Socialist Worker

Out to give New Labour a shock on 10 June

Respect: The Unity Coalition has stepped up its campaign with just four weeks to go before the election. Below are some of the reports of activities over the last week

Issue No. 1900

CARLISLE RMT held a meeting last week and discussed support for Respect. Craig Johnson, the RMT branch secretary, told Socialist Worker, "We invited in a speaker from Respect. There was a real debate about it. The vote was unanimous to urge all members to support Respect and ask the union's executive council if we can use our political fund to back Respect. I feel we can't continue to attack the Labour Party unless we are prepared to say there is an alternative. I joined the Labour Party when I was 15. I was a Labour councillor for 11 years. Now they are in and it's just awful. I feel robbed. We have to get as many votes as we can for Respect."

Alan Kenny says, "Some 2,000 people joined the Barnsley Miners Gala march and rally last Saturday. Respect candidates Sue Wild, a pensioner, and Chris Cheetham, a sacked miner, were on hand to meet people."

A joint meeting of Respect and the Scottish Socialist Party was held at the Unison union's health conference in Glasgow last week. Diana Swingler says, "There was debate at the meeting over the launch of Respect in England and Wales. One of the delegates from my branch, Homerton Hospital, said that she wanted to get involved with Respect."

George Galloway spoke at a procession of thousands of Muslims through Walthamstow to celebrate the birthday of the prophet Mohammed last Sunday. Abdurahman Jafar, the Respect candidate for Havering and Redbridge, said, "In the speeches after the procession George Galloway got a huge roar. He really swept everyone off their feet. We were given permission to take a huge banner for Respect on the march and hand out leaflets."

Some 15 Respect campaigners carried a coffin through Ilford with Iraq written on one side and Palestine on the other. "We distributed over 2,500 leaflets and by the end generated a large crowd. Many said they would vote for Respect," said Yuri Prasad.

Margot Hill said, "Wandsworth and Merton Respect held an organising meeting on Friday of last week. Nineteen people attended. On Sunday we booked a stall at Merton Abbey Mills, a craft market and recreation area. Ten Respect members helped out."

"Bristol Respect members and supporters were busy over the weekend," says Kevin Skinner. "On Friday evening a pub quiz attracted 40 people and raised over £200 for the election fund. On Saturday, 8.30am saw us attending a farewell breakfast for one of our candidates, Sami Velioglu. Sami, a British Iraqi Muslim, was setting off on his second mission to Iraq transporting emergency medical supplies. At 10.30am Respect candidate Paulette North joined a team leafleting shoppers and was filmed for BBC's Politics Show. At 2pm a 20-strong group gave out 2,000 leaflets and postcards in Bristol's busy Broadmead Shopping Centre, getting a very good response. On Sunday at 10am there was a 'walk with Respect'. Thirty people took part in an eight-mile sponsored walk, leafleting as they went. We raised £1,300."

In Newcastle North East constituency Respect candidates Dave Stewart and Yunus Bakhsh joined around 200 people on the Newcastle May Day march and rally on Saturday. Supporters distributed election leaflets to the crowds of shoppers," said Tony Dowling. On Wednesday the leader column in the Northern Echo was an article by Peter Smith, a member of Respect and chair of Teesside Against the War. He argued for a vote for Respect on 10 June. On Friday Respect's lead candidate in the North East, journalist Yvonne Ridley, was featured in the Newcastle Journal."

Dan Mayer from Cambridge told Socialist Worker, "Over 300 people attended a debate on the 'Bush Doctrine' at the Cambridge Union Society on Thursday evening. George Galloway's speech got by far the best reception. We handed out Respect leaflets. Lots of people were genuinely enthusiastic. The vote at the end was 250 against the Bush Doctrine, and 75 for."

In Wales Martin Chapman said, "Respect candidates Huw Williams and Helen Griffin spoke on the Cardiff May Day demonstration."

"A very busy weekend in Plymouth saw Respect on the streets," says Tony Staunton. "On Sunday, a demonstration of over 50 people led by Respect members stopped a small group of British National Party thugs distributing their fascist newspaper in the shopping centre."

"May Day in Portsmouth was a day of campaigning for Respect," said John Molyneux. "Cars went out decked with banners, posters and megaphones to take the Respect message to the people of Portsmouth."

"Fifteen Brent and Harrow Respect supporters, with placards hung from their shoulders like sandwich boards, leaflets and sign-up sheets were out on the streets of Wembley on Sunday with local candidate Rev Albert Harriott, " said Sarah Cox.

Liz Wheatley, Respect candidate for Camden, said, "Last week 21 Respect supporters from Camden handed out almost 2,000 leaflets at Euston station. "We had a stall at one of the main entrances, and we had people stopping to sign up to Respect as well as taking the leaflets. On Sunday we met up together and leafleted in Camden Market."

"The holiday weekend saw Respect supporters out across the North West constituency," says Michael Lavalette. "On Friday mosques across the constituency were leafleted at midday prayers. In the evening George Galloway and I spoke at a meeting at Liverpool University. Over 200 people turned up to hear the case for twinning the university with Birzeit University in Ramallah."

Respect supporters unfurled a large banner over a busy junction in Mile End on Friday of last week. Supporters plan to repeat the event every Friday until the election. Respect supporters in Bristol took part in a sponsored walk last weekend, raising £1,300.

Money keeps the election campaign going strong

RESPECT SUPPORTERS are organising imaginative events to raise the thousands of pounds needed to stand in the elections. "A fundraising benefit dubbed 'An Audience with George Galloway' took place at the Second City Suite in Birmingham," said Adam Yosef. "It was attended by around 100 guests, all financially contributing towards the efforts of the local Respect candidates standing for the European elections. George Galloway travelled to the venue straight from a television appearance on Channel 4's Richard & Judy show. George Galloway decided to auction the first copy in the world of his newly launched book, I'm Not The Only One. It raised £160."

In Coventry Respect supporters held a fundraising dinner. Dave Goodfield said, "The dinner was organised at only two weeks notice at the Muslim Resource Centre and raised a magnificent £1,270. It was great food, great atmosphere, great politics and incredible commitment. It was attended by John Rees, who heads the list for Respect in the West Midlands and Penny Hicks, the local candidate."

In Liverpool Beth Greenhill spoke about how she is raising money for Respect through a sponsored walk. "There is a women's ten-kilometre walk on 16 May and a group of us are going on it to raise money for Respect. I work in the health service and going round the people I work with I have got around £550 in pledges."

In Southwark Ken Loach spoke at a showing of his film Bread and Roses to raise money for Respect. Some 95 people attended including many students from the London College of Printing and Southbank University. The event raised £435.

Questions and discussion

"SOME 30 students and teachers joined Respect London mayoral candidate Lindsey German for a discussion in the library of North Westminster School at lunchtime on Friday of last week," said Julie Bundy.

"Lindsey explained why she was standing as Respect candidate for the London mayor. A lively discussion followed as Lindsey was questioned about Respect's position on individual taxation, the London congestion charge and why Britain joined the war in Iraq. Afterwards students stayed behind for an impromptu discussion which ranged from Palestine to the ban on the hijab in France, why the Arab states do not unite to free Palestine, and whether the UN should take over control of Iraq. Lindsey joined local West Central London candidate Kevin Cobham for a 'question time' at Imperial College, where three students joined Respect. In the afternoon Lindsey met with parents from Sir John Lillie Primary School in Fulham who asked her to come to a meeting in her local community hall. She then toured shops and cafes in Fulham's North Road."

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Sat 8 May 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1900
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