LYNNE HUBBARD, a health worker who was active in the Hodge Hill campaign, told Socialist Worker, “In some areas of the constituency it was clear that we had won many of the people who were central to all the stop the war activity to Respect.
“So people weren’t just voting for us, they were campaigning for us, with pride and enthusiasm. One supermarket worker put a Respect leaflet in every shopping bag.
“In the outer city areas we made a modest improvement in Respect’s showing. Now we have to be there and prove to people that they can trust us, that we’re not like other politicians.”
Kevin Flannagan, a Longbridge car worker who supported John Rees’s campaign, told Socialist Worker, “This is a very, very good result, especially for a new party. When I was out canvassing I met people who felt really angry and have been encouraged to blame asylum seekers for their problems. I argued that that having a go at them wouldn’t make the NHS or the schools better.
“Respect has to keep campaigning against the occupation in Iraq, but also put campaigning over poverty, workers’ rights, health and local issues at the forefront.
“Respect has been noticed now. The sky’s the limit.”
Phil Goalby from the Birmingham FBU firefighters’ union spoke at a Respect election rally. He told Socialist Worker, “Respect has won a very good result. It is very encouraging for the future.”
It is not just in Birmingham and Leicester that Thursday’s result is having an impact.
Tony Collins, an activist in the rail workers’ RMT union in London, said, “After the by-elections Respect supporters who work on London Underground got together.
“We decided it is the right time to really build Respect membership and link up with firefighters to build support for Respect.”
Respect supporters were out in force in the St Dunstan’s ward in Tower Hamlets where Oliur Rahman is fighting a council by-election for Respect.
Paul McGarr said, “We have leafleted the whole ward and are now canvassing. Iraq is still the big issue, but so is poverty, housing and sleaze in politics. This has been a safe Labour seat for decades. Now all the councillors and Oona King MP are out canvassing. It’s unprecedented for a by-election, and shows how scared they are that Respect could win on 29 July.”
Liberal Democrats 10,274 (34.0%)
Labour 8,620 (29.3%)
Conservative 5,794 (19.7%)
Respect 3,724 (12.7%)
Birmingham Hodge Hill
Labour 7,451 (36.5%)
Liberal Democrats 6,991 (34.2%)
Conservative 3,543 (17.3%)
Respect 1,282 (6.3%)