ONE HUNDRED people packed into a Respect meeting in Buxton, Derbyshire, last Saturday night. In the discussion someone commented that the Labour Party could never attract such an audience.
The meeting was addressed by Respect MP George Galloway, local councillor Lynton Bennett—who has recently left Labour to join Respect—and Jeannie Robinson from Respect’s national council.
Lynton Bennett, a branch secretary for the CWU postal and telecom workers’ union, spoke about low pay, privatisation and the need for workers’ rights.
“What will Tony Blair be remembered for?” he asked. “Years of sucking up to the rich, failing to deal with child poverty and taking us into a war that has left thousands dead.”
George Galloway spoke of the “grand larceny” of the Turner & Newell pension fund, which affects people in the Buxton area.
The lively discussion was dominated by people who came from the Old Labour tradition.
One woman said, “My grandfather helped to set up the Labour Representation Committee about 100 years ago. They had the support of some trade union leaders, which Respect doesn’t have. How can Respect grow quickly without union support?”
A man said, “I joined the Labour Party in 1948, and I apologise but I am still a member. I don’t disagree with anything I have heard tonight, but what is to stop Respect being insignificant like Ralph Nader was in the US elections?”
But other people spoke of Respect’s remarkable successes achieved in under a year since being launched, and its growing support in the unions, especially the RMT. There was a huge enthusiasm for Lynton Bennett’s campaign to get re-elected in the next council elections.
CPS changes story over Babar
THE CROWN prosecution service (CPS) has again changed its story regarding the treatment of Babar Ahmed, who faces deportation to the US to stand trial on terrorism charges.
In a letter to Stephen Timms MP the CPS claims that Babar Ahmad sustained injuries in December of last year while violently resisting arrest.
This is a turnaround for the CPS who originally said that the injuries were old, before retracting their statement.
Babar’s wife Mrs Ahmad said, “To bring about justice in Babar’s case has been, and continues to be, an uphill struggle. It has been one year now and no police officer has been suspended or charged because of what they did to Babar.”