Socialist Worker

There is a positive response in Leicester

Issue No. 1908

“I CAN’T trust New Labour.”

That comment, from Kay Carter, who lives in Leicester South, is typical of the disillusion many people feel with Blair’s government.

Kay is now campaigning for Respect. She told Socialist Worker, “I’m against the war. It has created more problems and more Islamophobia.

“The war is the major issue where I live in Highfield. It is 80 percent Muslim, but the war is the major issue for me too.

“New Labour has let us all down. I was so pleased to see Respect and George Galloway.”

New Labour’s candidate Sir Peter Soulsby is labelled as “anti-war”.

He is the former leader of Leicester council. He lost his seat to the Lib Dems at last year’s council elections.

“People remember Sir Peter,” says Bob Bagnall, a local teacher. “When Labour got into power in 1997 Leicester council, under Soulsby, pushed through a programme of school closures.

“Parents and the NUT union led a campaign against this. Soulsby ignored us—even though he was a member of the NUT and a teacher himself!”

The Leicester East Labour MP Keith Vaz and Sir Peter are not exactly comrades in arms. Soulsby was one of the chief witnesses against Vaz during the parliamentary inquiry into the MP’s links with the Hinduja brothers.

Fayyaz Suleman, who led the Respect list in the East Midlands in the 10 June elections, says, “Respect is putting the anti-war concerns at the forefront of our agenda.

“We achieved 9.2 percent across Leicester on 10 June. This sets the platform for the by-election.

“Respect volunteers have already distributed thousands of leaflets in the constituency. We have been very well received.

“We are mobilising the vote and getting the Respect message out there. We want Respect supporters to come to Leicester to participate in this high-profile campaign. Be part of the headline-making process. Come to the headquarters. It is the focal point for our campaign.”

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