Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Respect Back In East London.

with 20 comments

“George Galloway took to the stage last night to relaunch his Respect party in Newham and try to force a local election after the council rejected plans for a so-called “mega mosque”.

Mr Galloway vowed to put a petition up on the Downing Street website as soon as Parliament resumes after its Christmas break demanding Newham Council changes its decision on the mosque or changes its leadership.

The former MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, who is now the MP for Bradford, said he believed Newham is ready for a political revival after councillors voted against a planning application for a mosque holding more than 9,000 people in Canning Town, run by followers of the controversial Tablighi Jamaat movement*.

More than 50 people turned out last night for the public meeting in Plaistow which also saw Lee Jasper, a former advisor to previous London Mayor Ken Livingstone, and Yvonne Ridley, a war correspondent who converted to Islam after being captured by the Taliban, take to the stage.

Dressed all in black Mr Galloway told people gathered inside Harold Road Centre, off Green Street, that he would send one of his top people to challenge Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales’ leadership in Newham at the next local election. He did not rule out that he might take on the challenge himself.

If the Respect party does not succeed in forcing an early election in Newham, following the refusal of the mosque, then the party plans to put up a mayoral candidate and councillors in 2014 when elections are due.

Mr Galloway said: “Newham is ready for a political revival and as far as we’re concerned it begins here tonight. We know there is something rotten in this borough. New Labour has far too much power for the good of the borough.”

He then hit out at the councillors decision to reject the mosque.

He said: “It’s a big mosque because a lot of people want to pray to the almighty. What is wrong with praying?”

Mr Galloway went on to say that you can lend money at high interest rates at a time when “destructive” aspects of society such as alcohol and gambling is rife.

“But you can’t build a mosque,” he said.

Full Story London 24.

* “Due to the orthodox nature of Tablighi Jamaat, they have been criticized for being retrogressive. The women in the movement observe completest hijab  for which the Tablighi Jamaat is accused of keeping women “strictly subservient and second string”. More criticisms and answers to them here.

Socialist Resistance carry this report on the meeting, A Respect revival in East London?

…the overwhelming backdrop to the meeting was anger at decision earlier in the month by Newham Council, led by its Executive Mayor Robin Wales, to refuse planning permission to a new mosque development in the borough (dubbed a ‘super-mosque’ or ‘megamosque’ by its opponents and the media). Over 3,000 supporters of the Mosque had gathered at the Council meeting on 5 December to hear the rejection of plans for the 9,000 capacity Abbey Mills development proposed by Tablighi Jamaat, a relatively conservative Islamic grouping.

Comment ‘relatively conservative’ – relative to what?

But we let this pass for the main part of the (unsigned) article repays re-reading,

Newham council leaders had claimed the proposed mosque was ‘too big’. “It’s big” said Galloway “because so many people want to go”. “I have no doubt”, he told the meeting, reminding them of his Catholic background, “that if 95,000 Catholics had wanted a ‘big’ church to pray in it would have got planning permission”, particularly as it was on disused, unattractive wasteland. Galloway and some other speakers repeatedly pointed to the positive aspects of people wanting to pray, ”in these godless times”, and, at times, the meeting had more than the hint of a religious ‘Revivalist’ meeting, rather than one purely about reviving a political party.

Galloway went into a tirade against gambling and alcohol promotions on Christmas Television and Lee Jasper also spoke about how “despite these godless times” the growth of London’s black evangelical Christian churches, who had encountered difficulties with getting new premises, should be supported because they were bringing hope to people. The notion of faith as a centre of resistance for communities facing austerity now seems to be more than a passing part of Respect’s frame of reference following the departure of some key secularist left figures during the recent difficulties over Galloway’s appalling statements on rape.

Note however that Socialist Resistance, the last organised left group to be part of the Respect ‘Coalition’  then limit their main criticism of  Galloway to his personalised party building strategy, or “top down” policy.

Aka, his grasping and egomaniacal unbearable personal foibles.

But wait, there, is what they call his “Scottish Folly’.

So proud is the author of this criticism that she/he adds,

Like a certain Shakespearean play in the theatre, the ‘Scottish Folly’ is never mentioned openly…

Nobody mentions this because  nobody gives a toss about the fact that Socialist Resistance finally broke with Respect, not over Galloway’s kowtowing to Islamism and the Syrian Regime, but because he is a British Unionist who is against the right-wing SNP leader Salmond and his plans for bonnie Scotland.

The piece ends with this mealy-mouthed statement,

Respert may well be here to stay and part of the wider solution, particularly in electoral successes, but on the evidence so far it does not seem to ‘the’ sole solution to building a broad left party.

I have expressed the view elsewhere that getting 60 people (assuming that these are not ‘Socialist Worker’ figures, real total 30) along to a meeting in Newham, for all the cold shiverin’ weather, and the counter attractions of  alcohol and gambling, and no doubt Evangelical Churches, is an achievement of sorts  for a place with a population of, hey what is it, a couple of hundred of thousand people.

Revival, please…


Written by Andrew Coates

December 30, 2012 at 12:34 pm

20 Responses

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  1. Love him or hate him, there’s never a dull moment with George.

    Does he fear deportation if and when Caledonia becomes an independent country?

    Bingo Little

    December 30, 2012 at 12:55 pm

  2. The article is signed by Harry Blackwell, which is doubtless a pseudonym. If you have been a longtime reader of SR and Socialist Outlook it is possible to guess who this is.

    Simon Kennedy

    December 30, 2012 at 12:58 pm

  3. the positive aspects of people wanting to pray, ”in these godless times”

    Perhaps one of these folks would remind me what the positive aspects of pray are, as they must have passed me by. What has filling peoples heads with mumbo jumbo got to do with socialism, let alone a better world. Godless times, if only eh?

    Organized Rage

    December 30, 2012 at 3:39 pm

  4. But, it is the case that neither a Church nor a synagogue would get plannign permission, would Galloway drop his campaign?

    Sue R

    December 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm

  5. It seems Abjol Miah has decided that enough is enough and is sticking with Lutfur Rahman which is why he didn’t turn up at the meeting. I understand that he has been paid a substantial sum of money for the block of votes he controls and that Lutfur and the ELM and MC no longer need Respect and Galloway.

    It is interesting that there was only one photograph outside the meeting and none inside so that we can’t actually see how many people were there. I stand to be confounded when the actual photos are produced if ever they are, and if they are I will apologise for my scepticism!

    A favourite method of the SWP when they were flogging the failed ANL/UAF brand was to get Guy Smallman to put everyone in the centre of the room, take a long narrow shot and then multiply the numbers by five or six.

    If there are 95 000 Muslims in Newham they weren’t at the meeting and seem to be voting for New Labour and Robin Wales. Never mind Eh?


    December 30, 2012 at 8:30 pm

  6. Not being au fait with fringe politics who is the Harry Blackwell character? Interesting that there is nothing up about the meeting on either the Respect site or Jasper’s blog. Mind you he also didn’t refer to losing his deposit in Croydon North.


    December 31, 2012 at 3:24 am

  7. Come back WSL all is forgiven1


    January 1, 2013 at 12:49 am

  8. Who or what is the WSL?


    January 1, 2013 at 4:43 am

  9. The WSL was a break-away from the WRP.

    The leading figure in Socialist Resistance Alan Thornett was in the WSL (Terry Eagleton as also a member, you can see his account of this in The Gatekeeper: A Memoir (2001, though with true Eagleton style he never gives their actual name, nor mentions Alan as a person). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workers%27_Socialist_League

    By a very long complex process Alan Thornett, who apart from being a genuine workers’ leader is a thoroughly good egg (though he won’t be pleased with me saying this, our last, chance, meeting at Levellers’ Day Burford, 2011 was not marked by excessive warmth) ended up with what remained of the IMG in the group that is now known as Socialist Resistance.

    Their brand of Marxism was marked by a commitment to class struggle politics.

    Which I imagine is Ian’s point.

    Andrew Coates

    January 1, 2013 at 1:44 pm

  10. Class struggle eh? How quaint and terribly early twentieth century. Interesting bit in the East London and Docklands Advertiser this morning. It really does seem that Galloway is channeling the resentment of Muslims at the refusal of Newham council to approve a mega mosque next to the Olympic site. Three Muslim people interviewed said that they were now considering voting Respect on this issue alone.

    Any pretensions of Respect being a party of the left have now disappeared and it is simply a money making vehicle using religious resentment. There could be a danger of seats being taken from Labour in the same way as happened in Tower Hamlets as the white population is even smaller than there.

    The borough is however very ethnically mixed with large Eastern European and Hindu populations. The left have gone very quiet on this whole issue which seems to be a real embarrassment for them.


    January 2, 2013 at 8:22 am

  11. Dressed all in black Mr Galloway told people gathered inside Harold Road Centre, off Green Street, that he would send one of his top people to challenge Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales’ leadership in Newham at the next local election. He did not rule out that he might take on the challenge himself.

    “Dressed all in black”? – shirt as well I imagine.


    January 2, 2013 at 10:13 am

  12. It all looks rather desperate, doesn’t it?

    Andrew Coates

    January 2, 2013 at 5:18 pm

  13. ‘Class struggle eh? How quaint and terribly early twentieth century’

    What world do you live in, Cameron and Clegg, etc, have been conducting a most vicious class struggle.

    Organized Rage

    January 2, 2013 at 6:07 pm

  14. I’ve been musing on what the differences are between the older generation of Christian socialists (people like, say, Donald Soper or Bruce Kent) and this current crop of religion-loving leftists. Why did the older generation command the respect and affection of even the most diehard non-believers on the left, whereas this present lot do not? I suppose much of it is to do with the obvious sincerity of many of the old-style figures, which seems a little lacking in the latest crop…


    January 2, 2013 at 10:12 pm

  15. Absolutely.

    I suppose Ipswich MP’s Ben Gummer’s idea to bring back an extra vote for business people in local elections is a step towards the 22nd century….

    Andrew Coates

    January 3, 2013 at 5:28 pm

  16. I can’t say about Donald Soper but Bruce Kent has a dignity about him that frankly commands respect. His religion is very much his affair and he doesn’t wear it on his sleeve, or for that matter his collar despite how much it plays a part in his and his partners lives, He is also very respectful of others and constantly tries to find common ground rather than look for differences, and he is very loyal to those that he shares common ground with. A thoroughly good and likeable man. He also sends me and my partner a Christmas card every year, even though he knows we are both atheists.

    Pete Shield

    January 3, 2013 at 5:29 pm

  17. There is a line in Chaucer’s Prologue about the good Christian who simply does what is right and just.

    Goodness is too important a matter to be ignored in people of any belief whatsoever.

    Andrew Coates

    January 3, 2013 at 5:35 pm

  18. Galloway has managed to carry on his religious double life for years now. Catholic for one audience, muslim for another. Either he is ashamed of being a muslim or ashamed of NOT being a muslim. I honestly have no idea which but it should be easy enough to be straight about. Also has Lee Jasper ever discussed christianity before? Or is this also a new line for him to fit into the Respect obsession with ‘faith’?


    January 3, 2013 at 10:15 pm

  19. themadmullah I’m pretty sure is Terry Fitzpatrick (google the name) – see comments at http://www.leftfutures.org/2012/09/lutfur-rahman-the-case-for-reinstatement/


    January 7, 2013 at 7:18 pm

  20. He is thereby banned.

    We had our suspicions.

    Andrew Coates

    January 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm

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