Like it or not, the SWP is the biggest group on the socialist left. Any attempt to unite will necessarily involve them, or at least substantial numbers of its activists. Nowhere is this more true than in the student movement, where the AWL has some experience of practical unity with the SWP.
Part eight of a series on the Northern Ireland crisis of 1969 and the left.
Given the SWP's split with its former ally George Galloway, along with associated Brick Lane businessmen, it is clear that the organisation is in need of allies for its Respect 'united front'.
This article reviews the way that the biggest activist-left group of the last 35 years or so in Britain — the SWP, then called IS — dealt with the biggest internal crisis the British state has seen since the early 1920s, the breakdown of Northern Ireland into civil war in 1969. It continues a series about the British left and the decisive early stages of the nearly 40 years of “Troubles” in Northern Ireland.
[This is an edited and augmented version of the text in Solidarity. It includes excerpts from the minutes of the leading committees of the International Socialist organisation, which are not in the version printed in Solidarity.]
- Section 2 of this instalment of the series
- Part 1: Why Northern Ireland Broke Down
- Part 2: The Irish Workers' Group, I S and the "Trotskyist Tendency"
- Part 3: Why Northern Ireland Split on Communal, Not Class, Lines
- Part 4: When militant sloganeering meant promoting communal war
- Part 5: When socialists looked to "Catholic Power"
And let's be honest about what our disagreements really are... If different sections of the left can work together to defend democracy in NUS, why can't we work together to present a united challenge in the elections at the next NUS conference?
11 articles on the SWP's political collapse into a decade of alliance with Islamic clerical fascism. Solidarity has commented on the SWP's ongoing political collapse at each stage.
The International Socialist Organization of the USA has thrown its weight on George Galloway's side in the Respect split. The ISO is perhaps the most important group in the world, after the SWP-UK, with the same general politics as the SWP, but was expelled by the SWP from its international network in 2001.
Many people reading this article may ask themselves “why join the SWP in the first place?” Others still will ask “why go on to join the AWL?” These are legitimate questions. In fact, the answer to the question “why I left the SWP” revolves almost entirely around answering the other two.
A key factor in trashing the possibility of a united public-sector fightback this year against Gordon Brown’s 2% limit has been the decision by the civil service union PCS, although it already had a live ballot mandate for action, to withdraw into prolonged “consultations” of its membership while the POA and CWU strikes and the Unison health and local government ballots came and went. Having “consulted” and announced that PCS members supported further national strike action, the PCS leadership then... decided to call off any further national action, at least for the time being.
Open Letter to an SWP Student
If different sections of the left can work together to defend NUS democracy, why can't we work together to present a united challenge to those who are attacking democracy in the elections at the next NUS conference? That was a question that members of Workers’ Liberty were among the many people asking SWP and Respect students at the NUS Extraordinary Conference on 4 December. The response was universally positive — with a crucial exception.