The local and London elections have been bad for the left and for progressive voters everywhere. The backlash against the Brown government, which many now feel has betrayed them on the economic and
social fundamentals, has pushed Labour’s share of the vote below the Liberal Democrats nationally. In London, Johnson is now mayor, although the final margin after second preferences was lower than many predicted. Much worse, the BNP got a first seat on the Assembly. The Liberal Democrats also had a bad day in London, with their vote down substantially and it was a pretty mixed picture for them elsewhere.
For parties to the left of Labour, results were also generally poor with some notable exceptions, particularly but not only in Birmingham. In London the best results were posted by Respect with almost 60,000 list votes, 2.43%, but this was still below the deposit saving level and less than half what was needed to get a seat on the Assembly. The combined left vote, excluding the Greens, was only 3.61% on the list.
On the positive side for Respect, winning another seat on Birmingham council was a sharp ray of light. This now gives us all three councillors in Sparkbrook. Another good result was both the constituency and list votes in East London, which clearly show we have built on our vote after a long period of internal difficulties. The constituency vote for Hanif Abdulmuhit increased by almost 7,000 from the 2004 result. The local roots Respect has established in East London checked the forward march of the BNP. Without Respect East London could have begun to look like the 1970s with the BNP pushing into third place. Instead, Respect is one of the two major parties along with Labour in parts of Tower Hamlets and Newham, we beat the BNP on the list vote and pushed the Liberal Democrats into fifth place.
There was clearly a massive turnout in some parts of the Tory suburbs, a vote with some pretty nasty racist overtones following a campaign of vilification against Livingstone and his support for ethnic minority communities in general and the Muslim community in particular.
There is little for the left to be celebrating after these results. Many Labour voters will be rightly gutted at what has happened. There will be many battles ahead against this big shift to the right. What we need to be doing now is regrouping our forces with a determination that the resistance starts here and starts now. George Galloway, Salma Yaqoob and Respect intend to be at the heart of that resistance pursuing the approach of building a plural left opposition. We also want to give a big thank you to all the candidates and supporters who worked so hard during an election campaign which has been lots of fun.
Full list of Respect election results
London – City & East: Hanif Abdulmuhit 26,760 (14.28%)
London – list vote: 59721 (2.43%)
London – Tower Hamlets (Weavers): Dilwara Begum 637 (16.78%)
London – Tower Hamlets (Millwall): Reza Mahbob 170 (3.87%)
Manchester – Cheetham Hill: Kay Phillips 502 (14.4%)
Manchester – Moss Side: Ali Shelmanu 153 (5.8%)
Wigan – Atherton: Stephen Hall 222 (6.7%)
Birmingham – Aston: Abdul Aziz 1406 (19.6%)
Birmingham – Moseley And Kings Heath: Ray Gaston 327 (4.91%)
Birmingham – Nechells: Mushtaq Hussain 781 (17.34%)
Birmingham – Sparkbrook: Nahim Ullah Khan 3032 (42.64%) elected
Birmingham – Springfield: Salma Iqbal 1920 (24.84%)
Bradford – Manningham: Arshad Ali 395 (7.5%)
Walsall – Palfrey: Arshad Kanwar 304 (7.6%)