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Salma Yaqoob leaves Respect

Salma Yaqoob, until now leader of the Respect Party, has just announced that she has left the party.  Although her statement does not refer directly to George Galloway’s recent comments, it speaks of a breakdown of trust and collaborative working. Coming so soon after the withdrawal of Kate Hudson as parliamentary candidate in Manchester Central, it is hard to see how Respect can survive as anything like a national party. Salma Yaqoob’s statement reads as follows:

It is with deep regret that I have decided to resign from Respect. The last few weeks have been extremely difficult for everyone in the party. I feel necessary relations of trust and collaborative working have unfortunately broken down. I have no wish to prolong those difficulties, and indeed hope that they may now be drawn to a close.

I remain committed to the principles and values that led me to help found Respect. The policies we have fought for need to be voiced as loud as ever in opposition to a political establishment that remains out of touch with working people.

I would like to thank everyone in the party for their support over the years; I wish everyone the very best for the future and in those common struggles for peace, justice and equality that I am sure we will all continue to be involved in.


  1. Alex says:

    I really hope she chooses to join the Labour Party, she’d be excellent.

  2. Baby face says:

    It must have been heard for Salma. I wish her good health first of all . She would have been even stronger i believe if she eas well. She has been very outspoken female ,but meaning full. I feel ” Labour here i come”.:)

  3. Pants says:

    How can she possibly join the Labour Party? Her entire raison d’etre has been a principled opposition to the war. In the Labour Party she’d be just another war criminal.

  4. themadmullahofbricklane says:

    The reality of course is that Respect never really existed as other parties do. It was a brand name which various ambitious ethnic minority politicians could use to further their own careers plus the extreme left in the shape of the SWP.

    In Tower Hamlets I watched the whole farce from beginning to end with the predictions I made when it gained its first councillor proving to be correct.

    A group of opportunistic village power brokers saw an opportunity to make money and used their block votes to get Galloway and twelve councillors elected. The SWP were side lined from the start and from day one it was a Bangladeshi village project subject to the whims of whatever the brokers wanted.

    I watched in amusement as one after another their councillors defected to the other parties. One Respect councillor went straight to the Tories without even pausing at Labour or the Lib Dems!

    The left watched as their hope of revolution disappeared before their eyes the whole thing lasting not more than a couple of years.

    What happened in Tower Hamlets is now happening in Bradford and the party will now be Galloway, who will draw his Parliamentary salary and gad around the world as he did when he was MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, and a group of young Kashmiris who now have the kind of power base that they were opposed to in their elders. Expect them to behave in exactly the same way.

    Respect can be described as an alliance of village power brokers looking to expand their base in this country as well as business interests, the left primarily the SWP which opportunistically and arrogantly thought that there was a way into the mainstream through anti war Muslims, although this meant ditching women’s and gay rights campaigns, and a couple of high profile personalities.

    There are moments when political movements become greater than their component parts and are bigger than the personalities that make them up. The far left and the far right have never in this country reached that point and for the left Respect has been a disaster with the largest grouping the SWP now a fringe struggling to make enough money to pay its full timers.

    The time is now right for an enterprising journalist to write the history of the movement that never was. Will Salma Yaqoob carry on in politics. Probably. She has a power base which Labour and the Lib Dems want and which she can now use to bargain with. Ealry days still for here but for the left a complete and unmitigated disaster.

    Respect was never more than ethnic political manoeuvreing with a couple of high profile personalities tacked on. Its legacy in Tower Hamlets is one of communities more divided than ever.

  5. Even before the latest story surrounding George Galloway, Respect had already been riven between supporters and opponents of the Islamist insurrection in and invasion of Syria. Galloway was in the latter camp, Yaqoob was in the former.

    Led by the candidate whom the pro-life Catholic, Scottish Unionist, Eurosceptical, and never Hard Left Galloway would have nominated if he had still been a Labour MP, only one party now advocates the Union as a first principle, and any concept of English identity. A universal postal service bound up with the monarchy, the Queen’s Highways rather than toll roads owned by faraway and unstable petrostates, Her Majesty’s Constabulary rather than the British KGB that is the impending “National Crime Agency”, and its own 1997 manifesto commitment to renationalise the railways. The National Health Service rather than piecemeal privatised provision by the American healthcare companies that pay Andrew Lansley. Keeping Sunday at least as special as the last Conservative Government left it.

    The restoration both of energy independence and of the economic basis of paternal authority, through the reopening of the mines promised by Ed Miliband to one hundred thousand people and the television cameras at the Durham Miners’ Gala. The historic regimental system, and aircraft carriers with aircraft on them. No Falkland Islands oil to Argentina. The State action necessary in order to maintain the work of charities and of churches. The State action necessary in order to maintain a large and thriving middle class. A referendum on continued membership of the EU, explicitly and repeatedly ruled out by David Cameron and William Hague, but never by Ed Miliband. A free vote on the redefinition of marriage, very recently and half-heartedly conceded to Conservative MPs, but always guaranteed to Labour ones.

    Labour is reverting to its historical norm as the voice and vehicle of a many-rooted social democratic patriotism in all directions, inclusive of social and cultural conservatives as well as social and cultural liberals, inclusive of rural as well as urban and suburban voices, inclusive of provincial as well as metropolitan contributions, and inclusive of religious as well as secular insights. The 2010 intake is very largely “classic Labour”, the boys in their dads’ suits having decided to sit out the hard work of Opposition. As a result, Labour has long enjoyed a commanding lead both in the opinion polls and at the actual polls.

    But Labour came third or below in 211 constituencies in 2010, mostly places where it always does, and in most of those pretty distantly. However, the Coalition has changed the weather. The SNP will also be finished for at least a generation after the loss of the independence referendum in 2014. Imagine a formation which, while welcoming Labour’s present return to the historical norm set out above, was for that very reason fully aware that someone needed to keep Labour on that track or else stand ready to replace it.

    Properly organised and sufficiently funded, such a formation could expect to win in 2015 about one third of those seats, i.e., around 70. That would be enough to make a very significant difference indeed, even to hold the balance of power in a hung Parliament. But it could only happen if the unions, most obviously, stumped up the cash. And it could only happen if Labour, with no realistic hope of winning those seats, stood aside in that formation’s favour.

    Respect had some aspirations to fill a very British gap, the lack of a party anchoring the Left while engaging fully in the battle of ideas at every level of cultural life and of the education system, while refusing to consign or to confine demotic culture to “the enormous condescension of posterity”, and while co-ordinating broad-based and inclusive campaigns for human rights and civil liberties, for peace (including nuclear, radiological, chemical and biological disarmament, and including against the arms trade), for environmental responsibility, and for the defence and extension of jobs, services and amenities.

    Respect was never going to be that party. But this could be. This must be. This will be. If we make it happen. Let’s get on with it.

  6. themadmullahofbricklane says:

    David Lindsey. English isn’t my first language so could you please explain what it is you are talking about in the above post?

  7. Simon Deville says:

    Yet again Selma shows herself to be the principled political figure she always was. That Respect has allowed George Galloway’s reactionary and backward politics to drive out its greatest asset speaks volumes. I wish she would join Labour, and think she would find a lot of allies if she did, but it seems unlikely.

  8. Graeme Arthur says:

    Why on earth would she ever join Labour? Too many people are kidding themselves that Labour are still a Left-Wing party. They have been moving further and further right and becoming more and more authoritarian and war-hungry.

  9. Simon Deville says:

    The only people who seem to kid themselves about the labour party seem to be those who aren’t actually members.

    Those of us inside the party tend to be well aware of the right wing politics of the leadership, but also that the party isn’t, and never has been a monolith, but is a broad church with a wide range of views from the far left to the right. It is only iinveterate sectarians who would find that there is nobody they could work with inside the party.

  10. Ian Roberts says:

    Simon, this broad church excuse simply won’t do
    The problem when the church is as broad and as market friendly as the Labour Party is that the broader it gets, the more sin it has to cater for.

  11. themadmullahofbricklane says:

    Not a bad analysis of the broad church concept Ian.

  12. Simon Deville says:

    Ian – the question is one of socialist strategy – do you want a broad party of the working class which by definition is politically disparate and will contain all sorts of political views that socialists would sharply disagree with and in which socialists need to fight for their views to be adopted. Alternatively you can have an ideologically pure party which by definition will have a much narrower base of support and which you then try to win a mass base somehow. The latter is the model which much of the far left has tried unsuccessfully to build throughout the last century in Britain. It seems to me that Respect has the worst of both worlds however – neither the ideological purity nor the mass base of support, except within one or two specific geographical locations.

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