Dead Men Left

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Campaigning and all that

There appears to be some unwritten rule that every feature-length article in the national press on Respect vs. New Labour in Bethnal Green and Bow has to start with a brief and breathless view of the cultural melange that is Whitechapel and its environs. It's all so terribly emblematic of Modern Britain and Its Many Contradictions. Terry Kirby, in the Independent this morning, sticks to the formula in a fair assesment of Galloway's chances down there; his piece should be read against the shameful "report" the Guardian offer. Sample:

At the nearby Redchurch café and bar, the owner Will Beckett, 27, a typical "incomer", says the lack of trust engendered by the Iraq conflict will influence his vote: "I'll vote for either the Lib Dems or Galloway. I'm a traditional Labour voter, but I can't bring myself to vote for Blair because of the war. I'd rather vote for someone with genuine left-wing credentials than for King." Behind the bar, Nancy Waters, 23, adds: "I'm not voting Labour. I feel ill at the thought of what has happened in Iraq, particularly the way we went in without United Nations backing."

Out and about last night, past a certain pub on Commercial Road, and into a confrontation with a stocky white skinhead who saw my Respect sticker and demanded to know where Galloway was. After a moment's confusion, it turned out he was very keen on the man, as was the landlady inside, who he insisted I should talk to. I left my sticker, a window poster, and an offer to arrange a pub visit. It's a small thing, but it helps show just how wrong the slanders about "communalism" are.