Birmingham Respect’s local election campaign has got off to a flying start. Around 300 people attended a launch rally with guest speaker George Galloway MP. Many people commented this was Respect’s best ever meeting in the city.
The candidates were particularly impressive. Salma Iqbal, a local women’s advise worker, spoke insightfully about the reality of poverty in Springfield ward, highlighting the gap in educational attainment and the lack of affordable housing.
Nahim Ullah Khan, the Sparkbrook candidate, emphasised unemployment, drugs, guns and gangs. Nahim is a youth worker with rich experience.
He has worked for the United Nations in continental Europe, Pakistan, Bosnia and Palestine on projects with communities and youth on issues such as health, identity, peace, xenophobia, Islamophobia.
Kings Heath and Moseley candidate Ray Gaston was very warmly received. Ray is a Christian priest who for 8 years served at All Hallows Church, a radical Christian community involved in interfaith dialogue, grassroots community action, asylum seeker support in Leeds and resistance to the ‘war on terror’.
He is now a full time postgraduate student at the University of Birmingham studying Christian-Muslim relations. Ray emphasised the need for a politics of solidarity.
Cllr Mohammed Ishtiaq outlined the difference Respect had made locally in Sparkbrook and local resident and neighbourhood forum activist Mary Mockbill, spoke how she had campaigned against Respect in the last local elections but was so impressed by the work of our councilors that she was going to campaign for us this May.
Mushtaq Hussain, who is becoming legendary in Respect for his campaigning skills and who came second last years election in Nechells ward, spoke in Urdu about his pride of being in a party with Salma Yaqoob and George Galloway.
Both of these were the final speakers and spoke with customary passion and eloquence, leaving the audience inspired for the electoral challenges ahead. Over £1,000 was raised in donations.
Report and images: Respect website