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

Congratulations Sarah: now let’s learn the lessons of Rotherham

Congratulations to Sarah Champion, the new Labour MP for Rotherham (full results below). She will no doubt do a great job in the role – we hope better than her predecessor Denis MacShane.

So can we all breathe a sigh of relief? Well, of course, in that Labour won. Respect may be capable of delivering reality-checks to Labour, as in Bradford West, but only Labour can deliver a government that works in the interests of working people. And that’s not to mention the appalling judgment calls made by George Galloway – and candidates who have refused to distance themselves from him – in recent months. It’s welcome to see those rejected – and of course, Yvonne Ridley appeared on the ballot paper as “Respect (George Galloway)”.

But the result is hardly a vindication of the selection process that saw local candidates kept off the ballot paper by the party machine. With a turnout of 33 per cent and an unheard-of second place for a party that capitalises on disillusionment, it is clear that voters have been turned off by the political process that disenfranchised the people of their town.

Continue reading

Respect: two, three, many Bradford Wests?

I am unsure what punishment sharia law provides for honey glazing married ladies. But I hope Lee Jasper checked this point out before accepting the Respect nomination for the Croydon North by-election this week, if only for his own safety.

Meanwhile, the redoubtable Yvonne Ridley is running on the same ticket in Rotherham, and from what I am hearing, it is squeaky bum time in two places that should be donkey with a red rosette territory. 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