Down the Pan

The third annual Respect conference was held last weekend at the Friend’s Meeting House in London.

One would normally expect lots of hooplah and self-congratulation from the comrades of the Trot/Islamist coalition but the Respect Website is strangely silent about the goings-on this year.

Luckily other publications have been more diligent in keeping the rest of us informed.

The words of top comrade Galloway on the achievments of the organisation in the past year must at least have warmed the cockles of the assembled delegates hearts:

Respect, said comrade Galloway, is not only the “fastest growing party” in Britain – it is “probably the only organisation that’s growing”.

Which would all be very well if these words had any resemblance to reality at all rather than the sort of nonsense on stilts that only the very gullible could fall for.

Here’s how the MP’s inspiring rhetoric measures up against the more prosaic view of the numbers according to a member of Respect’s National Committee:

The results of all this are most clearly expressed in the moribund state of a number of Respect branches and declining membership figures, which now stand at 2160 according to the annual report – down from 3040 last year.

There’s more:

Every delegate I asked told me their branch entitlement had fallen compared to last year – some quite considerably – and the last 12 months has certainly not seen the creation of any number of new branches.

But what news of the branch that had done such sterling work in electing Respect’s sole MP in the 2005 election?

In Tower Hamlets – Respect’s flagship – the loss has been proportionately greater than elsewhere in the country. This is indicated by the number of delegates elected to conference: down from 40 to 17.

So what – they’ve still got lots and lots of local councillors.

That’s certainly true – but for how much longer?

There are at present 12 Respect councillors in Tower Hamlets. How accountable are they to Respect nationally and to its local committees? Not very. In Shadwell ward, for example, Shamim Ahmed Chowdhury, Mohammed Mamun Rashid and Respect council group leader Abjol Miah consider themselves a power in their own right. They have a considerable personal following in the area – family, business associates, employees – and see no reason whatsoever to subordinate themselves to the SWP which runs and dominates the local branch.

The issue festers behind closed doors and if it continues for much longer I have been assured by one insider that it will lead to a split.

Oh well, if being a member of a declining schizophrenic lash-up with a creative way with statistics is too depressing there’s always the chance of winning a prize in the obligatory raffle:

The prizes were to include an Easyjet flight for two people to the destination of their choice

Let’s hope the winner wasn’t a dismayed member of the York branch of Respect whose motion to “promote international train travel as an alternative to flying” was passed overwhelmingly.

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