HUNDREDS OF delegates were heading to London for the first Respect national conference this weekend. Major discussions are scheduled on war and imperialism, defending communities and election strategy.
Respect has had considerable success in its first nine months, retaining its deposit in the first two parliamentary by-elections it contested and winning its first council seat in Tower Hamlets.
The precondition of this success is that Respect has drawn together political forces from the left in the unions, Muslims radicalised by the war, former Labour Party members and the socialist left.
The challenge before the Respect conference will be for all the forces in Respect to deepen this cooperation without fragmenting the coalition.
The broad-based appeal of Respect relies on the fact that it prioritises those issues most central to the lives of working people and develops a political consensus within the organisation around them.
This method has made us easily the most radical political organisation contesting the mainstream parties.
But to continue this success means seeing Respect as a work in progress and cooperating with the other forces within Respect in order to advance the whole project.
Some on the left simply want to repeat their own policies irrespective of whether they will divide Respect.
Those who want Respect to prosper will reject this small minority and concentrate on the business of creating a mass alternative to New Labour.