RESPECT The Unity Coalition

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox British Political Party RESPECT The Unity Coalition is a socialist British political party founded on January 25, 2004 in London. Its name is a backronym standing for Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environmentalism, Community, and Trade unionism. It is often refered to simply as Respect or as the Respect Party.



Respect is seen by many mainstream commentators as a single-issue party focusing on opposition to the war in Iraq. However, it claims to "provide a broad-based and inclusive alternative to the parties of privatisation, war, and occupation" and to have a broad progressive agenda.

Some of the policies it has also campaigned on include:

In their founding constitution they state their overall aim as to "help create a socially just and ecologically sustainable society", giving a definition of social justice that includes "the organisation of society in the most open, participative, and accountable way practicable based on common ownership and democratic control"[1] (


Missing image
Respect fringe meeting at the 2004ESF

Respect allows its members to hold membership of other political organisations.
Its main components are:

Other notable supporters include:

The coalition also has the support of:

Respect co-initiator George Monbiot, a left-wing anti-globalization writer, resigned from Respect before its launch, because Respect intended to stand members of its party against existing Green Party members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Respect had offered to form a pact with the Green Party to stand down in each other's favoured seats, but this was rejected by the Greens. This may have proved problematic as both groups favoured standing in London, where Respect has received its highest votes and the Green Party holds seats. After the 2005 results Respect reported that the Greens' election co-ordinator, impressed with their results, had called for further discussion about how to further built the left of Labour vote.

Although the leader of Respect is listed in the register of political parties as Nick Wrack, and its nominating officer and treasurer as Linda Smith, George Galloway is often assumed to be its leader by the mainstream media. In fact, Respect does not have a leader as such and is run by an elected "national council," a full list of whom can be found on their website.

History and electoral performance

Missing image
Respect campaigners decorating a bus in Manchester for the 2005 elections

The coalition sought to challenge Tony Blair from the left at the London Assembly and European Parliament elections in 2004 and gained a quarter of a million votes. This is the best result, in aggregate, ever achieved by the socialist left outside of the Labour Party. The party claims that these votes have been achieved primarily by capitalising on the 2003 anti-war protests and by attracting the votes of "Old Labour" supporters who feel Blair has moved the party too far to the right of their socialist beliefs. The correlation between the performance of Respect and the Muslim population of an area suggests that it has succeeded in attracting the votes of some Muslims who feel alienated by Labour's support for the war.

Respect candidate Lindsey German came fifth in the 2004 London mayoral election. Its largest constituency vote in the 2004 assembly elections was in City and East London, where it polled 13.46%, reaching third place.

In their first European Parliament elections, also in 2004, Respect's proportion of the national vote was 1.7% and they failed to win any seats. Their best result was in London itself, with a relatively strong 4.8%, and their worst was in Wales and the South West, with 0.6% and 0.7% respectively. Their strongest borough was Newham, London with 21.41% of the vote. Respect finished behind the Green Party in every region where both ran, and behind the BNP everywhere but London. However, in Tower Hamlets, Respect received more votes than any other party.

The party did very well (for a fourth party) at the Birmingham Hodge Hill and Leicester South by-elections in 2004, with 6.3% and 12.7% of the vote respectively — enough to retain its deposit in both seats (which requires a minimum of 5% of the vote). However, in Birmingham Hodge Hill, the "anti-war vote" was split between Respect and the Liberal Democrats; as a result, the Labour candidate won the seat.

In the Hartlepool by-election (September 30, 2004), Respect only came fifth with 572 votes and lost their deposit. Hartlepool does not have a large Muslim community and the result may be indicative of the very low underlying support it has within the non-Muslim communities that predominate in the UK.

It won its first election on July 29, 2004, when it won a ward from Labour in Tower Hamlets. The election was called after a Labour councillor was expelled for alleged corruption.

In September 2004, Respect candidate Paul McGarr stood in the Millwall by-election and came second, pushing Labour into third place.

2005 election

Template:Wikinews Respect had a major breakthrough in the 2005 general election, when it ran candidates in 26 constituencies. It gained its first MP in George Galloway, who overturned the large majority of Oona King in Bethnal Green and Bow. Also, it came second in three constituencies: Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath, East Ham and West Ham. By far their best result outside London was in Salma Yaqoob, coming second in Birmingham with 27.5% of the vote.

Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University described Respect's overall results as "easily the best performance by a far-left party in British electoral history." However, the Communist Party of Great Britain and Independent Labour Party received far more votes and won several seats in elections from the 1920s to the 1950s.

International affiliation

While Respect is not part of any international organisation and has no formal links to any party from other countries, it does have fraternal links with various organisations. It sees itself as part of the new European anti-capitalist left, including Italyís Rifondazione Comunista and Portugal's Leftwing Bloc.

The Labour and Social Justice Party is a recently founded party which can been seen as a German counterpart of Respect.

Respect is registered as a political party in Scotland but have claimed that this is just so no one else uses their name in Scotland. They have not stood in Scotland and have urged voters to support the Scottish Socialist Party.

Criticisms of Respect

Critics of Respect such as the Socialist Party of England and Wales, as well as Workers Liberty and Workers Power, former members of the Socialist Alliance, claim that it is undemocratic and has an overly London-centric, top-down approach, its initial programme having been created largely by negotiations between the SWP and George Galloway. Respect has countered this claim by stating that it is simply false, that the Respect programme was formed as an "emergency response" to the June 10 European and local elections, and that a full constitution will be developed democratically through elections at its annual conferences. Respect's policies were fleshed out to some extent at its first national conference. The resolutions passed can be found on their website.

Other criticisms have been leveled at George Galloway's refusal to accept an average worker's wage (Galloway previously claimed he needs £150,000 a year to "function in politics" — The Scotsman, May 19, 2003), "divisive" targeting of the Muslim vote, and the lack of the distinctively socialist policies of supporting "no borders" and abolition of the British monarchy. In response, Galloway claims the majority of his wage is spent on political campaigns, not himself. Respect claims that in order to engage wider forces it is necessary to have debates on these issues inside the grouping after its creation. The idea has been to avoid the normal position of left-wing groups, which is to focus on division, and instead focusing on the areas of agreement.

External links

Respect publications



See also


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools