Newham Respect has tried to connect with the many groups that the Westminster political classes don’t reach.
The hundreds of working class women who congregate at their children’s school gates every morning and afternoon are one such audience.
The most common response to the elections has been that politicians don’t listen to ordinary women and don’t care how their policies affect women’s lives as primary child carers and part time workers.
Some have not voted in the last few council elections — this may be the first general election they don’t vote in either.
The women feel especially bitter at New Labour. Not one at the ten or more schools visited so far would ever consider voting for the Tories, but they reserved most of their anger for Tony Blair.
One woman at Manor School in Stratford told me, “Blair just takes our votes for granted. They know that people round here won’t vote for the other political parties and so he treats us as fodder.
“Why should we vote for him when he lied about the war? In seven years he’s done nothing for the likes of us and everything for Bush and the rich.”
Many of the parents we met were delighted that Respect candidates, Lindsey German and Abdul Khaliq Mian, were taking the time to ask for their votes and talk to them about our policies.
Even before we explained how we are the voice for those who want a better world, we gained much respect and many votes for giving people the chance to explain that they wanted money spent on housing, health and their children’s education — all policies we have emphasised.