SPAIN'S ELECTORATE shocked the world by voting out its pro-war government on Sunday. There is no mainstream party you can vote for in Britain that has been unequivocally against the war. The Tories backed the war, the Lib Dems supported the war once it started.
But there is a force in British politics we can be proud to vote for on 10 June-Respect: The Unity Coalition. 'IT'S ONE down, two to go,' said George Galloway after Sunday's election result in Spain.
George Galloway is the MP expelled by the Labour Party for opposing the war. He is heading Respect's list for the European elections in London. 'With Aznar gone, only Blair and Bush are left,' he said. 'The price of the Iraq war is being remorselessly paid. It is being paid in blood by the Iraqis. And it is being paid in political lifeblood by those who led us to war. On 10 June we can hammer a final nail into Blair's coffin, and in November the US people can do the same to Bush.'
He spoke to Socialist Worker while on a speaking tour of Ireland. Outrageously, he was detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2002 on Friday of last week while travelling to an anti-war meeting in Belfast. George Galloway was held at an airport for half an hour while police officers demanded to know the content of the speech he would be making in Belfast. He was released without charge.
Sait Akgul, a Kurdish activist from north London, said, 'The election result in Spain is a clear message to the European allies of Bush to withdraw their armed forces and end the occupation of Iraq.' Sait Akgul is on the Respect list for the Greater London Assembly elections. 'The new Spanish government says it may withdraw its troops from Iraq,' he added.
'It is tragic that this only happened after the terrible loss of life in Spain and elsewhere in the world over the last few years. Violence breeds violence and US violence has been breeding the violence of its opponents. The anti-war movement wants an end to this violence and the best way to do that is to end the occupation of Iraq. We hope that the British, Bulgarian and Polish troops are also withdrawn. If Tony Blair doesn't get that message, then we should give him a reminder at the polls on 10 June.'
'Solve the problem-end the occupation'
LINDSEY GERMAN is the convenor of the Stop the War Coalition. She is heading the Respect list for London's Greater London Assembly elections. 'Events in Spain show that people are sick of being lied to by their governments,' she said.
'They know that the war made the world a more dangerous place, not just in Iraq but here too. This was brought home in Madrid in a terrible way. People in Britain are fearful and angry in equal measure that Tony Blair has made us a target. The only way to solve the problem is to end the occupation of Iraq, and that's what we will be arguing for at our demonstration on Saturday.'
'Demonstrators in Spain chanted 'Your war, our dead' then millions went to the polls to throw out Aznar's government,' added John Rees, who is heading the Respect list for the European elections in the West Midlands. 'The Spanish people have taken their revenge on the Aznar government for taking their country to war in Iraq and making it a target for terrorists. This is the fate of Tony Blair foretold. A poll in the Guardian showed Labour support among Muslims in Britain has fallen by 50 percent. The 10 June elections are our chance to create a radical alternative to New Labour's warmongers and privatisers.'
'Everything Tony Blair says about the people he calls terrorists could be applied to him and more so,' said Rita Carter, who is on the Respect list for the European elections in London. The killing of innocent people, trying to impose your views on others-all this is exactly what Bush and Blair have been doing,' she added. The new Spanish leader is right to say that Bush and Blair lied to take us to war. They knew there were no weapons of mass destruction back in 1994. What happened in Spain makes it more important that we march on Saturday and keep on protesting. There is always new propaganda coming out about how people in Iraq feel better off and how people here really support the war. It is crucial we march this Saturday. One year on, our leaders are still lying to us.'
'IT'S BEEN a long time since I cheered an election result like I did on Sunday. Young Spanish people organised massive demos through texting and by word of mouth. It shows how important the anti-war mobilisations have been. Networks of people can get organised and hit the streets and they can pull much wider layers of people.
That's why it is so important that the anti-war movement keeps mobilising, and why we make sure Blair too pays an electoral price for the war.'
GARY McFARLANE, black activist from Tottenham, standing on the Respect list for the European election in London
'THE SPANISH government went to war against the will of the Spanish people, and the people have delivered their verdict. Loss of any human life resulting from attacks on innocent civilians is unacceptable.
The governments of the US, Britain and their allies are responsible for breeding terrorism. Only ending the genocide of the Palestinian people, the occupation of Iraq and of Afghanistan can ensure peace and security.'
SALVINDER SINGH DHILLON, Respect candidate for the GLA constituency of Ealing and Hillingdon
'THE REMOVAL of the pro-war Spanish government is a wonderful boost for and vindication of the anti-war movement. It is clear that a year on, those politicians who lied about weapons of mass destruction and the so called war on terror are receiving a very different kind of 'Baghdad bounce' than they had planned.
The significance of the demonstration on Saturday is now even more underlined and we look forward to 10 June to deliver a similar blow to Tony Blair.'
SALMA YAQOOB, chair of Birmingham Stop the War Coalition, standing for the European elections in the West Midlands
What you can do to build Respect
THERE ARE just 80 days to go until the elections on 10 June. It is vital to take every opportunity to raise the profile of Respect to ensure it delivers the biggest blow to New Labour. The way the elections work mean that getting leaflets out and speaking to large numbers of people is the key.
That means leafleting people at workplaces, stations and colleges is central to getting the message across. That's why Respect members were due to be out in force on Saturday's demonstration urging people to join the campaign to punish the warmonger Blair at the polls.
Local Respect groups around the country are choosing their candidates and launching their campaigns. Why not get involved?