Galloway and his fanclub having departed, I recently joined Respect, in order to see what was going on and make the arguments to as many people as possible for a turn towards independent working-class politics. I haven't had time to go to a branch meeting yet; my first foray was an attempt to attend the Student Respect conference on 2 December.
What is the SWP doing in the trade unions? 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.
About an hour and a half into the "Respect Renewal" conference held by George Galloway and his allies on 17 September (at which point I left), there were about 200 people present. So the widely cited figure of 250 is probably about right.
The SWP-Respect conference at Westminster University on 17 November was essentially an SWP event — extra observers were turned away “for lack of space”.
As against George Galloway and his close friends, our sympathies in the split now taking place in Respect cannot but be with the SWP. We protested when the SWP trashed its alliance with other socialists, in 2003, rallying its members behind the demagogue Galloway... We can't be other than glad that the SWP is now breaking that alliance, so discreditable for the whole socialist left.
17 November was a faintly farcical day for the labour and socialist movement in the UK. There were four different events of sections of the left that each seek to hegemonise, if not unify, the rest of the left.
The last three issues of Solidarity have carried Sean Matgamna’s series about the British left and the events in Northern Ireland in 1968-9 — arguably the biggest internal crisis the British state has seen since the early 1920s. The last article (Solidarity 3/120) summed up the turning-point debate at the National Committee of IS (forerunner of the SWP) in January 1969, and the initial positions mapped out by the IS/SWP majority and by the Trotskyist Tendency within IS (forerunner of Solidarity and Workers’ Liberty).
The Stop The War Coalition conference on 27 October featured Somaye Zadeh from the SWP-led group Campaign Iran telling us that “the lies about Iran” aren’t true.
I joined the Socialist Workers Party at their Marxism summer school in July 2005. It was around the time of Make Poverty History and the G8 protests and I had come to realise that the solution was getting rid of capitalism - and that’s what the SWP said they were for.
Leaflet for "official" (SWP) Respect conference, 17 November 2007. "The SWP and those close to it have now broken with George Galloway... That is good. Or, at least, it will be good if the Respect remainder turns to the left..." Read the rest by downloading the attachment, below.