Some 800 people came to a Respect rally on Sunday in Bradford to hear the party’s 12 council candidates speak alongside George Galloway, newly elected MP for Bradford West.
The room buzzed with enthusiasm. Galloway’s landslide win has generated hope for thousands of people in Bradford and beyond.
Tazeem Sawaiz is a former Labour Party member now standing for Respect in Bolton & Undercliffe ward.
She spoke angrily about how this government has widened the gap between the haves and have nots.
Tazeem had been made redundant from Bradford Council two weeks earlier after 25 years of service.
She was furious at rising levels of unemployment in the city as vital services are cut. She also highlighted how the student fees will hit working class people in Bradford.
Faisal Khan, candidate for Bradford Moor, said it had broken his heart to see the Labour Party supporting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He added that Galloway’s voice had brought hope to millions when he “told the US Senate how it was”.
Sarah Cartin, national vice-chair of CND and local anti-fascist campaigner, is standing in Tong ward.
She noted that the wards had different demographics but the people faced the same issues.
Galloway commended the young people who had campaigned for Respect in the recent parliamentary by-election. His announcement that Respect’s national headquarters were moving to Bradford was greeted with joy. However, all speakers were united in disdain for politicians of the three mainstream parties and argued that a vote for Respect was a vote for a new sort of politics in which ordinary people are actively involved.
Three of the 12 Respect candidates in the local elections in Bradford are women and earlier that day they hosted a meeting for women supporters to discuss how to build Respect in the city.
Many women at the meeting said they were sick of the stereotypes of Bradford portrayed in numerous TV programmes.
They wanted more integration and stressed that Respect had galvanised women regardless of their ethnicity.
There were practical suggestions around the room about building the election campaign.
Some women had already started arranging living room gatherings so their Respect candidate could meet residents collectively rather than knocking on every door.