A Galloway Coup at RESPECT?

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A Coup D’etat in Respect?  
by William Bowles 
Got this in the mail this am. The more things change the more they stay the same eh, Respect by any other name.


  • Respect has been locked out of its head office. Overnight the locks were changed on the Respect national office. This action excludes most National Officers, the national office staff and the majority of Respect members who support them from their own organisation's headquarters.In recent days Respect branches all around the country have overwhelmingly voted in favour of the Respect conference going ahead as planned in defiance of an attempt to call the conference off by George Galloway and his supporters. These resolutions can be seen at [http://www.respectcoalition.org/?ite=1623].

  • This coup is meant to prevent democratic debate continuing in Respect and to rob the membership of their own organisation.The immediate effect of this action is to prevent Respect from intervening effectively in today's NHS demonstration.The Respect coalition nationally pays over half the rent, rates and bills of the office which is shared with the constituency party."We call on all Respect members to demand Linda Smith, the chair of Respect, and George Galloway reverse this disastrous course of action" said John Rees, Respect's National Secretary.

It follows hot on the heels of the other press release I got back on the 28 November (see below) on the sorry events taking place with respect to the Respect councillors in Tower Hamlets.

Now, back when Respect was founded in 2003, I attended the founding conference and having been out of the country for some thirty-odd years. I wasn’t okay with the ‘left’ scene in the UK, and until it was pointed out to me that those leading Respect (aside from Galloway), were all leading members of the Socialist Workers Party, at which point all became clear to me, especially the manipulation of the outcome of the meeting by the aforementioned, with the able assistance of Galloway, namely the programme of the Respect Party.

This is ‘left’ politics from the last century folks, mostly the politics of opportunism and its inevitable outcome; splits and power grabs by one ‘faction’ or another.
I’m sorry to say I’ve seen it all before.

28 October 2007
For immediate release

Respect Councillors in Tower Hamlets Council resign the whip

We, the undersigned Respect Councillors, after due consideration and deliberation, have decided to resign the Respect group whip with immediate effect. We remain loyal Respect members and we will participate in the council chambers and attend to the community in Tower Hamlets; we remain loyal to the original policies and principles on which Respect was founded. After a final attempt in the form of a five-hour long meeting with the Respect group of Councillors and the current Group Leader Cllr Abjol Miah last night, we have come to the conclusion that it is no longer possible for us to work constructively together.

It has become clear now that Cllr Abjol Miah, over the course of his time in the Council, has failed to demonstrate the basic qualities and competencies essential for the post of Group and Opposition Leader. He has failed to foster a sense of unity and purpose within the Respect Councillors group and has systematically acted in a sectarian manner, seeking to appease only one section of Respect supporters and the wider community in Tower Hamlets. His approach and conduct have been detrimental to the spirit of a united coalition that brings together a range of groups and individuals of different backgrounds and political persuasions.

Cllr Oliur Rahman, the first Respect Councillor in the country, said, "It is particularly sad for me that after repeated attempts to find a reasonable way forward, our efforts have been treated with disdain. We regret that it has come to the stage where we feel compelled to resign the whip."

Cllr Rania Khan said, "His lack of leadership has led us to lose two Councillors, and his inappropriate behaviour to women Councillors in the group is disgraceful. Cllr Miah has failed to accept the basic principle of the party as a coalition working with all groups."

Cllr Oliur Rahman
Cllr Lutfa Begum
Cllr Rania Khan
Cllr Ahmed Hussain

Notes to editors: For further information please contact Cllr Oliur Rahman on 07961 721 192.

Now, who knows what this tiff is about, but first and foremost it’s a betrayal of the trust the voters of Tower Hamlets put in Respect as well as a betrayal of Left principles in general and reveals a true bankruptcy of thought on what passes for a Left in the UK.

In the midst of two frightful wars of aggression and occupation (with a third looming threateningly on the horizon), we have the sorry spectacle of the only real expression of an alternative to ‘new’ Labour, squabbling in public (but perhaps better now than later?) and revealing in the process that gearing a policy that singles out one specific sector of British society, namely Muslim Asians, as the centre of an ‘anti-war’ and allegedly socialist platform, is doomed to failure. It’s sectarian, divisive and short-sighted.

That such a ‘programme’ ended up like this could have been predicted, just too many hidden agendas, foremost of which seems to be the acquisition of power by the usual suspects, but to what end?

I don’t normally write about such things except in a more general way, preferring to keep specific people and personalities out of public discourse, but Respect (or factions thereof) chose to make it public with their PR release and I think it’s important that we take note an hopefully learn from the experience.
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Respect office lock out
For immediate release
For more information contact Carmel Brown 07718155105

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