Respect is a political alternative to the rightward march of new Labour and the other establishment parties. Although it grew out of the mass opposition to the war on Iraq, it is far from just an anti-war or social justice party. A vote for Respect is a crucial step towards the creation of a new working-class voice that will speak for millions who, through the betrayals of New Labour, have lost their political representation.
New Labour has embraced the neo-liberal agenda of privatisation and deregulation. It has pushed privatisation into our core public services. The NHS, education, benefits and pensions are under sustained attack. Students are saddled with loans and tuition fees. The gap between rich and poor is still increasing. Yet there is no lack of wealth or resources – Britain is the fourth richest country in the world.
We believe that public services should be owned and accountable to those who use them and work in them. We would bring the utilities, water, gas, electricity and communications – back into public ownership. We would re-nationalise the railways. We would extend public ownership into the key sectors of the economy. We would increase taxation on the big corporations and the wealthy to fund public services.
We stand with those across the world suffering from global capital in its various forms. In Africa, Asia and Latin America millions face the Structural Adjustment Programmes of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. They struggle for survival in economies wracked by debt, and wage militant campaigns to end this burden. We stand in solidarity with them and with those who fight to keep the planet habitable in the face of global warming and climate change driven by the market system.
We are a campaigning party. We support all those who campaign against the war and the neoliberal agenda of privatisation and deregulation. Those who defend civil and human rights, the health and education services, housing and pensions rights, and the environment. We stand alongside those who defend trade union rights and the rights and the interests of oppressed minorities. We are a democratic party. We have no sleazy funding from the wealthy.
The following statement has been issued by Linda Smith, National Chair of Respect, and Salma Yaqoob, National Vice-Chair of Respect.
“Respect was founded to bring together people from divergent political backgrounds in a common struggle for peace, equality and justice.
“It is now clear, however, that there is a fundamental and irretrievable breakdown in trust and relations between the SWP leadership and other parts of Respect.
“There can be no confidence in the legitimacy of the forthcoming Respect conference. The entire democratic process in Respect has been corrupted. If the conference goes ahead it will do no more than confirm that the SWP leadership is hijacking Respect for its own factional purposes. We will not be attending it.
“This breakdown in relations has occurred because the SWP leadership arrogantly refuses to countenance any situation in which they are not dominant and do not exercise control. They are determined to put the interests of the SWP above that of Respect.
“The sectarianism and ‘control freak’ methods of the SWP have led us to a situation where Respect is irretrievably split. The SWP leadership has supported the breakaway of four councillors from the Respect group in Tower Hamlets, who then went into coalition talks with the Liberal Democrats.
“We have no intention of giving up the struggle for a pluralistic, democratic and broad left wing movement. We will therefore be holding a Respect Renewal conference to discuss the future for progressive politics in Britain today. We are confident that this conference will attract a broad range of support from those who are interested in discussing how we can work together in pursuit of common objectives.
“This renewal conference will take place in London on Saturday 17 November, and we urge as many people as possible to attend it.
“Respect, in its current form, cannot continue. But it is in the interests of all us, including those in the wider left and anti-war movements, that this division is carried out in the most amicable manner possible – one that resolves any legal or organisational questions through negotiation.
“Two meetings have taken place between us and the SWP Central Committee, in the presence of an independent chair respected by both sides. The independent chair confirmed to both groups that there was agreement that the relationship had come to an end, and that what we were discussing were proposals for an amicable resolution of any outstanding organisational questions. Just days later, the SWP backed the split in the Respect group on Tower Hamlets council and walked out of further negotiations.
“We remain committed to finding a negotiated solution to these issues. And we understand that the independent person is willing to continue their efforts to bring the two sides together. We urge the SWP to seek to resolve outstanding legal and organisational questions through further negotiations, in the hope that these matters will not have to be resolved elsewhere.”
Linda Smith, National Chair
Salma Yaqoob, National Vice Chair