Socialist Worker

Respect rises across the country

Issue No. 2050

Mohammed Ishtiaq

Mohammed Ishtiaq


Birmingham Respect supporters are celebrating a brilliant set of results that further establish it as a major party across the city.

Across the seven wards that Respect stood in, it won 12,398 votes – around 24 percent of the vote cast across those wards.

Respect won a seat in the Sparkbrook ward, came second in two wards and third in another four.

Respect beat the Tories, the Greens and the fascist British National Party in every seat it contested.

Respect candidate Mohammed Ishtiaq was elected in Sparkbrook ward in south Birmingham with 3,514 votes – over 1,000 more than the Labour Party runner up received.

He told Socialist Worker, “We did a lot of hard work in this election and it paid off.

“People are sick of the second class service that inner city areas are receiving from the mainstream parties.

“People know that Respect speaks out for them.

“I have already been out over the weekend visiting people in the ward and trying to sort out some of the problems they have.

“Nobody has listened to people or really tried to help them for a long time, so it is important that we take this work seriously.

“If we keep our hopes up and keep speaking the truth, we can definitely build on this brilliant result.”

Respect candidate Mohammed Suleman won over 2,000 votes in the Springfield ward.

He told Socialist Worker, “Winning another council seat shows people that Respect can challenge Labour and the Lib Dems and win seats from them.

“It gives people confidence that Respect is not just a one-off success story but that we are here to stay.

“The mainstream parties try to spread the lie that Respect only cares about the war and that we are not really interested in what happens in the local area.

“But when we knocked on doors, people found out that we care about a lot of other issues.

“In Springfield ward, for example, there are a lot of problems with youth unemployment so we met with local youth organisations to discuss what we can do about this.

“Housing is another big issue around here. When we were out campaigning we met some families who have been waiting for more than five years to be housed by the council.

“Single parents and young people starting out can’t afford the house prices, so the lack of social housing hits them hard. Even disabled people are having problems getting housing. So that is another issue that we urgently need to address.

“Respect has brought a different sort of politics to people. It has also scared the Labour party and the Lib Dems.

“I have lived in this ward for 30 years, and I have never seen the local Labour MP out campaigning until this election.

“We still have a lot of work to do in Birmingham, but people are learning that we care about our communities, and we have a lot of successes to build on.”

Housing

As well as the victories, there were excellent results in many other areas such as Bristol, Cambridge, Halifax, Leicester and Sheffield.

Standing in the Burngreave ward in Sheffield, Maxine Bowler came second with 1,290 votes. She said, “We have had a fantastic campaign in Sheffield, and Respect came second in two wards – a sign that voters take Respect seriously.

“We focused a lot of the campaign on things like the ridiculous Labour policy of selling off council housing. There are thousands of people on waiting lists for council homes in Sheffield, far more people than available homes.

“And when you show that you will fight alongside people on the issues that matter, you show the real difference between Respect and the other parties.

“Our support is growing in Sheffield, and we will continue to fight to show that Respect is a real alternative.”

Tom Woodcock stood for Respect in the Romsey ward in Cambridge. He told Socialist Worker, “Support for Respect has grown in Cambridge where I have stood for election for the last two council elections.

“Respect has shown that we do well where we put a socialist argument for better public services and for a planned and collective approach to tackling climate change, poverty and war.

“Where we stood in Cambridge, the Respect campaign has helped move the political agenda back towards the left by creating a real debate around how we tackle housing, health, education and transport.

“We have put forward a robust opposition to privatisation. We have started a fight back and a platform from which we can gain confidence to mount a real challenge to Gordon Brown’s pay freeze and New Labour’s continuing cuts in health and education.

“We won 17 percent of the vote – up from 12 percent last year – because Respect is now established as a credible force in Cambridge.

“What is significant is that we have picked up votes from across the board – with the exception of the Tories, whose vote stayed static at 11 percent.

“All of the other parties lost votes to us because we had a clear analysis of how local politics and national and international issues are related. The Labour vote continued to collapse in an area that was once known as the heart of the local Labour movement.

“We’ve presented a positive alternative, while centre right politics has led to low turnouts and a further undermining of the established electoral process.

“We feel we are beginning to rebuild the links and spirit of trade unionism in the ward and real socialist principles go down well among a constituency that has a high proportion of public sector workers, council tenants, students and pensioners.”

For a full list of Respect results, go to May 2007 election results for Respect and Solidarity

Maxine Bowler

Maxine Bowler


Tom Woodcock

Tom Woodcock



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