Socialist Worker

We're tapping the mood against New Labour

With less than two weeks to go before the 10 June elections, Respect candidates have been out around the country. They have had an amazing reception

Issue No. 1903

  • YVONNE RIDLEY, the journalist, is heading up the Respect list in the north east of England.

    YVONNE SAYS her diary is "filling up with events". The campaign is focused on "going round places passing out the Respect message". The meetings are proving a hit with the public, regularly attracting hundreds of people. Respect received a surprise endorsement at one recent meeting held in Darlington. Bob Clay, the former left wing Labour MP for Sunderland North, unexpectedly turned up and gave Respect his backing. "It was a tremendous boost," says Yvonne.

    Other recent Respect meetings include an event at Newcastle University organised by students, which attracted 400 people. "I talked about my experiences in Afghanistan and about civil rights," says Yvonne. "People's civil liberties are being eroded by hysteria over terrorism," she adds.

    Respect is attracting a "real cross-section of people", adds Yvonne. "It's fantastic. We're getting support from large numbers of Muslims, young people and disenfranchised socialists." The local press in the north east has been "tremendous and very supportive", adds Yvonne. "There are many factors involved," she says. "I'm from the north east, and of course there's my 'notoriety' or 'celebrity'."

    But the key element is tapping anti-war sentiment on the streets. "There are a lot of disenfranchised people out there," she says. Many of them are tuning into Respect's message-including traditional Labour supporters who are voting Respect because they see it as "the only way of saving Labour".

    Yvonne is confident that the Respect campaign can build up enough momentum to make a real splash on 10 June. "The European elections are going to be interesting this time!" she says.

  • ANAS ALTIKRITI leads the Respect list in Yorkshire & the Humber.

    "THE CAMPAIGN is now opening up in a very exciting way. There are large numbers of people who are asking serious questions about the war, the Labour Party and their political loyalties. "At one time meetings could attract 80 or 100 people. Now when I speak there are audiences of 200 to 250.

    "Let me give the example of Dewsbury. This is an area where many thousands of Muslims live, but there was a great wariness about political activity in the past. "That has now been transformed. Suddenly there is a readiness to listen to the message that Respect is bringing. We were expecting a very good turnout at a meeting in Dewsbury this week.

    "This campaign is obviously not just about Muslims. We are getting a warm welcome from people who are bitterly angry with the government and the behaviour of ministers.

    "We are bringing a positive message. The BNP feeds on despair, division and racism. The mainstream parties have utterly failed to address the threat posed by the BNP. "Respect is the only party that is both confronting the BNP's lies and opposing completely the racism that helps the BNP.

    "Respect is the culmination of a struggle that has shaken the world, and now brings the prospect of politics without the ingredients of self serving actions, short term solutions and out of touch policies.

    "Respect provides the answer for those searching for a way out of the political quagmire that threatens all our futures." Anas Altikriti is the former president of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB). MAB is officially encouraging a vote for the Respect list headed by him at the Euro elections. MAB has also called for a Respect vote in the West Midlands, North East and London constituencies.

  • JOHN REES is leading the Respect list in the West Midlands.

    HE TOLD Socialist Worker, "The campaign is going well-everywhere you go there is an enormous and immediate acceptance of Respect. Now it is a race against time to let enough people know about it before the ballot." Respect has been working with the People's Justice Party (PJP) in the West Midlands. The PJP has two councillors.

    The PJP is standing in 17 wards in the local council elections, while backing Respect for the European elections. John says, "There was a huge joint meeting of around 600 people in east Birmingham on Sunday night.

    "I spoke alongside George Galloway, Respect candidate Salma Yaqoob, Raghib Ashan from the PJP and Allah Ditta, a PJP councillor. "Raghib talked about how the Labour Party's vote had collapsed in some inner city areas.

    "He had been around 200 houses canvassing, and said that there were only two people planning to support Labour." John Rees also spoke at a public meeting to launch Respect in Telford on Saturday. Around 60 people attended, more than any of the anti-war meetings in the town.

    On Friday of last week there was a meeting of 80 representatives from Birmingham mosques. They discussed Respect.


    Wheels turn for Galloway's campaign

    RESPECT MP George Galloway took west London by storm on Friday of last week. From dawn until dusk he was out campaigning on the streets and getting a fantastic response. After visiting the central mosque in Regent's Park, George hit Golborne Road in the heart of the Moroccan community with his Respect battlebus.

    Crowds of people were waiting for him in the cafes to give him a warm welcome. George gave an impromptu speech that was translated into Arabic. Human, who joined the battlebus as it toured the constituency, said, "George was really interesting. He was very clear, very simple and I loved the way he talked to people."

    A young student, Aymen, who joined Respect and then joined the tour for the rest of the day, said, "It was a great turnout and it was really inspirational." Three Moroccan women were on the bus all day campaigning and making speeches in Arabic after helping to leaflet Regent's Park mosque. They also helped organise the leafleting of their estate.

    George Galloway's tour started in Fulham's North End Road market, where he visited shops and stalls and continued to Shepherd's Bush market. Shoppers in High Street Kensington gave George a great response, with people sounding their horns, giving the thumbs up and taking leaflets.

    George rounded off the day by joining Respect London mayoral candidate Lindsey German to address a well attended public meeting in Westbourne Park. He then visited a Moroccan festival under the Westway. Over 4,000 copies of the free eight-page West London campaign newspaper were given out in the course of the day. Scores of people volunteered to help the campaign.


    Elections: Millions can vote this week

    BALLOT PAPERS were sent out this week to half of the voters in England. In the North West, North East, Yorkshire & the Humber and East Midlands constituencies people should send off their postal vote as soon as the ballot paper arrives. People should vote for Respect by putting their X where they see Respect: The Unity Coalition (George Galloway) and the Respect logo.

    Other areas will vote on 10 June. In London people will get three ballot papers and five votes on 10 June. The ORANGE and WHITE ballot papers are the crucial ones. These are for the elections carried out using proportional representation. That means that Respect has a chance to make a breakthrough.

    The ballot paper for mayor will be pink. There will be two columns next to each candidate's name. In the first column you put an X for your first choice, in the second column you put an X for your second choice. Put an X against LINDSEY GERMAN, Respect: The Unity Coalition (George Galloway), in the first column. Socialist Worker is calling for people to put an X against Ken Livingstone in the second column.

    The ballot paper for the London Assembly will be yellow and orange. The yellow is for the constituency candidates. Put an X against whoever is standing for Respect: The Unity Coalition (George Galloway).

    The right-hand side is orange. THIS IS THE FIRST VITAL VOTE, for the London-wide list in the assembly elections. You will see the party name. Put an X against Respect: The Unity Coalition (George Galloway).

    The ballot paper for the European Parliament will be white. This is the SECOND VITAL VOTE. You will see the names of the parties followed by a list of candidates. Put an X against Respect: The Unity Coalition (George Galloway). Remember, "Orange and white will see Respect right!"


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    News
    Thu 27 May 2004, 00:00 BST
    Issue No. 1903
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