Respect supporters are campaigning across England and Wales to get the biggest possible vote in the upcoming elections.
Respect is standing 42 council candidates in different parts of England on 3 May. The party is also standing four candidates in the Welsh Assembly elections.
Respect MP George Galloway is going to Birmingham this weekend to launch the campaign in the north of the city. He will take part in a walkabout with candidates Raghib Ahsan and Abdul Aziz. Galloway recently launched the campaign in the south at a meeting which attracted 350 people.
In Sheffield, Respect candidates have highlighted the plight of thousands of people stuck on the council housing list for years as homes are demolished and land sold off to private developers.
Maxine Bowler, who is standing in Burngreave ward, told Socialist Worker, “Respect wants to see an end to this crazy demolitons policy and a return to affordable social housing for all those who need it. We must build more council homes, not knock them down.”
In Luton, Respect’s campaign kicked off last week with a 40-strong meeting with its four candidates.
Stephen Coghlan, a teacher at a sixth form college, told Socialist Worker, “I am standing in Biscot ward in Luton alongside Leslie Smith, a school governor and an anti-academies activist. Mobeen Qureshi and Raja Hassan are standing in Dallow ward. We’re very upbeat about the campaign – we’ve already leafleted the two wards twice.
“When Labour were in power here they cut old people’s homes. They lost the 2003 local elections and the Liberal Democrat-Tory coalition council has continued the cuts.
“We’ll be campaigning on local issues, as well as national ones such as the war and opposing the Trident nuclear weapons replacement.
“Around 30 people were out canvassing last Sunday and we are out canvassing every evening. We’re also holding a dinner and dance fundraiser this Saturday in the evening.”
Respect’s candidate for Lemyngton ward in Loughborough, Leicestershire, is Wayne Muldoon. Wayne was a Labour councillor for 12 years until he recently decided to join Respect. Since then he has spoken at meetings for Respect groups across the Midlands.
Wayne said, “This election gives us a chance to cast a verdict on the wasted opportunities of the Tony Blair years. Respect wants our country to be a country for peace not war.
“But it’s not just the big national issues. On policies such as housing, New Labour dominated Charnwood council has set up an Almo option, which is privatisation by another name. I’ve met with local council tenants to campaign to defend council housing.”
Mike Thompson, Wayne’s election agent, reports, “When Wayne joined Respect, we immediately produced a leaflet in which Wayne explained why he had left Labour and joined Respect.
“This was distributed three weeks ago to every house in the ward. Every house has now had a copy of our first election leaflet, and the work is paying off.
“We’re building up a network of supporters, many of who think of themselves as Labour but see that New Labour has abandoned them to serve the interests of big business.”
Sheridan and Galloway at Solidarity rallies
George Galloway MP is set to join Tommy Sheridan MSP at rallies in Edinburgh and Glasgow on Wednesday 25 April to help boost Solidarity’s campaign in the Scottish elections.
Solidarity is standing in all eight of Scotland’s regions for the elections to the Scottish Parliament on 3 May.
Calling all London members
In 2004 Lindsey German came within a whisker of being elected to the Greater London Assembly (GLA). It was an impressive performance by a party which was just months old.
There will be GLA elections in May next year. Polls show 20 percent of London voters will reject the three main parties. Respect needs just over 5 percent to win a candidate on the GLA. We can achieve this goal if we start campaigning now.
There is a very important meeting on Monday of next week for all Respect members in London. We will be voting to select our candidates for mayor and for the GLA list.
The meeting takes place on Monday 16 April, 6pm, at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London WC1. Speakers include George Galloway MP, John Rees and Lindsey German.
For a full list of candidates go to www.respectcoalition.org