Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

Posted on 30 October 2013 at 12:16 GMT

Bradford Respect: Where did it all go wrong?

Iain Dalton

In October the five Bradford Respect councillors announced their resignation from their party to now sit as independents.

Less than a year and a half ago, Respect was riding high, after George Galloway had won the Bradford West seat from Labour by a landslide.

He received more votes than all the other candidates put together and attracted over 1,000 people to a pre-election rally.

This had an initial energising effect on the city and was followed by Respect winning five council seats in last May's election, including defeating the then Labour leader of Bradford council.

A number of youth politicised by Galloway's campaign went on to occupy the Bradford Westfield site, known locally as 'the hole' after Westfield abandoned the site almost a decade ago to take up more lucrative projects in London in the run up to the 2012 Olympics.

The potential for anti-austerity and anti-war campaigning was shown further in several high profile demonstrations: over the massacre of the Rohinya people in Burma, drone strikes in Pakistan/Afghanistan and the crumbling Bradford Odeon; although such events have been one-offs and few and far between.


Yet tensions within Respect over a whole series of issues have seen it shed a number of high-profile members over that period.

Some of these resignations were due to comments made by Galloway. The resignations of then-leader of Respect Salma Yaqoob and Manchester byelection candidate Kate Hudson a year ago, were over Galloway's ill-informed and reprehensible comments about rape and consent.

The recent resignations initially stemmed from Galloway's announcement that he was considering standing for London Mayor in 2016.

This fed in to an image that Galloway doesn't care about Bradford, spending time presenting TV and radio shows.

Indeed, not one person from Respect turned up to the anti-war protest over Syria it was supposed to have organised in Bradford at the end of August.

Despite Respect's initial impact in Bradford, it has not been able to build a substantial activist base in the city.

This was evident when its much publicised conference in Bradford after the elections only attracted less than half of the 200 attendees it had expected.

Then national secretary, Chris Chilvers, commented that the party had been on the verge of winding up before Galloway's election, with only two functioning branches in the country and 170 a month in standing orders.

It announced a Jarrow-style march from the city for later that year which it has been unable to organise.

Abstention on cuts

Respect's failure is partly due to the unprincipled stands it has taken. For example, rather than following the anti-cuts example of the Southampton two, Hull three and Warrington one rebel Labour councillors, Respect councillors in Bradford abstained on Labour's cuts budgets and their council group leader Alyas Karmani gave an atrocious speech, in effect attempting to justify Labour's budget and accepting the need for 'difficult decisions', ie cuts.

In the election to the Yorkshire section of their national committee there were 14 candidates for the six available positions.

Only four of them had been involved in Respect for over two years and five described themselves as 'business people' or CEOs.

The electoral description of one, Qurban Malik, was:

"I have been a Tory for most of my political career. I was a candidate for Tories in the last local elections but recently joined Respect publicly. I have various and vast experience.

"I am a business man in Bradford and would like to get involved with the building of Respect in Bradford".

He is one of a layer of political opportunists who moved towards Respect in the aftermath of Galloway's Bradford victory.

Indeed Galloway seems to have surrounded himself with 'yes-men' and turned Respect more and more into a vehicle purely for his own promotion.

If Respect is to live up to its self-description as a 'left-wing alternative', instead of unprincipled blocs, it should recognise the need to build up powerful campaigns based on trade unionists and youth.

Contrast Respect in Bradford with the approach of the Yorkshire Socialist Party in the Doncaster mayoral election where our local candidate Mary Jackson won a respectable vote, but crucially built up important links with the RMT and other trade unions.

Only on the basis of building such campaigns, linked to publicising the ideas of socialism as an alternative to capitalism, can a sustained political alternative be built to the main political parties that Galloway once described, correctly, as 'three cheeks of the same backside'.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

Related links:


triangleBradford protests against kids' service cuts

triangleBradford Socialist Party: A strategy to defeat the cuts

triangleBradford protest against children's service cuts

triangleBradford campaign to save children's services launched

triangleDemonstrators see off far-right in Keighley


triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleYoung people accused of extremism

triangleResignation of five Respect councillors in Bradford

triangleThatcher death: readers respond 2


triangleFor a fighting, democratic Labour Party

trianglePassing the council cuts test

triangleJeremy Corbyn and Brexit


triangleItalian elections create huge political shake-up

triangleSocialist Party congress 2018

George Galloway:

triangleLondon elections: fight for an anti-austerity GLA

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Homes for All - Not billionaire profit!



School strikes against academy management



Hands Off HRI campaign granted judicial review



Refugee Rights to be launched in Manchester



Over 1,000 on Newcastle NHS march


Socialist Party

Why I joined: 'The Socialist Party is at the forefront of defending Corbyn's anti-austerity leadership'


Socialist Party

Past fund-raising campaigns show dedication to the fight for socialism


May Day

Ideas matter: help us fight to win with May Day greetings



Refugees march against racism and to demand rights



Unions condemn 'culture of bullying' at Merseyside hospital



Hull college workers ballot for action against mass redundancies



Strikers and parents rally again in Newham against academies



Hinkley workers win back unpaid wages after sit-in protest



UCU strike: staff and students unite to continue pensions fight after magnificent 14 days of action



Walkout from undercover policing inquiry

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018