Socialist Worker

Hundreds hear Respect's alternative on national speaking tour

Issue No. 1958

South London hoodies protest (Pic: Beatrice Ruffini)

South London hoodies protest (Pic: Beatrice Ruffini)


About 500 people crowded in to an electric fringe meeting organised by Respect and the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) at the Unison union conference in Glasgow last week.

With one quarter of those at conference attending, it was the biggest fringe meeting that anyone could remember.

Despite having to be bused across Glasgow to get to the meeting, delegates were determined to hear Respect MP George Galloway, SSP convenor Colin Fox MSP and Lindsey German from Respect.

Colin Fox opened the meeting and was followed by Lindsey German.

Both made powerful speeches attacking the way New Labour has abandoned trade unionists and working people.

The warmest reception was saved for George Galloway.

As well as talking in general about Respect, George pointed out that as Unison members, large amounts of our money was being given to the Labour Party.

That is despite the fact that the government has an agenda in direct conflict to our union’s policies, particularly over issues such as privatisation and pensions.

After the meeting, 25 delegates joined either Respect or the SSP.

Liz Wheatley


Liverpool

Sx hundred people came to Respect’s rally in Liverpool on Tuesday of last week.

The audience was made up of all Respect’s constituent parts. Trade unionists sat alongside mosque-goers, sixth formers chatted to pensioner activists.

There was a shared sense in the room that we are just the sort of people who can take Respect forward.

The ten Nazi British National Party goons who tried to sit in the meeting were the only ones who were not given respect as the audience united in firmly showing them the exit door.

That done, journalist Yvonne Ridley, Adam Kelwick from Toxteth mosque, Respect national secretary John Rees and George Galloway gave their best, clearly roused by the size and make-up of the meeting.

John Rees argued that like east London “resistance is in the blood here in working people, Respect needs to galvanise this”.

George Galloway delivered a 45-minute verbal weapon of mass recruitment.

He ended by saying, “The left can be strong again in Liverpool — this great meeting shows that.”

The rally was big news in the local press. Louise Ellman MP, who is the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, was reportedly “speechless” that Respect may stand against her at the next general election.

Thirty one people handed over their subs to join Respect on the night and many more left their details.

In the wake of the rally several campaigns are starting.

A group of young supporters is planning a Respect music festival for late August.

Paul Sillett


Sheffield

Sheffield's Respect rally drew an excellent 700-strong audience on Wednesday of last week.

George Galloway, John Rees, Yvonne Ridley and Maulana Shoaib Desai outlined “Our Challenge to New Labour”.

The meeting was chaired by Maxine Bowler, the Sheffield Central Respect candidate in the general election.

Many people said that it was the biggest meeting in Sheffield that they can remember. A collection raised over £700 and the total raised on the night, including ticket sales, was over £2,000.

A total of 46 people joined Respect on the night and many more took forms away to fill in at home. A further 220 people left their details requesting to be kept in touch with Respect’s activities.

Maxine Bowler said, “This is a big step forward for Respect in Sheffield. We had a terrific campaign at the general election but we were disappointed that we didn’t at least save our deposit.

“This rally has put us in the running to really shake up the council at the local elections next May.”

We are now looking to develop Respect across the city and make it a part of the local and national campaigns.

Alan Kenny


Round-up

Respect is also making significant headway outside its headline rallies. The annual general meeting of Respect in Tower Hamlets, east London, took place last Sunday.

Over 200 members outlined campaigning priorities for the year ahead and elected a local committee to oversee the work. The meeting also confirmed that Respect will challenge for every seat in the council election next May.

The previous day nearly 50 people attended a protest at Elephant & Castle shopping centre, south London, organised by young members of Respect.

They were there to protest at the imposition of a ban on wearing hoodies.

The protest spanned the age range and was addressed by pensioners campaigner Gordon McLennan. It made the local and national press.

Respect organisation in the Chatham ward in Hackney, east London, took a step forward on Sunday when 27 people attended a showing of George Galloway versus the US Senate.

“It was a relaxed, friendly and fun afternoon that enabled people to get to know each other and organise future activity,” says one of the organisers.


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Sat 2 Jul 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1958
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