Despite promises made a few months ago of being in south London politics for the long-term, George Galloway’s Respect Party may not being fielding a single candidate in Croydon’s local council elections in May.
Lee Jasper, Respect’s candidate in the Croydon North by-election in November 2012, revealed the party’s position overnight.
Jasper, the former advisor to Ken Livingstone when he was Mayor of London, told Inside Croydon that Respect’s council election candidates will be announced this week. “If we run in Croydon at all that is,” Jasper added.
Running candidates at the local elections will be “dependent on resources and priorities,” Jasper said.
Galloway, the MP for Bradford West since 2012, has been a controversial figure throughout his political career. He was expelled from the Labour Party a decade ago.
In 2012, while running campaigns in two other parliamentary constituencies, Galloway launched Jasper’s bid in the Croydon North by-election at a local night club. There, Galloway made it clear that this was just the beginnings of Respect’s activities in Croydon and that he intended to stick around to contest Town Hall elections in 2014. Respect even rented an office in the Beulah Hill area.
But the warning signs that Respect might be an under-resourced one-man band were there to see on the night. Despite various celebrities present to endorse the event, fewer than 100 were at the launch party at Selhurst Park’s Crystals’ night club. Many of those attending were activists from Respect’s better established Tower Hamlets party – people who in 2014 will be busy campaigning on their own patch before their own local elections.
Jasper admitted at the time that he had only 40 active campaign workers, probably 200 fewer than he needed. On election day, Jasper’s name appeared as the candidate on the ballot paper, but so did George Galloway’s, probably just in case voters did not make the connection between the “star” of Celebrity Big Brother and the Respect Party.
And while Steve Reed – a particular target for Galloway’s anti-Labour rhetoric – polled 65 per cent of all the votes cast in the election, only 707 people voted for Jasper.
The difficulties in launching and sustaining a political party – especially when its figurehead is someone as divisive as Galloway – should be self-evident.
Respect’s Croydon office is now closed.
“We were unable to maintain it,” Jasper said. The reasons? Jasper offered three: “Austerity. Rent rises. Small party.”
Coming to Croydon
- Mark Steel at Ashcroft Theatre, Feb 12
- Purley Swimathon: Feb 13
- Croydon Arts Network meeting, Feb 15
- Chinese New Year children’s event, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 18
- This War! St Gertrude’s Theatre group, Feb 19-22
- Welsh myths children’s event, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Mr Pooter comes to Croydon, Feb 20-22
- Warm and Well event, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 22
- Stop the Incinerator fund-raiser, Feb 24
- Fairtrade Film night, Antenna Cafe, Haynes Lane, Feb 27
- Fairtrade event, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 1
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Mar 3
- Patchwork and quilting workshop, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 3
- Fairtrade stall at Food Market, Haynes Lane, Mar 8
- Upper Norwood Library Book Club, Mar 15
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 20
- Croydon Half-marathon, Mar 30
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