Respect relaunched

Around seventy people attended the inaugural meeting of London Respect in Conway Hall on July 19th. The meeting was Respect’s first major public event in the city for some time and was presented as relaunch of the party in the capital following George Galloway’s election victory in Bradford.

The meeting represented something of a shift in emphasis for Respect. Chair Andrew Burgin pointed to the emerging new left in Europe and said that this is where the organisation now wants to situate itself. Philippe Nadouce of the Front de Gauche squarely placed responsibility for austerity and the capitalist crisis on ideological driven right wingers who want to transfer states’ assets to the private sector. Sinn Fein’s Daithi Doolan explained how sharing power with the hard right, homophobic, creationist DUP is a transitional stage to an Irish socialist republic. Speaking for Syriza Dimitris Tzanakopoulos emphasised the importance of parties being integral to movements of struggle.

The political keynote speech for Respect was given by Kate Hudson who was also launching her new book The New European Left. Kate drew very similar conclusions about the need for working class parties to the left of Labour and social democracy that Socialist Resistance has been arguing for. The need for such parties, she argued, has been particularly necessary since the collapse of the Berlin Wall as many social-democratic parties and even some communist ones have embraced neo-liberalism, and that unity of the left was possible as to achieve this. She also argued that these parties be based on  inflexibility on questions of principle; absolute opposition to capitalist austerity; no coalitions with parties that make cuts and the need for political pluralism inside these organisations. Salma Yaqoob announced at the meeting that Kate will be contesting a vacant parliamentary seat in November in Manchester and predicted that the result would be very close.

Since George Galloway’s election Respect has attracted some new members, a number of whom have real experience on the radical left. The challenge that now faces the party is how it makes itself attractive to activists and working class voters who want a party that articulates their own opposition to austerity, ecological destruction and imperialist war.  The answer on offer in Conway Hall was that they should join Respect and that’s an answer that poses more questions than solutions.

 We would agree with Kate that the need for a broad socialist party is as necessary in Britain as it is elsewhere. But the most successful experiences indicate that these parties were achieved by the coming together of several political forces working together over a period of time and attracting new militants. Respect should be part of a political recomposition to help achieve this.


  1. Socialist Resistance Seminar on

    10:30am – 5pm
    ULU, Malet Street, WC1

    Speakers from: Syriza, Red Green Alliance, Bloco, NPA, Front de Gauche, Respect and Socialist Resistance

    Plenaries and workshops with reports and discussion on the situation across Europe and individual countries, including on prospects for Britain.

    Further details to follow, including names of speakers and agenda.

  2. “Chair Andrew Burgin pointed to the emerging new left in Europe and said that this is where the organisation now wants to situate itself.”

    Unfortunatly Respect nows sees itself as the “Left alternative” rather than party to ceating a new left alternative and this has been made even clearer since their historic win in Bradford. Now Respect was set up to help create a “new left” with others in the UK and it was never the project for itself to be that alternative (which is why some of us left). This is were Respect has gone sadly wrong and it should be noted that just prior to the Bradford win by George that Respect was all but about to be wound up as a poltical party. The Respect win in Bradford has made this decline an even longer drawn out affair (even if some new members have been recruited since that win – we have been there before i think). Lets not forget that Respect had an MP in Tower Hamlets and 12 (I think) Respect Councillors so they are in no better position now in Bradford than they were in Tower Hamlets in the recent past. And where are they now in Tower Hamlets? One or is it two Respect Councillors left i think and a hollow shell of a party left in TH compared to how is was at one time (and the same can happen in Bradford in the future if Respect allow themselves to remain isolated).

    But it could have been so different and still could be but its not looking hopefull. The Bradford win by George could have been used as a launge pad for a new united left with a call for unity of Respect/TUSC/Left Greens/Socialist Resistance etc with a joint conference held in Bradford. But not a serious word matched by action on left unity from Respect since Bradford. Respect have rejected all attempts by TUSC for unity so far and have rejected formal calls for a joint left candidate for the Manchester bi-election perfering to put up a pesonality (even if a good one)who has been in Respect just weeks rather than either a joint left candidate or even their own National Secretary who stood down due to ill health and also at the same time as National Secretary.

    I would urge Socialist Resistance to join TUSC and to be part of trying to create a united left alternative that Respect so far appears to not want to be part of.

  3. Neil, we have formally applied to affiliate to TUSC as an organisation but were told that we couldn’t by a leading member of its largest component. That makes it rather hard to join.

  4. I’m opposed to left organisations not being allowed to affiliate to TUSC. Some of the trade unionists involved could counter this view however by asking why should every tiny group on the left be allowed affiliation and a place on the national committee? Not my view, because I’m for a united left party, and I think this could help by bringing everyone on board. I’m just highlighting the views that could exist amongst trade union lefts.

    Anyway that aside, I think that SR members could and should get involved in TUSC as individuals and join local branches / set up local branches where there are none. They would not be prevented from arguing their positions, selling their literature, carrying out independent work as SR, being elected to local branch positions, going to the national conference in september etc. etc. They would after a period of proven activity within TUSC then be able to gather support for official affiliation to TUSC as a component group from a much stronger position. I believe SR are involved in TUSC in Brighton already.

    Comradely greetings,


  5. Liam “we have formally applied to affiliate to TUSC as an organisation but were told that we couldn’t by a leading member of its largest component. That makes it rather hard to join.”

    Liam from what i am aware of Socialist Resistance has failed to follow through with its application. Now do correct me if i am wrong. It would be for the National Committee to decide not one member of that committee (whatever their view) but clearly its not posible if that application is not completed as requested. Obviously how SR palys its role within TUSC will need some futher discussion but this can only occur after step 1 has ben completed (if you get my meaning).

    I think Socialist Resistance would be a major asset to TUSC and help to conter balance the large numbers from Socialist Worker and the Socialist Party as at this stage its essential no one organsiation is allowed to dominate TUSC and its current agenda to the detrement of all others, TUSC being a federal coalition currently.

    I always found Socialist Resistance played a very positive and non sectarian role within Respect when i was on the National Council even if i think you stayed just a wee bit too long and were not as critcal of certain policy changes as was required on occasion – but these are rare minor points compared to the important and positive role Socialist Resistance played over a long time.

    Socialist Resistance will have my full support to be a full member of TUSC and i will try to assist this in any way i can.

    As KS has stated there is nothing preventing SR members while membership discussions take place from playing a role within TUSC so i do hope members attend the national supporters conference in London on Sept 22nd.

  6. Ireland has a new radical left organization with 5 MPs, an MEP and 30 councillors called the United Left Alliance.

    Sinn Fein do not represent the Irish left, they are involved in no campaigns or movements. They are the next austerity government in-waiting. The refresh of Fianna Fail. In the North, they run a sectarian carve-up with a far-right party. It would be good if this message filtered through to our comrades in the UK.

  7. Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition Conference details:

    TUSC conference, Saturday 22 September 11am-5pm, Birkbeck College, Malet Street, London WC1E. Includes an afternoon session, ‘For councillors who will stand up to the Con-Dems!’, which will discuss TUSC’s local election policy platform and preparations for the 2013 local elections. All welcome. Registration £5 waged/£2 unwaged.

    There will be three Sessions. Speakers will be restricted so that there is ample time for discussion

    Session One: Building working class political representation against the austerity consensus. Speakers to be invited from the RMT executive, PCS and one speaker each from the affiliated socialist organisations, the SP, SWP and ISN

    Session Two:For councillors who will stand up to the Con-Dems! This session will also be an opportunity for proposals to update the TUSC local elections policy platform to be discussed.

    Session Three: ‘Reviewing TUSC’s structures’: Introducing the ‘Reviewing TUSC’s Structures’ commission initial report and plans for how to continue the discussion

    Hope to see plenty of Socialist Resistance members/supporters there on the day.

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