucial difference is whether you actually represent anybody.

  137. #160 “the Greens are part of the left, NO2EU is part of the left (just), but the difference is that the former is a serious mass party, whereas the latter is just ultra-left adventurism.”

    Utter bunkum, if not blunt honesty, not the way of Socialists, but then again you lot are not!

  138. Anonymous on said:


    Spot on, Here we have an organisation at present with only a blank piece of paper for nominations, with a name that is a obsccre to working class voters and a tested and failed campaign in the North West, wanting to be the leading left force in the General Election. They, at the end of the day are playing into the hands of new labour. their cedentials is unknown names and their policies will be the ones already in the left movement.

  139. christian h. on said:

    I’m all for working with the Greens but “a serious mass party”? Really? This from the people who counsel “realism”? The fact is there’s no “serious mass party” left of Labour. Which is exactly why working together is a must.

  140. #161 And disrespect is going to fair better then Hmm.

    They will be in my humble opinion – wiped of the political face. All three of the anointed one-way chancers passed over!

  141. Anonymous on said:


    “I don’t think much of Respect’s chances of recruiting in the RMT, PCS or CWU.”

    I wonder how many in those unions actually vote for NO2EU??? I am not sure but I doubt it would that far into double figures in percentage wise

  142. Jonathan on said:

    For me, are two key facets of this conjuncture that determine whether to stand here, there, or anywhere.

    Is the left capable of mounting a challenge that won’t be humiliated, thereby advancing rather than undermining the cause?

    I think the answer to this question is ‘yes’ in a few places, mainly the places where Respect has a base. As mentioned elsewhere, I’ll be very surprised if they win any seats let alone 3, but will celebrate if they do. The horribly named’NO2EU’ will probably not mobilize enough forces and won’t have enough name recognition to have much impact, regardless of where it stands and what it calls itself. But, that in itself is no reason to vacate the field. Nor am I convinced that the Green Party is enough of an alternative to give them a clear run wherever they want it, although non-aggression pacts make sense in some cases. There are lots of good left greens, but as an organization, they do not have socialism as a goal and do not focus explicitly on building struggles against capitalism across the board.

    If the left stands, will it let the Tories or, worse, the BNP, in?

    In my view, those who are sufficiently hacked off with Labour (and the other mainstream parties) to think about voting BNP will not be persuaded back to the rotten and discredited mainstream. A Beackon style ‘don’t vote Nazi’ campaign will have far less resonance now than in 93. If that is right, it is incumbent on the left to offer a clear alternative based on the ‘politics of hope’. If we don’t, we are effectively vacating the field and leaving it to the fascists and other scumbags. So, I think a good left candidate could take votes and potential supporters from the Nazis – who probably can’t win a fptp seat anyway.

    The question of whether we care about splitting the Labour vote and letting in a Tory depends on a number of calculations to do partly with the credibility of the left challenge, the political character of the Labour candidate and the likely viciousness of the next Labour government. There is also the vexed question of how far we are a. defranchising a large minority by not standing or b. appearing sectarian in the eyes of organized workers who still invest some hope in Labour.

    On this, I am not sure – a case by case analysis will be needed. But, in principle, I would err towards the need to provide an alternative for those embittered by the crisis and disenfranchised by Labour. Large numbers of people who now despise Labour could well vote Tory or Lib Dem, just as they could well vote BNP. In other words, I think that New Labour’s credibility is now so in tatters that if a decent socialist candidate can be put up around a good campaign, it should be possible to attract reasonable numbers of people – some who would otherwise vote Labour and others who would no longer vote Labour under any circumstances. Winning seats is out of the question unless a unified, recognisable, and stable left coalition can be established. But, that ought not to be the factor determining whether to stand in the 2010 General Election. This exercise is primarily about winning people to the socialist cause and to socialist activity and assessing whether this or that course of action will achieve that outcome.

  143. Hopefully Bob Crow will stand against Griffin in Barking – offering a real working class left alternative to the BNP & New Labour and far better than just giving out moralistic leaflets about how nasty the BNP are. If you really think a call for a New Labour vote in Barking will work then you are, well frankly …… barking!

  144. Howard T on said:

    Jonathan (#168) addresses the questions, but there are too many ifs .(if)’a unified, recognisable, and stable left coalition can be established’. ‘if a decent socialist candidate can be put up around a good campaign, it should be possible to attract reasonable numbers of people’.
    I believe this to be wishful thinking. Respect has mass support in some – only some areas. That is some achievement, isn’t a national phenomenon and if it stood outside of Birmingham and Tower Hamlets would only get the sort of vote usually attributed to the far left – a complete waste of time. The Green Party have a chance in Brighton, maybe they have a case elesewhere, I don’t know.
    There are certain Labour candidates who are not going to be beaten by the Tories and a left candidate would make inroads – eg Dave Nellist in Coventry against Bob Ainsworth, I’m told.
    However, any election bloc that decides to stand anywhere else is a waste of resources and will not make any difference.
    Some of the left delude themselves that they have support, that the mass of the working class are just waiting for them to turn up and lead them away from supporting Labour. It isn’t like that, and never will be.
    Stop and think – if NO2EU had no impact when it was bound to attract the anti-Europe vote, why would SP and CPB plus Bob Crow have any impact in a Westminster Election?
    There isn’t a mass exit to the left, with the possible exception of the Green vote and Respect in a limited way, people will be thinking in exactly the terms of: can we stomach Labour again or switch to Lib Dems or Tories (ie the right). At least 80% of Labour’s lost votes since 1997 has gone to the right and the ‘left alternative’ has always been present. It hasn’t been credible, but it has been present.
    It would be nice to think the break up of social democracy was producing a leftward surge – but no amount of huffing and puffing will make that happen.
    If I’m sure the Tories won’t get in where I am (the Green showing is good, I’ll vote Green – the Tories aren’t in the running. However, if I had to choose between Labour or the Tories, between a rotten party backed by the unions with a few good MPs and still some good activists – or the Tories in government, I don’t need asking twice.

  145. Stuart Graham on said:

    #169 is the sort of irresponsible politics that the far left has banded about and it’s no wonder our numbers are declining. It’s not going to be a contest between bob Crow (as if he’s somehow seriously a left alternative).
    It’s between the horrid Margaret Hodge (who isn’t a fascist) and Nick Griffin.
    Asians living in the area suffer enough in terms of Islamaphobia and other forms of racism. It’s bad enough with a BNP presence and Hodge, what would it be if there was Nick Griffin MP? This isn’t the time to be flippant about fascism and if you think a left propaganda campaign is going to stop fascism, then you need to think of what in practice you are doing.

  146. I still can’t believe the pure venom and bile that so many on the left are pouring onto the No2EU initiative. Trade unions and socialists groups are coming together to try and build something, and you attack on the basis that it is trying to build something?!

    There is more to standing in elections than just trying to win votes, namely to raise the profile and the ideas of socialism. By standing, it will further cement the groups involved and hopefully bring more trade unionists onboard. By going out and campaigning, we would hope to show other unions that their is a way forward to fight back against the two party cartel we have at the moment. The very fact that No2EU hasn’t collasped, that it hasn’t weakened at all but in fact more concrete than before says that this isn’t something that will just go away. And we hope that we can work with Respect in their target areas and other independent lefts, hell, even the SWP if they come around. Needless to say, even after the election this coalition will be committing itself to fight beyond electoral politics. By the elections after, we may have the PCS, CWU and POA officially involved. Will you still attack us then as ultra leftists and sectarians?

    Or it might fail, and then collapse. And then you can all run around and say you told us so. But at the very least, we tried to achieve something, which is more than can be said for many of its detractors on this board.

  147. Karl Stewart on said:

    I agree the attacks from Respect on No2EU are quite venomous and also utterly irrational.

    Their constantly repeated smear that the No2EU Euro-election campaign helped the BNP is not only deeply offensive, it makes no sense whatsoever and certainly makes future co-operation with them difficult to say the least.

    However, regardless of the utter tripe that the George Galloway fan club comes out with, we do need to recognise that there is a long way to go from what No2EU was to what we actually need.

    There is very little concrete information available even now, as to exactly where we are with a proposed successor organisation for the next election and very little information about what policies are, who is standing and where.

    For example, there are some seats – both Barking and Dagenham for example – where we should not consider standing – and we need to be clear on this.

    There also must be serious efforts made to get the SWP on board, along with both the CP and SP.

    And the name must actually tell people what we are and what we’re about. When we were campaigning for “No2EU” last time, I lost count of the times people asked if we were something to do with Uk!

    So, lots to do and little time in which to do it.

  148. Honestly, this is getting really silly. These issues expose political differences and tactical discussions. Talk of bile and venom is simply irresponsible.

    Respect has not been invited to take part in this initiative (and has chosen to stand in the elections under it’s own name) but has given it’s backing to the only declared candidate of the as yet un-named coalition – Dave Nellist. Respect will take decisions on a case by case basis. We will look at what we believe advances the prospects of the broad left. I’m sure Respect will offer its support to other ‘coalition’ candidates but we can’t as yet because nobody knows who they are or where they are standing.

    Respect has given its conference approval to it’s members standing for this coalition should they chose to. This is hardly bile and venom. What we do not believe is that this ‘coalition’ is the only show in town, nor the acme of working class politics.

    Now many of us believe that No2EU were wrong to stand in the NW Euros, equally we would think they would be wrong to stand in Brighton Pavilion (but for different reasons. These are tactical questions and more will be needed but until some candidates are announced its all smoke and mirrors.

    Several times in recent days I have asked supporters of this putative coalition where they think they may get decent votes. It surely shouldn’t be too hard to answer that question. Huddersfield? Carlisle? Wythenshawe? This is a genuine question. Any answers?

  149. just passing on said:

    Is this still going on?

    Perhaps all the huff and puff and energy should be going into a campaign.

    As this no2you has not got itself up and running after its sad defeat last time around the Respect Party is up and running they have chosen the Name the time and the place so if you really are all so concerned about making that difference you all propose to be doing from the armchairs, I suggest turn your energy into something more productive and get out on the campaign
    Help with whats on offer go for what is there

    There is a real chance of winning seats so bury the hatchet and get out there.

  150. #174 To clarify, when I said venom and bile, it wasn’t directed at everyone who had political differences with No2EU and whats being developed now, but those who just condemn it outright with little or no argument.

    Respect had a debate and vote, I personally disagree with it, but I respect their decision (no pun intended), especially given that not all groups can claim to go through such a democratic process. They have a strong base in certain areas, and I doubt anyone in the coalition can dispute that and we may even come to back them in the elections, or at the very least, ensure we don’t hurt their campaign. No2EU doesn’t claim to be the left electoral coalition, merely the beginning of what hopefully will be a broader trade union back group that could form the basis of a new workers party based on the unions. This is obviously a long way off, but this is what needs to happen to represent working class people.

    As the previous poster also stated, discussions are still being had, there is a lot to sort out and not much time. I’m never going to say the original NO2EU platform was perfect, however it was the start of something that has a lot of potential. When things have been firmed up more, then I’m sure we’ll be coming back to electoral tactics a lot more.

  151. Armchair on said:

    Little Black Sister and Stewart Graham- YOUR POSITION IS CORRECT, NOW FUCKING LEAVE IT.

    Why is it necessary to insult and demean the people you have tactical differences with?

    How about just getting on with what needs to be done?

  152. “I’m all for working with the Greens but “a serious mass party”? Really? This from the people who counsel “realism”? The fact is there’s no “serious mass party” left of Labour. Which is exactly why working together is a must.”

    Yes, realism now means working with those who once formed NO2EU. Without the broad left standing candidates in this election we’ll never build continuity and an electoral presence. It’s no use relying on a few hopefuls. What if they don’t do well? We need to invest in candidates now so that we can grow in the future.

    On a side note it’s a shame that someone like Ken Livingstone isn’t standing for New Labour in Barking. Not that I’m too fond of him cosying up to the City during his stint as major but if anyone in New Labour could trounce Griffin it might be him.

  153. Larry N on said:

    Respect and the Greens cannot stand everywhere in the next General Election. That does mean we are aware that tactically we must help and support like minded platforms, and those would be as Kevin Ovenden states, ” the sensible ones”. So most of us realise that includes NO2EU targeted seats.

    The Respect Party has an opportunity to increase it seat in Westminster to three or more and we should be focussed to achieve that end. Until the NOEU slate of constituencies. is revealed, comrades on the “unity left” side and we are, have every right to behave as Jerimiahs.

  154. Karl Stewart on said:

    Larry, Respect has every right to say and do as it pleases, no-one’s arguing with that.

    But if Respect has any thoughts at all for future co-operation, then it needs to stop poisoning potential relationships with the repeated smear about No2EU “helping the BNP.”

    The accusation is irrational and illogical and causes deep offence.

    As I’ve explained elsewhere, yes, using a crude mathematical process, you could, in theory, add the north west No2EU Euro votes to the Green total.

    But you could also, and equally pointlessly, add the Green votes to the Labour total and argue that they should have withdrawn too.

    Neither exercise is at all helpful.

  155. Larry N on said:

    Hodges’s and her ilk’s track record will not be the only factor that will help the BNP. A disunited left will be the main reason if they peak at the general election.

    I suggest NO2EU be as transparent as possible to fraternal parties as quickly as posible. The sooner the better in order dispel my fears that the only benefactor will be the right,chiefly New labour.

    I am dismayed at Karl’s and Ger Francis’s readiness to embrace a tested and failed project now reforming in what state, we do not know. Ger and Karl could sell me the Brooklyn bridge but Never a pig in a pok

  156. external bulletin on said:

    Larry, I think you’ve misread the comments – Ger is on the same side as you! Ger is very much part of the same thinking as Kevin Ovenden, you and me.

  157. Larry N on said:

    I have peobably not taken in his words fully and properly or maybe its the old Jerimiah in meeting shouting doom!

  158. Dear Socialist V (#174)

    Thanks for your clarification. I really hope that Respect and No2EU’s new incarnation (please hurry up with a name for everyone’s sake) can work positively – even when not formally linked. I’m sure you’ll find some Respect members on your lists even. We do have tactical differences – but that should not stop us supporting each other where we each think this makes a sense.

    My question about places where you think you can do well is important. I know Respect has people who would like to stand in areas where we think you might also want to stand. We are holding back making announcements because we thought your own processes would be further advanced. So some indication would be helpful? I’m not trying to bounce people but the election timetable is ticking.

  159. Molotov on said:

    News from the Bookmakers on the three target seats of Respect. Respect to win Bethnal Green and Bow 7-4 against. Respect to win Poplar and Limehouse 7-1 against. Respect to win Birmingham Hall Green 12-1 against. These odds will not be available for long, not least because I’m about to wager a substantial bet. Sceptics please note. At 7-4 against, Abjol Miah of Respect, in the opinion of the bookies, is the favourite to win in BG&Bow.

  160. Larry N on said:

    External Bulletin, I have been to the NO2EU website and it has not been active for months. All its material is related to recent EU election work.

    They will not come accoss as a vibrant option for the working class voter, who will see them as here today and gone tomorrow,with an obscure name that one has to decipher.

    To me it smack a lot like the “Wobblies” ( anarcho syndaclists) chasing seasonal work and being socialist missionaries as well.

    The middle classes and middle England will choose UKIP, if NO2EU stand on that name and reject them. They need a cuddly toy name.

    So whose ground are they after? You do not need to be a rocket scientist to work out the consequences for left unity. I do not think they should be even in the start up.

    I have considered Ger’s post and I withdraw the pig in the poke aside as that is more apt for Karl Stewart and the “2010 con of the NO2EU”

  161. Karl Stewart on said:

    Larry, I always try to answer when people directly criticise ideas and arguments I’ve put forward.
    I welcome criticism of my ideas, because exchange of competing ideas is how we all learn.
    However, I’m not entirely sure of the point you’re making here.

    Are you urging the non-Labour left not to stand in Barking against Hodge?
    If so, that’s what I’ve been arguing too – as has Ger for that matter, one example of common ground between us despite many other differences.

    Are you saying those who organised the No2EU Euro-election campaign need to get their act together and get a move on if they’re hoping to be involved in the general election?
    Again, I couldn’t agree more. They’ve spent the last five months fannying about and getting nothing done – yes, they need a rocket up their collective arse to get a move on.

    Are you saying No2EU was a poor choice of name?
    Yes it was. We need a name that tells people what we are and what we’re about. Not something that gets mistaken for Ukip.

    So where exactly in priciple do we disagree?

  162. Lib Dems ask Eaton to fight Barking and Dagenham seat to keep Griffin out

    20 November 2009
    RUMOUR has it that one East End politician has been approached to fight to keep BNP leader Nick Griffin out of Westminster.

    Tower Hamlets Lib Dem leader Stephanie Eaton is said to be thinking about a ‘flattering ‘ offer to fight for the Barking and Dagenham seat which Mr Griffin has got in his sight.

    Labour’s Minister of State for Culture, Media and sport currently holds the seat and has a 8,883 majority and will be defending her seat.

    Ms Eaton is a senior lecturer in criminology at Kingston University represents Bethnal Green North on Tower Hamlets council and is one of four Lib Dem councillors in the borough.

    She has seats on the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, audit panel, standards and strategic development committees, overview and health scrutiny bodies.

    Ms Eaton (Mrs David Edgar)is wed to the Nu Labour X lead member of housing in Tower Hamlets and also works in the next office to Rushara Ali who is the prospective MP candidate for the Nu Labour seat in Bethnal Green and Bow

  163. Could someone please clarify:

    Is Respect backing Caroline Lucas’s Brighton Pavilion candidacy?

    Is Respect backing Peter Tatchell’s Oxford East candidacy?

    Is Peter Cranie standing in the General Election and if so, is Respect backing him too?

    Also, are there any other Green or left candidates Respect is backing?

  164. I understand Valerie Wise is to stand under the Respect label in Preston, under the stewardship (no pun intended) of Cllr Lavalette.

    Is “Son of NO2EU” going to be able to find a name that is acceptable to the Electoral Commission? Think they’re running out of names with “socialist” or “workers” in the title 🙂

  165. Larry N on said:

    Karl, there is no mileage or life in NO2EU’s lack of presentation to the non left of labour. their support is that of the rope around the condemned man’s neck. I believe that quote is attributed to Lenin about social democrats. How apt that desciption is today when refering to the NO2EU.

    Of course I come over as Jerimiah, The prophet of doom. I believe they have got to be opposed in their entirety. if people like yourself,Ger, and kevin think there is “sensible ones”, its with reluctance I will support it. I have no choice, as I am guided by democratic centralism. I for one accept conference decisions and the core leadership to implement it.
    My expressed fears are not suppressed parania.

  166. Clive Searle on said:

    John #188

    I suppose the honest answer is that Respect’s new incoming National Council will have to make those calls in line with the policy passed at the conference. Interim decisions between NCs can be taken by the officers.

    But I can see no reason at all that will stop Respect giving its full support to Caroline. I’ll give my personal support now and fully expect it to follow from the party nationally. The same will follow for Peter Tatchell, Peter Cranie and I hope a list of other Green candidates as well. We’ll also give our support to Dave Nellist, we have already pledged support for Val Wise and for Dai Davies. As other candidates become clear we will make decisions on a case by case basis.

  167. David Ellis (point 49) said Respect “will continue with its criticisms of NLs record and manifesto which includes the privatisation of NHS Trusts john Lewis style.”

    As I have pointed out elsewhere ( which includes a link to the Guardian front page article outlining the proposal), the “John Lewis” proposal is actually democratic workers’ and users’ control of public servioes, including schools, hospitals, housing associations and leisure centres. It is what Marxists (including in my former organisation, Militant/the Socialist Party) have been arguing for, for years.

    I heard a Scottish Socialist Party member at the Call for a New Anti-Capitalist Party rally in London last month say he opposed John Lewis-style services too. When finally Labour comes up with a really brilliant proposal, much of the left opposes it. Crazy!

    What is needed to unite the genuine left is a revolutionary anti-capitalist party. See

  168. Sparky Hill on said:

    #195 “I am sure everyone is aware that “Respect The Unity Coalition” was deregistered (removed) from the Register of Political Parties in November. The name cannot be used on ballot papers as a result.”

    ….in the north of Ireland