Respect canvassers in Newham are reporting a political shift on the doorsteps of the east London borough. New Labour’s stranglehold on the borough is being loosened as people turn to Respect.
Harun is 18 years old and voted for Respect last year. He will vote for Lindsey German, Respect’s candidate in West Ham, this time too. “Respect is the only party that gives us a voice,” he says.
The Hussein family also gives Lindsey their assurances. “We are definitely voting Respect — and we’ll spread the word about Respect,” says Mrs Hussein.
A Kenyan woman who has lived in Britain for the past 14 years says she does not like New Labour’s scaremongering over immigration. She adds that she will vote for Respect because “they have different views and good immigration policies”.
Many others share her views. “I chose Respect because they are anti-war and want to spend money on better things like healthcare and education,” says Mahbub Shah, a first time voter.
Political discussions are taking place in virtually every household now, adds his sister Bablee, and many people are deciding to vote for Respect.
The canvassing teams are picking up on this feeling as well. “It’s very exciting. We’ve brought the area alive politically in a way that it hasn’t been for decades,” says Elane.
“It was very good tonight. We really fought for the votes and won them over,” adds Monica, another Respect canvasser.
Patrick, who canvassed the Plaistow area, says, “One white woman told me, ‘The Tories didn’t give us respect. Labour didn’t give us respect. I’m looking for someone that will give us some respect — this seems like a good opportunity.’
“We met lots of white people who had voted Labour all their lives and been involved in the trade unions, who said they were now voting Respect.”
“It’s been a very good day,” says Abdul Khaliq Mian, Respect’s candidate for East Ham. “Everybody received us very well. I’m confident — but we’ll keep working until the last hour.”