Saturday 16 February 2008

That's not Respect

It's certainly been a stormy week for the left.

First, Respect - still recovering from the split last year, when George Galloway and numerous others left to form Respect Renewal - recently suffered a defection to the Tories (Respect website: Statement from Respect on Cllr Ahmed Hussain's resignation). The first surprising thing about this is that Mr Hussein - who originally broke from the Labour Party to join Respect - has now gone to the Tories, arguably an even more severe move rightwards than if he had re-joined Labour. (Or maybe he just wants to try out all the various parties, in which case maybe, next election, he'll stand for the Monster Raving Loony Party ...) The second is that he is one of those who stayed with original Respect (sometimes known online as Respect SWP), so why did he leave now? Especially when, last but not least, Respect seems to be recovering; enough to get reasonable votes in both of the recent council by-elections in Leyton and in Preston Tulketh (Respect website: Respect beats Tories to take third place in Leyton).

Then, Lothian and Borders Police decide to charge three members of Tommy Sheridan's Solidarity party in Scotland with perjury (Solidarity Scotland website: Solidarity members charged with perjury). I'm still not convinced of assertations that this prosecution is apolitical, nor is Iain Macwhirter of The Guardian (Guardian Unlimited: King of the swingers?); and, even though Scottish police may have some degree of independence from the UK, they still swear their allegiance to 'the Crown' - a proxy for the anglo-centric British Establishment.

All the while, in the background, there is wrangling over the use of the name Respect which has still not been resolved. Which is why, technically, we stood in the two recent by-elections as Independent candidates, and look very likely to do so in the May council elections.

Hopefully the crises within Respect and Solidarity will be sorted out, and I wish both Respect and Solidarity the very best of luck. However, if luck fails us totally, what are we going to do?

Personally, I think we should not rule out the option of registering the Socialist Workers Party with the Electoral Commission, and standing SWP candidates in elections. OK, so we tried that in the late 1970s and didn't do very well. But a lot has changed since then.

Firstly, the SWP has grown much bigger since then, and has become much better known, especially since the early 1990's. The SWP was probably the left-wing party that benefited the most from the fall of the Stalinist (so-called "communist") regimes in the former USSR and Eastern Europe, because of our long-stated view that such regimes were, in reality. state capitalist.

Secondly, the Labour Party now is very different from how it was in the late 70's. Then, it was still just about recognisable as a workers' party, albeit a crap one. Over the Blair and Brown years, any pretence at socialism has been slowly dropped by Labour - notably the scrapping of clause 4, and the replacement of its commitment to the most equitable distribution of wealth, with something about the madness, sorry, rigours of the market.

In any case, standing in elections as the SWP would not stop us from joining any left-wing coalition in the future. But it would give us the necessary independence to be able to 'go it alone' if necessary.

That's just my personal opinion (as is the rest of this blog!). Comments and opinions are, as always, welcome.


a_indabronx said...

You took the side of the counterrevolution and the class-conscious workers will never forget that.

Anthony Karl Page said...

"Took the side of the counterrevolution"? It's a bit of a vague comment ... Which counter-revolution? And how did we take its side?

Snowball said...

Yes, anthony, you are a counter-revolutionary running dog lackey of the Yankee imperialists - anyone reading your blog can surely see that...

On a more serious note, I don't think there is a need for the SWP to go it alone as of yet - just because Respect and Solidarity have taken a few blows of late doesn't mean that we were not right to try to work with others to build united fronts of reformists and revolutionaries who want to see a political alternative to the left of New Labour. And if things look bad for us - remember, things don't exactly look rosy for the other side (Gordon Brown) either!