Respect’s “heavy artillery” — its double decker campaigning bus — came to Bethnal Green & Bow last weekend as part of George Galloway’s high profile bid to unseat pro-war Labour MP Oona King.
George Galloway toured the constituency meeting a constant stream of local people. One Asian man asked him, “You’re determined and honest, and I’m very glad to meet you. But if you win what can you do alone? There will still be a Labour government.”
George replied that even a single Respect MP would be a “voice for the people who have been forgotten”. He added that if Respect won in the area, the party would set its sights on taking over Tower Hamlets council next year.
George stopped to speak to two homeless women who were wearing “Vote Respect” stickers. Kerrie Rawlins explained how the lack of housing in Tower Hamlets meant she had been “in and out of hostels for about three or four years”.
Her friend Kimberly Dowling added, “I need to be housed for me to get on with my life. That’s why I want to vote for this geezer, if he’s going to help people.”
An army of over 200 Respect volunteers went out canvassing. One reported meeting a senior figure in the local Labour Party who told him he was seriously thinking of switching allegiance to George.
In the evening George met up with a dozen key elders from the Bengali community.
“Respect has made a tremendous start,” he told them. “But we won’t win just by goodwill.”
One of the audience — a respected local figure who had just resigned from the Labour Party — spoke in Bengali about how Labour had failed to deliver.
“There’s nothing for us in the present Labour Party, nothing for the working class people of Bethnal Green & Bow,” he added in English.