Respect successes in Birmingham
Salma Yaqoob was elected as a Respect councillor in the Sparkbrook ward in Birmingham, winning an astounding 4,339 votes, among the highest anywhere.
Salma told Socialist Worker, “All of the parties united against us in an attempt to stop Respect gaining a foothold. But not only did we beat them, we thrashed them all.”
Elsewhere in Birmingham Raghib Ahsan received 1,370 votes in the Lozells & East Handsworth ward in the north of the city and Salma Iqbal won 1,690 votes in Springfield ward.
Raghib told Socialist Worker, “We have met a lot of great people as we have been out canvassing and we should build on that for the future.”
Salma Iqbal said, “I’m very proud of the way we have campaigned across the city.
“Having Salma Yaqoob elected as a Respect councillor will make a huge difference. People will see what having a real representative means.”
It was gut-wrenching that our candidate in Town Centre ward, Master Mukhtar, came so close to winning but fell short by just seven votes.
It was made worse by the fact that the Green candidate took 82 votes. In my opinion their decision to stand cost us the election and let Labour in.
But the fact we lost by such a small margin has galvanised our supporters. We know we could have won and are determined to do so next year when I will be up for re-election in the same ward.
We stopped “knocking up” our supporters at 9pm. We should have gone on until 10pm and got the eight votes we needed.
We are looking at ways to get our pledged supporters on to postal votes. That will ensure that as many of our core supporters as possible actually vote next time. We also want to launch a registration drive.
The worst thing would be if we went away for 11 months. We will continue to campaign over the issues of war in Iraq, the threat to Iran, Palestinian rights and all the local issues where we can represent people.
Maxine Bowler was the Respect candidate for the Burngreave ward. She received a thumping 1,208 votes which took her to second place.
Maxine said, “We ran an excellent campaign which brought many people on board.
“On the day of the election a woman came and spoke to me and said that she had not voted in the last four council elections – but she was going to vote for me.
“She said that she had been impressed by Respect’s presence on the streets and by the number of women involved in the campaign.
“We will continue working alongside people in the ward, and next year we’ll get elected.”
The four candidates standing in Haringey came second, just behind Labour after a lively campaign.
Around 100 people did some campaigning. We leafleted the wards six times, and we canvassed them twice. We have become the main opposition to Labour in the wards. We had a very good press operation in both the English and Turkish local press.
As well as the war and Blair, we publicised the fact poverty in the area meant infant mortality has risen by 50 percent since 1997. Our Turkish speaking candidates visited over 1,000 Turkish speakers.
We now have a number of opportunities – in particular with tenants’ activists. We can’t just walk away.
The real works starts now. The contacts we made with rooted activists, in particular on the Broadwater Farm estate, must be followed through.