Akhtar, the BNP and the English Defence League need each other; or why he hates Respect


Asbo is happiest on the anti-fascism, anti-racism soap box, becoming the leader, the man of substance he wants to be. He is sure of his ground and the support of his community. With Respect he changes tone, more the abusive … Continue reading

Rotherham Respect… Was I there at the start of something big?

First report on yesterday’s meeting of Respect Rotherham, our thanks go to Warren Vale for this:

“Let me start by saying well done to Sarah/Kiran. With alleged shennanigans again over a venue (this time forced to change over fears of rioting if you can believe that – but I’ll leave the details to Respect members to share), Sarah/Kiran and her small team of four managed to get 40 people in a room on a late Saturday afternoon to witness the official birth of Rotherham Respect and that’s no small feat.

Of course we were there to hear from George Galloway, but we’ll get to him shortly. I want to stick with Sarah and her team just for a moment. I’m sure that everyone on this blog realises just how quickly we all lose our ‘innocence’ in politics and it was refreshing to see young people still full of charm and naivety leading the Respect charge in Rotherham. Don’t go changing too quickly Sarah. Of course public speaking will get easier, but you were great, don’t go down the slick and polished route too soon.

So George? I’ll admit that politics is like rock n roll to me. If Dave, Ed and Nick are the bland One Direction of politics (pun intended), then George is the Sex Pistols – angry, confrontational but still lovably British. The Sex Pistols were the perfect band for the punk era and in some ways, Respect should be the perfect political party for these angry, nihilistic times. “No-one speaks for me anymore” is a refrain that needs to change, and quickly. At the moment, neither, Respect, TUSC nor the growing independent movement under Simon Copley are quite hitting the mark. Time will probably change that, but time is short.

George and Yvonne spoke passionately about Respect core beliefs of Peace, Justice and Equality, and you’d have been hard pushed to find anyone disagreeing with those sentiments. We were a little short on detail, particularly local campaigns in the offing, but that’s to be expected from a party just finding its feet locally. What gave me pause to consider Respect a little more than I may have done before was the make up of the audience. There were people there whom I admire and respect greatly, stalwarts of the Rotherham left, who are moving towards Respect, and this in itself demands our attention.

One point raised that does need addressing was an audience question concerning the notion that Respect is an Islamic Party. This is not true as any glance at the history of the Party will show, but it is a perception that persists. It is up to all of us, Respect supporters or not, to dispel this notion and examine policies rather than skin colour or faith. Let Respect stand or fall on policy, not on some distracting false division. So Sarah/Kiran, get some more meetings organised, advertise them here on Rothpol, and grow your numbers. It was a great start yesterday, but it was just a start. I know some of the people who helped with Yvonne’s campaign in November, and these wise old heads (sorry Tom) should be brought even closer in to Rotherham Respect – there is much you can learn from them and, dare I say it, there is much they can learn from you.

Does Rotherham need Respect? Well yes, if the rise of UKIP endures. Labour is not an option for much of the left, and TUSC are still not chiming with the public in a meaningful way so far. Respect may provide that organised opposition. Council seats are winnable next year (although a Parliamentary seat may still be a fair distance off into the future, sorry George) and there is definitely a ‘Rotherham’ feel to the Respect youngsters there yesterday.

Respect in Rotherham is new, it’s young, and it’s exciting. It’s small, so your voice can still be heard. Most importantly, it’s here to stay. So whatever your feelings towards marmite George, Respect are worth examining. Keep Rotherham Respect young, keep it vibrant, keep it going. George was great (as always), but it’s Galloway’s Garrison here in Rotherham that could make a difference.

Warren Vale

Rotherham Respect may be contacted through the Secretary, Sarah Kiran Mahmood, by email click here.

Open Invitation From Respect Rotherham

GGRotherham Respect’s public meeting will be at:

S60 2EY

at 5pm on Saturday May 4th, all those interested welcome!

Please note the change of venue, full report on this, later!

Rotherham Respect may be contacted through the Secretary, Sarah Kiran Mahmood, by email click here.

Previously: Galloway Set To Speak in Rotherham! The Nightmare, For Some? Materialises!

Galloway Set To Speak in Rotherham!

GGIn what can only be interpreted as a sign of George Galloway’s long term commitment to the Respect Party in Rotherham, he has now confirmed as a speaker at Rotherham Respect’s public meeting, in Rotherham, on May 4th.

Rothpol also understands Yvonne Ridley will be a speaker too.

Previously: The Nightmare, For Some? Materialises!

Backroom Deal… Good Idea?

Some food for thought from Rothpol’s email inbox:

So… a by-election for Rawmarsh in May.

Is this the time for a Respect/TUSC ‘agreement’? A ‘Granita’ moment? As we know, a depressingly large number of voters will always vote for the mainstream parties (in which we now have to include ukip and bnp) so the Respect and TUSC vote comes from a reduced pool. In conversation with ordinary voters during the recent parliamentary by-election (see note at end for a declaration of interest here), the non-partisan voters told me that they could vote for either Respect or TUSC, so is it now time for Respect and TUSC to stand side by side instead of in opposition? Because of Labour mind control (what else could it be? Landslide for Sarah Champion? Seriously?), clear second is the initial goal in these elections. When you are clear second, otherwise politically steadfast voters may turn to you at the next election because you then have the appearence of a viable alternative.

With a pooling of resources, second place is achievable now in 2013, and who knows? First place in 2014 locally? An MP in 2015? I say second place now because it’s realistic. Of course you would be striving for first, but even with Rotherham Labour’s poor record, we know how long it takes to gain a shift in voter loyalty.

I have the feeling that Respect already get this, hence the invite for TUSC people to attend the Respect public meeting early in May, but I worry that if individuals on both sides of the Respect/TUSC fence start to worry about being ‘subsumed’, or not being picked as a candidate, or focussing on the differences between the parties rather than the similarities, then we continue to hand victory, neatly gift wrapped, to the status quo. We should learn from the example of SYRIZA in Greece who terrified the Troika by putting aside their differences and forming a left coalition that the public could support. How did they do this? By focussing on the policies that were shared by all and agreeing to differ on the others.

Personally, I will always look first at an independent candidate’s policies and views because I want an elected representative who answers to me and my neighbours, not to a party hierarchy, or an entrenched ideology (of the left OR right). However, time is short for us now – unnecessary genocidal austerity measures from successive governments compliant to the wishes of the financial elite of the City of London, down to the sometimes bizarre and infuriating council decisions which shock and outrage many of us – and we will have to do whatever it takes to change things quickly.

Which brings me back to my main point; although I would class myself as tending towards an independent candidate, I would now vote for the Respect or TUSC candidate in Rawmarsh… But which one? There are issues and policies from both that I support but I can’t vote for both. If this confusion is repeated amongst the disaffected left (who will never vote labour again) and voters looking for an alternative to the mainstream parties, a split vote between Respect and TUSC is inevitable.

Perhaps George should light up a cigar in a back room somewhere so a deal can be reached?

(On the conflict of interest mentioned in the first paragraph, it’s only fair to say that I got the feedback on Respect and TUSC whilst informally canvassing for Simon Copley, the independent candidate. Simon more than doubled the TUSC vote with no resources and no public awareness – just the ability to make sense to those who talked to him, but just think… a coalition of Copley, Respect and TUSC would have received 2641 votes… That would have been a very healthy third, and an outstanding foundation for elections to follow.)

Warren Vale

The Nightmare, For Some? Materialises!

Respect Rotherham Branch is getting organised. The first public expression of this, is the announcement, that Rotherham Respect are to host a public meeting in Rotherham!

Rotherham Respect’s meeting will be at Homeflair, Parkgate Complex, Rawmarsh Road, Rotherham S60 1RZ at 5pm on Saturday May 4th, all those interested welcome!

Rotherham Respect may be contacted through the Secretary, Sarah Kiran Mahmood, by email click here.

We are sure that this will be bad news for some of the playground bullies and village tyrants that hang out in the Lubyanka.