Tuesday, 11 September 2012

With regret...

It is with deep regret that I have decided to resign from Respect. The last few weeks have been extremely difficult for everyone in the party. I feel necessary relations of trust and collaborative working have unfortunately broken down. I have no wish to prolong those difficulties, and indeed hope that they may now be drawn to a close.

I remain committed to the principles and values that led me to help found Respect. The policies we have fought for need to be voiced as loud as ever in opposition to a political establishment that remains out of touch with working people.

I would like to thank everyone in the party for their support over the years; I wish everyone the very best for the future and in those common struggles for peace, justice and equality that I am sure we will all continue to be involved in.

Salma Yaqoob

While we are obviously very sorry that Salma has decided to leave Respect, we would like to thank her for the great contribution she has made to Respect over the last decade.We look forward to working with Salma in the future in pursuit of our shared values and objectives.
Chris Chilvers   Respect National Secretary

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Good news and bad…

For the last few days I have been in Liverpool supporting my sister-in-law through a difficult labour which finally ended with an emergency Caesarian Section procedure. The good news is that in the early hours of the morning a healthy and beautiful 8lb baby boy was born! I am very happy to report that mother and son are doing fine.

The bad news is that I have emerged from that world into a heated controversy around Julian Assange which is conflating issues around freedom of speech with debates about what constitutes violence against women.
Let me be clear, as a politician and as a woman. Rape occurs when a woman has not consented to sex. George Galloway’s comments on what constitutes rape are deeply disappointing and wrong.

There are many political issues entwined in the case of Julian Assange. These issues cannot be used to diminish in any way the seriousness of any allegations against him. Any individual accused of a crime, sexual or otherwise, is innocent until proven guilty. By the same token, any individual who believes themselves to be a victim has a right to have their grievances heard in a fair manner and not have their allegations belittled or dismissed. This is the cornerstone of justice.

This turn of events may well act to undermine Assange's defence against those powerful forces keen to make an example of him for exposing the crimes of Empire. It has certainly taken the debate around violence against women a step backwards.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Double dip depression

Amidst all the good news about the Olympics, and the national feel good bounce it has generated, you may have missed this story: Britain is getting more depressed.

According to figures from the NHS antidepressant prescriptions rose by 9.1% between 2010 and 2011, costing over £270 million. That’s 46.7 million prescriptions – more than enough for each adult in the country.

A breakdown of the figures show that there is a clear North/South divide with a cluster of cities in the North East all registering the highest rates of anti-depressants, and Blackpool taking the prize for the unhappiest place in the UK.

I am not surprised by this. There is a clear North/South divide in terms of the impact of the recession, with areas traditionally more reliant on manufacturing industry and the public sector for employment have been hardest by the cuts. Unemployment and insecurity wrecks lives. The news that 1,000 people have committed suicide because of the impact of the recession is terrible, but will not come as a great shock to mental health professionals.

However this increase in mental health illness reflects something much deeper about our society than the impact of recession.

Psychologist Oliver James has demonstrated that rates of mental illness are double in those countries most enthralled with the neo-liberal model and its accompanying materialism, greed-is-good philosophy and cultural vacuousness. As James states: ‘Not only would reduced consumerism and greater equality make us more ecologically sustainable, it would halve the prevalence of mental illness within a generation’.

Makes sense to me.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Stop the persecution of Burma's Rohingya Muslims

The continuing killing and persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma is causing real worry and upset  among British Muslims.

For good reason. The Rohingya have long been one the most persecuted minorities anywhere in the world and the latest escalation in violence raises fears of wholesale ethnic cleansing.

What is also shocking about the latest developments is the complete silence of internationally feted democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy.

Press release: Respect candidate backs families’ call for justice

Kate Hudson, Respect candidate for Manchester Central, will join with family members of those killed in police custody, to attend a screening of the award-winning film 'Injustice'. The screening takes place this Friday August 10th at 6pm at the Phil Martin Centre in Moss Side.
The screening takes place on the anniversary of the riots triggered by the shooting by police of Mark Duggan, and is hosted by BARAC (Black Activists rising against the cuts). The film charts the struggles for justice of the families of people who have died in police custody.

Kate Hudson said: ‘Over 1,000 people died in policy custody in England between 1969 and 1999. But no police officer has ever been convicted of any of the deaths. This remarkable film exposes the reality of this deeply shocking figure and calls us to action for justice. Time does not erase the crimes.’

There will be a discussion after the film, including family members of those who have been killed. Please join us at the Phil Martin Centre, 141-143 Princess Road , Moss Side, Manchester M14 4RE. It’s time for justice.

Kate and the Respect campaign team will be taking their message to Manchester Central again on Saturday, meeting at 12 noon at the party rooms at Hilton House, Hilton Street , Manchester M1 1EL .

Press Release 2: For interview/comment please phone 07739 184 335

Twitter: @kate4manchester

Facebook: Kate4Manchester

Website: www.kate4manchester.org

Thursday, 9 August 2012

'The gods of economics have failed'

As was entirely predictable, and predicted, the bankers have simply taken the money and refused to part with it back into productive investment in the economy. The economic statistics attest to mounting misery - a weaker recovery from the initial crisis than from the Great Depression, now a double-dip recession worse than any in 50 years, manufacturing and construction slumping, shocking contraction across the economy as a whole. And the Prime Minister pledges that the savage austerity will carry on for the rest of the decade.

Read George Galloway's latest article in full here

Friday, 3 August 2012

Labour stalwart backs Respect candidate for Manchester Central

Former Labour MP for Halifax, Alice Mahon, is backing Kate Hudson , Respect candidate for the Manchester Central by-election on 15th November.

Mrs Mahon said: ‘Excellent news that Kate Hudson , General Secretary of CND and well-known political activist, is to stand in the Manchester Central by-election. I have worked with Kate on many campaigns. Highly intelligent and articulate she is totally committed to a fairer more equal society.

If we are to stop the privatisation of health, and education, the introduction of work for no pay, and a continuation of the lousy neo-con economics that have done so much damage to our country, then we have to start electing people like Kate who have the courage to take the fight for a more equal society to the heart of government. The people of Manchester Central deserve nothing less.’

‘When Labour stops being for labour, then the voting has to change’

I am really proud that Kate Hudson is the Respect candidate for Manchester Central. Read her article here about why she’s standing.  

Thursday, 26 July 2012

A Ring of Steel for the Five Rings

Author of a new book on the Olympics MARK PERRYMAN argues that the London 2012 security mess isn’t just about staff shortages.

Munich ‘72 will always remain one of the most iconic of all Olympic Games. Not so much for Olga Korbut’s impish performance in the Gymnastics or the Gold Medal haul of Mark Spitz in the pool. It is the lethal carnage resulting from the Israeli athletes being taken hostage by the Palestinian Black September group that Munich will always be remembered for.

In Gaza and the West Bank immense problems remain, the murderous consequences of Israel’s war on the Palestinians only too obvious. Yet in all the commentary on the security threat to the London Games scarcely anyone has observed that in 2012 Palestine competes as a nation-state at the Olympics, under its own national flag. This would have been almost impossible to imagine 40 years ago, the threat of terror can never be defeated by military means, the root causes can only ever be solved via a political solution.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


With his book offering a blueprint for a better Olympics published this week author Mark Perryman explains his Five New Rings.

Seb Coe and the London Olympics Organising Committee, Cameron and his hapless Minister of Culture, Jeremy Hunt, their predecessors, Brown, Blair and Tessa Jowell. All of them cling to a bipartisan consensus that everything to do with the Olympics is fine, nothing the International Committee and their sponsors demand needs to be questioned. It was a consensus which in London managed to unite those otherwise polar opposites, Boris and Ken, too, in solid agreement that the Olympics would be without doubt a good thing for the city.

Add the sports media, led by the BBC, which appears to have had all critical faculties surgically removed in the cause of Olympic cheerleading, to amplifies this all-embracing mood of agreement. Yet the discontent outside the parliamentary and media bubble is very obvious. Not an organised campaign of resistance but on issues ranging from the lack of tickets to the privileges enjoyed by the IOC and sponsors there is a mood of discontent.. Whilst more broadly there exists a deep-seated popular cynicism that the Games won’t be the benefit that they they are claimed to be. It is a discontent that is barely reported upon yet its basis is well-founded. There is scarcely a scrap of evidence from any previous Games of economic regeneration or a sustainable boost in employment. Not one recent Olympic host nation can point to an increase in sport participation levels as a result of the Olympics. And as for tourism, the Olympics leads to a decrease in visitors not an increase as the Travel Industry , which has no reason at all not to be one of the Games’ biggest supporters, has repeatedly pointed out.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Free the Olympics

In this summer of Euro 2012 and the London Olympics , both dominated by product sponsors, MARK PERRYMAN points to a third, major sporting event with less emphasis on corporate control and more on popular participation …

Modern sport isn’t simply a contest between teams or individuals. It is also increasingly an arena which corporate power seeks to exploit. During this summer of major sporting events it’s clear that the governing bodies behind the European soccer finals and the Olympic Games are following a strikingly similar agenda, one shaped by drive of business to make money out of people’s love for sport. That generally starts with top down control.   

Here are two examples from Euro 2012, from where I’m writing:

First, consider the so-called ‘Fan Zones’, introduced at the World Cup in 2006 and a feature of World Cups and European Championships ever since. These large privatised spaces are all about regimentation and commerce. Whatever the individual characteristics of the country you are in, the environment in the fan-zones is more- or-less the same. When it comes to refreshments, only fast food, soft drinks and beer provided by the authorised sponsors are available. Here in the Ukraine, the chances of sampling local fare in the fan zones are next to zero. Every available space is taken up by corporate catering. And the big screens, constantly relaying sponsors’ messages, are the most prominent advertising platform of all. It’s not easy to discover the country beyond these sanitized arenas but significant numbers of us have been making the effort. Getting out on the local tourist trail, or even better beyond it, and soaking up the atmosphere in local pubs and cafes while taking in the odd game on television with a commentary we can barely understand, is well worth it.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Tickets, Anybody Got Tickets?

The London Olympics 2012 is a once-in-a-lifetime event. So why, asks Mark Perryman, have so few of us got tickets?

With the Jubilee over and the England football team unlikely to provide much of a lasting distraction at the Euros, the 50-day countdown to the London Olympics is now entering serious overdrive.

Right from the start of the bidding competition back in 2005, hosting a ‘home’ Olympics was sold to the British public as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This was no idle boast: Along with football’s World Cup (which England can’t even think of hosting till at least 2026) the Olympics is undoubtedly the biggest show on earth. Spread across 26 different sports and with over 200 countries competing, its reach and appeal is enormous.

The sales pitch of the Olympic organisers was explicit: This was an opportunity to be there while history was being made, to witness something unforgettable first-hand, to bring the memories of past Games watched on TV to vivid life. The Games organisers did little or nothing to dampen expectation that tickets for the Games would there for the taking.

Friday, 1 June 2012

It’s the Taking Part

According to the organizers, encouraging participation in sport is one of the main benefits of the London 2012 Olympics. Mark Perryman examines the evidence.

The Olympic motto “ The most important thing is not winning but taking part” represents some of the finest ideals not only of Olympism but of any sporting event aspiring to be democratic, participative and accessible. After this weekend’s Jubilee hoopla fades away, the coming summer of sport - Euro 2012, a serious British challenger to win the Tour de France, Wimbledon fortnight, overseas rugby tours to the southern hemisphere, a domestic test match series and the first, and last, home Olympics for most of our lifetimes - will no doubt test such sentiments to the full. A nation that invented many of the world’s team sports has, perhaps forgivably, some difficulty in coping with repeated defeats by the nations to which it exported them. Add in a lengthy martial and imperial tradition, and CLR James’ famous maxim ‘What do they know of cricket who only cricket know’ can be seen as essential to understanding why the British are not the world’s best losers.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Race to the line

With John Carlos, one of the Mexico ‘68 podium protesters, on a speaking tour of Britain, author of a forthcoming book on the Olympics MARK PERRYMAN describes the continuing clash of race and the Games

United on the Mexico podium by their fierce opposition to racism Tommie Smith, Peter Norman and John Carlos used the medal ceremony for what has become an iconic moment of public protest. Its durability as an image of anti-racism in sport and beyond is testament to the global platform the Olympics provided. Even before satellite TV and digital media, the dignified audacity of the three medal-winners became an overnight world-wide news story.

The Sydney Olympics in 2000 offered another iconic Olympic memory of sport and race. As the twenty-first century began Eric Hobsbawm’s description of the role of sport in providing a popular expression of national identity amongst the debris of globalisation became increasingly relevant: “The imagined community of millions seems more real as a team of named people.” As part of this process a sporting contest can sometimes crystallise social or political changes within a nation. When Cathy Freeman, the Australian Aboriginal sprinter, streaked around the track to win the 400 meters gold medal, kitted out in an all-in-one skin-tight green and gold Lycra suit complete with hood, she was chased every inch of the way by the light of thousands of camera flashes capturing her moment of glory. This was more than an instant of supreme sporting achievement. For Australia’s Aboriginal community it represented recognition and inclusion from the majority white population - however temporary it ultimately proved to be. Inequality, discrimination, racism, and disputes over land rights didn’t disappear just because Cathy was a national heroine. Her success was the exception, not the rule, but for a moment it pointed to a different version of Australia.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

A Games For All?

As the Olympic Torch relay starts its route around Britain author of a forthcoming book on the Olympics Mark Perryman questions the claim of a Games for all.

Beginning its long route around Britain the Torch Relay is one of the few examples of decentralisation and free-to-watch events that could have transformed the 2012 Olympics into a Games for all.

There is little doubt that the sight of the Olympic torch as it passes through a village, town or city up and down the byways, with photo-opps at famous landmarks will ignite popular interest and huge media coverage.

But the scale of that enthusiasm reveals the lack of ambition behind the 2012 model for the Olympics. In my new book Why the Olympics Aren’t Good For Us, And How They Can Be, I propose Five New Rings for the Olympic symbol. The first, and most important, of these is decentralisation. As a mega-event football’s World Cup has its problems too with new stadia sometimes built with no obvious future likelihood to be full again once the tournament is over. But the singular advantage for the hosts of a World Cup over the Olympics is it is spread all over the country, and sometimes more than one. In this way the global spectacular becomes not only a national event but a local event too. The Olympics is an entirely different model, apart from the yachting and the football tournament every single event is London-based, most of Britain will have no contact with the Games except a fleeting fglimpse of the Torch relay as it pases through.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Get the vote out for Ken!

This Thursday Londoners go to the polls to elect a Mayor. The race is neck and neck between Tory candidate Boris Johnson and Labour’s Ken Livingstone.

Let me make it absolutely clear that there are overwhelmingly positive reasons to vote for Ken Livingstone. Most of all, Londoners will be better off with a combination of measures to cut fares, rents, and the cost of childcare, restore EMA and tackle crime. Many will be better off by over £1000 during the four years of his mayoralty through his fares cut alone.

But as someone who doesn’t live in London I have an interest in seeing him win, and so do people in all parts of the country. The reason is very simple. The Conservative Party.

The Conservative Party are ripping the guts out of our country. They are tearing into the NHS. They are attacking public services. They have slashed and burned all the way to recession.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

'Yes' to a Mayor who says 'No' to Austerity

The referendum on a Mayor for Birmingham has not exactly set the city alight with political debate. It isn’t hard to see why.

I look from the ‘Yes’ campaign to the ‘No’ campaign, and all I see are the same old politicians; the very people who have failed this city for so long.

It isn’t only that they are all equally uninspiring, although they are. It isn’t, either, that the contest is in danger of being dominated by middle-aged men – although some might say that these particular men have had enough chances to play the civic leader already without any great success.

No, what really bothers me is the complete vacuum when it comes to radical thinking. Birmingham is a youthful and diverse city. We were once a city of thousand trades, known around the world. We are now a city of many cultures that could - and should – see itself as an international city, open to the world. Instead, we risk a future as a provincial backwater, with economic decline slowly eating away at the ties that bind our people together.

It is increasingly urgent that someone stands up to the suffocating consensus that insists there is no alternative to economic austerity at home, and war abroad. Austerity isn’t working. Its consequences, including the lengthening unemployment queues and the destruction of our public services, will leave our city as a shadow of its former self. Youth unemployment in particular is a scandal of epic proportions that threatens all of our futures. Yet, every day, we see jobs disappear along with the education and training services that might sustain some hope in our young people.

This is what the campaign for a Birmingham Mayor should be about, but isn’t. In Birmingham’s heyday, civic leaders had vision. Sadly, the very libraries, parks, museums, and public services they bequeathed are now under threat from a city leadership that is tired and worn out.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Go Green this May!

I am calling today for Respect supporters in Birmingham to back Green Party candidates standing in the local elections on 3 May.

This May, Birmingham will finally call time on a Tory-Lib Dem council leadership that will be remembered for the jobs they have destroyed, and for the public services they have so badly undermined. Labour will once again be in control, but I have little confidence that they have the vision or the will to stand up to the Tory-Lib Dem government. Birmingham needs better than the failed austerity of the Tories and Lib Dems, and we need better than the austerity-lite offering of Labour. 

In these local elections, I believe that the Green Party is the best choice for those looking for a radical voice in Birmingham. The Green Party has been consistent in its opposition to the breakup of the NHS, have championed the call to create new sustainable jobs with a living wage, and campaign to protect our valuable green spaces. The election of Green councillors would help to shake up the council chamber, and is just the sort of fresh voice that the city needs.

The Respect Party will be supporting the ‘Yes’ campaign in the referendum on an elected mayor for Birmingham. But, in the local elections this year, I hope our supporters will go Green!

Friday, 6 April 2012

Bradford Respect offers real change

I am proud of the list of Respect candidates. I believe they are a much needed breath of fresh air in Bradford local politics.

We were inundated with hundreds of applications following George Galloway's stunning victory in Bradford West. There were many from the 'old guard', including existing and ex councillors who were keen to jump ship in the face of the huge support for Respect. There were many who came offering what they consider to be bank votes due to their 'biraderi' links. All these were rejected. Some took to facebook to express resentment following them not being accepted.

But the voters of Bradford West were clear: no more stitch ups, no more stifling of talented young people and women, and no more so called representatives who had no passion for the issues that matter to local people.

Laughably they tried to spread rumours that our selection process was 'biraderi' based or that the hard working volunteers in the office had disproportionate influence. The truth is that George Galloway and myself were directly involved in the decision making process, and this was solely due to the lack of structures on the ground and the extreme time pressure we were under.

Bradford Respect - Local Election Candidates

Bolton & Undercliffe - Tazeem Sawaiz    
Tazeem is 44 years old - born and educated locally. She has worked for Bradford Council from 1987 to 2012 in various senior positions. From 2003 she has run BD34ALL, an extended school project, winning local and national awards. She has set up a football and kickboxing club which have over 400 local children attending.

Bowling & Barkerend - Mohammed Asif Khan
Asif is 48 years old – he has over 10 years experience as a senior Local Authority officer. He has been head of the Performing Arts unit for Calderdale Council from 1995 to 1998 and Kirklees Council from 1998 to 2003. He is currently working with DM Digital TV.

Bradford Moor - Faisal Khan
Faisal is 44 years old – He has a degree in mechanical engineering from Kings College London and a Masters in management from University of Bradford. He has served as a governor and Chair of governors in Carlton Bolling College. He has voluntarily trained school governors and is passionate about enabling parents and families to get involved in raising academic standards. Faisal currently works in project management. 

City - Ruqayyah Collector
Ruqayyah is 28 years old – she has studied broadcast journalism at Leeds University. She has been involved in student politics as a sabbatical officer at Leeds University Student Union for 2 years and has been active in campaigning against tuition fees. She will be a strong advocate for local residents including the sizeable student population.

Clayton & Fairweather Green - Dawud Islam
Dawud is 49 years old – he is employed as a Home Energy Consultant. He has served as a local councillor before and has been involved in politics and community work since the age of 16. He was the Green Party candidate in the Bradford West by-election and has since joined the Respect Party.

Great Horton - Salim Jelani
Salim Jelani is 51 years old – he was brought to the UK by his parents at the age of 6 months. He was educated locally and is married with three children. He is founder and MD of Medina Foods, employing over 50 people. He has been active in community projects including ‘INTERLINK’ which brings local people together from all communities in Great Horton. 

Heaton - Mohammad Shabbir
Mohammad is 51 years old – has been active in community development and youth work in Bradford since 1994 and has campaigned for improvement of health and social care services and disability rights across the city. Mohammad amongst other qualifications holds a postgraduate diploma in Management Studies. He is CEO of a charity called Sharing Voices, a community development mental health organisation

Little Horton - Alyas Karmani
Alyas is 43 years old – Educated to postgraduate level, he is currently a Director of STREET UK Ltd; a specialist project working with young people ‘at risk’ of violent offending. He is passionate about education and has been campaigning for raising academic achievement in local schools for over 10 years. 

Manningham - Ishtiaq Ahmed
Ishtiaq is 38 years old – he has 15 years under his belt in community development work in inner city areas. Currently working for a large third sector Mental Health Organisation tackling health inequalities, he is also a member of the Human Rights Equality Panel for the Bradford District Care Trust.

Thornton & Allerton - Pat Mulligan
Pat is 39 years old – he is married with 3 boys and is passionate about his local community. He is a member of the Thornton Medical Centre Participation Group and a parent governor at Thornton Primary School. He has been involved in the Labour movement from a very young age.

Toller - Ongoing Legal dispute with BMDC

Tong - Sarah Cartin
Sarah is 32 years old – she is married with two children. Sarah has a degree in politics and currently works for an Older People’s charity. She is an advocate for equal rights for women in Bradford and is active in ‘We Are Bradford’, an inclusive anti-racism initiative.

Wyke - James Clayton
James Clayton is 31 years old – he came to Bradford as a student 12 years ago and has made Bradford his home since. He is self employed in the IT industry and is a trustee of the charity Hope Housing. He has extensive experience in campaigning for social justice and political reform.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

George hails an historic 'Bradford Spring'

Bradford's peaceful democratic uprising that elected me comes from the wellspring of discontent that swept Britain last summer, writes George Galloway MP in the Guardian

The Bradford spring. No matter how seemingly powerful, no corrupted, out-of-touch elite can last forever. The people of Bradford West have spoken, and politics in the city and in this country will never be the same again. Anyone who took part in this historic campaign, or who observed it dispassionately, knew by last weekend that something spectacular was going to take place.

A 5,000 Labour majority was transformed into a 10,000 majority for Respect – the same total vote for me as the outgoing MP had in a general election – winning across every ward in the constituency. It was the most spectacular byelection result in British political history.

The word revolution was on many lips in this deprived and hitherto disenfranchised city well before Friday morning's result. And, like the Arab revolutions, this is a movement, above all, of the young. Bradford has a young population. By 2020 half the population will be under 25. They have grown up in the years when Tony Blair and his successors murdered the real Labour tradition, taking for granted the loyalty of working people – nowhere more so than in this city, where the precursor to the Labour party, the Independent Labour party, was founded in 1893.

A rotten combination of complacency, incompetence, opportunism and rule by clique has presided over Bradford's decline. It was going down even during the 13 years of New Labour government, which included the richest decade in British history. Now it is in danger of sinking under the sado-monetarist austerity of the Con-Dem coalition.

Labour's opposition in parliament is feeble to the point of paralysis, because so many share so much of the grim orthodoxy that has plunged the world into the great recession.

This, and the continuing support of all three old parties for war and occupation abroad, has created a chasm between the political class and so many working people, especially the generation that faces a future of extortionate tuition fees, a privatised NHS, mass unemployment – and, for those who find work, an ever diminishing pension and a rising retirement age. So, while support came from all quarters in this election, it was young people who moved first and created a critical mass, which drew around it ever wider layers until it became unstoppable.

Many had never voted before, including in their 40s. As hundreds of them threw themselves into the campaign, those who remembered what a real party of labour should look like could see it forming before their eyes and they too moved. Among them were activists who had held the labour movement together through the dog years of Thatcherism.

Mass face-to-face campaigning was combined with the tools of this century – Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, mass texting, bespoke apps – all run by the generation for which they are as familiar as a printed political leaflet once was. Every night, and late into the night, hundreds gathered at our headquarters provided by Chambers solicitors to rally, plan and organise on and offline.

This peaceful, democratic uprising comes from the same wellspring of discontent and alienation that fuelled disturbances in British cities last summer. But it is a positive counterpoint – bringing forth a new generation of political leaders, not another cohort trapped in the criminal justice system. Every politician should take notice, as they did not last summer.

Labour, above all, should learn this rude lesson. It cannot continue on the disastrous path set by Tony Blair, of war and occupation abroad and inequality at home. That's what lay behind the loss of a "safe seat", held for 38 years, just as the party lost London's East End in 2005.

The real Labour values I stood for in this election swept the Tories and Lib Dems away, and swept into every part of the constituency – including those areas where some voters, only a few years ago, had succumbed to the siren calls of the racists and fascists.

The media, especially the London media, should also smell the coffee. Something is happening in this country outside of the echo chamber. The council elections take place in May in many parts of the country: prepare for more shocks to come as people find their voices at the ballot box and in mass, democratic opposition to an elite that is failing them.