Southwark Respect staatment on the European and local election results

This resolution was passed (amended) unanimously at a meeting of Southwark Respect on 11 June 2009.

Southwark Respect welcomes the appeals of the last few days for action to be taken to pose a united socialist alternative at the next general election.

In the face of the recession and the growing assault on working class living standards the left needs to unite in defence of our class.

The recession is also being accompanied by its evil outrider, the rise of the fascists as a force in politics.

The BNP represent a real danger. The anger at the corruption of the mainstream politics linked into the worsening recession means that the BNP now have the opportunity to establish themselves as a permanent
fixture on the political landscape, and to solidify a still soft voting base into a harder, more racist and more openly fascist one.

This has happened in these elections not through a spectacular growth of the BNP vote, but by the collapse of the labour vote.

A strategy that merely relies on stacking up as many votes as possible against the Nazis cannot succeed.

Support for the BNP is growing out of the lack of hope and the fear which is now stalking working class communities.

A real alternative has to be posed.

That is why we in Southwark Respect supported NO2EU in this election. It was a temporary platform formed shortly before the election and though it had imperfections, it was a real attempt to grapple with this question.

Though it might not have staged a dramatic breakthrough, NO2EU together with the SLP got 326,000 votes, more than Respect (standing as the sole national left force) got in the 2004 European elections in aftermath of the Iraq War. It also did better than Respect did in some important working class areas such as Wales and the North East.

The vote was not as large as we would have liked, but it proved that there is still, despite the difficulties that the project of a new political force to the left of labour has experienced, the basis for such a party.

The experience of constructing a political alternative to Labour has proved to be a difficult and bruising one for the left.

The project has suffered a number of setbacks and the left is now hampered by the fact that after twelve years of Labour government it has not managed to build a political force that can seriously challenge the mainstream parties, or the fascists, across the country.

The need for unity however presses heavy on all now. We cannot let previous strife prevent us uniting again. We should not allow past differences to blind us to the importance of the task in hand.

We notice that there is a growing realisation in the trade union movement that there is a need to pose a political alternative to Labour and stand candidates against it in the general election. NO2EU is the most concrete example of this, but the PCS is also talking about standing candidates, the FBU remains disaffiliated and relations between Labour and the CWU have been stretched to breaking point.

We welcome the appeals put out by Bob Crow, the CPB and the SP following their joint work in NO2EU. We also we welcome the moves by the SWP and others to seek unity again with the rest of the left.

These moves will not immediately result in the kind of party that we believe is necessary, but they could be steps towards it.

We in Southwark Respect have long maintained that what the working class needs a new party, rooted in the labour movement, to represent its interests.

We welcome every step taken by the labour and trade union movement to find its own political voice again.

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