Monday, 29 October 2007

Protest Against The Saudi Visit

Socialist Youth Network
Youth Wing of the Labour Representation Committee

Wednesday 31st October 6pm – 8pm
Saudi Embassy, 30 -32 Charles Street, W1J 5DZ
For directions, see:,-0.145741&spn=0.008641,0.010235&z=16&om=1

Speakers include: Yahya al-Alfaifi (Saudi trade unionist), Katy Clark MP, John McDonnell MP, Marsha-Jane Thompson (SYN Co-Chair), Sandy Mitchell (former British prisoner in Saudi Arabia), Murad Qureshi AM, Peter Tatchell

The Saudi dictator King Abdullah al Saud has been invited by the British Government on a 3-day visit from 30th October to 1st November.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive societies on earth. It has no political parties, free elections, independent media or trade unions. Human rights violations are rampant – including the lack of basic rights for women, the repression of gays, the widespread use of torture, amputations and public executions.

This protest has been called to oppose British support for this repressive tyranny – and to stop our foreign policy being dictated by the oil and defense industries. Just recently, Britain sold 72 Eurofighters to the dictators in Riyadh .

Please spread the word far and wide – and make sure as many people as possible speak out against these murderous thugs.

John McDonnell MP has also tabled Early Day Motion 2102 opposing the state visit. Please ask your MP to sign it by getting in touch with them at - it only takes a couple of minutes of your time but will make a huge difference.

For more information, please contact the co-chairs of SYN:
Owen Jones – / 07870331835
Marsha-Jane Thompson – / 07983592998

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Respect Implodes Shock!! Why the left needs to organise itself

I expect I could get me head kicked in for this but here goes.

The whole left blogging world seems to have fallen into a morass of self destructive navel gazing over the latest episode to engulf the Galloway/Respect project. Only, it would really be sad if it wasn’t for the fact that in reality Respect doesn’t have any, growing or otherwise, any influence on the wider working class. More of that later.

The SWP tactic of creating a reformist organisation for them to be a faction in had ‘doomed to failure’ written all over it from the start. For example, while I disagree with using the word ‘ communalist’ I think it was apparently obvious that the main orientation was to the Muslim population in the inner cities. This non class approach became obvious when it pandered to sections of the Muslim community that had far from socialistic/working class ideology. I believe this became a problem for many genuine SWPers who could see the contradiction.

The other problem was the man Galloway. While I could only applaud his stand against the war as a Labour MP and his confrontation with the US senate which received world wide attention, I believe the guy is a complete maverick and not a good left wing maverick at that. Compared to Left Labour MPs, John McDonnell or Jeremy Corbyn, the guy was a light weight and someone I would position on the soft left. You could arguably understand the need to focus the left around this character but it would always have to be short term.

Before Respect supporters start going on about their so many councillors and the fact that they have one MP lets try and attain a sense of proportion. This was no new start for the left; never was. It was an attempt to very roughly arrange certain tendencies within the anti war movement into a coalition that could absorb the millions of disaffected Labour voters and members that have haemorrhaged out of the Labour Party. It cannot be described by any stretch of the imagination, a launch of a workers party similar to what became the Labour Party in the early part of the 20th Century.

Anyway , that is only my humble opinion and I feel it would be completely counterproductive to go over the ground that our excellent blogging comrades are currently doing (links below)

Now, I am not going to condemn any socialist in making an effort to unify politically, independently, to the left of Labour. Indeed I have applauded the few socialists who have achieved remarkable election results in council elections north and south of the border.

Where I have to drawn the line is over the question of the validity, at this stage anyway , for any socialist independent, standing in elections, considering the complete hammering they will undoubtedly receive. Of course there are quite valid arguments for this; downturn in class struggle, fall of the old soviet union, lack of class consciousness amongst workers, we have heard them all.

But why do socialist have to beat themselves up orientating around an election, with all the time and money spent , and only achieving, at best 6 or 7% of the vote? There are surely more fruitful areas of work where all socialists can unite and fight together ?

The left as a force in the UK is much too weak to face the massive election machines of the three main parties. We must orientate ourselves to areas where we can and are strong. Trade Union struggle, the anti war movement and the defence of public services. I would also strongly recommend getting involved with international solidarity movements such as the Hands off Venezuela campaign (which coincidentally is headed by John McDonnell MP, he gets everywhere these days!!).

Posted earlier was John McDonnells comments about where the left has to direct itself if it is to become relevant to the UK working class and indeed the wider movement that involves community groups, environmentalists and most importantly, the Trade Unions. It is of utmost importance now that those sections of the CNWP and Respect get together with Socialists still remaining organised in the Labour Party to create a new movement that can attract support around the 99% of issues that do unite us and not fall out over the 1% (ie elections) that doesn’t.

So, cant we start talking? Hold up your own banner by all means but there is no reason why we couldn't organise under the banner or the LRC (which incidentally is the only part of the organised left that has affiliations from the FBU, RMT and the CWU, unions involved in struggle against New Labour over the last 6-7 years. I haven't noticed any of them affiliating to Respect or the CNWP) and work together against the war privatisation and supporting workers in struggle with their employer.

As an aside, I just want to briefly comment on the type of sectarianism that puts a complete brake on any progress towards socialist unity. The Organising For Fighting Unions and the Shop Stewards Network are both bold and correct attempts to organise amongst our re awakening trade unions.

Why haven't we got one organisation? Is it because the SWP runs one and the SP is dominant in the other? Come on comrades, do you want me to bang your heads together? This division only benefit’s the Bosses who thrive on a divided working class.

Links with loads of debate about the Respect issue can be found here

Saturday, 6 October 2007

An Early Election?

We may hear today whether Gordon is going to opt for an early election: the BBC News is suggesting as early as November 1st.

What impact might this have on the left? On a practical basis it could mean that out-standing selections could be rushed through, with the possible result of parachuting in people where otherwise left-wingers might have been selected. I speak personally indeed - as I have put my hat in the ring for Skipton and Ripon, but couldn't possibly be the candidate for 1st November. It could prevent Tony Benn getting Kensington, and there must be other similar cases elsewhere. Okay, these won't be in Labour's safe or even target seats, but it is still an important thing to consider.

If we win with a big majority, then we have to take the opportunity to put forward socialist policies and try and pressure Gordon Brown to implement them. I think we would have to acknowledge that Gordon Brown would then remain leader for 4 to 5 years at least, and our efforts would certainly not be concentrated on the next leadership election.

We don't like to think about it, of course, but what if David Cameron is Prime Minister before Christmas? That would obviously be an enormous challenge for everyone in the party, not just on the left, to ensure that he was Prime Minsiter for as short a time as possible, and that we were swept back into power. A lot needs to be said about that.

The final possibility is that Brown is returned as Prime Minister but with little or no majority. Clearly not desirable (apart from the obvious disadvantages it would probably have meant us losing some very good MPs): however it is another scenario that requires a strategy.

I said that was the final possibility, but of course Brown could decide (perhaps this is still the most likely) not to hold an election until June next year (or later, indeed). After all, we know from the leadership debacle that Brown likes to eliminate all risk: why risk losing his long-longed-for prize any earlier than he need do? The scenario also requires a strategy.