Sunday 4 November 2007

RESPECT split formalised - two opposing conferences

1. RESPECT Renewal Conference
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.
2. SWP-backed "Official" RESPECT conference
George Galloway splits from Respect 03/11/2007 George Galloway and his supporters have split from Respect. After a week in which he has tried to pretend that the SWP and other socialists were leaving Respect he has announced a rival conference on the same day as the Respect national conference. The split conference, under the name Respect Renewal, does not have the support of the majority of Respect members nor has it been authorised or endorsed by any of the elected bodies of Respect. George Galloway has chosen to ignore the resolutions from Respect branches around the country demanding that the Respect conference go ahead. The attempt by Linda Smith and Salma Yaqoob earlier this week to call off the long planned Respect annual conference failed because most rank and file members demanded that it go ahead. George Galloway's response has been to try and split the organisation by calling a separate conference. He has failed to win votes at the national officers meetings or to put his call to a national council. He fears he will not have the support of a majority at the Respect conference. Every Respect member should support the original and properly delegated conference. No other conference will be a delegate body with the authority to speak for Respect members. We remain committed to the radical, democratic principles of Respect as it was first founded.


Dave Riley said...

While that may be the divide, the two documents don't review the political tactics involved.
This article
considers the options before those who want to proceed with a new party dynamic in Respect such that the conference call -- Respect Renewal -- makes a lot more sense than being just a "split" engineered by G. Galloway.

Respect Renewal seems a very logical and worthy response to a game of tactical brinkmanship.

Obviously there is a split -- the game is, on the SWP's part,to blame the other side for it just as the other side blames the SWP....

But in the final instance that doesn't matter. In the final instance it's about two separate ways following two very different political perspectives that cannot be dismissed as simply either leftist or rightist or communalist or whatever.

This is politics in motion despite the obscurantism.

Colin F said...

The SWP-backed "Official" RESPECT conference (as you put it) may or may not be representative of the majority of RESPECT members. It may or may not have been a good idea to go ahead with it. But it is the official annual conference of RESPECT planned many months ago to which numerous local branches have submitted motions. Your quotation marks are therefore unnecessary (if you are suppporting the "Unofficial" RESPECT Renewal conference, why don't you say so ?).

A statement from the Central Committee of the SWP can be read here :

John Mullen said...

It is not serious to say that Respect is going to have two opposing conferences. One is a conference of elected delegates from Respect branches. The other is a "Renewal" conference to which anyone can turn up, which has been organized on the same day as the Respect Conference, nearby. This second is clearly completely unprincipled.
The principled thing to do would be to argue at conference for your position. This would be true EVEN IF it wERE PROVED that some delegates were not elected in accordance with rules (which I do not think has been proved). Discuss, argue, convince, this is politics.
All respect members should elect delegates to conference, in keeping with the normal democratic traditions of the Labour movement.