|Description||RESPECT - the Unity Coalition is a left-wing electoral coalition founded on 25 January 2004 in London. RESPECT is a backronym, having been adopted before the words it supposedly stands for were agreed upon. It officially stands for Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environmentalism, Community and Trade Unionism. |
The main components of the coalition are George Galloway, a Member of Parliament expelled from the Labour Party, and the Socialist Workers Party. Few trade unionists other than those linked with the SWP have joined the coalition, although Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union is a notable figure. The coalition also has the support of the national council of the Socialist Alliance, the International Socialist Group and the 'CPGB'. RESPECT co-initiator George Monbiot, a left-liberal anti-globalisation writer, resigned from RESPECT before its launch, apparently because RESPECT intended to stand against existing Green Party MEPs
The coalition hopes to provide a left-wing challenge to Tony Blair at the London Assembly and European elections in 2004, primarily by capitalising on the anti-war protests which occurred during 2003.
Left-wing critics of RESPECT claim that it is undemocratic, and has a top-down approach, its programme having been created largely by negotiations between the SWP and George Galloway. Other criticisms have been levelled at George Galloway's refusal to accept an average worker's wage and the lack of distinctively socialist policies such as supporting "no borders" or the abolition of the monarchy. RESPECT claims that in order to engage wider forces, it is necessary to have debates on these issues inside the grouping after its creation.
The RESPECT coalition is also susceptible to be confused with London's anti-racist music festival of the same name. London's mayor Ken Livingstone has threatened to sue RESPECT unless it changed its name. The Greater London Authority has registered 'Respect' as a trademark name for political lobbying organisations.