Respect supporters from across the north west of England flocked to Preston last Sunday to get Respect councillor Michael Lavalette's campaign for re-election off to a buoyant start.
Michael has been a key campaigner over a number of issues since he was elected in the Preston Town Centre ward in 2003. He is standing for re-election in the May elections.
Campaigners leafleted thousands of homes. The great turnout from supporters, and their enthusiam, show how important Michael has been in the last few years.
Activists were keen to voice their support. Estelle Cooch, a student from Cardinal Newman College in Preston, told Socialist Worker, 'Michael came to my college and has involved lots of students in campaigns like Make Poverty History.
'He also takes a stand on Stop the War and Palestine. I went on the fantastic delegation with Michael from Preston to Palestine in 2004.'
Anne Saxon from Manchester said, 'I've come today because Michael Lavalette is an excellent councillor and is at the heart of the movement in the north west. It's vital we get him re-elected.'
Steve Ndugo, an asylum seeker from Manchester, said, 'As asylum seekers we are often treated like rubbish. Because of the way the government is handling affairs, things are moving in a bad direction.
'We can help to change things by electing left wing representatives. More socialists will help to fight for better treatment of immigrants.'
Sufiya from Nelson said, 'I support Respect because it is the only party that does what it says. It's against exploitation and doesn't leave anything out. Joining Respect means you're not isolated. It's beautiful.'
Clive Searle, a teacher from Bolton, had travelled up to join the campaigning. Clive said, 'In the north west, Michael represents the fact that an alternative to war and privatisation can win.
'New Labour would love to say that Michael's victory in 2003 was a flash in the pan. But Michael's victory represents the future. His re-election will give confidence to people whether they're fighting against war or privatisation in the NHS.'
Yasmin Kayberry, a student from Manchester Metrepolitan University, said, 'It is important to get Michael re-elected so we can have a stronger voice for ideals of peace and equality. Michael has spoken at my university to raise solidarity for Palestine.'
Michael Lavalette said he was 'delighted with the fantastic turnout'. He said, 'It's great to see so many people from outside the area, as it shows people realise the importance to Respect as a whole to retain this seat in Preston.
'The Labour Party knows this is an important seat. We know it too – and the gloves are definitely now off.'
Respect is standing in four wards across Preston in the May elections.
For more information or how to get involved in the campaign go to www.prestonrespect.org