Socialist Worker

Stop the attacks on the left vision for Respect

by Chris Bambery
Issue No. 2075

Many Respect supporters joined the campaign to ensure George Galloway was elected for Respect in the 2005 general election. Many thousands were inspired by a coalition that brought together diverse forces in united opposition to the war, social injustice

Many Respect supporters joined the campaign to ensure George Galloway was elected for Respect in the 2005 general election. Many thousands were inspired by a coalition that brought together diverse forces in united opposition to the war, social injustice


Never has there been a greater need for a radical challenge to the pro-war, pro-free market consensus represented by Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

Yet there is a growing crisis threatening the existence of Respect – the most successful left challenge Labour has faced in over half a century.

Respect came into existence as a coalition reflecting the major forces in the anti-war movement.

The Socialist Worker Party (SWP) and Muslim activists were the two biggest components of Respect but the aim was to broaden support to encompass the growing numbers leaving New Labour and the rich mix which makes up today’s working class.

Arguments

Underlying the current arguments is a growing acceptance by some that it’s only Muslim votes that can ensure electoral success.

That has led to a dropping of the original conception of Respect as a wider working class organisation.

Respect MP George Galloway and his supporters have led a sustained campaign to drive the SWP and those who share the original vision of Respect out of the coalition.

Last week they asked that the SWP simply quit Respect. The SWP, which helped initiate the coalition and has been at the heart of its success, refused.

Then they issued a letter stating John Rees, Respect national secretary and SWP member, should be considered removed from his position and that the SWP had “split” from Respect.

A spokesman for George Galloway told the press, “John Rees and with him the leadership have declared that they are splitting…

“The SWP leadership by its actions has walked away from Respect.”

Elections

He then added, “In no sense can Lindsey German therefore be considered the Respect candidate in the forthcoming London elections.”

The SWP, and all those who have rallied to defend the very presence of socialists within the coalition, have made it very clear that we have no intention of quitting or splitting from Respect.

John Rees was elected as Respect’s national secretary and cannot be removed by issuing a letter or by a press statement from a spokesman for George Galloway.

That decision can only be taken through the democratic structures of the coalition agreed by the coalition’s national conference.

Lindsey German was selected as Respect’s London mayoral candidate at a 300 strong meeting of London Respect members.

This attempted coup, organised by a minority within Respect, means riding roughshod over democratic decisions without any reference to Respect’s membership.

Conference

These manoeuvres are being made just a fortnight away from Respect’s annual conference.

The only place to resolve the differences in Respect is the national conference, which will take place on 17 November and to which Respect branches across England and Wales have elected delegates and submitted motions.

All those who share the original vision of Respect as an inclusive coalition with a strong socialist component should reject the attempted coup in Respect and the attempt to declare the SWP expelled through email and press statements.

We should let Respect’s membership decide and let Respect’s national conference resolve these differences.


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