Posts Tagged ‘Salma Yaqoob’

Respect: the case against allowing extremists into the Labour party

19/09/2012, 07:00:31 AM

by Rob Marchant

Last week there was much speculation about whether or not Salma Yaqoob, the former leader of Respect who understandably resigned rather than share a party with George Galloway, might join the Labour Party, should she so desire. Indeed, local Labour MP Richard Burden on Thursday extended the hand of friendship, saying she would “be an asset”.

Yaqoob is a young, articulate politician about whom we know relatively little, given that she is, in terms of real administrative power, an ex-backbench Birmingham councillor and has had few years of exposure to the national media.

But as a former party leader she still has political weight and, unlike her erstwhile colleague Galloway, she has not had time to make many serious gaffes or enemies although, as Dan Hodges pointed out, describing 7/7 as a “reprisal attack” came pretty close.

On a brief examination of her party and her politics though, the vast majority of us, if we bothered to do so, would probably find that our gut reaction would be that we didn’t care very much for either.

But that is not the point. Everyone has rather been asking the wrong question: instead of asking, do we want this person in Labour, we should be asking, is it in any party’s interest to invite people in from the extremes of national politics?

In other words, a grown-up political party should not be in the business of opining on specific cases, but have a robust, general policy; some universal principles about why it would or would not want to engage with another political group’s cast-offs. Not to do this makes us look at best subjective and, at worst, cronyish – arbitrarily picking and choosing only our mates for our party, and throwing out anyone who dissents. Not a good look for a democratic party.


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Salma Yaqoob: so do we welcome her in or slam the door in her face?

12/09/2012, 07:00:55 AM

by Kevin Meagher

In the old days it used to be so easy. You joined a political party and stuck with it. There may have been tough times and periods when you disagreed or despaired at the direction it went in, but the thought of leaving? Never.

When news broke last night that Salma Yaqoob, the leader of the Respect party, had quit, not only as leader, but the party altogether, Twitter was quickly alive with talk that she is now set to join Labour.

Not that it is wise to trust the instant pontificatorate on Twitter, but you can see why the rumours spread. Yaqoob’s previous public utterances about Labour have been carefully calibrated to leave the door ajar. In an interview with The Guardian back in April she was asked how to describe her politics: “I would characterise them as what people think the Labour party should stand for: social justice, and foreign policy about peace, not war.”

There are no references to George Galloway in her resignation statement, but there didn’t need to be. Following Kate Hudson’s withdrawal as the party’s candidate in the forthcoming Manchester Central by-election over Galloway’s careless remarks about rape, the ruptures within Respect are all too apparent. Rather than feign surprise, it is reasonable to ask what took Hudson and now Yaqoob so long?

In citing a breakdown of “trust and collaborative working” in her statement, Yaqoob makes it sound like she’s leaving a band rather than a national political party that she led until yesterday evening. She was no mere fellow traveller and it is right that she is held accountable for Respect’s noxious brand of politics.


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