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Respect – Build on the Victory

Socialist Workers Party

In an internal document the SWP leadership assesses the general election results in its usual sober and thoughtful manner.


Who said it was going to be a boring election night? Blair’s going, Howard’s gone and Trimble has fallen on his sword.

Labour secured only 36.3 percent, the Conservative Party had secured 33.2 per cent of the vote – the lowest combined total for the top two parties since the 1920s. This compares with 40.7 per cent and 31.7 per cent respectively in 2001. Just 9,492,687 people voted for the victorious party, down from 10,740,648 in 2001.

Already the media is describing Blair as a lame duck prime minister and the vultures are circling... the bookies are giving short odds on him not lasting the year. Labour officials are admitting that just a few thousand votes could have seen Blair’s majority cut to 20, no wonder senior figures such as Robin Cook and Frank Dobson are calling for him to go. Blair has been given a bloody nose and as George Galloway said in his acceptance speech "this one’s for Iraq".

The Tory vote went up a little from the last national poll, rising by just 328,162 votes. Despite running a disgusting racist campaign the Tories failed to break through. Howard’s resignation announcement has left the Tories in trouble.

The Lib Dems were the biggest winners out of the main three parties. They scored over a million extra votes on a slightly higher turnout, taking their vote from 4,816,137 to 5,934,622. The Lib Dems success was a protest vote at Labour’s expense. But already they have internal arguments with worries that the party is perceived as too left wing and is cutting itself off from Tory voters.

An internal Green Party document states: "We are obviously disappointed not to win any seats, or for that matter finish second in any constituency. However, we’ve made some steady gains in a number of London seats and with 22% in Brighton Pavilion and 11% in Lewisham Deptford."

It then goes onto add: "George Galloway’s high profile and remarkable victory over Oona King is the headline of the night, but it is Respect’s results in East and West Ham (either side of the 20% mark) that are undoubtedly impressive and have particularly caught my interest. There is certain to be strategic discussion within the Green Party about what this means for Green / Left political relations".

Respect’s election victory remains inexplicable to many media pundits, but nothing on the left of British politics will ever be the same again. George’s victory was amazing. But Respect is not a one trick pony. Respect came second in three seats – in Birmingham, West Ham and East Ham. Add that to the stunning 17.2% vote in Poplar we have really laid down a marker. We also got very credible results in Leicester, Tottenham, Preston and Slough (see last Friday’s Party Notes Election Special for results).

Some comrades are asking why party notes on Friday didn’t concentrate more on the poorer Respect results. The answer is simple. Galloway’s election victory means that all bets are off. Even if your local result was disappointing the Bethnal Green and Bow result means that we can build a whole new Respect in your area in short order. Of course we have to learn many lessons from each local campaign. Of course we have to ask if we were able to tap into the networks that Respect keyed into in East London and Birmingham. But it would be crazy to generalise from a poor vote when we have just had an MP elected. Votes in Birmingham, Tottenham and Preston show that this was not East End exceptionalism. The main lesson to learn is that Respect is now in a completely different league from anything else the left has produced in this country for 60 years.

Respect will be discussing the next step over the next few weeks with most areas around the country having Respect meetings next week. George Galloway’s election is a massive achievement. We now have the task of building on the brilliant results in East London and Birmingham and giving working people a real alternative to Blair… however long he lasts!

* Congratulations to Eamonn McCann standing for the Socialist Environmental Alliance in Foyle. He beat the official Unionist candidate, winning over 1,600 votes and 3.6 percent of the total.

* There will be a Respect workplace leaflet out tomorrow.


On Sunday 22 May we will be holding the SWP National Committee to discuss in detail future plans for Respect and the SWP. But in the meantime we need to organise the following:

* This week every SWP branch should meet (the "winning is just the beginning" branch meeting flyer is attached) to discuss the election results. Every possible member and Respect activist should be invited to come along.

* We need to make sure that the activists we have worked with over the last month get this week’s issue of Socialist Worker and get the paper from now on. We should encourage comrades to make a push with Socialist Worker at work or college. There will be loads of people wanting to read about Respect’s success. Make sure every Respect activist has been asked about coming to Marxism 2005 and are asked seriously about joining the SWP.


After the brilliant election results, the G8 is a chance for a massive show of strength against neo-liberalism, war, Bush and everything Blair stands for. It’s clear from the Make Poverty History events so far that the mobilisation will be huge. But it is important that the left puts itself at the heart of the mobilisation because the MPH leadership is closely tied to Downing Street – particularly to Brown. They want to get their people in and out of Edinburgh on Saturday, keeping them well away from the alternative summit on the Sunday 3rd and the demo to Gleneagles on Wednesday 6th.

It is no surprise Live Aid have just announced they are doing a concert in London during the G8.

Every meeting we have been involved in college and unis has been a hit. There were 200 at Southwark FE College, 70 at Liverpool Uni, 150 at Manchester Uni etc etc.

1) Every school college and Uni needs to have an MPH event ASAP.
2) The STUC and Scottish Unison have both passed good resolutions supporting all the protests at the G8. We need to rush through resolutions (attached) in every union Branch and region.
3) We should organise MPH/G8 meetings in every locality with speakers from NGOs, trade unions, Labour Party, Respect, local churches, Globalise Resistance, Stop the War etc.

Phone the GR office for suggestions if necessary.

We need to make sure the question of the war in Iraq is central to the mobilisation, and that people stay at least for the weekend and as many as possible come on the Wednesday demo to Gleneagles. For more info go to www.makepovertyhistory.org www.g8alternatives.org.uk www.resist.org.uk


Globalise Resistance conference in 3 weeks time is a vital element in preparing for the G8 protests. The question of Africa cannot be left to the moralising of the more right wing NGOs. The speakers booked and workshops organised are the way to radicalising the mobilisation. Éric Toussaint will give a blistering analysis of the state of debt in Africa, Patrick Bond and Sue Branford take a look at "the Third Way for the Global South?" by examining Lula and Mbeki, Richard Gott will be speaking on Chavez and there will be an all day video room. Get your tickets now, phone GR on… 020 7053 2071/2, order leaflets on the same number.


George Galloway’s election victory will set the tone for what will be a brilliant Marxism 2005. Following on from the G8 speakers such as Walden Bello and Trevor Ngwane will join key figures in Respect including George Galloway and Salma Yaqoob. In the course of the campaign many of the leading Respect campaigners signed up for the event. We’ve had a big chunk of university and FE students signing up over the internet. Now is the time to hit the button on Marxism. From now on every branch and college group needs a target list of people we’re going to get along. From Respect, from MPH activity and from the trade unions we can bring the best activists together in London this July. This year’s Marxism can be a real celebration and an important space to talk through where the movement goes next.