Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Missing out

I meant to write a piece on Respect and Salma Yaqoob tonight, as I thought I'd run a story I've had for a while, but The Stirrer beat me to it. I'd been reminded of it by the ructions developing within Respect over an impending split between the Muslim side and the SWP groupings that formed that particular peculiar alliance. Specifically, Gorgeous George Galloway's eight page indictment of the current poor health of the party, which includes this paragraph.
There is a custom of anathematisation in the organisation which is deeply unhealthy and has been the ruin of many a left-wing group before us. This began
with Salma Yaqoob, once one of our star turns, promoted on virtually every platform, and who is responsible for some of the greatest election victories (and near misses) during our era... Now she has been airbrushed from our history at just the time when she is becoming a regular feature on the national media and her impact on the politics of Britain’s second city has never been higher.

I actually think that Salma is a particularly strong political performer and is one of the few assets in Respect. The Stirrer claimed that Salma had been courted by all three major parties. I doubt that the Tories thought for a second she'd come over to them and the behaviour of the Lib Dems towards her suggested that perhaps she had spurned their advances, but I did have it on good authority that Salma had been approached by Labour (a story broken by The Stirrer).

According to the Stirrer, she immediately rejected their proposals. My understanding is that this was a solid offer of the Ladywood seat vacated by Clare Short, which is almost certain to be an all-woman shortlist. The Stirrer reckons that Short's departure makes the seat more vulnerable, but given her near-invisibility in the seat and her unpopularity amongst even loyal party members, that seems to be wide of the mark.

A Respect split has been likely for a long time. Initially, the two disparate groups that comprise the party (the SWP and members of the Muslim community) were united in their opposition to the Iraq war in particular. As our involvement in that particular debacle starts to wind down, public opposition will decline and the SWP need to find their next campaign organisation to infiltrate. Stripping away dissatisfaction over Iraq also reveals greater divides within Respect - there is huge division over social issues, which have so far been papered over in the name of party unity.


Kath, Ladywood CLP Secretary said...

Salma said that Sparkbrook LP members approached her about joining Labour and standing in Ladywood. How on earth can Sparkbrook Branch/Hall Green CLP members possibly solidly promise her the seat of Ladywood? Ladywood CLP members will decide who our candidate is and the nature of the shortlist. We're not likely to accept somebody who has consistently opposed us elsewhere in the city, who has just joined the LP thinking she's lined up for a safe parliamentary seat! No carpet-baggers here, please!

Gordon's Gofer said...

kath, dont make me laugh... shes a prize catch you can gurantee that someone more senoir has spoken to her. Bore perhaps???

Kath said...

Repeat- no carpet baggers here, please! I'm increasingly amazed to learn how many "experts in the know" from beyond Ladywood CLP, or even the LP itself, claim to know what's going on here! Eligible Ladywood CLP members will choose our candidate. We're about to start the process. Suggest that you stick to Erdington (?).