Respect split: Now it’s official


This just off the wires. I will have a considered response shortly.


We are inviting you to attend the Respect Renewal conference.

It will take place on Saturday 17 November, at the Bishopsgate Institute in London, from 11am to 5pm.

Speakers include George Galloway MP, Linda Smith, Cllr Salma Yaqoob, Ken Loach. There will be plenty of time for debate.

It will be an opportunity for all Respect members and others who want to continue the process of building a vibrant, radical, left alternative to New Labour to come together and discuss how to do this following the recent debilitating divisions that have split Respect.

It will be an opportunity to reflect on the mistaken methods and lack of political vision that have led to the split in Respect and to learn lessons on how to work together and with others in the future.

We remain committed to the radical policies which have been the cornerstone of Respect since its inception. Our organisational model is based on plurality, democracy and transparency.

For us, the acronym RESPECT – Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environment, Community and Trade Unions – remains as valid today as it did at our launch in 2004.

We want to build Respect but we also want to work together with all others who share a vision of a better, more equitable society, to create a broader, united party to represent the interests of all working-class people.

We want to reach out to all those in the anti-war movement who still need a voice for peace and against imperialism.

We want to reach out to all those concerned about climate change and the destruction of the environment.

We want to reach out to all those in the trade unions who feel betrayed by New Labour under Brown as under Blair.

We want to reach out to all those in the black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities who suffer racism and Islamophobia.

We want to reach out to all those who want to fight against discrimination, whether or the grounds of religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age.

We want to reach out to the dispossessed, the asylum seeker, the migrant worker and to all who defend them.

If you want to reach out with us, come along and join in our discussion.

The Respect Renewal conference is called by the following Respect National Council members:

Linda Smith National Chair,
Salma Yaqoob National Vice-Chair,
Mobeen Azhar,
Ayesha Bajwa,
Victoria Brittain,
Rita Carter,
Ger Francis,
George Galloway MP,
Jerry Hicks,
John Lister,
Ken Loach,
Abdul Khalik,
Abdurahman Jafar,
Abjol Miah,
Bernie Parkes,
Yvonne Ridley,
Clive Searle,
Alan Thornett,
Nick Wrack.

If you would like to attend to our conference, or would like to know more about us, please get in touch.


Tel. Nos: Ghada 07958 450 867; Rob 07507 600 561; Kevin 07930 532 952 or 020 7219 6940.


  1. rabbi said,

    November 3, 2007 at 7:01 pm

    So are you calling yourselves the RESPECT Renewal Party?

    If so it is quite interesting! Labour has “New Labour” and RESPECT will have “RESPECT Renewal” – Interesting!!

  2. Mike said,

    November 3, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    The question that now arises for me with this deepening of the split is where now for the SWP? After all their version of Respect will have a handful of councillors but other than the SWP iself precious little support. Indeed I doubt that any of their councillors, other than lavelette, stand much cnahce of re-election. So what does the SWP do when their version of Respect hits the wall?

  3. Red Maria said,

    November 3, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    Minor quibble with the headline – the Respect split isn’t quite official yet as in the split is not yet complete. Respect are still in the process of splitting, that is both sides have consulted divorce lawyers, though efforts at mediation have clearly failed. Now we’re seeing the bitter, bloody fight over the assets. It’s compulsive blogging material.

  4. Andy Newman said,

    November 3, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    There is a de facto split

    There will now be a division of the assets.

    The split really became solid when John Rees organised a split in the Towe hamlets groups of councillors, and used the Respect office to promoite them, that was the SWP consolidating their assets in advance.

    As in divorces between people, there are two ways of going through this, negotiation and aribitration, or using the courts.

    I hope the SWP are sensible enough to choose the former path, becasue both sides would lose political capital in court, and the SWP would also totally get their arses kicked.

  5. Red Maria said,

    November 3, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    Andy, stop commenting for heaven’s sake and go and get some more scoops.

  6. Laban said,

    November 4, 2007 at 12:05 am

    So the SWP get the passwords, website and membership list. “Respect Renewal” get the office. Oh, and the votes.

  7. WorldbyStorm said,

    November 4, 2007 at 12:31 am

    Splintered, I’m very interested in your opinion of this. How inevitable was the current situation? Have there been points where it could be avoided. Incidentally Andy, kudos to you on the level of info you’ve been communicating. It’s been fascinating in a sort of horrible way and without being mean to others on blogs, the dearth elsewhere has told its own story.

    Red Maria, serious question, I’m intrigued as to your interest in this. You don’t strike me as someone on the further left…

  8. rabbi said,

    November 4, 2007 at 12:43 am

    I don’t know if the SWP has much to worry about or the other councillors except for Lavelatte (as mentioned by Mike). But it is quite obvious that GG has a lot to worry about! Because I don’t think anyone even the “IFE” can deliver the muslim votes to GG in Limehouse. And GG is not a rookie he has been playing this game for a while, but then again we don’t know. But he would be naive to think that Abjol will deliver the votes while he himself (abjol) is looking to be an MP himself from Bethnal Green. So will Abjol stay loyal and share his resoucres with GG or implement all of it to himself? Well, we will wait and see. One think Abjol and Salma got out of this is their vision to get rid of the SWP – which they are succeding.

  9. Red Maria said,

    November 4, 2007 at 1:50 am

    Political junkie, residual affection for the hard left, enduring respect (dashed word) for Marxism as an intellectual discipline and just caught up in the drama of it all. There’s something compelling in particular about Galloway who is one of these people now known as a “marmite character”, that is people either love him or hate him. I’m one of the few who does neither but I can see why he provokes such strong reactions from people. I do think that his detractors haven’t ever really understood his appeal – I wonder whether his personal appeal wasn’t at least partly responsible for wave of defections from the SWP. And I think the SWP badly underestimated Gallows talent for intrigue.

  10. WorldbyStorm said,

    November 4, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Hmmm… not so different to myself then. I know what you mean about Galloway. And yes, when it comes down to it whatever about the abilities of the SWP CC anyone who went through the LP in the way he did certainly would have a vastly greater aptitude for this sort of process.

    Still whether he has what it takes to build Respect MkII is a different matter.

  11. Dr Paul said,

    November 4, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    I’ve just posted this on Andy Newman’s site:

    I do think that Linda Smith and Selma Yaqoob are being a little unreasonable here. After all, the SWP set up Respect in the first place. Like all party-initiated concerns, it belongs to that party as a subsidiary concern, and the SWP has the right to wind it up if it is of no longer use to it.

    Seriously, however, have the Respect Renewal brigade any chances of maintaining an organisation that can do anything on a national level, or even keep itself together?

    The SWP gave Respect a national organisational focus. Without it, Respect will surely degenerate into a morass of individuals with all manner of political and personal outlooks and ambitions.

    I thought from the start that Respect was a daft idea, and I’m not surprised that it’s on the road to a major split. I wonder at the SWP’s logic for setting it up in the first place, especially in the light of their leaving the Socialist Alliance, which, for all its faults, was based upon a class perspective, and didn’t relegate socialism to one initial of a tortuous acronym.

  12. ejh said,

    November 4, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    Well, presumably the reasons for setting it up were pretty much as stated: that they thought they were going to be going places on the basis of a wave of radicalism connected to Islamophobia and the war, and if nobody else wanted to go then they’d have to go on their own. Fair enough, but the problem with that viewpoint is that if it’s wrong, then you’re very much on your own looking a bit silly.

    They wouldn’t be the first Trotskyist group to find themselves in a similar poisition and one could argue that this sort of gambling is intrinsic to the genre: every so often a similar wave of radicalism is detected, or anticipated, and it’s declared that most of the rest of the left is set in its old ways (which it may very well be) and incapable of seeing it. And off we go.

    The thing is of course, as with all gambling sometimes the tip will be accurate and sometimes the bet will come off. But you’re not half going to lose a lot of friends, waste a lot of energy and have a big turnover of members on the way.

  13. WorldbyStorm said,

    November 4, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    That’s very true ejh. It’s an unfortunate dynamic…

  14. rabbi said,

    November 4, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    Yeh guys, just got news that if Salma knew what she knows now few days ago, then she would have asked conference to expell GG justt like last time she did after GG went to big brother! (which byt the way people like John Rees and Lindsey German did not allow). Apperently she is now having secret meetings with Ken – god knows for what! Then again she did sign up to his fan club!

    Well, Salma, GG, Abjol – they all seems to be on a horse run lets see who wins the race!!

  15. Phil said,

    November 4, 2007 at 11:55 pm

    And you are who precisely? Knowing somebody’s name isn’t generally essential (we were talking about this on another blog), but in some cases it might make all the difference between a valuable piece of inside information and a worthless smear.

  16. Cllr Rania Khan said,

    November 5, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    In responce to Andy Newman where he states: “The split really became solid when John Rees organised a split in the Tower hamlets groups of councillors,” is a complete LIE. In fact we were advised by John Reece, not to leave and to stay within and fight.

    But the truth of the matter si, in Tower Hamlets Respect committee memebers and members are so engrosed in power sturggles, position and fame that the real causes of Respect is forgotten about. Democracy- there no such word in ‘Resepect Tower Hamlets’ – So please stop spreading rumours and lies. Blame John reece for things that you have seen not for the split of Resect group in TH.

    I am still just as committed to the principle of Resepect as I was before and continue to fight for it on grass root level. Whether that means I will be elected again or not? Not having a ‘Cllr’ title doesn’t bother me and will NOT stop me from doing what I feel is right – fighting for social justice and equality.

    Cllr Rania Khan

  17. Cian said,

    November 5, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    “And I think the SWP badly underestimated Gallows talent for intrigue.”

    Well quite. He’s a professional politician, who came up the hard way and who has survived quite a few political assassination attempts. Whereas the SWP do play politics. I’m pretty indifferent to Galloway, but its hard to see this ending well for the SWP.

  18. jonny favourite said,

    November 7, 2007 at 8:33 am

    The fall out in RESPECT has created a number of casualties. Far from reviving RESPECT or galvanising the SWP , the youth organsiation Skaters Against the War has now officially resigned from RESPECT and where are the names Julie Waterson and Pat Stack on the petition?

  19. Andy Newman said,

    November 7, 2007 at 10:32 am

    So Rania

    Why did John Rees organise the press conference? And why was the venue for the press conference booked from the national Respect office in Club Row.

    And whay is Lindsay German speeking on the same platform as the rebel councillors in a public meeting?

    If it is true that the four rebel councillors acted without the SWP’s guidence, then more fool Rees/German for allowing themselves to be bounced into a national split by their four councillors.

  20. johng said,

    November 7, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    Yeah Andy we should have just ridden all over them. Do you not think you sometimes argue in a rather contradictory fashion?

  21. Mike said,

    November 7, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    I see Cllr Rania Khan is posting here. Would she clarify her position with regard to the talks Oli Rahman had with the Liberal Democrats? Assuming she had knowledge of these talks and approved of them I assume she will be resigning from the SWP given that groups opposition to political collaboration with bourgeois parties on principle?

  22. Andy Newman said,

    November 8, 2007 at 1:20 am

    I don’t think Rania is in the SWP, I mighht be worng, I think it is her mum who is an SWP member.

  23. Mike said,

    November 8, 2007 at 4:45 am

    Seems to me that the SWP will recruit anybody regardless of their understanding or commitment to the communist goal. A purge would do them good. They should start with the CC, expell Risable and Grim, then work their way through the rest of the hackery.

  24. Pemicx said,

    November 9, 2007 at 8:14 pm

    Rania, you’re a supporter of Hands off the People of Iran – do you know why the swp block-voted them out of Stop the War?

    I understand they were seen as a front for the judean people’s front…but isn’t the CPGB (or whatever the hell it is) in StWC itself?! It’s like the brit branch of the judean people’s front is ok in the broad coalition – but not Iranian (or Muslim) lefties of any stripe.

  25. Andy Wilson said,

    November 23, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Rania Khan says “In fact we were advised by John Reece, not to leave and to stay within and fight.”

    I would like to ask Rania what the status of this advice was – was it the SWP’s position that the councillors should not resign the whip, but the SWP members among them ignored the CC? If so, I await their expulsion from the SWP, on exactly the grounds given by the CC for expelling Hoveman, Ovendon & Wrack – ie. they broke SWP party discipline – normally something the SWP consider non-negotiable.

    In my opinion Rania’s explanation is a smokescreen – Rees wanted the split, but he also wanted to be able to say that the SWP were against it and that the matter was taken entirely out of their hands. Hence SWP members are allowed to completely ignore party discipline. If Rees and the CC had ordered the SWP councillors not to split, then they would either have obeyed or, if not, they would have been expelled by now.

    Anyone who knows anything about the SWP’s internal regime will know that I am right about this. Either way, the protestations of innocence by Rees and on his behalf are a sham.

  26. Vlad the impaler said,

    November 24, 2007 at 1:01 am

    Another example of the SWP’s ‘democratic centralism’ in action?
    On a more serious note it’s surely time to re-examine the dreary impact of ‘Leninism’ on the Labour movement more generally: It must surely qualify as the most disastrous wrong turn in the history of popular struggle. Still, it’s amusing to watch a once proud ideology shed it’s ‘world historical’ grandiosity while its advocates degenerate into a series of ever more irrelevant factions – each with an infallible exegesis of the Masters Holy Texts….

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