Respect Coalition

London: capital's capital

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The City of London has become a tax haven for the super-rich, overseen by Gordon Brown with, alarmingly, no complaints from Mayor Ken Livingstone. Patrick Ward looks at the history and humbug that props up the square mile and leaves neighbouring boroughs cash-starved

The reaction from much of the press to government plans for the City of London's non-domicile super-rich might make you think they were about to hand control of the square mile to the RMT. The outrage from non-domicile fat cats was coupled with threats to leave Britain altogether and for a raft of bizarre claims that London-based capitalists were being driven out of the country.

London mayoral elections: Why I'm standing

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The election for London mayor is shaping up to be a celebrity clash between the incumbent mayor, Ken Livingstone, and his main rival, the Tory Neanderthal MP for Henley, Boris Johnson.

It is also getting nasty, especially since the Dispatches programme by Martin Bright last month which attacked Livingstone from a number of angles.

Both are well known figures, and already the level of media coverage surrounding the contest is high. Livingstone is facing daily attacks from London's main paper, the Evening Standard, while representatives of ethnic minorities, not to mention the left, quake at the thought of Johnson running City Hall.

Where next for Respect?

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The last few months have seen vigorous arguments over the future of Respect, culminating in George Galloway leading a split from the coalition. Martin Smith looks at where we are now and the enduring need for a left electoral alternative to Labour.

Over 350 people came to the fourth annual Respect conference last month. It was a broad and inclusive conference attended by PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, victimised health worker Karen Reissmann, six Respect councillors, ex-Labour stalwarts like Valerie Wise and Kumar Murshid, and lots of local activists.

Socialists in dispute

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Divisions within the left, such as that which has occurred in Respect, always have their basis in political disagreements. Socialists must always fight for their principles to take the movement forward.

Few things are so distressing for the socialist left as the bitter internal disputes marked by personal diatribes. Such disputes are not unique to the left. Witness the interminable rows within the Tory party, or the decade long feud within New Labour between bomber Tony Blair and bomber Gordon Brown. But the socialist left is based on principles very different from today's mainstream parties, and people expect better from it.

The grotesque bargain

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Last month Gordon Brown became the nearly man.

The debacle of his preparing for an election and then pulling back from it has confused and demoralised his own side, and given the Tories a major political advantage. While the election has probably now been pushed back nearly two years, Brown's own popularity has plummeted in the opinion polls.

Shirebrook - How We Won Too

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Shirebrook is a former mining town in the North Derbyshire district of Bolsover, a rock solid Labour town at the heart of Dennis Skinner's constituency.

Shirebrook North West is in the poorest 1 percent of council wards in England and almost entirely white working class. Two years ago the British National Party (BNP) ran a candidate in the county council elections and won 20 percent of the vote.

The Labour majority on the district council is a mix of solid Labour left wingers and self-serving placemen. Stephen Fritchley, our opponent, has built a property empire in the area over the years and is widely unpopular.

Preston Respect - How We Won...

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Our election campaign in Preston was based on our record over the last four years; a record of combining local issues with national and international issues. We aim to be community shop stewards, dealing with whatever problems people have.

When we first started no one came to our surgeries - the tradition had been broken by the growing "democratic deficit" in British politics. People do not trust politicians to represent and fight for them. So now we have regular stalls across the ward as an alternative.

Politics after Blair

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John Rees examines the strategic choices that those who oppose war and neo-liberalism face in the post-Blair era.

The end of Tony Blair's prime ministership, announced almost exactly five years after the events of 9/11, is a major success for the anti-war movement. For people who became politically active through the struggle against the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, five years can seem like a lifetime. But in terms of British politics it is a blink of an eye.

Respect and the 'Muslim Vote'

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Jacob Middleton picks apart the claims that Respect has set aside class politics and is instead pushing a "communal" agenda that will appeal only to Muslims.

Respect's stunning election successes last month have roused up a torrent of abuse. Some of it is predictable, lambasting support for Respect among British Muslims. In a piece that compared Respect to the Nazi BNP, Nick Cohen wrote in the Observer that, "Once again, we find a slice of the electorate in a poor part of Britain that is so lost in identity politics and victimhood that it will vote for those who stoke their rage, no matter how worthless they are." Cohen's fixation says much about the prejudices of pro-war hacks.

Only the Beginning

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This year's general election was a disaster for Blair and saw a significant breakthrough for the left.

The 2005 general election will go down in history in several different ways. It marked a historically low vote for any ruling party. Labour picked up only 36 percent of the popular vote, the Tories lost on 33 percent and the LibDems rose only slightly to 23 percent. The turnout was slightly up on last time at 61 percent. It also marked the revival of the left electorally in Britain.

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