Friday, October 20, 2006

No Respect for its own membership

Whoever it is exactly that Respect purports to respect, it’s certainly not its own supporters. The group’s own internal figures – as recently reported on this blog – show that paid-up membership has fallen from 3,040 a year ago to 2,160 today.

But instead of facing reality squarely, the George Galloway/SWP bloc’s leadership has decided to ignore inconvenient reality and instead repeatedly lies to its own base.

According to a report on last weekend’s Respect conference published in the current edition of the Weekly Worker, Galloway reassured the assembled delegates Respect is not only the ‘fastest growing party’ in Britain but also ‘probably the only organisation that’s growing’.

However, the paper charges, the true figures were 'supressed in the version of the [national council annual] report given to delegates'.

The article adds:

‘The conference, held in London’s Friends Meeting House, was notable for the large numbers of empty seats throughout. The main hall holds around 500 people, but, apart from during the anti-islamophobia rally, it was never more than half full …

‘The total attending was clearly well down on 2005 - I counted just over 200 delegates on the Saturday, down to 150 or so on the Sunday. In addition there were around 50 observers on the Saturday morning (perhaps there were twice that number who attended for some part of the weekend).

‘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.’

Considerable scepticism is also expressed about the claimed size of Respect’s student base:

‘In addition to suppressing the membership figures, Galloway played up the numbers who had joined Student Respect. In his opening remarks he gave a figure of 10,000 new recruits, who he said had joined the party. But, of course, filling in a form expressing interest in a Respect student society is hardly the same as signing up as a paid up member of the party.

‘However, this figure was ‘corrected’ the following day by SWP and national council member Nick Wrack, who put the number of Student Respect adherents at 2,000.’

In my experience, any political organisation that is forced to bullshit its rank and file on these kinds of issues is heading for deep trouble. If you can’t trust a leadership to tell the truth on something as basic as membership stats, what can you trust them to tell the truth about?

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