A systematic campaign that sunk roots across a working class community paid dividends for Respect supporters in Brent, north west London, as they celebrated coming third in a council by-election on Thursday of last week.
Respect’s candidate Sarah Cox polled 8.6 percent of the vote in Stonebridge ward, beating both the Tories and the Greens. Labour held the ward, beating off a challenge from the Liberal Democrats.
Stonebridge is a solidly working class ward with an extremely diverse population, including white, African Caribbean, Somali and Asian communities.
The result puts Respect in a strong position to win seats on the London Assembly at the London elections in May next year.
During the campaign Respect struck a chord among former Labour voters who were disillusioned with the mainstream parties and looking for a radical alternative.
It recruited several key local activists and has now established a solid presence in the ward.
“Our support came from every part of this diverse community and from old and young alike,” Sarah told Socialist Worker. “It shows Respect has the potential to grow in every working class area where people’s lives are blighted by privatisation, poor housing and low wages.”
Respect activists involved in the campaign attributed its success to the strength of the local candidate – Sarah is a retired local teacher with contacts across the area – and to the systematic canvassing work undertaken in the ward.
The entire ward was canvassed and leafleted at least once, and a slick polling day operation saw some 50 Respect activists across London helping out.
“This is a real indication of what Respect can do if you focus a campaign,” said Ken Montague, Sarah’s election agent.
Now Respect is building on the links it has made.
Respect campaigners leafleting a march against gun crime in Stonebridge were last weekend were well received, with many local people pledging to come to a Respect public meeting on the issue slated for 27 September.
|Zaffar Van Kalwala||Labour||1,432||51.9||ELECTED|
|Sandra Elina Wiltshire||Liberal Democrats||864||31.3|