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


susan said...

Could not agree with you more although the Organising Fighting Unions conference is also SWP "front" and has led calls for disaffiliation from labour - which helps no-one. The only hope in realpolitik terms is the LRC which seems to be getting its act together in all kinds of ways I'm pleased to say.Today's front-page story in Independent is Saudi protest led by John McDonnell who as you say deserves our thanks for doggedly carrying on campaigning and giving so many people in the Party a bit of hope. Galloway was always a one-trick pony. Hope you can make LRC conference Nov 17

ian said...

RMT's rebuttal against Respect....

'RMT corrects misleading claim of support for Respect candidate

BRITAIN’S specialist transport union today moved to correct a misleading claim that its London Transport region had “backed Respect’s mayoral candidate” for next year’s London elections.

RMT has written to the Respect party pointing out that a ‘news’ item published on the latter’s website, claiming that RMT’s London Transport region has “backed” Respect’s mayoral candidate, was inaccurate and misleading and amounted to interference in the conduct of the union’s affairs.

Under RMT’s rules, only the union’s Council of Executives can give the union’s support to political parties or candidates.

Each relevant regional council is entitled to express its view, and in this case there are five regional councils which have the right to be consulted and have their views taken into account.

It is therefore inaccurate and highly misleading to say that the London Transport Regional Council has “backed” Respect’s candidate, because under the union’s rules it is not a decision a regional council can take.

The relevant rule and the text of the letter sent to Respect are attached

RMT rule 26, paragraph 25 states: “That this Union shall affiliate to the Labour Party. The Council of Executives may be, from time to time, requested by Branches or Regional Councils to explicitly authorise support for other organisations or campaigns in pursuance of the Union's policy objectives, subject to not breaching the provisions of these Rules. Any such request should be placed in front of the Council of Executives within fourteen days of its receipt at Head Office.”

Text of letter sent to Respect, October 29 2007:

Misleading Article on Respect Website

I am extremely concerned at the contents of a news item on the Respect Website which claims in the heading that RMT’s London Region has voted to support Lindsey German for Mayor. The article also states the London Transport Region supports her for the GLA elections next year.

The report misleadingly gives the impression that RMT members for the London Area have pledged support for Lindsey German. This is unequivocally not the case. Nor does support for Ms. German represent RMT’s official position on candidates for GLA elections, or for Mayor. Firstly, the London Transport Regional Council does not represent the London Area, but merely Branches on the London Underground. Secondly, the London Transport Regional Council, or indeed any Regional Council, does not have the authority to take such decisions. Official support for political organisations or candidates is solely the province of the Union’s Council of Executives.

It is a matter of deep disquiet that the Respect website contains such misleading statements and reference to persons claiming to be speaking on behalf of RMT’s London Area when they have no such authority. This article represents an unwarranted and unwelcome intrusion into this Union’s internal political discussions and gives members and the general public the impression that a decision has been taken on the question of support for GLA and Mayoral candidates when this is emphatically not the case.

In the circumstances, I should be grateful if you would take the necessary action to remove the offending item from your webpage.

Yours faithfully,

Bob Crow
General Secretary'

Phil BC said...

Just out of a matter of interest, what are comrades hoping will come out of the LRC conference on the 17th?