Respect -v- Labour debate

May 19, 2012 at 7:55 pm (communalism, Galloway, Guest post, labour party, Respect, strange situations, Tony Blair, unions)

Exclusive report from Bruce Robinson:

About 100 people attended Wednesday’s debate between Clive Searle of Respect and Lucy Powell, Labour PPC for the Manchester Central by-election. Unfortunately there was only an hour for debate which followed a Trades Council meeting, so little time for speakers.

The introductions were largely about the Bradford West campaign. Searle opened by saying that people had tried to dismiss the result as a Muslim bloc vote, but that was not true and he was, anyway, proud of Muslim votes. The Labour Party was in denial. Ed Miliband had said one couldn’t talk to people who denied Israel’s right to exist, but millions of people do so. The result was also a message on a range of other issues – for instance student fees, There is an alernative to trade unionists giving money to Labour. Interestingly, he made no mention at all of Galloway. Later in the discussion he said: “We want Labour to be more like Old Labour.”

Lucy Powell was very conciliatory, saying that Chris Searle had made a compelling case and that there was a lot Labour could learn from Respect. They had a common enemy in the government. Labour puts down Respect at its peril. People in Bradford had wanted change and there’d been a deficit in political leadership. George Galloway was charismatic and principled and there was a place for him within the Labour spectrum. Labour remained the only way to get rid of the government.

Initial contributions from the floor were largely pro-Respect, including those from SWP’ers and a woman who was once in Socialist Action, who said she was thinking of leaving the Labour Party to join Respect. There was also lots of criticism of the (Manchester) Labour council’s cuts, turning the city over to private developers, etc, etc.

I got to speak for a couple of minutes. I made the point that the politics of both Miliband and Galloway are symptomatic of the crisis in working class representation and attacked Galloway’s appeal to religious identity as a “better Muslim” as communalist. This brought some muttering from SWP and Respect people. Powell gave a wry smile when I pointed out that Galloway had recently come out against public ownership.

Kay Phillips, one of the ex-SWP people who’d stayed with Respect, replied saying it was a libel to say Galloway supported the clan-based Bradree/Biradiri system – which of course was not what I’d said. Much was made in the discussion, of the Respect campaign’s appeal to young people and women through the challenge to the traditional system (ie: Bradree/Biradiri) of patronage and clan loyalty.

There was an interesting contribution from a Labour Party member from Bradford who described how the Labour campaign had not nadressed non-Asian voters and had based itself upon Bradree/Biradiri clan loyalties.

Star contribution of the evening came from an Asian Labour Party member from Preston, who said that as one of the very few Muslims in the room there were two people in politics he couldn’t stand: Tony Blair and George Galloway. Galloway was leading Muslims up the creek without a paddle. He noted that Respect had never won anything where less than 40% of the electorate was Muslim, and challenged them to stand elsewhere.

In the summing-up Searle said he was going to stand for Respect against Powell in Manchester Central which certainly doesn’t have a 40% Muslim population, so we shall see.

I had an amusing and political bus journey home…



  1. pinkagendist said,

    Are you a Northerner? I’m not sure Northerners are allowed to be Shiraz Socialists. I didn’t even know people from Manchester knew what Shiraz was- at all.

    • Matt said,

      Bruce is a Londoner in voluntary exile in Manchester.

  2. Innocent Abroad said,

    Don’t be such a tease, Bruce – tell us about the bus ride!

  3. charliethechulo said,

    Yes I’ve also asked Bruce to elucidate, but he’s too busy with his whippets (or was it pigeons?) and practising saying “eeh bah goom” in an authentic accent.

    Shiraz Socialist will shortly be re-launched as Newton & Ridley’s Bitter Socialist.

  4. charliethechulo said,

    I’ve just watched the videos: Lucy Powell was pretty pathetic wasn’t she? OK, tactics may have come into it, but she really should have kicked the shit out of Respect, not grovelled to them.

  5. Online Citizens said,

    Dear Jim Denham,

    On the basis of your original and thought provoking contributions to shiraz socialist, I would like to take this opportunity to invite you join Urban 75 forums, an on-line message board community for those concerned with politics, current affairs, music and much more. Urban 75 has over 40,000 members and is an excellent space in which to network and communicate ideas. I feel that as a member you would significantly contribute to the on-going debates. Here is a link:

    It is free to join and I sincerely hope that you do so.

    kind regards


  6. Jim Denham said,

    Interesting, isn’t it, that no pro-Respect blog (eg Nooman’s ‘Socialist Unity’, the ‘Counterfire’ shower, or Seymour’s ‘Lenin’sTomb’) has reported on this debate.

    It suggests, perhaps, that despite the Labour PPC’s over-conciliatory performance, they don’t think Searle put up a very good show.

    P.S: I’ve just noticed that Nooman *has* now put up the three Youtube clips from the debate, though without any text. Also no comments, so far:

    I posted Bruce’s report as a comment there, but it’s presently in their pre-moderation system and (no doubt) it will not appear.

  7. Andrew Coates said,

    Anyone who claims Respect is not largely based on an appeal to Muslism, *as Muslims* should explain how not a single non-Muslim Respect candidate in Bradford won, and then, this, “George Galloway this morning welcomed the latest recruit to Respect, Qurban Malik. Mr Malik has been an active Conservative for many years and was deputy chairman of the Bradford Conservative Party. He stood for the Tories in Manningham ward in the recent local elections.

    “The old parties have failed Bradford,” said Mr Malik. “Respect has shown it has huge support in Bradford city from an electorate desperate for change and desperate for a positive vision for Bradford’s future.”

    George Galloway welcomed Mr Malik to the Respect Party just before the party’s national council meeting, held in Bradford for the first time. “We are attracting support from all of the major parties and from that majority in the country which is increasingly saying none of the above. Mr Malik gave me invaluable personal support in the by-election. I am delighted that a man of very considerable standing has now decided to do everything can to build the Respect Party here in Bradford.”

  8. Jim Denham said,

    As predicted, my post of Bruce’s comments has not appeared at Socialist Unity. But, interestingly, in the course of what discussion has followed over there, Nooman has finally broken with socialism in any recognisable form:

    (previous commenter stuart: you will be asked how the promises will be fnanced. Because the answer is likely to be redistribution of resources, you will no doubt be ‘accused’ of being socialist in a negative sense).

    Of course any “redistributive” model would be naive and non-credible.

    The difficult task for socialists today is to envisage how to make transformative change in a globalised world where the power of multi-national corporations is outwith the reach of state sovereignty.

    The tasks before us are how we acheive sustainable economic growth, which requires a model for finding a win-win relationship between a left government exercising economic and political sovereignty on the one hand, and private multi-national corportations on the other. China has shown this can be done.

    Posted by Andy Newman 21 May, 2012 at 12:05 pm

  9. rs said,

    “He noted that Respect had never won anything where less than 40% of the electorate was Muslim, and challenged them to stand elsewhere.”

    He’s obviously never heard of Ray Holmes then

  10. Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

    ezra dick has a blerggh of hos own worra mess. looks like green ink sprayed on screen nutjerb fuckwitted piece of shit.

    he ShOOD be executed

  11. Jimmy said,

    I would not take seriously anything Cardinal Newman and the Catholic Church has to say. Except for genocide their favourite pastime.

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