Teams of volunteers flocked to Salma Yaqoob’s campaign headquarters over the weekend and distributed 3,000 placards around the Sparkbrook & Small Heath constituency. Others spent many hours canvassing, distributing campaign material and organising.
Canvassers were out in Small Heath, Sparkbrook, Fox Hollies and Sparkhill on Saturday. Stalls were set up in Coventry Road, Stratford Road and Ladypool Road, getting an excellent response from people of all ages and backgrounds. Several shops have requested campaign material.
For part of the morning Salma was followed by a journalist from German radio.
Earlier last week Salma enthused students at Bordesley Green girls’ secondary school, delivering an inspiring lecture about the impact women can have on social and political life.
She had been invited by staff along with representatives of other parties to speak to the girls about her role as a national peace campaigner.
She stressed the importance of the girls becoming actively involved in mainstream decision making. She said, “As women we should participate in all aspects of society.”
Answering questions about her education and career choices, Salma told the audience that much of what she had achieved would not have been possible if she had not had a grant to go to university.
During the 1853-4 cotton lockout Karl Marx predicted, “Our revolution will start in Preston.”
Respect supporters here are working hard to bring about a revolution in electoral politics — and are increasingly confident that they can force their way among the “big three” on polling day.
Over the last month close to 60,000 leaflets have been delivered by supporters who have come into the city from east Lancashire, Bolton and Liverpool to support Michael Lavalette’s campaign.
Yvonne Ridley, Respect’s candidate in Leicester, denounced New Labour’s draconian attacks on civil liberties at a packed meeting in Preston on Thursday of last week.
The following day Mohammed Amari from the Palestinian Congress of Trade Unions spent the day with Michael, visiting local unions and colleges, before addressing a meeting in the evening.
On Saturday a lively stall in the city centre upset the Liberal Democrats, who objected to our use of a megaphone and contacted the police to move us on!
The police rebuffed this illiberal move and agreed we could continue with our stall. The busy weekend saw 40 people out canvassing.
Estelle Cooch, Lancashire youth councillor
Raja Gul Raiz, Respect candidate for Cardiff Central, spoke to a 60-strong meeting organised by the Muslim Council of Wales last week.
He exposed the Liberal Democrats’ fake opposition to the war. New Labour’s Jon Owen Jones attacked George Galloway. But he was put in his place by an audience member who said George had sorted out his immigration problem with the home office.
Respect has leafleted the whole constituency and Raja also got a good response at a hustings which Jones did not turn up to.
Brighton and Hove
Following a 60-strong constituency launch meeting our candidate in the Hove & Portslade constituency, Paddy O’Keeffe, has spoken on the platform at two hustings meetings and attended another where the audience was annoyed that he was not allowed onto the top table.
On Tuesday of last week Paddy spoke at a hustings organised by the Private Sector Housing Forum.
Although the meeting was primarily intended to discuss private sector housing, Paddy won a lot of support for tenants to retain the council as their landlord, and for Respect’s policy of mass council house building.
There are some 1,800 unoccupied properties in Brighton and Hove, yet people are forced to live on the streets.
Paddy spoke from the floor at a meeting of a local pensioners’ forum, highlighting the fact that this country has the poorest pensioners in western Europe.
Labour’s candidate, Celia Barlow, seemed surprised and angry that anyone would dare challenge the government’s record on this issue.
Civil service worker Steve West is the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) candidate taking on chancellor Gordon Brown in Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath. He says, “One of the highlights so far was an SSP meeting we held in Lochgelly about drugs.
“This was the party taking up an issue alongside the local community. There were 70 people at the meeting including drugs workers and people who had experienced drug misuse. It was very positive and there was strong support for the SSP’s policy of drug decriminalisation, giving heroin on prescription and increased funding for drug rehabilitation.
“This week I was to speak at a meeting called by G8 Alternatives to promote the demonstration and discussions around the G8 summit in July.
“We’ve found when leafleting that there’s not much interest in the election until people realise we’re from the SSP. Then there’s a bit of a buzz.”
People with disabilities and elderly people in the Lockleaze and Knowle areas of Bristol are fighting for their day care services, which are under threat from council cuts.
Bristol Respect has given its support to the campaigners in several demonstrations and occupations across the city.
At stake is the right of people with disabilities and elderly people to access their day centres, which have provided them with a range of services.
The frustration of those affected is summed up by Jane Gudge, who says, “These people don’t care about the staff who provide this service. They don’t care about the people who use this service. They only see financial issues and we are the ones who pay.”