There will be no Respect in the new House of Commons.
The Respect-Unity Coalition, founded by high-profile Labour defector George Galloway in advance of the 2005 election, failed to win either of the two adjoining East London constituencies that were its best shot.
In Bethnal Green & Bow, Galloway rode opposition in the Muslim community to the Iraq war (as well as working class resentment over New Labour) to victory in 2005. He stood by his promise not to seek reelection to the seat, standing aside for a local, Abjol Miah.
Instead, Galloway ran in Poplar & Limehouse.
In both of these constituencies, Respect came in third in this election. The results give us a hint at the lower salience of the Iraq issue as well as Galloway’s own personal vote. Without Galloway, Respect fell from 36.6% in 2005 to 16.8% in 2010 in Bethnal Green & Bow. Yet that Galloway-less 2010 percentage is close to what Galloway himself won in Poplar & Limehouse this time: 17.5%. Even that was a decline, albeit a very small one, on what the Respect candidate (Oliur Rahman) had in 2005: 18.1%. So Galloway bequeathed less than half his support to his party successor, suggesting the party was utterly dependent on the “personal vote” of its leader. Yet his unimpressive performance in his new district might lead one to conclude that, with the reduced salience of the Iraq issue, the party’s “natural” support simply is in the 17-18% range, even with its outspoken leader. (No one ever claimed that disentangling party and personal voting was straightforward!)
Meanwhile, in Barking, BNP leader Nick Griffin came in third (14.6%) and Labour won a stronger majority of the vote than in 2005.