Socialist Worker

Election reactions — ‘We are now entering a new era in politics’

Following George Galloway’s victory for Respect in Bethnal Green & Bow, we present some responses from people in the movement:

Issue No. 1951

Ken Coates former Labour Party MEP

There were three unforgettable moments in the election. The first was the speech at the Sedgefield count by Reg Keys, who honoured his dead son by indicting the prime minister for his death.

The second was the triumph of Peter Law over the Labour party machine in Blaenau Gwent.

And third was the towering victory of George Galloway in Bethnal Green & Bow over all his detractors. There is no doubt that we are now entering a new era in British politics.

Inayat Bunglawala spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain

We’re delighted with George Galloway’s victory. He’s a popular figure within the Muslim community because of his opposition to the war.

He paid a huge price for his stand — being thrown out of the Labour Party and subjected to a smear campaign. It’s great that voters in Bethnal Green & Bow saw through that smear campaign and gave him their backing.

Kevin Young independent socialist councillor, Copeland borough council

George Galloway’s victory was fantastic. It shows that someone who believes in the labour movement can take on the machinery of the Blairites and win.

When people are told that there is no alternative to New Labour, we can point to Bethnal Green & Bow. Respect has now got a strong foothold in east London, where the labour movement started off.

Salma Yaqoob’s result in Birmingham also shows that Respect isn’t just a one area party. Respect has got to be taken seriously now.

Steve Metcalfe president of Lancaster trades council and RMT union member (personal capacity)

This was a shot across the bows for the Blairites. George Galloway’s victory has created a good impression among trade union members I’ve spoken to in Lancashire.

Respect is a serious organisation involving trade unionists, with roots inside the working class.

Sumera Rizwan Respect candidate for Preston county council

The victory in Bethnal Green & Bow was a great achievement under the circumstances.

The media was hostile towards Respect. But there was an awareness in the community as a whole that Respect was standing for the values of Old Labour.

In the elections in Preston we improved our vote from last year, finishing second in two county council elections. Respect is going from strength to strength.

Muslim Association of Britain

The victory of George Galloway was an extremely significant gain, not only for British Muslims but for the anti-war movement.

The fact that Galloway’s campaign was supported and backed by a considerable number of Muslims also dispels the myth that Muslims in east London are in “the pockets of the Labour Party”.

Gennaro Migliore international secretary of Rifondazione Comunista, Italy

The election of George Galloway is the start of a new political season. It is only one MP, but it is very important.

The result is proof that the electoral system needs correcting. Blair was only able to win this election because there is no alternative. But the majority of the British people did not vote Labour.

Blair is finished. This election result means the end of a political leadership that made friends with the US despite the aversion of the British public. Blair will no longer be able to ignore MPs who oppose the war.

Craig Murray former ambassador to Uzbekistan who ran an independent anti-war candidate against foreign secretary Jack Straw

I was pleased to see George Galloway get in. It was excellent news — a plain victory for the anti-war lobby. I’m slightly disappointed not to have got more votes myself in Blackburn, but it was rather difficult going.

Jack Straw’s vote fell on an increased turnout, so he was plainly damaged. The Tory vote also fell, and the Liberal Democrat gained substantially.

It would be fair to characterise this as a swing to anti-war candidates, but not enough to get rid off Jack Straw. We have shone a light into some murky areas in Blackburn, and that will bear fruit in the longer term.

Rose Gentle Military Families Against the War, Scotland

Everybody here thinks George Galloway’s win is brilliant. I loved his speech.

I think he’ll do really well as the voice of the anti-war movement in parliament.

Roddy Slorach from Rose Gentle’s election campaign

Rose Gentle’s general election campaign didn’t receive much media attention, probably because the 1,513 votes she attracted was seen as unremarkable. However, the figures only tell part of the story.

Our campaign, in the ultra-safe Labour seat of East Kilbride, succeeded in making Iraq the central issue.

Our four week campaign successfully polarised the contest between pro-war and anti-war camps.

With the exception of the Tories, the opposition parties had to take a hard anti-war stance.

Rose found lots of new friends and supporters for her campaign to bring Blair to account for his war crimes.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Sat 14 May 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1951
Share this article

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.