The Socialist Unity Network

RESPECT is on the move

Jim Jepps

Respect is on the move. Across the country the Euro-election campaign is taking shape and it is happening. What happens at these elections is going to influence everything afterwards. A blow for the left will be a set back that will be hard to recover from - a successful campaign, or even getting people elected will be a massive advance.

It is our responsibility to make sure that the RESPECT campaign is as successful as it can be.

There are of course problems with the way in which RESPECT was launched and the headlong rush to get things done has, by necessity, created gaps where we would like to see democracy, policy and structure.

The left needs to develop a broad organisation that can pose a credible electoral challenge to Labour, that challenges the neo-Liberal consensus and defends social democratic and socialist principles. This requires a large organisation that has many trends and tendencies, groups all over the country that involve themselves in day to day campaigning work and an open, democratic culture.

We need to recognise that none of this is going to happen before June the 10th, but we can lay the seeds now while we work in genuine unity with other progressive people in RESPECT. It's essential that RESPECT prioritises money, members and momentum in the current period.

We need money for leaflets and other materials, members to come together and spread the message and momentum to harness the energies and talents of those who want to see a more fair and equitable society develop.

But we must help RESPECT avoid the mistakes of the past and ensure that it is as democratic and inclusive as possible. We need to help develop a policy for the movement that is principled, steadfast and connects with a large layer of the general public. Along the way we are sure to make mistakes and get the emphasis wrong at times, but these mistakes are to welcomed where we can learn from them and help us grow both politically and numerically.

We are for a successful progressive bloc at the elections but we are also for preserving the gains of the Socialist Alliance. The SA was a massive step forwards for the left in this country and was just part of a general international re-groupment of the left. RESPECT is also part of that process, and should be seen as an advance - but one in which there are pitfalls and problems if we do not work to ensure the shape it is given is not simply a tool for one group or another to pursue its own ends - but a
genuine contribution to the movement and further unity.

Every socialist has a part to play in that process, no matter how painful we have found some of the birth pangs of RESPECT.

We believe that we should campaign for RESPECT, doing all we can to achieve a successful breakthrough and in doing so we will be best placed in the future to shore up the gaps where they exist. This is more constructive than hoping RESPECT will fail, or just moaning about some of RESPECT's short-comings.

We believe the best supporters of Respect should be suggesting ways that the organisation can improve, particularly after the June elections are over, but to earn the right to make those suggestion we also need to be actively promoting Respect now. At the same time we believe that local socialist groups who wish to stand socialist candidates in June's local elections should have the right to do so, but we recommend that these campaigns should be used to promote a vote for RESPECT in the Euro and GLA elections.


If we are to advance towards a socialist society then the left has to work together.


April 2004


For Socialist Unity ~ For Internationalism ~ For Peace ~ For Justice ~ For Unity ~ For Socialism