Posts Tagged ‘2009’

Salma Yaqoob to appear on BBC Question Time

BBC Question Time panel - 10th December 2009 - Salma Yaqoob, Piers Morgan, William Hague

The BBC Question Time panel will include Sir Richard Dannatt, Piers Morgan, Salma Yaqoob, William Hague and Bill Rammell.

Respect Party leader Salma Yaqoob is to appear on Question Time this month.

The Birmingham city councillor has been booked for a potentially volatile edition of the BBC’s flagship current affairs show Question Time. The programme will be broadcast from Wootton Bassett, the village famous for giving a respectful send-off to British soldiers who’ve died in Afghanistan.

Others lined up for what is likely to be an emotionally charged show include Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell, the former British commander in Afghanistan General Sir Richard Dannatt, former Tory leader William Hague and Piers Morgan.

Yaqoob has been critical of Britain’s role in the region, but despite smears to the contrary, she has always been careful not to criticise serving troops – instead reserving her ire for the politicians who took us to war. Salma Yaqoob has appeared on the show on a number of previous occasions.

The episode will be broadcast on December 10th, 2009 on BBC One.

Respect Annual Conference 2009

Salma Yaqoob at the Respect Annual Conference 2009

The Respect Annual Conference was held in Birmingham this year.

The Respect annual conference took place in Birmingham on Saturday with 210 delegates attending. The event revolved around the three key themes of our general election campaign: anti-racism and defense of multiculturalism, opposition to the cuts agenda of the mainstream parties, and international solidarity.

The opening session was introduced by Respect party leader Salma Yaqoob. Salma laid into New Labour for creating the conditions under which the BNP has grown; with its attacks on the Muslim community and increasingly anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Salma Yaqoob speaks at the Respect Annual Conference 2009

Salma Yaqoob

She described how, since 9/11, Labour has resisted any examination of the disastrous role of its own foreign policy in creating a homegrown terrorist threat, leaving the impression that there is something intrinsic to the religon and culture of British Muslims that presents a threat to British society. She cited Jack Straw’s attacks on Muslim women who wear niqab; the attacks on mainstream Muslim organisations like the MCB and MAB for “sitting on the sidelines” in the fight against terrorism from the former Secretary for State for Communities, Ruth Kelly; and the Preventing Violent Extremism agenda, now described by Liberty as the ‘biggest spying operation’ since the Cold War.

Delegates at the Respect Annual Conference 2009

Conference delegates

Similarly when Gordon Brown says that he wants ‘British jobs for British workers’, or ‘local homes for local people’, or curbs on immigration, he is stoking the fires of fear and intolerance that the BNP are the primary beneficiaries of. Salma challenged myths about immigrants being responsible for the recession or shortages in housing and concluded by emphasising Respect’s twin track approach in tackling racism: On the one hand, upholding and defending multiculturalism and challenging all forms of racism; and on the other hand, challenging the social inequality that allows the politics of resentment and division to breed.

The following discussion was by far the best of the conference. Not only was the quality of contributions largely very impressive, but they also conveyed a deep sense of commitment to tackling racism and an engagement in that struggle.

George Galloway at the Respect Annual Conference 2009

George Galloway

The second session was introduced by George Galloway, focusing on the recession and the politics of an alternative to economic crisis. Unfortunately, the discussion became distorted by those advocating the yet to be born ‘son-of-No2EU’.

An account of what followed, by an observer from the Green Left, accurately conveyed George’s response: ‘Galloway absolutely hammered No2EU in particular for standing against Peter Cranie in the North West… and refused to entertain any talk of coalition with the son of NO2EU.’ In addition to hammering NO2EU for effectively letting the BNP in (‘if the left had united it would have been Peter Cranie on Question Time not Nick Griffin’) he was scathing about the exaggeration being peddled about son-of-NO2EU. Contrary to claims by Ian Donovan, there were not ‘three national unions’ supporting this initiative; the reality was that three national union secretaries addressed a meeting in a personal capacity on working class political representation. George predicted the FBU would not support any so-called ‘new coalition’ and ridiculed the idea that the Prison Officers Association were now in the vanguard of building a far-left of Labour alternative, saying this would come as a bit of a surprise to any prisoner, especially those black, Irish or Muslim prisoners who had been on the receiving end of dealings with ‘screws’.

A sharp tone was adopted by both George and Salma towards an increasingly marginal current of opinion in Respect that sees our future as part of a coalition of the far left. The tone reflects the degree of frustration with an argument, just 6 months before a General Election, over backing a coalition with no name, no policies and no electoral credibility.

Nick Wrack at the Respect Annual Conference 2009

Nick Wrack

It also reflects a clear difference of strategy. As both George and Salmaexplained, we are focused on building unity and working with others, but we reject the narrow conception of left unity that gives pride of place to organizations with absolutely no popular support. Respect’s former National Secretary, Nick Wrack, came in for particular criticism, with Salma pointing out the irony of his calls for ‘left unity’ when he was one of those insisting that Respect should stand against the Greens in the North-West European region.

The message was delivered loud and clear: we wish all those who want to join the ‘coalition with no name’ well on their journey, and where we can establish friendly relations with any other progressive party or coalition we will do so, but we have an opportunity to advance the left by getting Respect MPs elected. If we fail, it will not be for the want of trying.

Andrew Murray at the Respect Annual Conference 2009

Andrew Murray

The final session was introduced by Andrew Murray who received a standing ovation for his passionate call for opposition to the war in Afghanistan and for Respect to use its strengths to help Stop the War reconnect with its core support. He was followed by Francisco Dominguez from the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, who painted a vivid picture of the Bolivarian revolution 10 years on, the threats it faces, and the importance of international solidarity. Finally, Kevin Ovenden outlined exciting new developments in Palestinian solidarity, describing the way that Viva Palestina was fast becoming a global campaign, finding new and significant support in Malaysia among other places, and deepening its productive relationship with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.

Delegates vote at the Respect Annual Conference 2009

Delegates vote

There was genuine and sharp debate at this conference. And the outcome was clear. Respect’s leadership is absolutely determined that the influence of the ultra-left will remain marginal. There is no place for the kind of political sectarianism that is indifferent to a Tory victory or bitterly hostile to cooperation with the Green Party. Such views, often articulated by politically irrelevant grouplets of the far left, are an obstacle to the growth of a radical party of the left. The potential for a serious radical and left-wing party will be determined by its ability to speak to the millions who are essentially disillusioned Labour

Respect Annual Conference 2009

Respect Conference

supporters, and its ability to provide convincing alternatives to the politics of war, racism and cuts.
I fully expect the new National Council, on which the more sectarian voices are a shrinking minority, to drive through this perspective more forcefully in the coming year.

A report by Ger Francis


[Videos for this event will be available soon. Picture gallery on the Birmingham Respect facebook group: here]

Additional reports:

Respect Conference – Andy Newman, Socialist Unity (15.11.09)

Respect Conference in Birmingham today – Derek Wall (Green Party), Another World is Possible (14.11.09)

Salma Yaqoob in the frame for 2009 Power 50 List

Salma Yaqoob is up for the Birmingham Power 50 List 2009

Salma Yaqoob is up for the Birmingham Power 50 List 2009

 

Respect party leader and Birmingham city councillor Salma Yaqoob is again in the frame for the Birmingham Post’s Power 50 List for 2009.

 

Read more here.

Stop the Racist Nazi BNP – Birmingham Protest tonight

UAF and other anti-BNP protesters in Manchester last night

UAF and other anti-BNP protesters in Manchester last night

 

‘Stop the Nazi BNP’ protest in Birmingham TONIGHT5pm

No to fascists representing us in Europe!
 
Date: Tuesday 9th June, 2009
Time: 5pm – 7pm
Location: High Street (Meet outside Zavvi/Waterstones), Bullring, Birmingham.

Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/event.php?eid=104673371440
 
Organised by UAF (Unite Against Fascism) and others. 

All welcome, please attend.

Salma Yaqoob: BNP victory shows the need for broad left to work together

The BNP have gained two seats in the European parliament

The BNP have gained two seats in the European parliament

Statement on the euro-election results by Councillor Salma Yaqoob, Respect party Leader:

“The historic scale of Labour’s defeat at the ballot box is evidence of the deep betrayal felt by those who once voted Labour in the hope of a fairer society. The depth of disillusionment with the mainstream parties is underlined by the shocking breakthrough made by the BNP.

“Labour is wholly to blame for its own crisis and has to take a large share of the responsibility for creating the conditions in which the far right is growing.

Labour’s failure to deliver for its core support has helped the BNP win votes in deprived white working class communities

"Labour’s failure to deliver for its core support has helped the BNP win votes..."

“Labour loosened the rules that gave licence to greedy bankers to gamble away our jobs and homes. Labour failed to protect our public services from wasteful and costly privatisation. Labour has overseen growing inequality and a chronic shortage of affordable housing. And Labour failed to tackle the scandal of MP’s expenses.

“Labour’s failure to deliver for its core support has helped the BNP win votes in deprived white working class communities. Labour’s determination not to be outflanked by the Tories on questions of race and immigration has created fertile ground for racist arguments to win support. Too many BNP arguments have been legitimised by a political consensus that treats asylum seekers and immigrants as a criminal threat. The BNP has fed on the growth in Islamophobia, egged on by a barrage of racist coverage in national newspapers. Political ground was conceded to the BNP, and they have occupied it to devastating effect.

“Labour has betrayed the hopes of millions of people who believe in a fairer and more equal society and those who believe in an ethical foreign policy based on peace and justice. These election results are a warning of the potential scale of the drift to the right.

British National Party leader Nick Griffin

British National Party leader Nick Griffin

“This right wing threat cannot be confronted by conceding the argument in advance. There is every practical and political reason for tackling the recession by extending state intervention, piling investment into a massive programme of house building, taxing the richest to support the big majority of the population through this recession. But a recent survey showed that more than half the working population have seen a cut in pay, reductions in hours or a loss of employment benefits since the recession began. While bankers and shareholders have been bailed out, millions of workers are paying for the economic crisis through lower pay, longer hours or unemployment. The Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and UKIP are all competing with each other on who will push through the most ruthless cuts to public spending.

“Giving ground to a right wing consensus will not undercut the growth of right wing parties. It will only encourage them. It is now critical that the broadest swathes of the left and progressive opinion in this country work together to lever the political agenda in the opposite direction.
We need an alternative to failed free market dogma.

“We need an alternative to an electoral system that disenfranchises the millions of people who don’t vote for the winning party and consigns whole geographical areas to be taken for granted. And we need a reassertion of a politics embedded in principles of peace, social justice, equality and anti-racism.

“The broad left must work together, irrespective of party affiliation, to maximise the impact of the progressive vote at the next General Election.

“I am proud of the contributions that Respect members made by supporting Green candidates in the West Midlands and North West. In the North West, with BNP leader Nick Griffin on the brink of a breakthrough, the choice was surely clear. For those who would not give their vote to Labour, the Green candidate – Peter Cranie – was more than a credible alternative. A left-wing Green candidate, with a principled record of opposition to racism, deserved our support.

Peter Cranie was less than 5,000 votes away from stopping Nick Griffin’s election

Peter Cranie was less than 5,000 votes away from stopping Nick Griffin’s election

“The results are in, and Peter Cranie was less than 5,000 votes away from stopping Nick Griffin’s election. Yet almost 50,000 votes were cast for the Socialist Labour Party and No2EU. Together they amounted to just 3% of the vote – nowhere near enough to make a positive impact. The plain fact is that had even a minority of that left wing vote gone to the Greens we would not be waking up to the fact that the North West is sending a fascist to the European parliament.

“If nothing else, these results should spark a renewed and more energetic discussion about bringing the broad left together around a common agenda for progressive change. I will be speaking at the very timely Compass conference next weekend, and I look forward to discussing these and other issues with Labour and Green supporters.

“I do not believe that the British public have become hostile to basic progressive policies on the responsibility of the state in providing decent housing, protecting jobs, and regulating the economy. But the retreat of Labour from even a modest social democratic alternative has led to a lack of connection in the public mind between the effects of the recession and the neo-liberal policies responsible for it.

“The manner in which Labour has vacated the traditional ground of the left has served to weaken any convincing notion of a political alternative to neo-liberalism. This has created a dangerous vacuum which is in danger of being filled by hate fuelled simplicities of the far right. The challenge for the left is to renew itself and reassert some basic socialist critiques and solutions into mainstream political debate.

“Respect will be doing everything we can to contribute to the renewal of a progressive and left wing politics. But we need to broaden our challenge to the failed parties. There will be many who want to see the values of peace, civil liberties and social justice represented at the ballot box, and in a fairly elected parliament. I encourage them to put themselves forward for consideration as candidates at the next General Election.

“We need each other and this country badly needs a political alternative of the left.

It is not beyond our ability to create this alternative. There are lessons we can draw from the anti-war movement. In a hostile climate and against formidable obstacles, a clear message, delivered with determination and organisational verve, was able to influence, shape and organise public opposition to war. We need a similar ambition to ideologically and practically build resistance to neo-liberalism and racism.”

To join Respect (membership costs £10/£5 per year), please visit: http://www.therespectparty.net/joindonate.php?page=join

To make a donation to our General Election fighting fund, please visit: http://www.therespectparty.net/joindonate.php?page=donate  

If you think you would be a suitable candidate to stand for Respect in a Westminster or local council election please contact Respect.

Salma Yaqoob says “Go Green” for the European Elections

Salma Yaqoob is backing Green Party MEP caniddate Felicity Norman

Salma Yaqoob is backing Green Party MEP caniddate Felicity Norman

Prominent Birmingham Councillor and Leader of the RESPECT Party, Salma Yaqoob is calling for progressive West Midlands voters to go Green and vote for Felicity Norman at the European Elections on 4th June.

Salma Yaqoob, who is a Sparkbrook Councillor and Westminster Candidate for Birmingham Hall Green constituency is endorsing Felicity for her commitment to fight the BNP at the European election and for the Greens’ progressive policies on job creation in new industries.

Councillor Yaqoob said:

“With the country facing the deepest recession in generations, Labour and the Tories offer us nothing but rising unemployment and cuts in services. Those of us who want a new politics based on social justice need to work together. The candidate closest to my own views on the environment, anti-racism and foreign affairs is Felicity Norman and I hope my supporters will back her on 4 June.”

At the last European election, the Greens secured 5.2% of the vote in the region. Respect got 2.4% of the votes. When combined, the 7.6% vote share is just greater than the BNP’s 7.5%. Only around 10% of the vote is needed to gain a seat at the European election next month and with the Greens, RESPECT and the BNP all having grown in the past five years, it is a tight race to the finish line on 4th June.

The Green Party is running its strongest ever campaign to elect a Euro-MP in the region to join the two other UK Green Party MEPs already elected.

Salma Yaqoob commented:

“The racist British National Party is hoping to make a breakthrough in these elections. Under the system of proportional representation it is essential that everyone who opposes the BNP uses their vote. The higher the turnout, the lower the chance of the BNP being elected. Whatever you do please use your vote against the BNP. But if you care about peace, justice, equality, anti-racism and the environment, vote Green in the European elections”.

Felicity Norman, the top Green Party Euro-MP candidate said:

“A Green vote at these elections says yes to positive politics and no to racism and it says yes to investing in jobs-rich industries to tackle recession and climate change.

“The Green Party is running a serious campaign to fight the BNP. In this proportional voting system, it’s normally a small party that takes the final seat, which could mean the BNP or the Greens. We know that if a Green is elected, there is no room for the BNP. The battle for fourth place at the European election is more important than ever and with Salma’s endorsement, our combined support ensures we’re in the game”.

Salma’s endorsement of Felicity is the second boost for the Greens in a week after news that Green Party candidate numbers for the County Council elections this year are treble the figure of the last County elections in 2005.

Salma Yaqoob calls for a big turnout on Birmingham jobs march

Salma Yaqoob is backing Unite's national March for Jobs

Councillor Salma Yaqoob is backing the national ‘March for Jobs’ taking place in Birmingham this Saturday, 16 May. She is calling for a big turnout to send a strong message to the government that protecting jobs must come first.

Councillor Yaqoob said:

“There is hardly a family in the country which has not been affected by the recession. With unemployment now over 2.2 million, every day brings new job losses, and people across Birmingham are worried for their future. Huge sums of money have been used to bail out the banks. We need to see the same commitment to keeping people in jobs, and investing in vital industries to see them through this crisis.

“The government has its priorities wrong; with billions earmarked for wasteful and unnecessary projects like ID cards and the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system. It is time to send a strong message to the government that protecting jobs must be its first priority. That is the right way to protect individuals and families, but also to boost the economy at a time of economic crisis.”

The demonstration, organised by the Unite union, will assemble at 11am on Saturday 16 May at Highfield Road, Edgbaston (corner of Hagley Road), and march to Centenary Square for a rally.

More on Unite’s official website here.