Respect & UKIP after Rotherham & Croydon: Part 1 – Respect’s last gasp

Last week, Labour, under Iain McNicol’s effective management, mounted an impressive campaign to defeat the perceived threat in Croydon and Rotherham by-elections from Respect. Though Labour’s continuing failure to develop an anti-austerity strategy and thoroughly reconnect with working class voters still leaves it exposed to some future threat from the left, it won’t come from Respect. This was their last shout. They will pose no credible threat again in any by-election in this parliament and they know it.

On the other hand, the disastrous and shambolic handling of Labour’s selection process in Rotherham, and Ed Miliband’s subsequent handling of the UKIP fostering row, have left UKIP looking like a credible and legitimate mainstream party that can provide a suitable home for working class voters. Behind the very plausible face of Nigel Farage, however, lurk a bunch of dodgy characters with dangerous views whose brand of nasty right-wing populism now poses an even more serious threat. Continue reading

On leaving Respect

Kate Hudson and Andrew Burgin, each of whom are officers of the Stop the War Coalition and anti-austerity campaigners but with different political pasts, have in the last six months both joined and left Respect together. This is their account:

Joining Respect

We joined Respect two days after George Galloway’s outstanding victory in Bradford, in March 2012. In our estimate, this by-election victory indicated both the support for a clear anti-cuts politics to the left of Labour, and the viability of Respect as a political party which could inhabit that political space. Respect’s election result, across all wards in Bradford, indicated the resonance of the party’s politics across the city’s diverse communities, transcending the wrongly perceived limits of Respect’s political appeal and re-establishing the party on the political map. Continue reading

George Galloway, the media, and the end of Respect

The departure of Salma Yaqoob and the withdrawal as a candidate by Kate Hudson may well mark the end of Respect. The Galloway hate-mongers seem to think the story is all about George Galloway. Galloway is “a sham”, Liberal Conspiracy has it, and Respect is a Galloway “ego-proxy” says Labour Uncut. George Galloway, warts and all, has played a big part in Respect’s ups and downs, but I’d argue that making him the story obscures the truth about the future of Respect as it did about the attack on Wikileaks and how to respond to the rape accusations against Julian Assange. Continue reading

On Bradford, anti-imperialist Labourism, social democracy and real Labour values

George Galloway’s victory in Bradford West for the Respect party is enormously significant. It is important for Labour not to fall for idea of George as a manipulative maverick, because that betrays a patronising contempt for the electorate who chose to vote for George Galloway. So Ed Miliband and Iain McNichol are absolutely right when they say: Continue reading

Bradford West: one off or turning point?

I am not a supporter of George Galloway. But it would be churlish for even an avowed political opponent not to congratulate him on his by-election success, the sheer scale of which massively exceeded anything that even his own fan base were expecting 24 hours beforehand.

What made the win even more astonishing is the way that it was secured from a standing start. Just three weeks ago the Respect Party existed on paper only, with no-one expecting ever to emerge again. Continue reading