Socialist Worker

It was the war

...and top-up fees, pensions, attacks on trade unions, privatisation, racist scapegoating, and so much more

Issue No. 1906

THE 10 JUNE election results are a mass rebellion against the major parties in British politics. The Labour Party got its lowest ever vote, after over 100 years of promising ordinary people that it would make their lives better.

But people did not rush to back the Tories. They well remember the years under Margaret Thatcher which tore apart public services, wrecked communities and condemned so many to unemployment.

The Tories and New Labour are in disarray. They both supported the hated war in Iraq and the continuing occupation. They both run councils that drive through cuts in services and privatisation. Faced with a Tory in a suit and New Labour in a suit, people were too sickened to vote for either.

Respect: The Unity Coalition offered an alternative. A quarter of a million people seized that opportunity to vote against war, privatisation and racist scapegoating.

Lindsey German, Respect's candidate for London mayor, polled 61,731 votes. She came fifth in the contest, beating the British National Party and the Greens. The Respect coalition narrowly missed getting onto the London Assembly, pulling in 87,533 votes across London.

Respect offered people a message of hope. Yet it was starved of publicity-and what little media attention it attracted was hostile. If George Galloway had a fraction of the coverage lavished on UKIP's Robert Kilroy-Silk, Respect would have been in a very different situation. What next after the election? We have put Respect on the map.

We need to carry on the campaign to make Respect a household name across the country. Where people heard about Respect, they were inspired by the campaign. Respect got the best votes the left has seen for many years. The coalition was only formed in January.

We now have time and experience to make Respect a powerful force in local areas-one that can shake New Labour in next year's general election.

Build respect as the alternative to Blair


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News
Sat 19 Jun 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1906
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