Sunday, May 01, 2005

Tracey Emin snubs Respect

Pop on to the official site of Respect and you'll find a link to an article by artist Tracey Emin talking about how much she likes living in the East End of London and mentioning that she is "disappointed with Oona King".

The obvious inference is that Emin is backing Respect. We have also heard that some SWP activists have been putting the word around that Emin is indeed supporting George Galloway.

That came as a surprise to us given that Emin has made no secret of how she was sickened by the bully-boy tactics of Galloway campaigners in the past. (See our story here)

Now Emin has been so annoyed by these claims that she has spoken out in a column in the Independent (subscription only):

For the record, for anybody who lives in Bow or Bethnal Green, in fact for anyone in the world, I do not support George Galloway or the Respect Party. And for that matter, at this moment, no particular party.


Respect have been trawling the East End in search of a celebrity endorsement and all they have managed to come up with is a retired Scottish Stalinist.

Hopefully there will be another retired Scottish Stalinist by around 2am on Friday.

No respect for Galloway

Apologies for the lack of posts in recent days. I am sure as many of you are political activists yourself you understand that it is certainly a busy time for us all.

So, lets catch up with the events of the past few days as Respect flood the East End of London with their activists from across the UK. It is increasingly clear that the entire party strategy is (as we predicted) to abandon efforts in other seats and focus on winning Bethnal Green for George Galloway. If the media are to be believed the SWP have a real chance of getting their new friend into parliament.

In the face of intimidation, threats and harassment it is a tough task for democrats in Bethnal Green and Bow. Respect Watch has made clear that our position is not to support any particular party but to urge a vote for a democratic party.

But in Bethnal Green and Bow it is clear that Labour's Oona King is the only candidate who can beat the nationwide campaign to keep Galloway in parliament. We have even recieved encouraging emails from people who normally vote Tory who have decided to back Labour to keep out Respect.

Its going to take a brave and determined effort from King's team to defeat Galloway but lets just recap on the events of the last few days.

The East London Advertiser reported:

1. THREATS of violence have allegedly been made against a veteran Bangladeshi Labour Party supporter by an Asian gang.

Labour Party insiders now fear that gangs around Brick Lane have become politicised by events surrounding the General Election.

Mohammed Abdus Salique claimed that a 10-strong gang, aged between 16 and 25, tried to remove "Vote for Oona King" stickers from inside his shop on Brick Lane.

He also said that the gang told him to support George Galloway or he and his family would be punished.

"They said that they knew where I lived. They said they would attack me and teach me a proper lesson.


2. Galloway makes u-turn on attempt to calm down the campaign as Respect pull out of election 'peace plan'.

Last week Ms King and Mr Galloway both said they were concerned by escalating levels of intimidation and violence in the campaign.

The two candidates sat down with the police and the constituency returning officer to hammer out an agreement which barred inflammatory language and personal attacks.

The meeting went ahead and Oona King believed, until yesterday, that the agreement was still on track.

But the Respect spokesman said Ms King's additional proposal to keep party supporters up to 500 metres from polling stations was "ludicrous".

He said: "The whole thing was a non-starter. The document she has composed has gone into the dustbin of history".

The rejection means that no limits will be set on inflamatory language or the behaviour of supporters.


3. The Times reports:

AN ELDERLY man claims that he suffered a broken nose and wrist and a cut face when he was attacked after refusing to accept an election leaflet from supporters of George Galloway’s Respect party.

Police said last night that they were investigating the reported attack on Les Dobrovolski, 70, in Spitalfields, East London, a week ago.

Mr Dobrovolski said that he refused to accept a leaflet from two young men campaigning for Mr Galloway, who is challenging Labour’s Oona King in Bethnal Green & Bow in a contest dominated by the Iraq war. After saying that he would never vote for Mr Galloway, Mr Dobrovolski said he was followed and pushed to the ground by a man who then stamped on his hand.


4. The Sunday Times reports comments from Galloway's estranged wife:

Speaking from their home in Streatham, south London, Galloway’s wife, a Muslim, said: “I should tell you that when he told me his new party was going to be called Respect, I went upstairs and cried. How can he call it this when he doesn’t even treat his own wife with respect?”


He hasn't treated the democratic process or the people of Bethnal Green and Bow with any respect either. He has failed to condemn the violence and threats in the constituency. He has failed to show even a minimum amount of responsibility and decency and stick to the agreement for a peaceful election campaign.

Galloway should have no place in Parliament. British democracy has a long tradition of rejecting bully-boy politics and we are confident that the people of Bethnal Green and Bow will reject the Socialist Workers Party and their front man.