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Respect was an (un)democratic socialist political party (which supported the conservative, authoritarian Iranian regime) active in England and Wales from 2004 to 2016. Its name stands for Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environmentalism, Community and
Twattishness Trade Unionism.
The key force behind the party was George Galloway, a former Labour MP and fervent anti-war activist, who, following a highly publicised campaign to become Respect MP for Bethnal Green, London (unseating Labour heavyweight Oona King with a 26% swing), promptly abandoned his desperately poor constituency to impersonate a cat on Celebrity Big Brother.
It was essentially a coalition of conservative Islam and fragments of the old British left, which is by any standards a fairly odd coalition, although it did reflect Galloway's rejection of trendy new-leftish identity-politics ideas like women's rights.
Respect was known to attract nutters. A prime example is Carole Swords, the party's Tower Hamlets chair. This woman courted controversy by yelling "go back to bloody Russia" at a pro-Israel activist, and followed this up a month later by assaulting an elderly Jewish man.
Another is Naz Kahn, who became the Women's Officer of the party in October 2012. Less than a month prior, she had posted the following message on a Facebook page operated by Respect's National Secretary:
It’s such a shame that the history teachers in our school never taught us this but they are the first to start brainwashing us and our children into thinking the bad guy was Hitler. What have the Jews done good in this world??
A spokesman for Galloway claims that Kahn has repudiated these sentiments.
Yet another interesting Respect member is Catherine Higgins, who was chosen to contest a Manchester Central by-election in November 2012 and got 1.9% of the vote. Higgins' "likes" on Facebook include pages relating to Bashar al-Assad, Press TV, 9/11 conspiracy theories, opposition to chemtrails, and HAARP, UFOs, David Icke and, sitting rather oddly amongst the moonbattery, Ron Paul and Alex Jones.
In the 2015 United Kingdom general election, Respect fielded just four candidates, who won
no 9,989 votes collectively.
Despite being basically a megaphone for George Galloway, the party still needed some internal structure and leadership, but by 2013 nobody could identify who was officially in charge.
It campaigned in favour of Brexit in 2016. Galloway stood in the 2016 London Mayoral election, coming 7th with 37,007 first-preference votes (1.4%). In June 2016, Galloway was forced to apologise in court and pay damages after losing a libel suit brought by his former assistant Aisha Ali-Khan. The party officially de-registered shortly afterwards, when Galloway decided he liked Jeremy Corbyn and would probably rejoin Labour.
- Who is the leader of the Respect party these days?
- Respect party Website, 22 February 2016
- See the Wikipedia article on 2016 London mayoral election.
- George Galloway pays damages to former aide over dirty tricks claims. The Guardian, 20 June 2016
- George Galloway's Respect Party deregisters, prompting speculation politician may rejoin Labour, The Independent, 21 August 2016