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Conference voices

This article is over 16 years, 7 months old
Delegates to Respect conference spoke to Socialist Worker
Issue 2078

Dan Allen, a rail worker in Canterbury and Coastal Respect, was pleased that the organisation is looking forward. “In Whitstable, Kent, we’ve been campaigning against the closure of the job centre,” he said.

“The campaign collected 2,500 signatures and the closure was halted.

“We don’t want to be like the mainstream political parties who turn up at elections saying ‘please vote for us’ then disappear. I think the way forward is constant campaigning.”

Bev Kirwan from Preston said, “Guest speakers like Mark Serwotka and Andrew Murray really impressed me, but hearing contributions from the delegates was most important.

“One small criticism – if we’d discussed motions in the morning and voted in the afternoon, it would have given more time to think through the motions before voting.

“I’m very active in the anti-academies campaign in Preston, where we’ve managed to get a plan to open two academies in the area pushed back a year.

“Next January there’s a council by-election in Tulketh ward, where one of the academies would be based. Respect will be standing and this will be a central issue in our election campaign.”

Muserat Sujawal from Leeds said, “I’m really sad that major players who’ve been there since the beginning were not at conference. In West Yorkshire we would like to have had a say before things got to the stage they did.

“Look at Respect as a marriage – we’ve been together a few years and started to notice things that annoy us about each other. If people see a divorce after the first crisis it will be harder to convince them we are a serious alternative.

“We should never forget why Respect was formed. We inspired people by creating a new left organisation which brought people together out of the anti-war movement.”

John Malone, from Student Respect at the University of the West of England in Bristol, said, “New Labour has sucked the passion out of regular politics and made people lose interest. The National Union of Students has done the same thing for student politics.

“Student Respect can get students back into politics, because we operate as a grassroots, campaigning organisation.

“I really liked the vision that came out of Respect conference. I know there have been problems but after Saturday I’m convinced we can overcome them.”

For further conference reports go to
» Respect conference looks to the future (part 1)
» Respect conference looks to the future (part 2)
» Video of speakers addressing Respect Conference


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