Monday 5 November 2007

Two views of the RESPECT split

From the Socialist Workers Party (Britain) Central Committee:
George Galloway has launched a series of attacks on the Socialist Workers Party in recent documents and interventions at meetings. He has been trying to win people to sign a document claiming “Respect is in danger of being completely undermined by the leadership of the Socialist Workers Party” . It alleges that the SWP is trying to fix the outcome of the Respect conference by “blocking delegates” in Birmingham on the one hand and voting for delegates “at completely unrepresentative meetings” in Tower Hamlets on the other... Such allegations are false. They can be refuted simply by talking to many non-SWP members in Respect, as well as the SWP members against whom they are directed. The aim of these allegations is not simply to destroy opposition to a particular course on which Galloway wants to direct Respect — a course markedly to the right in some areas to that at the time Respect was launched four years ago. It is also to besmirch the name of the Socialist Workers Party, thereby damaging our capacity to play a part in any united campaign of the left... (more)
From Alan Thornett of Socialist Resistance:
The SWP leadership has managed to alienate virtually all of the active non-SWP members of the National council. Among them are Linda Smith National Chair, Salma Yaqoob National Vice-Chair, Victoria Brittain writer and playwright, George Galloway the Respect MP, Jerry Hicks leading industrial militant and member of the SWP at he start of this, Ken Loach, Abjol Miah the leader of Respect on Tower Hamlets Council, Yvonne Ridley journalist, and Nick Wrack - the first national chair of Respect and a member of the SWP when this debate started. No other organisation or nationally-known individual has remained with the SWP side in this. Faced with a Respect conference on November 17 and 18 which is organised on a totally undemocratic basis and which will have a built-in SWP majority after a campaign by the SWP to pack the conference with its own delegates, 12 members of the National Council have called an alternative conference on November 17th on the theme of “Renew Respect”... (more)

1 comment:

Dave Riley said...

A lot of the debate has tended to SWP bashing and an anti-party sentiment.
Here's a considered review here too:
A Very Public Socioliogist

As for the SWP itself, it has come out of this faction fight badly bruised. It's reputation lies in tatters, it's absurd Respect petition has made it a laughing stock, and most damaging it has lost a layer of experienced activists. But the SWP is not facing an imminent demise. It has proven to be an extremely durable organisation, despite the 180 degree turns and outright volte-faces it has imposed on itself over the years. Plus the SWP continues to occupy a certain niche on the far left, ensuring a steady stream of activists to replace those who have dropped out. Without a doubt, the SWP will remain a sizeable presence for many years to come.

So much for the SWP, what of the Renewing Respect grouping? It may lack a large pool of disciplined activists, but I think it has far more potential than the SWP's vehicle. Judging by the steady stream of documents on Socialist Unity, it is significant that a broad consensus has emerged around the lessons of the Respect experience and working with the SWP. In an earlier post, I speculated it was united only in opposition to Rees et al. But it seems the struggle has impressed upon everyone the need for unity on a basis stronger than lowest-common-denominator politics and a laissez-faire attitude to elected representative's behaviour. How the new formation will be able to make Galloway and the Tower Hamlets councillors accountable remains to be seen, but if they are overcome positively, this could give Renewing Respect the kind of legs among the wider left that Respect mk I lacked.