Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

Respect is diverse, transparent and open to all

The success of Respect and the Greens in June shows there's a constituency out there that will vote for an alternative left, anti-war space. Had the left vote been unified, its message to the general public would have been more credible. A big left vote could have encouraged the trade unions to break open more political funds, and could have also galvanised the left inside Labour.

August 1, 2004
3 min read

We need to sit down and say that there is far more that unites us than divides us, and we must come to an agreement – even if it’s just agreeing not to stand against each other in seats where one of us has a good chance of winning. We need to talk about endorsing and supporting candidates in those areas. There are serious discussions to be had. But it’s not positive to dismiss the possibility of such cooperation so quickly; that attitude has damaged the left for the past 20 years.

Respect will look to deepen its roots in all communities by working on bread and butter issues, and not just at election time. If we want to build a genuine left, it must come from the bottom up. I”m confident that such grass-roots building will take place before the next general election. In east London, for example, Respect is already creating alliances around housing and social deprivation.

There has been a lot of criticism of Respect. But the organisation is only in its infancy. Our party convention in the autumn will clarify and develop our policies and structures. We hope that it will be attended by people from outside Respect, who will be able to engage in critical discussions with lots of different perspectives. I want our structures to mirror those of other parties so that we have branches in constituencies and wards and the leadership is directly elected and accountable to its members.

People are also concerned that Respect exploited the “Muslim vote”, but really that vote is of ordinary people. We need to deal with different sectors of society to make a proper coalition; who is really aiming to do that in your community? I don’t want Muslims to be used by the Trots, but I don’t want them to sit at home, either. Our candidates were the most diverse of any party, ever. There were women, black and Asian candidates, young people. The Green Party, in contrast, is mostly white and middle class.

There’s also an issue of the role the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) plays in Respect. The SWP is a significant force in the coalition, but it is only one element. If people are concerned about its influence they should make the SWP even more of a minority by joining Respect. Come and be involved. Respect wants to be open and transparent.


Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.

Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani

Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week

A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes

Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.

Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu

Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns

Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism