Socialist Worker

Desperate moves fail to block Respect conference

by Chris Bambery
Issue No. 2076

Respect Tower Hamlets councillors and supporters joined last Saturday’s march for the NHS (Pic: Tower Hamlets Respect)

Respect Tower Hamlets councillors and supporters joined last Saturday’s march for the NHS (Pic: Tower Hamlets Respect)


Respect’s annual national conference is going ahead on Saturday of next week – despite attempts to prevent it from happening.

Elected delegates from Respect branches across England and Wales will gather at the University of Westminster in central London on Saturday 17 November.

These delegates will represent the majority of Respect’s membership.

They include representatives of Student Respect groups which have mushroomed across the campuses and who George Galloway and his supporters attempted to bar from attending.

They will include scores of Muslim members of Respect – many from Tower Hamlets – in answer to claims that Galloway has their overwhelming support.

Maxine Bowler from Sheffield is proud of the record of her local Respect group, which has strong links with the Yemeni community.

“In Sheffield we’ve had no splits in Respect, and all but one of us have signed the letter condemning the witch-hunt against the left,” Maxine said.

“We are not isolated and it’s nonsense to say the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) has ‘alienated’ the Muslim community.

Delegation

“In fact people are disgusted that while we’ve been fighting around real issues such as council housing, Galloway’s supporters have been busy wrecking Respect.

“Our delegation will be working together for a successful conference.”

The delegates will gather in defiance of attempts to deny them the chance to discuss and decide on the issues that have divided the coalition for the past three months.

George Galloway’s followers, in contrast, have announced that they will be holding a breakaway “Respect Renewal” rally on the same day elsewhere in London.

This action, announced last weekend, shows flagrant disregard for the membership and democratic structures of Respect.

The letter supporting the formation of “Respect Renewal” has been signed by 19 members of the 50 strong Respect national council.

Their decision to split follows the failure of a coup attempt against the elected leadership of Respect.

Last week saw Galloway’s spokespeople issuing a variety of emails and press briefings declaring that the coalition’s national secretary John Rees and London mayoral candidate Lindsey German had been removed from their elected positions.

Having taken it upon themselves to try to topple conference decisions by press statements, Galloway’s followers then changed the locks on Respect’s national office.

Manoeuvres

This denied Respect’s staff and officers access to the building – thus ensuring there were no Respect placards on the NHS Together demonstration last Saturday.

None of these increasingly desperate manoeuvres have stopped ordinary Respect members at branches across the country from overwhelmingly supporting the national conference and electing delegates to it.

On 17 November they will gather at the constitutionally convened conference of Respect to have their say, determined that they will not denied that right. Join them.

Contact Respect, email office@respectcoalition.org or phone 07950 735 390


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