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Set up as recently as 2004, The RESPECT Party is the brainchild of controversial MP George Galloway - a one-time Labour member of parliament who was expelled from the party due to his outspoken views on privatisation and Labour education policy.

The coalition itself is made up of a number of smaller organisations - The Socialist Workers Party and some members of the Muslim Council of Britain, to name but two - but its only MP is Mr Galloway himself.

Seen by some commentators as nothing more than a single-issue party, that of opposition to the war in Iraq, RESPECT (whose initials stand for Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environmentalism, Community and Trade Unionism) are at pains to promote their other policies such as a free NHS and education system.

Other important party policies include several relating to events in the Middle East - a region that George Galloway has long had political ties to (he famously met with Saddam Hussein during the 80's) - such as their support of the Palestinians in their ongoing struggle against what they see as Israeli occupation.

Taking advantage of the Labour Party's perceived drift to a more centre-ground ethos, RESPECT have made significant ground in terms of votes for such a young organisation and has achieved particular success in predominantly Muslim communities.

Some journalists have floated the theory that the party is cynically exploiting its support in Muslim areas by promoting the idea that Israel is directly influencing the foreign policy of the UK and US, and downplaying the party's support for gay rights.




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